The resignation of Bolivia’s socialist leader Evo Morales, who had been the country’s president for 13 years, is a “significant moment for democracy,” said President Donald Trump in a statement on Monday.
Morales’ resignation came after weeks of protests following the South American country’s elections in October.
“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,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump noted that the events in Bolivia, including Morales’ departure, will “send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”
Morales was criticized for manipulating Bolivia’s laws and constitution so that he could run for president a fourth time. In October, he declared he won the elections despite accusations of voter fraud, the BBC noted.
Following weeks of protests, Bolivia’s army chief, General Williams Kaliman, urged Morales to resign “to allow for pacification and the maintaining of stability,” the BBC reported.
On Sunday, during a televised speech, Morales said he would resign but said he is the victim of a “civic coup,” Reuters reported.
“I am resigning, sending my letter of resignation to the Legislative Assembly,” Morales added. He said it was also his “obligation as indigenous president and president of all Bolivians to seek peace.” Vice President Alvaro García Linera resigned as well.
His socialist allies in Latin America, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Argentine President-elect Alberto Fernandez, described the move as a “coup,” said Reuters. Nicaragua’s government, ruled by far-left leader Daniel Ortega, also claimed that “fascist practices” were at play during Morales’ resignation.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have previously blasted Morales’ human rights record.
“Morales has created a hostile environment for human rights defenders that undermines their ability to work independently,” said HRW in a 2019 annual update.
According to Amnesty, “Morales and his government minister, Carlos Romero, have publicly accused and threatened human rights defenders and organizations critical of their policies, demonizing them and hampering their important work, says Amnesty International in a new report published today.”