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LATIN AMERICA | 01-07-2024 15:54

Bolivia recalls ambassador to Argentina after Milei denies failed coup

Bolivia recalls ambassador to neighbouring Argentina and summons Buenos Aires' man in La Paz after President Milei issues controversial statement on alleged coup d'état.

Bolivia has recalled its ambassador to neighbouring Argentina after President Javier Milei declared an alleged coup attempt against his counterpart Luis Arce last week was "fraudulent."

Army chief Juan José Zúñiga was arrested last Wednesday after soldiers and tanks took up position outside government buildings in what Arce said was an attempt to unseat him.

Zuniga later claimed he was following orders and that the Bolivian president had hoped to trigger a crackdown that would boost his popularity as the country faces surging prices amid shortages of money and fuel.

Amid the flurry of international condemnation of the events, Bolivia's powerful former president Evo Morales – with whom Arce is feuding ahead of the 2025 elections – also accused the president of mounting a "self-coup."

In his first public appearance after Wednesday's events, Arce denied he had conspired with Zúñiga, who is currently being held in a maximum security prison.

Milei, however, said Arce's coup claims were "fraudulent."

On Monday, Bolivia issued a "strong rejection" of Milei's statements and said its ambassador had been recalled for consultations.

"Our ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia in Argentina, Ramiro Tapía, was summoned in consultation to be present at the seat of government," announced Presidential Spokesperson María Nela Prada, in a statement to the media. 

Simultaneously, Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry summoned Argentina’s ambassador in La Paz, Marcelo Massoni, to express its outrage at Milei’s statements. 

Earlier, Arce’s government had slammed the "unfriendly and reckless" statements made by Milei's office.

According to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry, "the uninformed and tendentious assertions" made by Argentina’s leader about the "inexistence of a failed coup d'état" represent "an unacceptable excess and denialism.”

Milei has lashed out at numerous leftist leaders since taking office in December, insulting the Spanish prime minister and the presidents of Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.

Last week, he had harsh words for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – who had also come out in support of his "friend" Arce – describing the Brazilian leader as a "little lefty" with an "inflated ego."

On Monday, the Argentine Presidency announced that due to "agenda issues," Milei would no longer attend a summit of the Mercosur South American trade bloc next Monday in Paraguay, where he would have met Lula.

Milei would instead travel to Brazil over the weekend, spokesman Manuel Adorni told reporters, adding it was "not confirmed whether or not" he would have a meeting with Lula's rival, far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

Milei will attend the CPAC Brasil summit, according to reports.

 

– TIMES/AFP
 

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