Home Argentina market Alleged arms smuggling from Argentina to Bolivia upsets the domestic politics of both countries

Alleged arms smuggling from Argentina to Bolivia upsets the domestic politics of both countries

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The Bolivian and Argentinian governments’ complaint against former President Mauricio Macri and some of his aides for allegedly sending Bolivian supplies for the crackdown on the 2019 protests against interim Bolivian President Jeanine ñez has heightened internal political tensions in the two country. . Argentina’s executive has taken the former president to court for alleged smuggling of riot gear. Macri, now in the opposition, denies the accusations and considers them part of a political persecution orchestrated by President Alberto Fernández to distract from the health and economic situation.

“This is the first time, and it shames us as Argentines, that a Democratic president of our country has collaborated in a coup d’état in a brother country,” Argentina Minister of Justice Martín said. Soria, during a meeting with the international press in Buenos Aires with the head of the Security portfolio, Sabina Frederic.

Soria’s harsh accusation will have to be proven or denied by the courts. On Monday, the government filed a criminal complaint for “aggravated smuggling” against Macri, former Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie, former Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and former customs chief, among others, after the Bolivian government revealed the existence of a letter from the head of the air force at the time in which he thanked, among other things, the delivery of 40,000 anti-riot cartridges.

According to the reconstruction carried out by the Argentine Minister of Justice, some 70,000 “anti-tumult munitions” left Argentina on board a military plane bound for La Paz a few hours after Áñez took office. They traveled in closed boxes with a dozen members of an Alacrán squad, elite forces of the gendarmerie, the Argentine military police. The Argentinian control bodies authorized the release of this war material to be used for the protection of the Argentinian embassy in the Bolivian capital. However, Alacrán’s team “didn’t fire a single shot” in La Paz, Frédéric said. According to the minister, they also did not waste the ammunition in training, as reported by a senior gendarmerie official by letter eight months later. Ministers suspect the rubber bullets have ended up in the hands of Bolivian forces to quell protests against the acting president.

The complaint deepened pre-existing political cracks. In Bolivia as in Argentina, the first reaction of the opposition was to question the veracity of the letter of thanks from the former commander of the air force issued by the Bolivian Minister of Foreign Affairs Rogelio Mayta.

“The actions of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Argentine Ambassador [Ariel] Basteiro, on the subject of the letter, raise huge doubts about the responsibility and seriousness of the government of [Luis] Arce, ”tweeted opponent Carlos Mesa, who was Arce’s candidate for the 2020 presidential election. Editorials in various media also viewed the whole affair as fictitious, an attempt by the ruling party to support his interpretation events of 2019 such as a coup. State, which is denied by the opposition. They clung to the version given by former President Macri in an interview in Madrid: “I want to categorically deny the veracity of these accusations and, at the same time, repudiate the letter that President Alberto Fernández sent to the authorities. Bolivian women expressing ‘pain and shame’ about these false facts in which they want to implicate me ”.

Soon after, Macri said the complaint was a smokescreen for the government, concerned about the proximity of parliamentary elections, in which half of Congress and a third of the Senate are renewed. This Wednesday, Argentina exceeded 100,000 deaths from covid-19, which is a serious setback for the Argentine executive. “This persecution of which I am the object is precisely a new attempt to divert attention from the failure of the management of the pandemic, the economic failure and the failure of the management of the vaccines,” Macri wrote. in a public letter on Facebook, before wishing that Peronism “is largely defeated” in the November elections.

Mesa denounced as fraudulent the October 2019 elections, which officially re-elected then-president Evo Morales, which sparked a wave of massive protests that crippled the country. After Morales left power and the country, Mesa did not participate in the government that Áñez controversially formed to replace him. However, he considers that this was “perfectly constitutional” and that it was in accordance with the rules of succession established by Bolivian law. This is also the position of the rest of the opposition and of the most important Bolivian newspapers, television channels, universities, civic and cultural institutions. According to the sociologist Fernando Mayorga, there is in Bolivia a “struggle between a national-popular camp and an oligarchic-conservative camp… (this) qualifies and enriches the dualistic vision which reduced the political conflict to the confrontation between the official camp (masista ) and the opposition camp (antimasista) ”.

The thank you letter did not only appear in the archives of the Argentine Embassy in the country, but also in those of the Air Force. For this reason, an auditing journalistic institution which had called it false retracted. Despite this, its alleged perpetrator, former Air Force Commander Gonzalo Terceros, continues to deny writing it and points out that his signature was forged.

Bolivian authorities are investigating the presence of Argentinian riot gear among the weapons in a police warehouse on the outskirts of La Paz this week. The aim is to clarify the destination of the material that traveled with Alacrán’s command and whether it was diverted to the Bolivian security forces. At the start of Áñez’s interim government, police ran out of repressive supplies because their supplies had been depleted trying to control anti-Morales protests over the previous three weeks. Áñez’s cabinet appealed to the government of Lenín Moreno in Ecuador to request a tear gas loan. On the other hand, so far, the existence of a similar demand in Argentina is unknown.

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