BUENOS AIRES, Argentina
Exiled Bolivian Ex-President Evo Morales had strong words for the U.S. when he recently sat down with Anadolu Agency for an exclusive interview.
He said when police and the armed forces joined a coup against his government late last year, he had no choice but to resign to avoid a deadly confrontation that would have costs lives.
The U.S. thinks it has "acquired the right to make a coup wherever there are progressive presidents and leftist governments" in the region, he said.
"The first thing President [Donald Trump] did in my resigning process was congratulate the [Bolivian] armed forces for their participation in the coup. And now the U.S. is the first to recognize the putschist Jeanine Anez, the dictatorship," he said.
Anez, a religious conservative, was second in command of the Senate and became interim president when Morales fled to Mexico, where he was granted asylum.
He pointed to an economic rationale behind his ouster by drawing attention to policies he championed during three terms in office.
"And our sin, our crime, is to have proven that Bolivia can develop without the capitalist system, without the IMF [International Monetary Fund]," Morales added.
Bolivia’s first indigenous president won a fourth term in October but was immediately hampered by fraud accusations by the Organization of American States (OAS). The regional bloc is often accused of being a Washington puppet and mouth piece for U.S. policies.
Morales resigned Nov. 10 under military pressure and fled the country, first to Mexico and then Argentina, where he has been staying as a political refugee since Dec. 12.
He told Anadolu Agency the OAS committed the real fraud in the Oct. 20 elections.
"[The OAS] report says irregularities have been found in 226 ballot boxes out of 35,000. It is less than 0.5%.,” he said. “We add it up. If there had been irregularities in 226 boxes and if we register all the votes of the 226 boxes to the opposition party Civic Community (Comunidad Ciudadana) that came second, we would still have won in the first round. But if there had been irregularities, what had to be done from a legal perspective, was to renew elections for those boxes. That was the decision of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. But they made a political decision and stole the election, rather than a legal or technical decision," Morales said.
He went on to accuse the current interim government of abusing the armed forces in a bid to intimidate the electorate, but he said Bolivians have stood in solidarity against the coup in the face of challenges.
"For example, before Jan. 22, which is the National Day of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, they mobilized tanks, in a dictatorship style," he said.
But despite his resignation, which was done to prevent bloodshed, security forces killed 35 Bolivians and injured many others, he said.
Fourth term may have been a mistake
Morales contemplated his decision to seek a fourth term in a long political career that saw his rise from a local organizer to leader of a nation.
"Maybe it was a mistake for me to agree to run again," he said, referring to a Constitutional Court decision that allowed him to run in 2016.
"But there was a Constitutional Court decision. And also everything was fine in Bolivia -- economic growth, reduction of inequalities, poverty reduction and, above all, political stability," he said.
A constitutional referendum in 2016 allowed the president and vice president to run for a third consecutive term under the 2009 Constitution. Giving Morales’ term before 2009, it would have been his fourth term in office.
Morales said his immediate plan is to return to Bolivia and then figure out what to do next.
"Actually my plan was to finish this last term that we have won from 2020 to 2025, and then leave politics. But now that they provoked me, I will continue to be in politics," he said. But "that depends on the political situation in Bolivia."
Morales said he is confident his MAS party, "despite the coup, and the unfair electoral policies and rulings against Evo," is ahead in national polls scheduled for May.
As for whether he would return to run for a Senate seat he announced in earlier interviews, he said, "National and international legal experts" told him he is "legally authorized to be a candidate.
"But again, they would make political and illegal decisions," he said.
He said he hopes the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which has a time frame to evaluate, approve and reject candidates, will not subordinate itself to the "de facto" government as current ministers have already asked for the rejection of his candidacy.
"That is the message of the United States, which does not want me to be a candidate for the Senate,” he said. “As a matter of fact, the U.S. always rejected my candidacy.
“In 2002, when I first ran, the U.S. said ‘Evo Morales was the Andean Bin Laden and the coca growers were the Taliban.’ In 2005 they said that if we were president, there would be no investment, neither cooperation -- totally false. They have given us so many battles, we will continue in this one," said Morales.
He said the being engaged in fights for the disenfranchised helped his shape the policies of his government.
"A policy of sacrifice for the underprivileged and the poorest, that is our policy. I understood from the social and union struggle that brought me from leader to president -- how nice it is to have a service mentality," the Aymari leader said.
He entered politics "not for money but for the country" and "with truth and honesty," he said and urged young Bolivians to do the same.
"Therefore, I recommend to the new generations: If you want to do politics, think about the truth and honesty and think about the country, the people and fundamentally the poorest," he said.
* Vakkas Dogantekin and Aicha Isabel Sandoval Alaguna from Ankara contributed to this story.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.