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Bolivia armed forces mobilize amid coup fears

Reuters reports that Bolivian armed forces took over the capital’s central square on Wednesday igniting fears of a military coup. (Credit: Reuters)

Bolivian President Luis Arce announced three new heads of the South American country’s armed forces following an attempted coup in which military units used armored vehicles to ram into the doors of Bolivia’s government palace.

The news of the new heads of the army, navy and air force came amid the roar of supporters.

“The country is facing an attempted coup d’état. Here we are, firm in Casa Grande, to confront any coup attempt. We need the Bolivian people to organize,” Arce said in a video message.

Video footage showed troops setting up blockades outside the government palace. Arce said the troops who rose against him were “staining the uniform” of the military.


Luis Arce

Bolivian president Luis Arce (Photo by RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

“I order all that are mobilized to return to their units,” said the newly appointed army chief José Wilson Sánchez. “No one wants the images we’re seeing in the streets.”

Soon after, troops began pulling back from the presidential palace. 

Arce confronted Army Gen. Juan José Zúñiga, who was recently stripped of his military command and who appeared to be leading the rebellion, in the palace hallway, as shown in a video on Bolivian television. 

“I am your captain, and I order you to withdraw your soldiers, and I will not allow this insubordination,” he said. 

On X, Arce called for “democracy to be respected.”

The United States said it was closely monitoring the situation and urged calm and restraint.


Coup at Bolivian presidential palace

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA – JUNE 26: Military Police walk amid tear gas outside the presidential palace at Plaza Murillo on June 26, 2024, in La Paz, Bolivia. President of Bolivia Luis Arce warned about irregular movements of military troops and raises the alert of a possible Coup d’état. (Photo by Gaston Brito Miserocchi/Getty Image)

Bolivia, a country of 12 million people, has seen intensifying protests in recent months over the economy’s precipitous decline from one of the continent’s fastest-growing two decades ago to one of its most crisis-stricken.

The country also has seen a high-profile rift at the highest levels of the governing party. Arce and his one-time ally, leftist icon and former President Morales, have been battling for the future of Bolivia’s splintering Movement for Socialism, known by its Spanish acronym MAS, ahead of elections in 2025.

The leadership of Bolivia’s largest labor union condemned the action and declared an indefinite strike of social and labor organizations in La Paz in defense of the government.

The incident was met with a wave of outrage by other regional leaders, including the Organization of American States; Gabriel Boric, the president of neighboring Chile; the leader of Honduras, and former Bolivian leaders.

Bolivian supporters of president

26 June 2024, Bolivia, La Paz: Supporters of Bolivian President Arce rally in support of democracy near the government palace during an attempted coup. (Photo by Radoslaw Czajkowski/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The most recent attempted coup on the continent occurred in December 2022 when Peruvian President Pedro Castillo was arrested the same day that he attempted to dissolve Congress, declare a state of emergency and re-write the constitution. He was eventually impeached and removed from office.  


“Brazil’s position is clear. I am a lover of democracy and I want it to prevail throughout Latin America. We condemn any form of coup d’état in Bolivia and reaffirm our commitment to the people and democracy in our sister country,” Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wrote on X. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Louis Casiano is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected].

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