Bolivia remains deeply polarised over the disputed 2019 elections that resulted in the resignation of then-President Evo Morales and a brief hiatus in the long-running rule of his party Movement to Socialism, in power since 2006. Fierce disagreement between those who believe Morales was ousted by a coup and those who accuse his party of committing electoral fraud has triggered waves of political retaliation, partisan use of the judicial system and threats of violence. Bolivia’s fragmented society now faces an economic and health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Crisis Group works to find paths to establish trust in the state’s institutions, minimise tensions and find long-term reconciliation among all sectors of the population.

CrisisWatch Bolivia

Unchanged Situation

Failed coup attempt orchestrated by former army chief left Bolivia reeling. 

One day after being stripped of his command, former Army Chief Gen. Zúñiga and allied members of military 26 June took up positions in capital La Paz’s Plaza Murillo, promising to “restore democracy” as armoured vehicle rammed door of govt palace and soldiers stormed building. Footage from within palace showed President Arce ordering Zúñiga and his allies to stand down, as leaders from region and beyond rushed to condemn actions. Within hours, Zúñiga and allied soldiers had withdrawn, presumably because their reinforcements did not arrive, bringing attempted coup to abrupt end. Police forces same day arrested Zúñiga and his alleged co-conspirator, former Navy Vice Adm. Salvador, though not before Zuñiga claimed Arce had ordered him to stage coup in attempt to boost his popularity; Arce 27 June denied allegation. Attorney General 26 June announced formal investigation into Zúñiga and “all the other participants”.

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