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Bolivia’s former environment minister from Anez government seeks asylum in other country

La Pez: Former Bolivian Minister of Environment and Water Maria Pinckert, who served during the de facto government of Jeanine Anez, says she has fled the country after the prosecutor’s office opened an investigation and issued an arrest warrant against her.

In a letter, circulated on social media, Pinckert said she had requested political asylum, but did not reveal in which country. The former minister said she was willing to appear before the Bolivian justice “when it is impartial again” and guarantees her fundamental rights.

The Bolivian prosecutor’s office issued an arrest warrant for Pinckert on April 1, as she did not appear on March 31 to testify in connection with the ongoing corruption investigation against her.

In March, Bolivia’s ex-interim President Jeanine Anez was detained on suspicions of terrorism, sedition and conspiracy related to what investigators consider a coup that led to the resignation of former Bolivian President Evo Morales. Later Anez announced she was given four months of administrative detention pending trial. Two former members of Anez’ caretaker government, ex-Justice Minister Alvaro Coimbra and ex-Energy Minister Rodrigo Guzman, were also detained as part of the same probe.

At the end of last month, Anez’s four-month detention was extended to six months. The extension also applies to Coimbra and Guzman.

In November 2019, Evo Morales resigned as president and left Bolivia under pressure from the military, after the Bolivian opposition, led by Carlos Mesa, claimed that there were mass violations during the October 2019 vote. Most of Bolivia’s senior officials resigned in his wake.

Power in the country was assumed by then opposition vice-speaker of the senate, Jeanine Anez. Morales called the events a coup. Anez arranged for a new presidential vote, which took place on October 18, 2020. The election was won by Luis Arce from Morales’ Movement for Socialism party (MAS).

Morales reacted to Arce’s victory by saying that the Bolivian people managed to regain political power via democracy. The former president returned to Bolivia in November 2020.

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