Jeanine Áñez

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Jeanine Áñez
66 - Jeanine Áñez.jpg
66th President of Bolivia
In office
12 November 2019 – 8 November 2020
Vice PresidentVacant
Preceded byEvo Morales
Succeeded byLuis Arce
President pro tempore of CELAC
In office
12 November 2019 – 8 January 2020[a]
Preceded byEvo Morales
Succeeded byAndrés Manuel López Obrador
Senator for Beni
In office
22 January 2010 – 12 November 2019
Preceded byWálter Guiteras Denis
Succeeded byJorge Donny Chávez Suárez[3]
Member of the Constituent Assembly
In office
6 August 2006 – 6 August 2007
Personal details
Jeanine Áñez Chávez

(1967-06-13) 13 June 1967 (age 53)
San Joaquín, Beni, Bolivia
Political partyDemocrat Social Movement
Spouse(s)Tadeo Ribera Bruckner (m.1990–?)
Héctor Hernando Hincapié Carvajal (m.?–present)

Jeanine Áñez Chávez[4] (Spanish pronunciation: [ɟʝaˈnine ˈaɲes ˈt͡ʃaβes]; born 13 June 1967)[5] is a Bolivian politician and lawyer who served as the 66th President of Bolivia on an interim basis from 2019 to 2020. Áñez was previously a senator from the northeastern department of Beni from 2010 to 2019. She is Bolivia's second female president after Lidia Gueiler Tejada. She is a member of the centre-right Democrat Social Movement.

Áñez was born to a lower middle-class mestiza family in San Joaquín, Beni. She studied at the Autonomous University of the Beni José Ballivián, obtaining a graduate degree in law and legal sciences. Establishing a career in media, she worked as a presenter and eventually became director of Totalvisión. Moving into politics, she joined the Democrat Social Movement and served as a member of the Constituent Assembly between 2006 and 2008. In 2010, she was elected to the Senate as part of the Plan Progress for Bolivia – National Convergence. As a Senator, much of her work focused on women's rights issues, especially tackling violence against women. Áñez was openly critical of President Evo Morales's Movement for Socialism (MAS-IPSP) government,[6][7][8] focusing on what she perceived as its lack of financial transparency and human rights violations in Bolivia. Following a failed attempt to become Governor of Beni in 2012, she was elected to the role of second vice president of the Senate in 2019.

Following the disputed 2019 general election and the ensuing unrest, Morales agreed to calls for his resignation and went into exile. Áñez was the highest-ranking politician not to resign amid the crisis and thus became Bolivia's acting president. Despite MAS' opposition, she was confirmed as president by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly and Plurinational Constitutional Court. Responding to domestic unrest, Áñez issued a decree removing criminal liability for police and military in dealing with protesters, bringing criticism from human rights groups. Clashes included the Senkata and Sacaba Massacres. Áñez's government also launched investigations into alleged corruption and misdemeanors by MAS politicians, terminated Bolivia's close links with the socialist governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, and introduced measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although initially claiming she would not stand in the 2020 general election, she did so as the presidential candidate of the five-party "Juntos Avancemos" alliance.[9] Her candidacy was unsuccessful, and she was succeeded as president by MAS-IPSP candidate Luis Arce.

Early life and education[edit]

Jeanine Áñez was born in the small Amazonian town of San Joaquín in the Department of Beni, Bolivia, on 13 June 1967. She was the youngest of seven children born to two teachers.[10] Her background has been described as poor mestiza and lower-middle-class.[11][12] During this time, San Joaquín lacked proper roads, depended on diesel generators for power and rationed its water supply. Áñez has recalled, "We grew up with many limitations, with many needs, but nevertheless I had a beautiful childhood, very free."[10]

Áñez attended the local school, a girls' school of which her mother later became director. At 17, she received her baccalaureate and left San Joaquín to pursue study in La Paz, first at the Bolivian Institute and then at the Abraham Lincoln Institute. She studied to become a secretary.[10] Áñez continued to Santa Cruz, where she took further courses, including computing and some English.[10] After getting married at the age of 23, she moved to Trinidad, Bolivia, where she enrolled at the Autonomous University of the Beni José Ballivián and obtained a graduate degree in law and legal sciences.[6][10] Áñez passed the bar in 1991.[6]

Political career before presidency[edit]

Before becoming a politician, Áñez was a media presenter[13] and director at Totalvisión.[5]

Constituent Assembly (2006–2008)[edit]

Between 2006 and 2008, Áñez served as a constituent assemblywoman for the drafting of the new constitutional charter, also working as part of the judiciary.[6]

First senatorial term (2010–2015)[edit]

In 2010, Áñez was elected to the Senate as a member of the party Plan Progress for Bolivia-National Convergence (P.P.B - C.N), representing the Department of Beni in the National Assembly.[6][14] She ran for governor of Beni in 2012.[15]

In 2011, Áñez spoke out against the Morales government's approval of a finance bill for the construction of the Villa Tunari-San Ignacio de Moxos highway. She claimed that it was not approved with due consideration for the native peoples and institutions of the region, saying, "indigenous people's rights were violated", a sentiment echoed by leader of the natives of the Isiboro Sécure National Park Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS), Adolfo Moye, who said the bill was enacted "without considering the serious impact on the ecosystem and natural reserves of the region."[16]

In 2012, Áñez and fellow party legislator Adrián Oliva presented a report to the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies of Uruguay in an effort to publicise human rights violations in Bolivia. According to the UN refugee office, UNHCR, there were around 600 Bolivian exiles or refugees, 100 political prisoners and at least 15 cases of torture at the time. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Bolivia had a "crisis in the administration of justice".[17] Also in 2012, Áñez was selected as a Bolivian representative to the Amazonian Parliament.[18]

In 2013, there was a series of nationwide strikes and protests against the MAS government about the reduction of seats in the Chamber of Deputies for Beni, Potosí and Chuquisaca.[19] As Senator of Beni, Áñez joined picket lines and was among six legislators and a dozen indigenous representatives of CONAMAQ to go on hunger strikes in protest of the legislation being passed by the MAS majority in both chambers.[20][21]

In 2014, Áñez made complaints about the government's lack of financial transparency. Opposition legislators' requests for reports with which they could audit the activities of the state were delayed and, in 499 out of 1979 cases for the 2013-14 period, received no response. According to the regulations of the Chamber of Deputies, authorities were given 10 business days to respond to a request for a report, and 15 days in the Senate. If a request for a written report is not answered, an injunction can be issued to give a time limit of 48 hours. Áñez said that in many cases, these injunctions were ignored and there was a "denial of information". Many of the projects had large budgets with several interested parties for whom access is even more restricted. She said of many requests that did receive replies, "they are responses without response". Responses included two sheets of photocopies, material unrelated to the request or boxes full of documents that did "not intend to clarify the doubts, but to hinder the work of the legislators."[22] In 2019–2020, many of these cases are under investigation.[23]

Second senatorial term (2015–2019)[edit]

In 2017, her nephew was arrested in Brazil for smuggling 480 kilos of drugs. Áñez, who has spoken out against the proliferation of drug trafficking in South America, faced criticism for the connection and countered it by stating that she is not responsible for her nephew's actions. She also criticised the government at the time as being responsible for a growth in drug trafficking and pointed out that a member of the ruling party also had a relative arrested at the same time for the same charge.[24]

In 2018, Áñez was one of three Senators to make a complaint against Gisela López, then Minister for Public Works. This involved the management of the state-owned Bolivia TV and undocumented expenditure of more than $40 million. The case had already been the target of more than 30 obstructed complaints by a former minister.[25] In 2019, this became the centre of the Neurona case, in which López and 22 others "are suspected of the alleged crimes of improper use of influence, negotiations incompatible with the exercise of public functions, breach of duties, contracts harmful to the State and uneconomic conduct".[26] Also in 2018, Áñez presented a bill to the Senate to combat "sexual blackmail", saying, "Social networks lend themselves to everything. We have seen that the viralization of intimate videos has become an extortion mechanism and on some occasions it is to blackmail psychologically and economically, so the intention is to penalize and specifically typify it".[27] After she became president, anti-Áñez posters spread a pornographic video on social media supposedly depicting her, which she denied and called a "vile attack".[28]

During her second senatorial term, Áñez was associated with legislative work to combat violence against women, which has become a continuing theme for her politically.[12]

By 2019, Áñez was elected the second vice president of the Senate. Her alternate was Franklin Valdivia Leigue.[5] This role placed her fifth in the line of succession to the presidency.[6] Before the 2019 presidential election, Áñez had questioned the reliability of opinion polls, based on unclear methods and inconsistent results.[29]

In early 2019, Áñez called for an investigation into prison wardens in Beni after speaking to victims of rape and abuse by guards. She aimed to set a precedent to bring in new legislation that can be upheld.[30]

Interim president (2019–2020)[edit]

Initial protest period[edit]

Áñez presented a Bible as she assumed the presidency.

On 10 November 2019, after more than two weeks of protests and marches stemming from allegations of electoral fraud, Morales and his vice president, Álvaro García Linera, resigned from office, due to pressure from political opponents and civic groups and loss of support from former political allies, the police and the military.[31] This was followed by the resignation of Adriana Salvatierra Arriaza, the president of the Bolivian Senate, who was next in the constitutional line of succession[32]—leading to a situation where all constitutional successors were exhausted. The role of acting president of the Senate would normally fall to the vice president of the Senate, Rubén Medinaceli, but since he also had resigned, the position fell to Añez as second vice president.[33] Thus Añez became the highest-ranking official in the line of succession to the presidency of Bolivia and said she would fill the role if needed. The succession was not automatic, however, as the Legislative Assembly needed to hold emergency meetings to accept the president's and vice president's abdications and determine who was next in line due to the lack of constitutional guidance.[34] Áñez could not attend an emergency assembly until the day after Morales's resignation, as she was in Beni and there were no Sunday flights from there to La Paz.[6]

On 11 November, Añez arrived at La Paz-El Alto airport and was taken in a military helicopter to a nearby Air Force base. From there, she traveled to the Bolivian Senate. At 4 p.m., an emergency vote took place to formally accept the resignations of the previous day.[35] Morales's MAS party, which still held a majority in the upper chamber, boycotted the vote. Constitutional experts Paul Coca and Israel Alanoca said that, while the normal quorum would have been desirable for purpose of quelling accusations of a coup d'état, there was no specific regulation to deal with the resignation of leaders and an emergency vote on the grounds of human rights concerns and establishing social peace was legally valid.[36]

On the evening of 12 November, per article 169 of the Constitution of Bolivia, Áñez was declared acting president of Bolivia in front of a session of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly.[37] MAS also boycotted this vote, calling it illegal.[38][39][40] Áñez received the votes of the remaining parties, a third of parliament.[41] The Plurinational Constitutional Court later upheld the vote,[42] making Áñez Bolivia's second female president, after Lidia Gueiler Tejada, who served as interim president in 1979-80 before being overthrown in a coup after the 1980 Bolivian general election.

On 13 November, Salvatierra contended her own resignation was not valid because the Senate had not accepted it, and therefore that Áñez should not be able to assume the presidency by becoming president of the Senate.[citation needed] This prompted a further Senate session on 14 November, this time with MAS's involvement, that affirmed Salvatierra's resignation more formally and elected Mónica Eva Copa from the Movement for Socialism as the new president of the Senate.[43]

After Áñez took office, the governments of Canada, Brazil, the European Union, Russia and the United States recognized her as the acting president of Bolivia.[44][when?]

Amid a pledge to "rebuild democracy", Áñez unveiled her new cabinet. Her senior ministers included prominent businesspeople from Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The first 11 members of her cabinet did not include any indigenous people, which The Guardian called a sign that she did "not intend to reach across the country's deep political and ethnic divide". Later appointments included two indigenous people.[45][46] Morales's first cabinet was majority indigenous (14 out of 16 positions), but the number steadily declined, and by 2017 it contained only three indigenous members.[47][48]

2019 Senkata and Sacaba attacks[edit]

On 15 November, amid continuing protests, violence and shortages in several main cities, Añez issued Decree 4078 to enlist the police and army to pacify the country. Article 3 of the decree reads, "The personnel of the Armed Forces who participate in operations to restore internal order and public stability will be exempt from criminal liability when, in compliance with their constitutional functions, they acted in legitimate defense or state of necessity, in observance of the principles of legality, absolute necessity and proportionality."[49] This decree was criticised by several human rights groups, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN Human Rights Commission, who all called for its immediate revocation.[49] Amnesty International described it as "carte blanche" for human rights abuses.[50]

The same day, there was a confrontation close to Sacaba with pro-Morales protesters, mainly coca growers, attempting to cross a bridge on which a police cordon had been set up. Nine people were killed and 17 injured, 11 with bullet wounds.[51] According to the preliminary OAS investigation, the group was initially met with verbal instructions that the UN Ombudsman's Office was on its way to intervene. Moments later police and military officers allegedly opened fire on the civilians and attacked them with teargas and by beating and kicking them. The police report states that 201 people were involved in "violent acts" and 10 men were arrested for the "crimes of armed uprising, possession and carrying of firearms, and manufacture and trade of explosive and suffocating substances", and state authorities maintained that the police had not opened fire but that the protesters had shot one another.[52] On 28 November, Añez repealed the controversial decree, but not before another massacre occurred in the Senkata district of El Alto, in which another nine people were killed and more injured.[53][52] Protesters had blockaded the Senkata gas refinery plant in previous days.[52] The government's response was, again, that it had not fired shots and had been under attack.[54] In the immediate aftermath, seven people were arrested on charges of terrorism and sedition, specifically on destruction of part of the Senkata refinery wall, which the defence minister warned could have ended in a tragedy if gas tanks and other fuels exploded.[55] Áñez said, "We deeply regret the deaths of our brothers in El Alto. It hurts us because we are a government of peace", and called for dialogue with the protesters. In addition, she asked international organizations and the church to accompany this process in order to stop the violence. "Let's unite to reconcile, to build the Bolivia for which we are all fighting and so that one Bolivian is never above the other", Áñez said.[56]

At the government's invitation, the IACHR investigated the deaths and injuries that occurred during this period of violence. On 10 December it published its preliminary observations, based on interviews conducted with eyewitnesses. It wrote, "it is appropriate to describe these events as massacres, given the number of people who lost their lives in the same way and at the same time and place, and because the acts in question were committed against a specific group of people. Furthermore, the patterns of injuries that have been recorded point strongly to extrajudicial killing practices". The report "reminded the Bolivian state that lethal force cannot be used merely to maintain or restore public order" and urged that those responsible be prosecuted, investigated, and sanctioned.[52][57]

On 7 December 2019, the government offered compensation of 50,000 Bolivianos ($7,500) to victims' families, with a clause that dictated that they must give up their right to file international judicial complaints on the matter. The families rejected the offer and human rights activist Ruth Llanos called it an attempt to "silence the complaints of the victims' families".[58] After the IACHR's preliminary report and ongoing talks, the proposed agreement was changed to remove the clause that prevented international complaints, and the compensation offered was increased to 100,000 Bolivianos ($15,000) for families of those killed and from 12,500 to 50,000 Bolivianos for those injured, the amount depending on severity. By request of the families, the amount is to be given in humanitarian aid (including 12 months of food) rather than a single payment. A final agreement has not been reached as there is general mistrust that the government will follow through on its promises.[59] As of 22 September 2020, 11 of 35 families have received this payment. Affected families also qualify for scholarships at the school and university level for the next academic year.[60]

On that same day, a tenth victim died of wounds from the Sacaba massacre. The Bolivian Human Rights Ombudsman said the victim had "not received any assistance and died completely abandoned by the state" and demanded compliance in particular with the parts of Supreme Decree 4100 that mandated the financial coverage of medical care for victims.[61] They also denounced that, after seven months, no advances had yet been made into the investigation into the massacre, saying, "seven months after what happened, the victims are still waiting to receive justice for what happened and the compensation promised by the State."[62] In March 2020, the Plurinational Assembly convened a multi-party commission of members of MAS, PDC and UD to investigate the deaths at the two locations.[63] Their findings were delayed until 20 August and further postponed until 27 September.[64][65]

Policies as president[edit]

Political and electoral changes[edit]

Early on, Áñez said that Morales would not be permitted to run for a fourth term, should he return to Bolivia.[66][67] The Constitutional Court confirmed this, reversing its decision to overturn the 2016 Bolivian constitutional referendum (the results of the referendum barred all public figures from having an unlimited number of terms). This also prevented the vice president from running for a fourth term. The decision was further ratified on 23 November when a bill was approved by the legislature, both houses of which are dominated by Morales's Movement Toward Socialism party.[68]

On 23 November, Áñez rejected a bill presented by Morales's party that would have prevented him and all others in his party from being tried for crimes committed during their tenures in office. "With respect to approving this bill in favor of those who have committed crimes and who now seek impunity, my decision is clear and firm: I will not promulgate this law", Áñez said. The bill did not have MAS's full support; one member of the Chamber of Deputies said, "I ask the president [Morales] to reflect and really listen to the Bolivian people," and claimed that for years the "oppressed wing" of MAS suffered discrimination from within the party.[69]

Since then, Áñez's government has led numerous investigations into members of previous administration and those linked to them, charging many with corruption. Most of the charges involve embezzlement or misappropriation of state-owned companies and awarding state contracts where there was a conflict of interest. These include Entel, a state communications company that saw losses of $250 million and was called MAS's "petty cash", the Neurona case, the Bolivian Highway Administrator that saw $310 million disappear into uncompleted or unobserved projects, investments in state-owned petroleum projects that were not developed and the diversion of money from the Indigenous Fund. All these cases involve government ministers and several were subject to complaints from members of the opposition in the past.[23][70] Corruption watchdogs have observed that corruption was common under the MAS government and continues to be a problem in the interim government.[71][72] The number of prosecutions has led to accusations of political persecution from human rights groups.[73][72] Similar observations were also made during the Morales era.[74][75][76] In response, the government has said, "it must be remembered that the current judicial branch, be it the Supreme Court of Justice, the Constitutional Court, the Council of the Magistracy, all have been appointed by MAS and in other cases have been preselected by MAS."[77][78]

On 10 December, Áñez created a committee to facilitate the return of an estimated 1,300 political exiles created during Morales's presidency, saying, "The committee will not help people who are prosecuted for crimes against humanity or for drug trafficking." These exiles include Manfred Reyes Villa, Mario Cossío, Branko Marinkovic and Elsner Larrazábal.[79][80][81]

On 31 December 2019, Áñez sent a bill to the Plurinational Legislative Assembly mandating that candidates take part in debates. She said of electoral debate, "it is an obligation. Democracy thrives on freedom and the freedom to be responsible requires information". During the almost 14 years that Morales ruled Bolivia, he never debated another candidate.[82] This bill was rejected by the opposition-controlled Assembly; Áñez appealed to it to reconsider, on the grounds of "making democracy".[83]

On 8 January 2020, the government decided to ratify the 22 January public holiday Morales created to celebrate the founding of the Plurinational State of Bolivia via the 2009 constitution. On that day the president of Bolivia normally addresses the nation, but doubt had been expressed whether the holiday would go ahead due to its strong connection with Morales and MAS. In a public statement, minister for the Presidency Yerko Núñez said, "January 22 is a holiday by presidential decree. We are going to respect that decree and our president is evaluating if she is going to make a report about the pillars of this government, which are transition, pacification and management."[84] Áñez gave the traditional address, in which she thanked the indigenous people of Bolivia for "having accompanied the process with wisdom and firm decision".[85]

On 6 March 2020, The Washington Post reported that "Since being sworn in, the fiercely anti-socialist Áñez has presided over the detention of hundreds of opponents, the muzzling of journalists and a 'national pacification' campaign that has left at least 31 people dead, according to the national ombudsman and human rights groups".[86] On 7 June 2020, The New York Times echoed this, writing that Áñez's government "has persecuted the former president’s supporters, stifled dissent and worked to cement its hold on power".[87]

Social policy[edit]

On 6 February 2020, Áñez invited the people of Bolivia to attend a march in Santa Cruz in support of the fight against violence against women and children, an issue increasingly highlighted by the Bolivian press.[88][89]

On International Women's Day, 8 March 2020, Áñez announced a $100 million investment in the fight against violence against women. She declared 2020 the Year of the Fight Against Feminicide and Infanticide in Bolivia, saying, "I am the worst news for all those murderers of women, users of violence, abusers, stalkers and rapists, because I will not get tired of closing against these aggressors".[90][91]

Economic policy[edit]

The government authorized an increase in bank interest rates and reduced the tax rate for large companies. According to French newspaper Libération, the interim government offered new land to the agro-export sector and, in order to deal with the economic consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, mobilized $600 million from public funds to pay off the debts of large private companies (one of the main beneficiaries of which is the Minister of Economy Branko Marinkovic).[92]

A plan to return the shares of the public electricity company Elfec (nationalized in 2010) to a former private shareholder, Cooperativa de Teléfonos de Cochabamba, led to resistance in the Senate and to tensions within the government and the resignation of three ministers.[93]

Foreign policy[edit]

According to The Straits Times, Áñez's government has "denounced foreign influence in the country since taking power, naming Colombians, Peruvians, Cubans and Venezuelans at different times... blaming foreigners for provoking violent clashes during post-election violence."[94] Bolivia has had long-standing problems with foreign groups involved in organised crime, largely the drug trade.[95][96] Police arrested an Argentine national and fugitive since 2017, Facundo Morales Schoenfeld, in the eastern province of Santa Cruz. He was previously a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and was among the protesters in Yapacaní.[97] Facundo Morales's family contests the government's version of events, claiming that he worked in Bolivia as a photojournalist and that his detention is arbitrary.[98] Around the same time, four Cubans were discovered in El Alto with 90,000 Bs ($13,000) in two backpacks.[99] Venezuelan migrants, fleeing the unrest in their country, were subject to accusations of "political activity" and involvement in criminal activities under the Morales government, with human rights groups expressing concern about persecution of Venezuelans in Bolivia.[100][101] While police and interim government ministers have cited involvement of armed and politically aligned Venezuelans in pro-Morales protests,[102][103] they have also granted Venezuelan refugees amnesty, extended permanence and transit of Venezuelan citizens, and approved a resolution to help Venezuelan children and adolescents.[104][105][106]

On 27 November 2019, Bolivia expelled 702 Cuban doctors. The Cuban doctor program had been controversial in Bolivia in previous years, with the Bolivian medical workers union (FESIMRAS) complaining that Cubans needed only a simple photocopy to practice medicine whereas the requirements for Bolivians were much more stringent, and that many medical professionals were unemployed.[107][108][109] Áñez's government said that the Cuban embassy was paid $147 million over 13 years for the program; Medical College of La Paz president Luis Larrea said there was "indiscriminate use of state assets, the waste of state money deposited in private accounts to supposedly pay Cubans, when these resources should be in a fiscal account", and that Bolivian doctors felt "belittled".[109][110] There have also been suggestions that only 205 of the 702 Cubans were doctors, the others working as drivers, technicians and in other areas that had nothing to do with medicine "but were assigned salaries of 1,032 dollars" as if they were doctors, and that documents for these workers were falsified.[111][112] The former head of the Cuban doctors program in Bolivia, Carlos de la Rocha, faces charges of breach of duties, destruction of documents, theft, and other crimes. He maintains his innocence.[113][114]

Áñez's government has explicitly signaled an attempt to disassociate itself from countries that were political allies of Morales and "anti-imperialist ideology". Chancellor Karen Longaric said, "The relationship with Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba was aimed at consolidating an ideological current that had a geopolitical project. Bolivia did not benefit at all. It has always contributed more than it received and we are a developing country that cannot afford to make contributions or invest outside the country and sustaining other economies", adding, "Bolivia did not want to participate in the association agreements with the EU, unlike Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, which did and that benefited, for example, with the elimination of visas to travel to Europe. Bolivia at the time moved away demonizing free trade agreements and treaties."[115] Áñez recognized Juan Guaidó as acting president of Venezuela in the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis, 24 hours after he took office.[116] Her government also severed diplomatic relations with Venezuela's Maduro government, giving its diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.[117][118] Áñez has called on Guaidó to appoint a new Venezuelan ambassador to Bolivia, "who will be recognized immediately by our government."[116]

A month later, Áñez's government announced Bolivia's entry into the Lima Group, a regional bloc established in 2017 with the purpose of finding a way out of the Venezuelan crisis. The Bolivian foreign ministry said in a statement that it hoped to "contribute to a peaceful, democratic and constitutional solution to the crisis in Venezuela, which must be guided by the Venezuelan people."[119] The same month, her government announced that it would give refuge to 200 Venezuelans "who have fled their country for reasons of political order, of political persecution promoted by the Nicolás Maduro government."[120]

An intention to move away from the previous government's ideology was further highlighted in the closure and replacement of the General Juan José Torres Anti-Imperialist Command School,[121][122] an institution that made many military and political opponents uneasy as it was viewed as an attempt to align the military to a political ideology more sympathetic to the MAS party. A ministry of defense press release stated, "The core of the teaching focuses on anti-imperialist content with different components for the benefit of sergeants, second lieutenants, lieutenants, captains and above". Taking and passing these courses was compulsory to gain promotions.[123][122] In 2016, the defence minister of Nicaragua, Martha Ruiz Sevilla, and of Venezuela, the controversial Vladimir Padrino López, attended its opening.[124][122] Áñez's government had previously made it no longer compulsory to shout the phrase Patria o muerte ("Fatherland or death") during military activities. In 2010, Morales had integrated the phrase, popularised by Fidel Castro in a 1960 speech, into the military, replacing the traditional subordinación y constancia, viva Bolivia hacia el mar ("subordination and constancy, long live Bolivia towards the sea").[125]

Bolivian embassies in Iran and Nicaragua have been closed, officially in order to save money.[92]

The Bolivian government supported the re-election of Luis Almagro as head of the Organization of American States (OAS) in January 2020.[126]

Terrorists and Drugs[edit]

On 3 December 2019, the formation of a new anti-terrorist group, Grupo Anti-Terrorista (GAT), was announced to combat terrorist groups and narcotics traffickers.[94]

Coronavirus in Bolivia[edit]

Since early March 2020, Áñez has implemented numerous controls for the COVID-19 pandemic, including closing all borders, prohibiting all international and interdepartmental flights, a strict nationwide curfew and restricting driving to those transporting foods and supplies and those carrying out essential services. During total quarantine, the population was restricted to their homes except for one day a week, determined by national ID card, for essentials and emergencies. So-called "mobile markets" are in operation to bring goods into neighbourhoods.[127] The crisis had also resulted in the postponement of the 2020 Bolivian general election, the delay having been agreed upon by all parties involved.

On 21 April 2020, Áñez and her cabinet pledged to donate 50% of their monthly salary to a fund to help those affected by the pandemic and encouraged other parliamentarians to do the same. The president's monthly salary is Bs 24,251 ($3,520); that of a Minister of State Bs 21,556 ($3,130); and that of a Vice Minister Bs 20,210 ($2,930). The initial sum is Bs 250,000 ($36,290) per month. There is also an account managed by the ministry of health that anyone can donate to.[128]

On 13 May 2020, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights asked the Bolivian government to modify Supreme Decree 4231, which was passed during the pandemic, stating, "Supreme Decree 4231 about the diffusion of information during the pandemic must be modified in order to not criminalize freedom of expression and make it completely compatible with the government's international obligations."[129] Áñez repealed the decree the next day. The United Nations High Commission on Human Rights in Bolivia praised "the openness and willingness of the authorities to the concerns of national and international actors." The IACHR also welcomed the decision, with presidential candidate Carlos Mesa calling it a "citizen victory".[130]

As of 15 September 2020, the government had paid 12.8 million bonds totalling 5.76 billion BOB ($840 million) to support those suffering from the quarantine and affected by later closures and poor economic climate. This was claimed by all households in extreme poverty and 90-96% of those in moderate poverty. The payments continued and included support for families, students, the elderly and the disabled.[131][132] The government also pledged to pay domestic electricity and water tariffs from April through June 2020 to ease families' economic burdens. Eight in 10 households received a 100% discount in May.[133]

On 9 July 2020, it was announced that Áñez had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.[134] On Twitter the next week, she announced that she and her son who had also tested positive were in good health.[135]


Coat of Arms of Bolivia Escudo de Bolivia.svg Bandera de la flor de patujú.svg
Cabinet of Bolivia
Interim Presidency of Jeanine Áñez, 2019–2020
Office Name Term
Presidency Jeanine Áñez 12 November 2019 - 8 November 2020
Vice Presidency Vacant -
Ministry of the Presidency Jerjes Justiniano Atalá 13 November 2019 - 3 December 2019
Yerko Núñez[136] 3 December 2019 - 6 November 2020
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Chancellor) Karen Longaric 13 November 2019 - 8 November 2020
Ministry of Government Arturo Murillo 13 November 2019 - 6 November 2020
Ministry of Defense Luis Fernando López 13 November 2019 - 6 November 2020
Attorney General's Office José María Cabrera[137] 3 December 2019 - 18 September 2020
Alberto Javier Morales[138] 22 September 2020 - 8 October 2020
Ministry of Development Planning Carlos Melchor Díaz 15 November 2019 - 4 August 2020
Branko Marinković 5 August 2020 - 28 September 2020
Gonzalo José Quiroga 28 September 2020 - 6 November 2020
Ministry of Education Virginia Patty Torres 18 November 2019 - 28 January 2020
Víctor Hugo Cárdenas[139] 28 January 2020 - 19 October 2020
Ministry of Rural Development and Land Mauricio Ordoñez 13 November 2019 - 27 January 2020
Eliane Capobianco 28 January 2020 - 9 November 2020
Ministry of Economy and Finance José Luis Parada Rivero 13 November 2019 - 7 July 2020
Óscar Ortiz Antelo 7 July 2020 - 28 September 2020
Branko Marinković 28 September 2020 - 6 November 2020
Ministry of Public Works, Services, and Housing Yerko Núñez 13 November 2019 - 3 December 2019
Iván Arias Durán 3 December 2019 - 9 November 2020
Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy Carlos Huallpa 18 November 2019 - 7 May 2020
Fernando Vásquez Arnez 8 May 2020 - 30 May 2020
Jorge Oropeza Terán 12 June 2020 - 9 November 2020
Ministry of Justice and Institutional Transparency Álvaro Eduardo Coimbra Cornejo 13 November 2019 - 9 November 2020
Ministry of Health Ánibal Cruz Senzano 14 November 2019 - 7 April 2020
Marcelo Navajas 8 April 2020 - 20 May 2020
María Eidy Roca 21 May 2020 - 9 November 2020
Ministry of Work, Employment, and Social Security Oscar Bruno Mercado Céspedes 28 January 2020 - 28 September 2020
Álvaro Tejerina Olivera 28 September 2020 - 9 November 2020
Ministry of Hydrocarbons Víctor Hugo Zamora 14 November 2019 - 9 November 2020
Ministry of Energies Rodrigo Álvaro Guzmán Collao 13 November 2019 - present
Ministry of the Environment and Water María Elva Pinckert Vaca 13 November 2019 - 9 November 2020
Ministry of Productive Development and the Plural Economy Wilfredo Rojo Parada 14 November 2019 - 7 May 2020
Óscar Ortiz Antelo 8 May 2020 - 7 July 2020
José Abel Martínez 7 July 2020 - 28 September 2020
Adhemar Guzmán Ballivián 28 September 2020 - 9 November 2020
Ministry of Cultures and Tourism Martha Yujra Apaza 14 November 2019 - 4 June 2020
Ministry of Communication Roxana Lizárraga 13 November 2019 - 16 January 2020
Isabel Fernández Suárez 16 January 2020 - 4 June 2020
Ministry of Sports Milton Navarro Mamani 14 November 2019 - 4 June 2020

Merged ministries[edit]

On 5 June 2020, President Jeanine Áñez, through a message to the nation, announced the decision to reduce her Ministerial Cabinet from 20 to 17 State portfolios, with the aim of saving resources and investing them in strengthening the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Thus, the Ministry of Sports and Ministry of Cultures and Tourism were merged under the Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Communication was merged with the Ministry of the Presidency.[140]

2020 presidential candidacy[edit]

On 5 December 2019, Áñez stated that she would not run or support any candidate in the upcoming presidential election.[141] Minister for the Presidency Yerko Núñez reiterated this on 15 January 2020, saying, "[Áñez] will not be a candidate. The President has stated on several occasions she will not be a candidate. This is a government of peace, transition, and management because you can not stop the state apparatus."[142]

Nevertheless, Áñez announced her candidacy on 24 January 2020.[143] A Los Tiempos poll found that, while 43% of respondents considered her to have done a "good or very good" job as interim president (compared to 27% bad or very bad), only 24% of respondents believed that she should run in the upcoming election. In the same poll, 63% of respondents agreed with the statement that "as interim president, Jeanine Áñez should call elections and not take advantage of her power to become a presidential candidate."[144] Her running mate, who was previously critical of her decision to run for president, was Samuel Doria Medina, a former presidential candidate and leader of the centre-left National Unity Front party.[145] They stood under the newly formed Juntos alliance.[146]

Her decision to run for president sparked criticism: former President Jorge Quiroga (Revolutionary Nationalist Movement) said that Áñez's move hurt Bolivia's international credibility and put at risk the objective of holding impartial elections; Evo Morales claimed on Twitter that Áñez's candidacy was proof that there had been a coup against him; newspaper Los Tiempos in an editorial also criticized Áñez's decision, saying it “transgressed a kind of tacit pact”, and urged her to withdraw.[147]

On 17 September 2020, Áñez withdrew from the presidential race, saying the opposition needed to join forces to beat front-runner Luis Arce, from Morales's Movement for Socialism.[148] On 18 October, Arce received 55.1% of the vote, enough to win outright without a second round. Áñez's term ended on 8 November 2020.[149]

Senkata and Sacaba report and charges[edit]

On 29 October 2020, in its last legal session, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, meeting in joint session, approved a final report on the “massacres of Senkata [and] Sacaba."[150][151] The report recommended that Añez be prosecuted for genocide and backed criminal indictments of 11 of her ministers.[152][153] Senate president Eva Copa specified that the report would be submitted to the Bolivian prosecution for possible proceedings.[154]

Of the trials, Añez said, "The MAS recovers its habit of prosecuting those who think differently. That is why it must be reminded that democracy is not only the rule of the majority. In addition, it is the government that adjusts to the law and it is the government that respects freedom." In August 2020, MAS Senators passed the so-called "Rooting Law", which would prevent former authorities at different levels of government from leaving Bolivia for three months after the end of their mandate. The purpose of the law was to prevent authorities that have committed acts of corruption from fleeing the country. The United Nations said that this law violated human rights standards and that, while accountability of officials was important, it "must not violate the presumption of innocence and due process, nor place an undue restriction on the right to freedom of movement, which includes power of every person to freely leave their country."[150][155]

Race relations[edit]

Around 41% of Bolivia's population are indigenous,[156] and this population often encounters discrimination, mainly related to poverty and ethnicity.[157] After the 2006 election of Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia, polarization between the indigenous peoples and others increased[157] as Bolivia's political system shifted from left-right politics to indigenous-urbanist politics.[158]

Shortly after Áñez's inauguration, her opponents circulated tweets dating back to 2013.[159] These tweets, directed at indigenous peoples, have been called "racist" by The Guardian[160] and "provocative" by The New York Times.[156] On Twitter, Áñez called the Aymara people's New Year celebration "satanic" and said that "nobody can replace God", and she implied that indigenous people were not genuine for wearing shoes.[161] She later said, "I’ve seen a couple of tweets that I never wrote and that we already stated were false" and that she never made "ill-intentioned" comments.[157] Agence France-Presse confirmed that three of the four circulated tweets were legitimate.[161] In the opening days of her presidency, María Galindo, an anarcha-feminist and psychologist, called Áñez's government "anti-indigenous."[160] Of Áñez, she later said that "her hatred of the Indian is of all hatreds the most painful, because it is a hatred of herself", referring to Áñez's mestizo background.[162] Galindo is equally critical of Morales with regard to indigenous rights, calling him a "fraudulently indigenous president who tramples on the rights conquered in decades by the indigenous peoples of the East."[163]

As acting president, Áñez has kept wiphala, the flag of indigenous Bolivian communities, as a co-official flag of Bolivia, as it had been under Morales, declaring that she was committed to the fundamental task of "highlighting the unity [of the] plural and diverse" nation of Bolivia.[164] In addition to the wiphala, she has the patujú flag displayed prominently.[165] The patujú is a symbol of Bolivia's eastern indigenous peoples. This flag was also adopted by indigenous opposition to Morales during the TIPNIS protests.[166][157] On 26 November 2019, Áñez was presented with and wore a red poncho (a traditional Andean garment worn by community leaders) by representatives of the indigenous community upon the inauguration of Rafael Quispe as director of the Fund for Indigenous Development.[167] On 28 January 2020, she signed a bill to provide cultural recognition to the seven different identities of the country's indigenous women. After signing, she said, "This bill is a demonstration of the value of the pollera woman as the main character in the fight for the equality of indigenous, rural, migrant and mestizo women", adding, "the principle of equality must transcend laws and transform society and create more opportunities for indigenous and rural women."[168]

On 26 September 2020, at a ceremony attended by indigenous leaders, Áñez apologized on behalf of the state for the oppression and violence suffered by indigenous peoples of the TIPNIS region nine years earlier under the Morales government, saying, "the right of the [indigenous] peoples to self-determination deserves permanent respect from the those in power."[169]

Personal life[edit]

At age 23, Áñez married Tadeo Ribera Bruckner, a lawyer and a former mayor of Trinidad, the capital of Beni, representing the Unión Cívica Solidaridad (UCS) party. They had two children together, Carolina (born 1990) and José Armando (born 1995). Ribera died in Santa Cruz de la Sierra on 29 January 2020.[170][10]

Áñez's second husband is Héctor Hernando Hincapié Carvajal, a Colombian from Tolima. He is a politician in the Colombian Conservative Party.[6][171] Hincapié ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Colombian Senate in 2018, and as a member of the Tolima regional assembly and House of Representatives in 2010 and 2014 respectively.[172] Until recently, they travelled between Bolivia and Colombia to see one another, although this has become easier since his failure to win a seat in 2018.[173]

Áñez describes herself as a Christian, and held up a large Bible while declaring herself the interim president; The Guardian called this an "explicit rebuke" of Morales, who has a strained history with the Catholic Church. Political analyst Carlos Cordero stated, "She is a believer, but she does not use her religiosity politically, she expresses it, she lives it."[174]


  1. ^ CELAC pro tempore presidency is assigned to countries and it automatically passes to the next president after elections. After the 2019 Bolivian political crisis, Jeanine Áñez would become pro tempore president of CELAC. Jeanine Áñez did not attend to the CELAC summit and did not formally pass the pro tempore presidency.[1][2]


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  164. ^ "Jeanine Añez instruye que junto a la sagrada tricolor se mantenga la wiphala". 12 November 2019.
  165. ^ Colocan la bandera de la Flor del Patujú junto a la wiphala y la tricolor en Palacio Quemado | EL DEBER
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  172. ^ "The Colombian that stole the heart of the President of Bolivia". (in Spanish). 13 November 2019.
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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Evo Morales
President of Bolivia

Succeeded by
Luis Arce