Evo Morales, who led Bolivia for nearly 14 years as president, flew to exile in Mexico on Tuesday after stepping down. He left behind a country in turmoil and a power void in the Andean nation. Dan Collyns reports from La Paz.
Touching down in Mexico after promising he would return to Bolivia with “strength and energy.”
Evo Morales held an impromptu news conference at the airport, saying, “For there not to be any more bloodshed, more confrontations, we have decided to resign for the people. I would like to say to you, we are very grateful to the president of Mexico, and the Bolivian government, who saved my life.”
Morales, who was granted asylum by Mexico, insisted he’d been the victim of a coup staged by right-wing opponents.
The iconic leftist leader vowed this was not the end of his political career but would say no more about his plans.
Meanwhile, many of the streets in La Paz, the city Morales left behind, were empty as police had warned residents to stay indoors.
After widespread looting and vandalism, people set up their own roadblocks to protect their property. In downtown La Paz, there was a tense calm and a sense of apprehension about what would happen next in the country and who would assume its leadership.
Protesters said they would stay in the street until their demands were met.
“We want a civil interim president who calls new elections so there is democracy. We can vote again and our vote is respected. That’s all we ask,” protester Danella Ormachea said.
The country remained in political limbo as senators and deputies loyal to Morales refused to endorse the new interim president – deputy senate leader Jeanine Anez.
“The people who have been in all these protests want us to call presidential elections which are not fraudulent, which are trustworthy,” Deputy Head of Bolivian Senate Jeanine Anez said.
In Bolivia’s parliament building, many lawmakers from Morales’ majority bloc failed to show up.
Other parliamentarians said they were committed to restoring order after Morales’ resignation following allegations of voter fraud.
“What Bolivians want in this moment of crisis is certainty and we, the maximum authorities in this country, must work to re-establish democracy,” Lawmaker Shirley Franco said.
Even with an interim president and new elections. Bolivia remains a country in limbo.