How an Unknown Female Senator Came to Replace the Bolivian Strongman Evo Morales

Inside the scramble to fill the power vacuum and name a leader to guide the country out of political chaos.

LA PAZ, Bolivia — A day after the downfall of Bolivia’s longest-serving president, Evo Morales, the country was in chaos: Soldiers and protesters were out in the streets, looters terrorized the suburbs and no one was in charge.

Catholic church leaders called an urgent meeting of the country’s main political forces on that Monday, Nov. 11, to decide who should take the reins. The line of succession leading out of the power vacuum traced to Jeanine Añez, a senator from a remote tropical region who had sat out October’s elections and was about to retire.

“Who was Jeanine? No one knew,” said Jorge Quiroga, a former president of Bolivia and a conservative statesman who helped organize its political transition this month. “But we knew that she was the only constitutional thread that we had.”

In two days, Ms. Añez rose from political obscurity to supplant Mr. Morales, the country’s first Indigenous leader and a leftist who led with a single-minded pursuit of his vision for 14 years.

The story behind Ms. Añez’s rise, told by five people in the meetings that decided the country’s future, is a story of stunted political parties and a bitterly divided society, which continue to convulse this South American nation.

Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times

Much was at stake. As looting and violence escalated, Bolivia’s civilian leaders became increasingly worried that generals might take control to restore order, returning the country to its dark history of military dictatorships.

“The probability of this was growing by the hour,” said Samuel Doria, a Bolivian cement magnate and conservative politician involved in the transition talks.

Mr. Morales’s fall began when he decided to run for an unprecedented fourth term, disregarding term limits that he himself had approved. He declared victory after the elections in late October, but the results were widely contested and the country exploded in protests.

The demonstrations spread for weeks, reaching a climax on Nov. 8, when police officers joined the protesters and the military refused to support Mr. Morales.

Abandoned by allies, he denounced “a civic, military and police coup” against him and fled the administrative capital, La Paz, on Nov. 10 for his stronghold in the coca farming region in central Bolivia where he began his political career. From his hide-out on a farm deep in tropical foothills pocketed with coca plots, Mr. Morales took to Twitter to denounce his opponents as “racists” and mobilize allies.

He posted on Twitter on Nov. 11 that his supporters “have never abandoned me; I will never abandon them.”

Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times

Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times
The same day, coca farmers loyal to Mr. Morales began barricading Bolivia’s main highway, and his party’s activists encircled La Paz, paralyzing an already hobbled economy.

Ms. Añez was an unlikely successor to Mr. Morales. Her role as the second vice president of the Bolivian Senate was a largely ceremonial one.
Most senior opposition senators preferred comfortable committee jobs with power over budgets and appointments, said Mr. Quiroga, the former president. The second vice presidency “was not a particularly fought-for position,” he said.
Even that ceremonial title was about to expire. Ms. Añez was set to retire in January after deciding not to run in last month’s elections. Her small regional party got only 4 percent of the vote.Her prospects changed with Mr. Morales’s resignation. As he stepped down, senior officials from his party, including congressional leaders, also resigned in droves.

The resignations suddenly made Ms. Añez the first in line to assume the interim presidency under the Constitution. From her constituency in the sparsely populated province of Beni, she announced late on Nov. 10 that the presidency belonged to her.

That claim was met without enthusiasm by opposition leaders in La Paz, who thought the gravity of the crisis required a stronger popular mandate and greater national clout.
“She was saying, ‘I’m the president,’” but she was merely a retiring regional politician from a moribund party, said Mr. Doria, the magnate, who had campaigned with Ms. Añez in the past.
Mr. Morales’s resignation set off unruly street celebrations in Bolivia’s big cities. The revelries were followed by a wave of nationwide looting and vandalism as his supporters reacted with rage to his ouster and delinquents exploited the chaos.
In the coca region, Mr. Morales was denouncing what he said was a police plot against him. His senior election officials were arrested on allegations of fraud, and radical opposition leaders claimed that the police had issued arrest warrants for Mr. Morales, too.
About 25 members of Mr. Morales’s party and family had sought refuge in the Mexican Embassy in La Paz.
Fearing arrest, or worse, Mr. Morales instructed his justice minister, Hector Arce, early on Nov. 11 to contact Mr. Doria to bring together a group of opposition power brokers for negotiations, according to the magnate.
“They were really worried,” Mr. Doria said. Mr. Arce did not respond to an interview request.
For his part, Mr. Morales denied there were any political negotiations to arrange his departure.
“No, not at all,” Mr. Morales insisted Friday in an interview in Mexico City.
By Nov. 11, the situation on the streets was critical. That morning, hectic backdoor talks to fill the power vacuum began to crystallize into formal negotiations brokered by officials with the Roman Catholic Church and the European Union, according to five people involved in the discussions.
“We spent a long time without a president,” said the Rev. Jose Fuentes, deputy leader of the Bolivian Catholic bishops conference and a mediator in the talks. “There was no one who could give orders to the police and the armed forces.”

Despite losing the presidency, Mr. Morales’s party, Movement to Socialism, remained the country’s most potent political force, with a two-thirds majority in the Bolivian Congress and the final word over any official appointments.

In return for sitting down for transition talks, the party asked the opposition to broker Mr. Morales’s safe passage to Mexico. Mexico’s left-wing government offered him asylum and sent a military plane to pick him up the morning of Nov. 11.
While opposition negotiators set to work persuading Bolivia’s rudderless military to allow a foreign military plane into the nation’s airspace, they also moved to bring Ms. Añez to La Paz to pre-empt any power grab.
Movement to Socialism, known as MAS, and the opposition finally met on the afternoon of Nov. 11. MAS’s senior lawmaker, Adriana Salvatierra, agreed to support a new transitional government in Congress if Mr. Morales and his inner circle were allowed to leave, according to the five people in the meeting.
Ms. Salvatierra did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Morales said the Mexican plane was allowed to land because both he and his vice president, Alvaro García Linera, had spoken personally to the commander of the Bolivian Air Force, Gen. Jorge Gonzálo Terceros.
Three people present in the room said the negotiations that day were suddenly thrown into disarray by the unexpected decision of neighboring Peru to reject a refueling permit to the Mexican plane if Mr. Morales got on board.
During the delay, Ms. Salvatierra and some opposition leaders began suggesting other senators who could assume the interim presidency instead of Ms. Añez, who was seen as too inexperienced and too close to the political leaders of Bolivia’s Santa Cruz region, according to the people present.
While eastern Santa Cruz is the heart of Bolivia’s economy, political power has traditionally rested in La Paz in the west, provoking tense regional rivalry in negotiations.
A decision by the military to deploy to the streets on the evening of Nov. 11 to quell the unrest forced the negotiators’ hands. No civilian official had ordered the military to deploy, which only underscored the danger of prolonging the power vacuum.
The negotiators agreed on Ms. Añez shortly before Mr. Morales’s plane took off for Mexico the evening of Nov. 11, Mr. Quiroga said.
“We got up from the table with a deal,” said Luis Vásquez, a former senator who was at the talks.
But when the opposition lawmakers gathered in Congress the following day to swear in Ms. Añez, the MAS lawmakers did not show up.
Opposition negotiators and one of the mediators at the talks said this broke the agreement. Another mediator said the lawmakers from Mr. Morales’s party had turned back at the last minute out of fear for their safety. Neither mediator wanted to be named because the political situation is still so delicate.
Left without congressional support, Ms. Añez pronounced herself the interim president on Nov. 12 by citing a Supreme Court ruling that recognized her as Bolivia’s de facto leader.
Holding a Bible, she told a crowd gathered under the balcony of the presidential palace, “My commitment is to bring back democracy and tranquillity to the country.”
From his exile in Mexico, Mr. Morales accused Ms. Añez’s government of exacting revenge and stoking racial tensions. He expressed hope to return to Bolivia to finish his term.
Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times.
Bolivian Thoughts opinion: Coca grower leader is a conniving individual. He led people, even some journalists that he was the victim … let’s remember:
  1. he changed the Constitution to fit his personal needs, so he pushed the 2nd and 3rd terms.
  2. for the 4th he called for a Referendum, 2016, so he could run again and lost!
  3. he pushed for re-re-re re-election and on 10/20/2019 and his electoral fraud was so evident, that even the OAS’ audit reflected that humongous fraud.
  4. he fled to Mexico and continued to exacerbate his hordes, so blockades were now on his side and even there is an audio, where he is instructing to stop food supply to the cities.
  5. Before this, he managed to kill our diplomatic wfforts towards getting a sea coast, given the Chilean invasion that landlocked Bolivia.
  6. He wasted over $160 billion dollars, from the best economic times ever in our history. International prices of all our exports were so high that he showed that as his doing.
  7. Over 90 people died violently during his government. Poor handling and management of critical issues resulted in those deaths. He said he would retire if there was going to be a single person dying because of him … he is a man of no honor, no word … like when he said it was his last election on the 2nd, then same lie on the 3rd and also offered that on the 4th.
  8. Over 700 Bolivians had to abandon our country out of political persecution.

The following pictures are just a few that captured this events, after he stopped releasing the vote counting, the night of 10/20/2019:

While MAS and Morales were making up racism, Bolivina people became to get united again. Our millennials took the lead and started a pacific blockade that lasted in Santa Cruz 21 days and in Potosi were over 35 days, until the autocrat fled the country.

Bolivians all around the world, also expressed their disdain towards egomaniac Morales. He made fun of the way the pacific blockade was been handled and offered workshops … his kind thrive in conflict, with hatred, that is the way socialists of the 21st century have been brain washing people all over Latin America.

Huge crowds gathered countrywide, following the example of Santa Cruz population. No one forced their participation, while Morales crowds were forced, blackmailed with their jobs and by the time he fled to Mexico, numerous photos and videos exist that show payments to those “supporters.”

Our millennials decided it was enough and continued with the pacific blockade that ultimately made police support this pacific blockade and the army decided not to intervene at all. Let’s remember that only when Morales called for his hordes to vandalize the cities, that joint police-military forces had to prevent an escalation in terrorism. Hordes were very close to explode the Senkata oil/gas deposits that could have resulted in thousands of deaths in the surrounding neighborhoods in El Alto city.

I’m forgetting the snipers attack to buses with university students and miners, from Sucre and Potosi, towards La Paz. The use of guns and dynamite by Morales hordes were the cause for calling the joint forces to step in, and protect Bolivian people. This was the first time ever, that a political party, declared war to the whole population in Bolivia. A despicable act that not even The New York Times dares to report!

Massive gathering of people in Sucre, against Morales and in favor to recuperate our democratic liberties.

As Bolivia started to rebuild our sense of brotherhood, among all social classes and regions, police joined us in our quest, while Morales pushed for violence and turmoil, as that was the recipe those socialists in Cuba and Venezuela used all along decades.

As time went by, our determination grew in numbers and strength. We all knew it had to be this way, pacific and not giving Morales snipers, foreign military and anti-revolt advisors to implement their warfare.

This photo reveals how people gathered on thei own, in front of the vote-counting on 10/21/2019 … then we all decided it was time to fight for our vote, our vote was stolen on the Referendum of 2/21/2016, no more!

Once the coward autocrat fled to Mexico, he continue victimizing himself, accusing the others as racists, while his violent orders were resulting in deaths, some of them were shot with guns that neither the police nor the army had … so, you analyze and realize who Morales really is.

Of course, we mourn our death, they were Bolivians like us, we are grieving. We were in the 7th day of pacific protest, no deaths. the MAS starts in Montero and in less than four hours, two people got assassinated. To date, the council woman from the MAS and her brother are still missing, while other people is already under arrest, as they were the brains and put the money and resources for those heinous acts.

For more pictures or videos, please visit 
 this site and realize that there was NO COUP D’ETAT, Bolivians decided we had enough of the monster!

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

2 thoughts on “How an Unknown Female Senator Came to Replace the Bolivian Strongman Evo Morales

  1. If I could I would give this review a 5 ⭐️ qualification. I am very proud of our millennials, considering myself one of them. Thank you for this paper that I will gladly share and retweet, since there are many overseas supporters of Ego Morales totalitarian government.
    Of course, as all the information can be widely found all over the Internet, for those who seek the chronological facts in the past month and before that, this is helpful. As much it could be for those who couldn’t care a 🐀 a$$ to be informed but keep on spreading what they don’t know.
    Again, and again and again. Thank you ☺️

    1. What we have accomplished is by far extraordinary! By the first two years of Morales in government, I used to say that it will take us at least 50 years to recuperate from all the hatred, envy he and his acolytes pushed onto Bolivians who barely knew what was going on … well, in less than two months, we have managed to push him out of the government and there is still a long way to go. Think how Russians felt when the USSR collapsed … ALL institutions were contaminated, polluted and it happened to us here also. But certainly it will be before those 50 years, we are making progress as we go day by day. We’re fighting not only a delusional bastard but narcotrafficking itself! I’m so happy to have read your comment, thank you SO much!

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