RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The interpellation (a parliamentary procedure of demanding that a government official explain some act or policy) of the Bolivian Parliament to the Minister of Government (Interior), Eduardo del Castillo, for the detention of the former interim president Jeanine Áñez, derived this Tuesday in an embarrassment to the point of blows between legislators of the ruling party and the opposition.
The issue that polarized the parliamentarians of the ruling Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), who have the majority, with those of the opposition Comunidad Ciudadana and Creemos was whether the political and social crisis that the country went through in 2019 was the product of an electoral fraud or a coup d’état.
Del Castillo’s report was preceded by the presence outside the Parliament of the victims of the so-called massacres of Sacaba, Senkata and Pedregal in which more than twenty civilians died in tensions with the Army when Jeanine Áñez had assumed the interim Presidency of the country, after the resignation of Evo Morales from power.
This protest was symbolized by three cardboard coffins placed at the Parliament’s entrance moments before Minister Del Castillo answered the five questions posed by a group of opposition legislators.
PUGILATION AMONG LEGISLATORS
The internal atmosphere was filled with banners calling for “justice” for the victims or with questions about “where is the tear gas money”, in reference to the recent corruption scandal that splashed the interim government of Áñez.
In front of the main lectern there was also a pile of papers with inscriptions of “actas 2019” and “actas 2020” with which Del Castillo challenged the opponents to prove that there was no electoral fraud in those two years.
When the minister took the floor the shouts from the opposition bloc began with responses from the MAS side.
“Calm down please!”, “I am asking you for sanity!”, suddenly said the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Freddy Mamani, who interrupted the minister, to call the attention of other legislators. Creemos Senator Henry Montero and MAS Deputy Antonio Colque exchanged fist blows in the front row until both fell to the floor, despite their colleagues’ attempts to separate them.
After that, the same scene was repeated between two female legislators, one from MAS and the other from the opposition, who confronted each other with hair pulling and scratching. Mamani was forced to declare a ten-minutes pause to reinstate the session.
AN EXALTED MINISTER
“Accomplices of corruption, drug trafficking and deaths, be quiet! keep your composure! the Bolivian people can see you”, reproached Del Castillo before the shouts of the opponents who interrupted his explanation.
“Accomplices, accomplices, accomplices, accomplices, murderers accomplices”, shouted the minister in an even more exalted tone, simulating chants before his detractors until the interruption came due to the blows between parliamentarians.
After the recess, Del Castillo exposed the arguments why, in his opinion, in 2019 there was a “coup d’état” and not an electoral fraud”.
Minutes before, during the recess, the head of the Creemos bench, Edwin Bazán, told the media that the minister was “incapable of presenting arguments” and accused him of acting with cowardice during the session.
RATIFICATION OF THE MAJORITY
The act of interpellation continued and the MAS majority legislators’ bench had already advanced that they would support Del Castillo for the actions that followed in the arrest of Añez. Since mid-March, the former interim president has been in preventive detention for the so-called “coup d’état” case in which she is accused of sedition, conspiracy, and terrorism, following a complaint by former MAS parliamentarian Lidia Patty.
Like her, former Justice Minister Álvaro Coímbra and former Energy Minister Rodrigo Guzmán are being held.