Bolivia: Court sentences former coup president Jeanine Áñez to 10 years’ prison

June 14, 2022
Former coup president Jeanine Añez. Photo: Asamblea Legislativa Plurinacional

The First Anti-Corruption Sentencing Court of La Paz sentenced former de-facto Bolivian president Jeanine Áñez to 10 years’ prison in the ‘Coup d’état II’ case on June 10. Áñez stood accused of acting against the constitution and illegally assuming the presidency in November 2019 after a right-wing civic-military coup overthrew democratically-elected president Evo Morales.

Former Police Commander Yuri Calderón and former Armed Forces Commander Williams Kaliman were also sentenced to 10 years’ prison. Both are fugitives from Bolivian justice.

Áñez was in power for a year until she was removed from office by a landslide victory for Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) in the October 2020 general elections.

During her short time in office, her regime committed severe human rights violations. She unleashed an unprecedented level of repression against those who took to the streets in rejection of the coup. She authorised security forces to use extreme force to suppress social protests. She also passed a decree that exempted police and military officials participating in repression operations from criminal responsibility.

This resulted in security officials massacring 11 peaceful protesters in Sacaba city on November 15, 2019, and another 11 in Senkata on November 19, 2019.

Áñez was arrested and placed in detention in March 2021 on charges of terrorism, sedition and conspiracy, in the case known as the “Coup d’état I” case. The Prosecutor’s Office has also charged her with the crime of “genocide” for the 38 deaths that occurred in repression incidents during her rule, including the Sacaba and Senkata massacres.

The relatives of the victims of the Sacaba and Senkata massacres and other human rights violations committed under the Áñez regime welcomed the verdict but condemned the prison term, saying that “10 years in prison is not enough” and indicating they would continue their struggle to ensure Áñez is punished for all the crimes.

Members of the Committee for the Promotion of the 2019 Coup Trial, who had organized various protest vigils and set up camps outside the Prosecutor’s Office in Sucre and the Miraflores prison, where Áñez is being held, welcomed the sentence. They also vowed to maintain public pressure on authorities to begin the trial in the “Coup d’état I” case and in the massacres, and prosecute all alleged intellectual and material authors of the social and political crisis of 2019.

[Abridged and edited from Peoples Dispatch.]

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