Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 11 December 2019

Former Bolivian president Evo Morales heads to Mexico for asylum

Move helped cement Mexico's emerging role as a bastion of diplomatic support for left-wing leaders in Latin America

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales holds a Mexican flag onboard a Mexican government jet on November 11, 2019. Twitter
Former Bolivian President Evo Morales holds a Mexican flag onboard a Mexican government jet on November 11, 2019. Twitter

Bolivia's former president, Evo Morales, headed to Mexico on Tuesday after fleeing his South American homeland, seeking refuge under a leftist government that supported the veteran socialist after a disputed election.

Mr Morales departed Bolivia late on Monday on a Mexican Air Force jet, Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said.

"His life and integrity are safe," Mr Ebrard wrote on Twitter, after saying that Morales was in danger. He also said Mexico would offer asylum as part of its long tradition of sheltering exiles.

Mexico's support helped cement its emerging role as a bastion of diplomatic support for left-wing leaders in Latin America.

Mr Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president who governed for 14 years, said on Twitter he was thankful to Mexico but saddened to leave Bolivia for political reasons, after weeks of violent protests and unrest.

In a picture tweeted by Mr Ebrard, Mr Morales was seated alone on the jet with a downcast, unsmiling expression, displaying Mexico's red, white and green flag across his lap.

His government collapsed on Sunday after ruling party allies quit and the army called on him to step down, a tactic that Mexico called a "coup" because it broke with Bolivia's constitutional order.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador praised Morales for the decision to resign rather than put the lives of Bolivians at risk.

His departure added to a sense of crisis in Latin America, which has been hit by weeks of unrest in countries such as Ecuador and Chile, where protesters are urging governments to step back from policies raising fuel and transport prices.

Updated: November 12, 2019 11:49 AM

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