2 Bolivian military leaders arrested after failed coup attempt

Two of Bolivia’s military leaders Zuniga and the head of the Bolivian Navy Salvador were arrested on Wednesday after soldiers and tanks took up positions in front of government buildings, President Arce described as a coup attempt.

Soldiers and tanks entered Plaza Murillo, the historic square where the presidency and Congress are located, at noon, sparking global condemnation of the attack on democracy.

A tank tried to break through the metal gates of the presidential palace.

With troops and eight tanks, now-deposed Army Chief General Juan Jose Zuniga said, “The armed forces intend to rebuild democracy, to make it a real democracy and not by one of the few for 30, 40 years. will be run.”

Soon after, AFP reporters saw soldiers and tanks withdrawing from the square. The rebellion lasted for about five hours.

Later on Wednesday, Zuniga was grabbed and forced into a police car as he spoke to reporters outside a military barracks, footage shown on state television.

“General, you are under arrest,” Deputy Interior Minister Johnny Aguilera told Zuniga.

“Nobody can take away the democracy we won,” Urs told hundreds of supporters from the balcony of the government palace.

Another high-ranking military officer, the head of Bolivia’s navy, Juan Arnez Salvador, was also arrested on Wednesday night.

Salvador’s arrest was announced by Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo, who said Zuniga and Arnez were “leaders of two military coups that tried and failed to destroy democracy and the institutions of our country.”

Earlier, Arce, in a televised message to the country with his ministers inside the presidential palace, “urged the people of Bolivia to organize and mobilize against the coup in favor of democracy”.

He sacked Zuniga and Salvador and swore in a new set of military leaders.

Just before his arrest, Zuniga told reporters that it was actually the president who asked him to rebel, which would trigger a crackdown that would make him look stronger and lower his approval rating. will be done What will be done will increase.

In a meeting on Sunday, the general said, Zuniga asked Arce “So we bring in armored vehicles?” He said that the President responded by bringing them out.

Arce’s instructions were to “do something to increase your popularity,” the general said.

Former President Evo Morales wrote on X that “a coup is taking place” and called for “national mobilization to defend democracy”.

Zuniga’s anti-democratic remarks:

Bolivia is highly polarised after years of political instability and the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) is riven by internal strife between supporters of Arce and his former mentor Morales.

Zuniga appeared on television Monday and said he would arrest Morales if he insisted on running for re-election in 2025. “Legally he is disqualified, that person cannot be the president of this country again,” he said.

Since that interview, rumors have swirled that Zuniga was being fired.

Calls for peace:

Joe Biden’s US administration said it was closely monitoring events in Bolivia and was “appealing for calm”, according to a spokesman for the National Security Council.

The troop movement was also condemned from across Latin America, with leaders from Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela calling for respect for democracy.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio wrote on X, “I am a lover of democracy and I want it to prevail throughout Latin America. We condemn any coup in Bolivia.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez urged “respect for democracy and the rule of law” in a message on X on Wednesday.

The Organization of American States (OAS) said the international community “will not tolerate any form of violation of the legal and constitutional order in Bolivia”.

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