National Police Commander Tannya Varela has dismissed reports alleging that Ecuador sent ammunition to Bolivia to help the interim government of President Jeanine Anez put down civil unrest following the resignation of former president Evo Morales.
“The ammunition claimed to have been delivered to the Anez government was military grade, which is not used by Ecuador’s National Police to maintain public order. We do not have military equipment and we certainly did not send any to Bolivia,” Varela told television network Teleamazonas in an interview.
She said that it is not uncommon for Latin American countries to exchange information and non-lethal weapons for crowd control and that Bolivia received tear gas from Colombia and Peru in 2019.
Earlier last week, lawmaker Fausto Jarrin asked the office of the attorney general to look into the actions of the country’s former president, as well as the ex-minister of government, Maria Paula Romo, related to the alleged shipments of various ammunition in November 2019. Bolivia is conducting a similar investigation as well but has not released any information.
Jarrin, a one-time attorney for former president Rafael Correa, claims that Moreno ordered the National Police to send 5,000 hand grenades, 500 outdoor sound and flash grenades, 2,389 long-range 37MM caliber projectiles and 560 short-range 37 MM caliber projectiles to the Anez government.
Except for the flash grenades, Varela says the National Police has none of the ammunition and equipment Jarrin says she shipped.
In November 2019, Bolivia underwent a change in leadership following mass protests against the results of a general election a month earlier. Evo Morales stepped down as president on November 10 and fled to Mexico and later to Argentina. Most of Bolivia’s senior officials resigned with him. This resulted in the upper house of parliament’s second vice speaker and opposition lawmaker Jeanine Anez declaring herself interim president and vowing to hold a new election.
Supporters of Morales and some world media called the events a coup.
In the new election in 2020, socialist candidate Luis Arce, who had served as a government minister in the Morales administration, won convincingly. Anez and several of her ministers have been jailed for her part in the interim government while top military leaders have fled to the U.S.
The Bolivian authorities and international human rights advocates are currently investigating the deaths of 37 people during the election protests.