Speech delivered by Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, on the arrest of former President Jeanine Añez and other officials
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Mr President, Honourable Members,
As you know well, Bolivia saw a volatile, tense and confrontational period after the failed 2019 October general elections. The elections held in October 2020, which were carried in a peaceful, transparent and credible manner, provide the foundation for a more constructive political landscape.
The Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) won the elections with 55% and Luis Arce became President. His Vice-President David Choquehuanca conveyed messages of openness for reconciliation in the country. There have been initial positive signals but the country remains polarised, with various obstacles to reconciliation and democratic stability.
The High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell has publically called for the accusations against Ms [Jeanine] Áñez and the Ministers linked to the events of 2019 to be dealt within the framework of a fair and transparent judicial process, with full independence, without political pressure and with full respect for the division of powers.
The European Union Delegation in La Paz is in close contact with Ms Añez’s family, as well as with the temporary mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that visits Ms Añez regularly in prison.
We have reiterated on various occasions to the Bolivian authorities that the former President should receive appropriate medical attention.
The European Union has been fully engaged in support of Bolivian efforts towards reconciliation and stability. It was in this spirit that the European Union acted as neutral facilitator over the past 18 months, to encourage national actors to reach an agreement that would lead to the transparent and democratic elections in 2020. We had the honour to be invited and we accompanied these elections – with a reinforced Election Experts Mission – adding up to our support for the democratic electoral process in the country.
Bolivia needs to address urgent challenges, such as overcoming the pandemic and the economic recovery. The European Union will continue to support the country, by promoting dialogue for reconciliation, involving all relevant actors, monitoring developments in the country and providing support to the promotion of democracy, rule of law and human rights in Bolivia, as these are fundamental principles of the European Union and of interest to all.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-204651