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Bolivia's Morales lands in Mexico as military moves against his supporters

BOLIVIA’S ousted president Evo Morales landed in Mexico today after its government offered him sanctuary.

“It pains me to leave the country for political reasons, but I’ll return soon, with more strength and energy,” he tweeted, as police and army violence against his supporters was reported across Bolivia.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the plane had had to scramble a new route as “some nations” closed their airspace to it.

The far-right Brazilian regime of Jair Bolsonaro has welcomed the military coup that forced Mr Morales’s resignation on Sunday night, just days after he had won emphatic re-election as president with 47 per cent of the vote in the first round. 

Though Argentina’s left candidate Alberto Fernandez won the country’s election last month, rightwinger Mauricio Macri remains in office until December and he reportedly refused safe passage to Mr Morales.

Argentina’s press workers’ union Sipreba said that National Radio had forbidden journalists from using the term “coup” to describe the army’s ousting of Mr Morales following violent protests by opposition parties that refused to accept their election loss.

The Bolivian army moved to crush demonstrators against the coup in El Alto. At least six people were shot, 30 injured and a girl attacked by soldiers but rescued by supporters of Mr Morales’s Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, as far as can be pieced together from video released on social media.

Morales supporters in El Alto had pledged to march on the capital, but army chief General Williams Kaliman, who on Sunday forced Mr Morales to resign, said this had been put down in a “police-military operation” to “avoid bloodshed.”

A citizen in the capital, La Paz, tweeted that there was “terror in Bolivia” and that helicopter gunships had fired on a crowd of indigenous supporters of Mr Morales, South America’s first indigenous president.

The defence minister Javier Zavaleta resigned on Monday, saying he had never authorised the military “to wield its weapons against the people. Bullets are not the answer,” he said.

It is unclear who wields authority in Bolivia now, as all those in the line of succession to Mr Morales were part of the MAS, which had majorities in both houses of the nation’s parliament, and have resigned.

Opposition politician Jeanine Anez summoned a legislative session today to accept Mr Morales’s resignation and designate a replacement, but it was not clear how many deputies would attend when the Morning Star went to press.

US left politicians Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez added their voices to international condemnation of the coup against Mr Morales late on Monday. 

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