Ex-Bolivian president Evo Morales landed in Argentina Thursday morning, where he swifly was given refugee status by President Alberto Fernández’s new government.
“He comes to stay in Argentina, because he is seeking asylum and then he will have refugee status,” Foreign Minister Felipe Solá told the TN news channel.
Evo Morales resigned the Bolivian presidency on November 10 in the midst of the country’s disputed October 20 election. The indigenous leader has been in Mexico since fleeing his nation after protests and a loss of support from the police and military. He then travelled to Cuba for several days.
According to Solá, Morales would face a “justified fear for his life” if he stayed in Bolivia, where the administration of interim President Jeanine Áñez has accused him of sedition and terrorism.
The process was initiated in secret, and Solá began the paperwork for asylum before Morales arrived. The Interior Ministry confirmed quest had been granted shortly after the former president’s arrival. Solá added Morales’ stay comes with conditions, telling La Nación that the “regulations require a series of guidelines, such as a place of residence, etc..”
“We want from Evo the commitment not to make political declarations in Argentina. It is a condition that we ask,” he added.
Soon after midday, Morales expressed his gratitude to Argentina and Mexico via his Twitter account. “A month ago I arrived in Mexico [...] sad and broken. Now I have arrived in Argentina, to continue fighting for the humblest and to unite the Great Homeland, I am strong and lively. I thank Mexico and Argentina for all its support and solidarity,” he wrote.
Morales arrived from Cuba accompanied by four other exgovernment officials who also requested asylum.
Solá implied during his comments to TN that the Movement to Socialism (MAS) leader had “requested asylum at the time” of his ousting from power, but that former president Mauricio Macri “did not grant it.”
Fernández considers Morales’ removal from power to have been “a coup d’état,” and publicly extended the hypothetical offer of asylum to Bolivia’s former president before he took office.
Finally, the newly installed foreign minister said that he didn’t know where Morales’ “residence will be located,” but said the Bolivian leader was “very appreciative” to be in Buenos Aires.
The former president’s children, Eva Liz Morales Alvarado and Alvaro Morales Peredo, have already been living in the capital for two weeks, having arrived November 23.
Former vice-presidential candidate on the Juntos por el Cambio ticket, Miguel Ángel Pichetto was an early critic of the Fernández government’s decision to grant asylum.
“I don’t think the presence of Evo Morales [here] will advance the interests of our country,” he posted on Twitter.
Laura Alonso, the director of Argentina’s Anti-Corruption Office under Macri, sparked controversy by comparing the decision to welcome Morales as akin to the hosting of Nazis during World War II.
The tweet generated a backlash from the Delegation of Israeli Argentine Associations (DAIA), which accused her of “trivialising the Holocaust.”
From La Paz, Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric shared her opposition to the move.
“We hope that Argentina strictly complies with the principles and rules of asylum and refugee rights,” she said at a press conference.
“We don’t want to see what happened in Mexico, where he had an open microphone and open forum to do politics, does not re-occur.”
The minister said she foresaw “very difficult” relations