RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – An Argentine prosecutor today asked to initiate an investigation against former President Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) and other members of his government for allegedly smuggling weapons to Bolivia to suppress social protests in that country in 2019, by taking up a complaint filed by the government of his successor, Alberto Fernandez.
Prosecutor Claudio Navas confirmed to Efe that, in particular, he asked the judge to promote a criminal investigation for the crimes of smuggling “aggravated by the number of people, for having allegedly involved public officials and for being weapons of war.”
In addition to Macri, Navas charged his former Minister of Security, Patricia Bullrich; and the Minister of Defense, Oscar Aguad; as well as the former Argentine ambassador to Bolivia, Normando Alvarez García, and three officials of the Gendarmerie.
IN THE HANDS OF THE JUDGE
Last Monday, the current government, which took office in December 2019 after defeating Macri in the October elections, filed a criminal complaint for the alleged shipment to Bolivia of ammunition and anti-riot material in parallel to the inauguration of Jeanine Áñez as president on November 12, 2019, a seizure of power that Argentina considers was a coup d’état against the then president, Evo Morales.
That complaint, which seeks to determine whether those former officials illegally sent ammunition to repress the protests after Morales’ departure, fell into the hands of the prosecutor, who decided to give impetus to the one filed by the government.
According to Navas, the accusation against the members of the Gendarmerie is for being the ones who would have carried out the transfer of the armament; while Bullrich is for allegedly ordering the shipment; Aguad for providing support with the plane for the transfer and the former ambassador for being the one to whom the former commander of the Bolivian Air Force Gonzalo Terceros addressed a letter of gratitude for the material received.
Meanwhile, Macri is accused because the alleged procedure must have required a “direct or indirect” knowledge of the former president, because he was the commander in chief of the Armed Forces.
70,000 MUNITIONS UNDER INVESTIGATION
Specifically, the focus is on the destination of some 70,000 “anti-tumult ammunition” that, according to the current government, left the country to be used to protect the Argentine embassy in La Paz, but that, in the end, were neither used for that purpose nor authorized by the Bolivian police.
“The Government of then President Mauricio Macri sent an elite group called Alacranes, which belong to the Gendarmerie, to reinforce the security of the ambassador, the embassy and his family and the personnel inside the embassy”, said last Wednesday the Minister of Security, Sabina Frederic, in a meeting with the international press.
The official, on whose ministry the Gendarmerie depends, specified that those ten troops arrived accompanied by armament and ammunition that passed the corresponding registration, and stressed that “in parallel on the same flight”, on November 12, 2019, those 70,000 suspected ammunition rounds were transported.
But she added that the Alacrán Squadron “did not fire a single shot” in La Paz, neither with the investigated ammunition nor with those authorized by the Bolivian Police: “Besides, the Alacrán group is not prepared to make use of those ammunitions, nor to contain demonstrations”, she sentenced.
“It is the first time, and this shames us as Argentines, that a democratic president of our country would have collaborated with a coup d’état of a brother country”, expressed in the same meeting the Minister of Justice, Martin Soria.
In an interview last weekend, Macri denied having sent “lethal” ammunition to Bolivia, and denounced a “persecution” against his family and collaborators by the current Argentine Executive.