Failed Coup Bolivia

Failed Coup Centered on Murillo Square

Failed Coup Centered on Murillo Square

La Paz, June 26, 2024 (ABI) – On Wednesday, Murillo Square drew national and international attention as it became the focal point of a failed coup d’état. Armed soldiers in masks and with armored vehicles initially took control of the political power center without resistance, but the situation changed as time passed.

It all started around 2:30 PM. Tanks and soldiers blocked the entrances to the square at kilometer 0. Former General Juan José Zúñiga emerged as the leader of this attempt, alongside the now-former commanders of the Air Force and Navy.

The soldiers formed columns supported by metal fences around Murillo Square, while President Luis Arce and his cabinet remained in the Casa Grande del Pueblo, determined to resist the coup attempt.

In one of the tensest moments, a tank carrying Zúñiga and ex-Vice Admiral Juan Arnez Salvador positioned itself in front of the old Palacio Quemado. Government Minister Eduardo del Castillo confronted Zúñiga, demanding that he stop the coup, but received no response. Zúñiga, in uniform and wearing a bulletproof vest, exited the tank and declared the need for a “true democracy.”

 

 

Failed Coup Centered on Murillo Square
Failed Coup Centered on Murillo. Image Credit: @LuchoXBolivia/”X

 

 

He also announced the “liberation of all political prisoners,” promising to release individuals such as Fernando Camacho and Jeanine Áñez, along with military personnel imprisoned for obeying orders.

A tank breached the main gate of Palacio Quemado, allowing Zúñiga and his followers to enter the annex of Casa Grande del Pueblo. President Arce confronted the soldiers, ordering them to stand down, but Zúñiga refused.

In a subsequent address alongside Vice President David Choquehuanca and his ministers, Arce denounced the coup attempt and called on the people to defend democracy. Hundreds gathered around Casa Grande del Pueblo, lighting fires to counter the tear gas used by the soldiers.

Defense Minister Edmundo Novillo reported that the irregular military movement began at 9:00 AM in Challapata, Oruro, with armed instructors heading to La Paz. Concurrently, the seventh, eighth, and ninth divisions of the Army were ordered to barracks, prompting the President to convene the Military High Command, though none responded, accelerating the replacement of military leaders.

 

 

Failed Coup Centered on Murillo Square
Failed Coup Centered on Murillo. Image Credit: @LuchoXBolivia/”X”

 

 

By 5:30 PM, José Sánchez Velásquez was appointed Army Commander, Gerardo Zabala Álvarez for the Air Force, and Renán Guardia Ramírez for the Navy. Sánchez ordered the soldiers to return to their barracks, and by 6:00 PM, the military had left Murillo Square. From the balcony of Palacio Quemado, President Arce thanked the citizens for defending democracy.

Zúñiga and Arnez were detained and will face ordinary and military justice. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated investigations, and Minister Del Castillo expects to identify other instigators of this failed coup, which has been unanimously condemned by regional leaders and international organizations.

President Thanks Bolivian People and International Community for Condemning Coup Attempt

The President of the State, Luis Arce, expressed his gratitude on Wednesday night to the Bolivian people and social organizations who took to the streets to protest against the coup attempt and in defense of democracy, as well as to the international community for condemning this action.

“We salute and express our sincere thanks to our social organizations and the entire Bolivian people, who took to the streets and expressed through various media their rejection of the coup attempt,” he posted on his social networks.

The president stated that such an act only serves to “damage” the image of Bolivian democracy internationally and create unnecessary uncertainty at a time when Bolivians need to work “to move the country forward.”

He also highlighted the support of the international community and assured that democracy and the will of the Bolivian people will be defended “at all costs.”

“We salute and thank the presidents of friendly countries and international organizations that have strongly condemned and expressed their support for Bolivian democracy in the face of the coup attempt against our legitimately elected government by the majority of Bolivians,” he posted.

 


Soledad Quartucci | CEO/Founder, Latina Republic

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