Bolsonaro is right about Jeanine Añez, but lacks credibility

Former Bolivian interim president Jeanine Áñez is assisted by police as she returns to jail after being treated at a hospital

Former Bolivian interim president Jeanine Áñez is assisted by police as she returns to jail after being treated at a hospital| Photo: EFE/Stringer

O presidente Jair Bolsonaro compartilhou neste sábado (21), no Twitter, a notícia de que Jeanine Añez, ex-presidente interina da Bolívia, foi denunciada por genocídio por procuradores de seu país. Bolsonaro did not comment on the information, but his government is known to be thinking about it. In essence, this is a correct position.

The Bolsonaro government considers the accusations against Jeanine Añez “unreasonable” and is concerned about the events in Bolivia, with risks for the “full application of the rule of law and democratic coexistence”. These were the words used by Bolsonaro in a speech at a virtual meeting with presidents of South American countries three days after Añez was arrested in Bolivia, on March 13th.

On the same day, Itamaraty released a note regarding the arrest of Jeanine Añez, accused of leading a coup d’état in 2019. The note says: “It should be remembered that the Brazilian Government supported the formation of the Government of President Jeanine Áñez, which was sworn in provisionally after the resignation of then President Evo Morales, motivated by the popular reaction to the attempted electoral fraud detected by the OAS and EU observation missions. and in accordance with Article 1 of the Ushuaia Protocol. It is also recalled that the government of President Jeanine Áñez called and held free elections and peacefully transferred power to President Luis Arce.”

The note from the Brazilian Foreign Ministry is correct, and it is worth adding some details. Morales had already given a self-coup a few years earlier when he disrespected the result of a referendum and obtained from the electoral justice the “right” to run for a fourth consecutive term in office. In 2019, he tried to slur the results of the first round of elections, avoiding a second round of elections and declaring himself victorious. Some analysts say there is no “statistical” evidence of fraud, but ignore other strong evidence compiled by the Organization of American States (OAS), such as the destruction of election records and forged signatures.

The fact is that suspicions of fraud led to intense and violent protests against Evo Morales, who ended up resigning and fleeing the country. The entire line of succession to the position has resigned. A legal limbo was created that was occupied by the second vice president of the Senate, Jeanine Añez, proclaimed interim president.

The obviously atypical conditions that led her to assume the presidency resulted in her accusations of being a coup and imposter, but the fact is that Añez did not seek to cling to the position and guaranteed the holding of fair elections the following year, handing over power to the winner. , the leftist Luis Arce, an ally of Evo Morales.

That is why it is so evident that the arrest of Jeanine Añez and the now accusation against her for genocide are measures of political revenge. More than that, they are part of a strategy to imprison political opponents to prepare the return of Evo Morales to power, in the next elections.

The genocide charge is, to say the least, a tremendous exaggeration, calculated to keep Añez imprisoned for more than a decade. The allegation is that two protests in favor of Morales in 2019 were violently repressed and resulted in 20 deaths.

On Saturday (21), Añez reportedly cut her arms in prison, in an apparent suicide attempt after the disclosure of the complaint against her.

For the European Parliament, in a resolution passed in April, Jeanine Añez and other Bolivians are “political prisoners”. That way they should also be treated by the Brazilian government.

In the diplomatic field, despite having expressed “concern” about Añez’s situation, the Brazilian government has been restrained in criticizing the neighboring country.

Bolsonaro’s references to the case have another purpose, which has nothing to do with foreign policy. When citing the arrest of Jeanine Añez, Bolsonaro does so to give a taste of what happens when a political leader is the victim of unfair accusations of coup or “undemocratic acts”. Bolsonaro tries to make people believe that he is wronged like Añez.

But Jeanine Añez’s situation is not comparable to what is currently happening in Brazil. It’s a false equivalence. Añez assumed power amidst a context of political chaos that was not caused by her and made a peaceful transition to the winner of the following elections. It is being punished for being considered a threat to an authoritarian project.

Bolsonaro, in turn, holds power because he was legitimately elected, but, faced with the possibility of not getting re-elected, he tries to encourage chaos to be seen at some point as the only option for stability and thus unduly perpetuate himself in power. In this sense, Bolsonaro is more for Morales than for Añez.

So what Bolsonaro lacks in his criticism of Bolivia’s treatment of Jeanine Añez is a modicum of credibility.