- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2019

President Trump said Monday the resignation of Bolivia’s president sends a message to “illegitimate regimes” in Venezuela and Nicaragua that the Western Hemisphere is closer to becoming “completely democratic.”

“The resignation yesterday of Bolivian President Evo Morales is a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “After nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people, Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard.”

Mr. Morales quit his office Sunday, just after he had accepted calls for a new election by an Organization of American States team that found a “heap of observed irregularities” in the Oct. 20 election the official result of which showed him getting just enough votes to avoid a runoff against a united opposition.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Monday that his country has granted Mr. Morales‘ request for asylum.

Mr. Morales resigned after weeks of deadly riots culminating Sunday in Bolivia’s military chief, Gen. Williams Kaliman, calling on him to quit to allow the restoration of peace.

Mr. Trump said the U.S. “applauds the Bolivian people for demanding freedom and the Bolivian military for abiding by its oath to protect not just a single person, but Bolivia’s constitution.”

“These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail,” Mr. Trump said. “We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous and free Western Hemisphere.”

The U.S. has been urging Venezuela’s leader, Nicolas Maduro, to step down amid a severe economic crisis and accusations of corruption.

In Bolivia, crowds of jubilant Morales foes celebrated in the streets Monday. He resigned after weeks of massive protests, but the resignation of every constitutionally designated successor left unclear who will take his place and how.

Angry supporters of the socialist leader set barricades ablaze to block some roads leading to the country’s main airport as tension gripped the nation.

Mr. Morales himself lashed out at political opponents, calling it a return to the bleak era of coups by Latin American militaries.

Opponents “lie and try to blame us for the chaos and violence that they provoked,” he tweeted Monday.

His vice president also resigned as did the Senate president, who was next in line. The only other official listed by the constitution as a successor, the head of the lower house, had resigned earlier.

The European Union called for calm, saying it stood ready to send election observers to monitor any new polls if a request is made.

“If the conditions are right, we will be ready to work on it,” said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. She added that credible elections could be held soon, “most importantly, avoiding any form of violence from any side, and showing a level of statesmanship that is needed in this moment.”

Bolivian opposition leader Carlos Mesa said Mr. Morales was brought down by a popular uprising, not a military coup. The military made a decision not to deploy in the streets because “they didn’t want to take lives,” Mr. Mesa said.

There were no immediate signs that the military itself was maneuvering for power, although analysts warned the power vacuum opened up space for the military to step in.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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