AFP, August 22, 2021 — Bolivia’s jailed former president Jeanine Anez attempted to take her own life in prison on Saturday, her lawyer said, a day after prosecutors charged her with “genocide” over the 2019 deaths of protesters.
Anez has been jailed since March, originally on charges — trumped up, her defenders say — of staging a coup against her predecessor and rival, former president Evo Morales.
One of Anez’s lawyers, Jorge Valda, said the former leader, despondent over her legal situation, had “attempted to take her own life… an attempt in which, thank God, she failed.”
Bolivian officials had announced Anez tried to harm herself, with Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo saying she had suffered only “scratches” on her arm in the attempt early Saturday and is in stable condition.
The opposition deplored the government’s treatment of Anez and called for her release.
Former centrist president Carlos Mesa said official explanations of her injury were “not serious” and demanded an end to her “political jailing.”
Anez’s family has repeatedly asked the government to transfer the 54-year-old to a hospital for treatment of hypertension and other conditions.
That request has been denied, as have her lawyers’ requests that she be granted home detention.
The conservative Anez came to power in November 2019 after Morales resigned and fled the country following weeks of violent protests over his controversial re-election to an unconstitutional fourth term.
The specific accusation against Anez relates to two incidents in November 2019 in which a total 22 people died.
Attorney General Juan Lanchipa said Friday he had presented documents against her in which the incidents were “provisionally classified as genocide, serious and minor injury and injury followed by death.”
After Morales resigned, Anez, as the most senior parliamentarian left, was sworn in as interim president, but her political opponents denounced this as a coup.
Under Anez’s administration, Bolivia held peaceful, transparent elections in October 2020 in which Morales’s leftist protege Luis Arce stormed to a landslide victory.
He subsequently vowed to pursue those he accused of staging a coup.
Anez, arrested in March on accusations of leading a coup, also faces charges of terrorism, sedition and conspiracy.
Bolivia’s opposition has decried the lack of separation of powers in the country, saying the courts, electoral body and public prosecutor’s office are all loyal to leftist President Arce.
Anez’s detention has elicited widespread international condemnation.