The conservative government of Bolivia published an audio file on Wednesday, allegedly of a conversation between a socialist activist and former President Evo Morales in which the latter ordered him to ensure that socialist rioters prevented food and basic goods from getting to the nation’s cities.
Morales resigned from the presidency two weeks ago, after 13 years in power, following the revelation of widespread fraud in the October elections he claimed had earned him another five-year term. He then fled to Mexico and claimed to be the victim of a “coup,” although he voluntarily resigned, and is now demanding that the government reject his resignation and reinstate him.
Dozens of members of his party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), also resigned and fled the country with him, leaving the conservative deputy president of the Senate, Jeanine Áñez, the highest-ranking person in the line of succession in the country. Áñez is now interim president and attempting to reinstate order after more than a decade of socialist rule.
MAS supporters have reacted to Áñez’s appointment with violence, rioting and looting businesses and in some areas attempting to destroy key infrastructure sites. Six people died on Tuesday after a mob tried to blow up a plant owned by the nation’s federal oil corporation, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB). The military subdued the attack but said that no soldier fired a single shot; the deaths were all self-inflicted.
On Wednesday, Minister of Government (Interior Minister) Arturo Murillo published audio of what he said was a call between Morales, currently in Mexico, and Faustino Yucra Yarwui, a rural socialist community organizer, in which Morales demanded Yucra organize blockades around the nation’s biggest cities to prevent food and basic supplies from coming in, pressuring the government to allow Morales to return to power.
Yucra is a member of one of Bolivia’s coca growers’ unions. Coca is the plant used to develop cocaine. Morales rose to power as an advocate for coca growers and used his international prominence to promote the legalization of coca leaf:
Yucra, who refers repeatedly to Morales as “brother,” tells Morales that the coca leaders have organized two blockade points to prevent goods from entering, one that has attracted 4,500 people.
“You know what, brother: you don’t have to have 4,500 people,” Morales replies in the audio. “Divide the union into four or five groups, so it lasts longer. … If you concentrate [in one place], people give up, but if there are groups, they take turns, we can hold up the blockade.”
“Brother, don’t let food into the cities, we will really blockade,” Morales continues. “When they expelled me from Congress in 2002, they did a blockade. And now, they kick me out of Bolivia; there is a blockade. We will win.”
Murillo told reporters the call occurred “three days ago” but could not reveal how Bolivian intelligence services acquired it. He accused Morales of “terrorism” and “crimes against humanity” for helping Yucra organize violent blockades that could starve out thousands of poor Bolivians.
“It is not possible for Evo to continue pitting Bolivians against Bolivians, to order food not to enter, it is a crime against humanity,” Murillo stated, according to the Bolivian newspaper El Deber.
On Tuesday, members of Bolivia’s conservative organizations sent a letter to the socialist president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, urging Mexico not to protect Morales in light of the organized violence committed by his supporters. The letter notably precedes Murillo’s proof that Morales not only approves of the violence, but is orchestrating it.
The letter accuses López Obrador – in hot water in his own country for being too lenient on violent cartels – of “promoting drug trafficking that has hurt our people.” Morales has for years faced accusations of being involved in cocaine trafficking, stemming not only from his public support for legalizing coca, but his ties to the Nicolás Maduro regime in Venezuela, which runs its own cocaine trafficking operation out of the military.
“It hurts us to see how a person who did so much harm, who promotes hate, violence, and constantly claims to speak in the representation of the poorest people, is receiving a juicy subsidy from the Mexican people and lives with extraordinary luxuries,” the letter read. “We doubt that Mexicans agree with charging these expenses to the public dole and I know we Bolivians feel this is offensive because we here are waiting for him to soon face justice here.”
López Obrador ensured that, upon receiving “political asylum” in Mexico, the government would take care of Morales’s living expenses.
In Bolivia, Áñez’s government has faced two weeks of violent attacks in La Paz, the executive capital, neighboring socialist stronghold El Alto, and the Cochabamba region where Morales is from. Rioters stormed La Paz chanting, “Here we go, civil war!” last year and police have since arrested dozens – including Cuban, Venezuelan, and other communist regime agents – for enabling, paying for, or otherwise participating in violence. In one particularly alarming arrest, police identified a man hoarding explosives as Facundo Molares Schoenfeld, an Argentine Marxist terrorist member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Authorities have also identified several death threats aimed at Áñez, Bolivia’s second woman president in history.
Violence in El Alto escalated on Tuesday as a mob of about 200 people surrounded an oil processing plant in the city with dynamite and attempted to break apart the walls surrounding it and shut down operations – in the hope that depriving Bolivians of fuel will pressure the government to allow Morales to illegally seize power. La Paz, about an hour’s drive from El Alto, is already experiencing gasoline shortages because of blockades keeping the fuel from reaching the city.
Military officials who responded to the attack said six individuals died and another 30 were injured in the riot. At least three of the dead were shot, but no soldier fired on the protesters, meaning they were victims of friendly fire.
In a press statement, the Bolivian military said the mob possessed “high-powered explosives,” which they used to try to break into the oil facility. They successfully burned several corporate vehicles at the facility.
In a video published by the newspaper Página Siete and allegedly taken by one of the rioters, the mob can be seen placing explosives around the perimeter of the facility. Shots being fired can be heard but not seen.
“Now we are really going to civil war!” the narrator shouts: