By RICARDO CASTILLO
Bolivia’s pro tempore president, Janine Añez, has very little governance experience, so she’s decided that to make her stay at the presidency she must pick a fight with other nations.
Right after coming to power on Nov. 15, her first move was to break diplomatic relations with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Maduro was most happy with that decision because his buddy Evo Morales was no longer at the helm of the nation.
Then, the second fight she picked was with Mexico. It must be said that Añez has so far stayed aloof from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), letting former Bolivian President Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga Ramírez do the AMLO-bashing. Tuto tried that a couple of weeks ago, but AMLO did not take the bait, leaving the fierce-looking Tuto with cladded boxing globes but nobody to trade punches with.
AMLO is shrewd and Tutu miscalculated the Mexican president’s political savvy, particularly in not engaging in useless fights, just the way he’s done with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Then, on Monday, Dec. 30, Añez opted for kicking out Mexican Ambassador María Teresa Mercado, along with several Spanish diplomats who – according to her and not to them – were ganging up to sneak one of the nine asylum seekers out of the country.
Spain responded by expelling three attachés – a meaningless gesture – while Mexico didn’t even bother since the Bolivian Embassy in Mexico City has “no one worth kicking out,” according to a Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Relations spokesperson.
As a sidebar comment, Mercado, a 42-year-old veteran in diplomatic relations, is now home in Mexico enjoying the traditional codfish and turkey dishes of the holiday season.
Añez’s road to collision with Mexico led nowhere. Mexican Interior Secretary (SeGob) Olga Sánchez Cordero also promptly disarmed Añez and her foreign relations minister, Karen Longanic, who did not like being called “a de facto government” or “golpista,” the Spanish word meaning they arrived to power through a coup d’etat, which, in fact, they did.
Mexico has not even considered breaking off diplomatic relations with Bolivia. There is no reason to do so, except the one involving Mercado, but that issue is now out of the way.
The new Bolivian government wants to be called “constitutional” even though it is transient and leading the nation to an upcoming election which it will organize.
In this case, it has an old problem and that’s ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is organizing the opposition from Argentina, yet another government the two ladies are at odds with.
And there is something else to consider: When it comes to international press coverage, Morales is beating Añez on the media articles count by a wide margin. Morales is an ousted president, while Añéz represents the usurpers.
Another thing that weighs heavily in terms of Bolivia’s ties with Mexico is the fact that Mexico’s economic relation with Bolivia is practically meaningless in economic terms, so whatever the Bolivian government is doing to attract attention to itself is totally unimportant to diplomatically concerned Mexicans.
Also, the Bolivian president of the Chamber of Deputies, Sergio Choque, has said he sees the behavior or President Añez – particularly her expulsion of Mercado – as “hormonal and illegal” because she has overestimated her status of a “transition president, and this may later lead to a rupture of relations with these nations (México and Spain), both of which have played an important role in the development of our nation.”
Finally, some people claim that Añez is creating a smokescreen in order to stay in power and forego her promise to organize new elections.
About the only issue now to settle for Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard is getting the former Morales officials in the Mexican residency safely out of Bolivia. It is no minor concern, but surely, it will not affect Mexico much.
Finally, currently the Organization of American States (OAS) is in a vacation recess. It will be interesting to see how it handles the Bolivian case.