Jeanine Anez ‘stable’ after suicide attempt in jail

Bolivian interim President Jeanine Anez speaks during a news conference in La Paz [File: Ronaldo Schemidt/ AFP]
Former Bolivian interim President Jeanine Anez

Jailed former Bolivian President Jeanine Anez is in “stable” condition after she tried to take her own life after prosecutors charged her with “genocide” over the deaths of protesters in 2019, an official has said.

“We can say, without a doubt, that her health is stable,” Juan Carlos Limpias, the director of prisons, told reporters on Sunday. “At the moment, she is with her family in the penitentiary. The family will be an important factor to help improve her state of mind,” he added.

Carolina Ribera, Anez’s daughter, said her mother made an attempt on her own life on Saturday due to “severe depression” because of her prolonged imprisonment. Norma Cueller, Anez’s lawyer, said: “This is a cry for help from the former president. She feels very harassed,” the lawyer told reporters.

Anez, 54, was detained earlier this year over accusations that she participated in a coup to depose longtime former President Evo Morales in 2019. She has denied the allegations and says she is a victim of political persecution. She is in jail while awaiting trial.

On Friday, Attorney General Juan Lanchipa announced “genocide” charges against Anez over two incidents in November 2019 in which a total of 22 people died in clashes with the police. The victims were supporters of Morales.

Lanchipa said he had presented documents against her in which the incidents were “provisionally classified as genocide, serious and minor injury and injury followed by death”. Anez also faces charges of terrorism, sedition and conspiracy. The Bolivian opposition said it deplored the government’s treatment of Anez and called for her release.

Former centrist President Carlos Mesa demanded an end to her “political jailing” and asked for an independent probe into her condition. Anez’s family has repeatedly asked the government to transfer her to a hospital for treatment of hypertension and other conditions.

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.

She was sworn in as interim president as the most senior parliamentarian at the time, 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 protege Luis Arce won a landslide victory.

Arce subsequently promised to pursue those he accused of staging a coup. 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 Arce.

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