Attempted coup in Bolivia fails

Bolivian President Luis Arce stared down a short-lived attempted coup on Wednesday, after calling on the public to “organize and mobilize” in defense of democracy as soldiers and armored military vehicles withdrew from surrounding government buildings in La Paz.

Bolivia has a long history of political instability, including military coups, and the failed takeover comes as the landlocked South American country of about 12 million people struggles with a spiraling economic crisis that has sparked street protests.

“We cannot allow coup attempts to take Bolivian lives once again,” Arce said from the presidential residence, Casa Grande, as the attempted coup got underway. “We want to urge everyone to defend democracy.”

In dramatic scenes broadcast on Bolivian television, Arce could be seen confronting the former army chief Gen. Juan José Zuniga, who was leading the coup attempt, as he stormed into the presidential palace hallway.

“I am your captain, and I order you to withdraw your soldiers, and I will not allow this insubordination,” Arce told Zuniga, according to the Associated Press.

Zuniga, who was dismissed as commander of the Bolivian army just the day before, was later detained and seen being forced into a police vehicle, according to local media. His current whereabouts are unknown.

The attempted coup was widely condemned by the Bolivian government and international leaders. Bolivia’s Attorney General’s Office said it has launched a criminal investigation against Zuniga and “all the other participants” involved in the incident.

Bolivia’s latest political showdown comes as tensions rise over plans by leftist former president Evo Morales to run for reelection against one-time ally Arce in general elections next year.

Meanwhile, the country is contending with an economic crisis marked by dwindling foreign currency reserves, particularly the US dollar, and shortages of fuel and other basic necessities.

Earlier Wednesday, footage from the scene showed armed soldiers occupying Murillo Plaza, a main square in La Paz where the national executive and legislative offices are located.

Armored vehicles were seen ramming into the doors of Bolivia’s government palace, according to the Associated Press, as former president Morales, who is a member of Arce’s Movement to Socialism (MAS) party, said on X that a “coup d’état is brewing.”

Video also showed some civilians facing off with soldiers in Murillo Plaza during the coup attempt.


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