Evo Morales Flies to Mexico but Vows to Return to Bolivia ‘With Force’
LA PAZ, Bolivia — Evo Morales, the former president of Bolivia who resigned under pressure from street protests and the military, flew to Mexico on Tuesday, but not before recording an audio message promising Bolivians, “I will return soon with force.”
Mr. Morales, who stepped down on Sunday, left his country deeply polarized and leaderless, and his resignation, along with those of other top officials, touched off a new surge of violence as his supporters took to the streets in protest.
Opposition leaders hope to assemble a quorum of the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday to choose an interim president, but it is unclear whether Mr. Morales’ political party, which holds majorities in both chambers, will allow that to happen. Mr. Morales, who was granted refuge by Mexico “for humanitarian reasons,” has described his ouster as an illegitimate coup.
Mr. Morales left office after weeks of growing unrest over a disputed presidential election and after the military indicated it would support the people in the streets calling for him to step down.
Hundreds of his supporters took to the streets of central La Paz late on Monday, some of them armed with sticks and chanting “here we go, civil war.” Officials said demonstrators had attacked police officers, and some frightened residents barricaded doorways to homes and stores with old furniture.
The military and the police took up positions throughout La Paz and several other cities Monday night to stop vandalism.
In his audio message, which was released by the Mexican news media and broadcast in Bolivia, Mr. Morales called on the military to “stop the massacre.” Photographed draped in a Mexican flag aboard a Mexican Air Force plane, Mr. Morales also told his supporters: “We’ll work together for Bolivia.”
Early Monday, Mr. Morales urged resistance to attempts to form a temporary government, but by later in the day he had softened his tone, urging Bolivians to resolve their differences with dialogue, not force.
Mr. Morales was not able to fly directly to Mexico, after Peru prohibited his plane from flying over its airspace. Instead, the aircraft refueled in Paraguay before taking off for Mexico early Tuesday.
Jeanine Añez Chavez, the Senate’s second vice president, an opposition politician who is the highest remaining elected official in the line of succession, has said she is ready to assume power as interim president.
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