Bolivia’s president accused of plotting coup against himself to boost popularity

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Short-Lived Coup Attempt Rocks Bolivia: Former Army Chief Arrested

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On Wednesday afternoon, the normally peaceful Plaza Murillo in downtown La Paz became a scene of chaos as armored vehicles circled the square and troops marched on the presidential palace. By 2:30 PM, a small tank rammed the gates of the Palacio Quemado, and troops stormed the building. In a dramatic standoff, former army chief Juan José Zuñiga confronted President Luis Arce, who ordered Zuñiga to withdraw his troops. After a tense exchange, Zuñiga retreated.

The attempted coup, which lasted just three hours, ended with Arce rallying Bolivians to defend democracy and appointing a new military command to quell the mutiny. The unrest left many Bolivians shocked and confused. Zuñiga, arrested shortly after, claimed without evidence that Arce had orchestrated the coup to boost his popularity. The opposition seized on these claims, demanding an investigation.

President Arce denied the allegations, condemning Zuñiga’s actions as an attack on democracy. The government announced 20 more arrests, including a former Navy vice-admiral, as about 200 military officers were implicated.

Amidst the political turmoil, Bolivia faces economic challenges with rising food prices, fuel shortages, and internal divisions within Arce’s political party. The president is also embroiled in a power struggle with former president Evo Morales, both vying for the presidency in the next election. The rumors of a “self-coup” have taken root in the public’s mind, potentially deepening the fragility of Arce’s government.

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