Families of those detained in the failed coup attempt in Bolivia say they were deceived. The president says this is not his problem

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Death threats have been coming in shortly after Jimena Silva’s husband was arrested on charges of participating in a terrorist plot. Failed coup in Bolivia.

“They call us and tell us that if we do or say anything they will disappear. They threaten not only us but also our children,” Silva said. “They call us from unknown people and tell us they will kill our children.”

Now, Silva, a mother of three, sits with her mother and brother, crying at the prison gates, clinging to any news of her husband, Luis Domingo Balanza.

Balanza, a military major for more than 15 years, Of the 21 people arrested After a group of military vehicles and armored vehicles attempted what the government called “ failed coup“Friday night, a Bolivian judge sent the former general. Juan Jose Zunigawho led the failed coup, was sent to a high-security prison pending investigation along with two others accused of terrorism and armed uprising against the state.

Families of the detainees appeared visibly confused and anxious in the prison where their loved ones were being held on Friday, saying they knew nothing about a plot in the run-up to Wednesday’s scene. Many of the detainees’ families say their loved ones were simply “following orders” or were told they were carrying out “military training.”

Bolivian President Luis Arce has washed his hands of the families’ claims that the detainees are innocent or duped. In an interview Friday with The Associated Press.

“It is the problem of those who participated, not the government’s problem,” he said.

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Images from Bolivia shocked the world on Wednesday as an armored vehicle stormed the government palace in La Paz, the seat of the country’s government, and military officers fled after embattled President Luis Arce said his government would not back down.

The general, who was sacked by Arce amid the chaos, claimed he stormed the government office on behalf of Arce to gain political support at a time of deep economic discontent in 2013. BoliviaWhich raises doubt among many.

Zuniga’s lawyer, Stephen Orellana, told the Associated Press that prosecutors planned to charge Zuniga with terrorism crimes and starting an armed uprising. He added that he could not provide more details about this case.

Bolivia’s ambassador to the Organization of American States announced Thursday that about 200 military officers participated in the coup attempt.

“These people ordered the destruction of Bolivian heritage,” senior cabinet member Eduardo del Castillo said at a news conference.

Hundreds of demonstrators echoed del Castillo’s voice outside the prison and other government buildings on Friday, carrying signs reading “Zuniega, traitor, coup leader, respect the state.”

Inside, weeping families told another story.

Silva and her mother, Daniela, said their family was in dire financial straits and no longer had the income to care for their three children. The family was among those who said their father was simply following orders, telling him to step away from the online course and head to the square outside the government palace. Silva said her husband later turned himself in.

“How will we feed our family?” asked Daniela, who spoke on the condition that her last name not be revealed because of the threats.

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“My son is not evil,” she said. “He is just a subordinate. He preserved his legacy and exploited it.”

Families and lawyers of the accused interviewed by the AP could share few details about their family members’ cases and legal arguments because they were in the midst of legal proceedings, but most said they were seeking “justice” for the detainees.

Nubia Barbieri said her husband, Colonel Raul Barbieri Moiba, was instructed by Zuniga to conduct “military training.” Barbieri said he left the arena as soon as he entered, told Zuniga he had been “tricked,” and then called her shortly after.

The families’ claims add an extra layer of confusion to the doubts sowed by Zuniga on Wednesday night about the validity of the coup.

Upon his quick arrest, he claimed, without providing any evidence, that Arce had ordered him to carry out the rebellion, prompting the political opposition to describe the case as a “self-coup.”

Zuniga claimed that the takeover was merely a ploy to boost Arce’s flagging popularity as he struggled to manage Rising economyDeepening political divisions and exacerbating public discontent. Ars on Thursday strongly denied the accusations. He told the Associated Press that Bolivia is not experiencing an economic crisis, and that the government is “taking measures” to address the economic difficulties of the Bolivian people.

The embattled president is competing with powerful former President Evo Morales over who will be their party’s candidate in the 2025 presidential election. Arce said his government had been “politically attacked” by Morales, which hindered his government from addressing the economic turmoil.

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The escalating political dispute has left Bolivians feeling disappointed and confused about what really happened during those three chaotic hours on Wednesday when armored vehicles rolled into downtown La Paz and Arce came face to face with the coup plotters and ordered them to retreat.

But it remains unclear whether Zuniga’s claims about Arce are true – or whether the disgruntled general is simply seeking to exploit the escalating crises in Bolivia for his own gain.

However, many like Cynthia Ramos were outraged by Wednesday’s chaos.

“Zuniga should pay the maximum penalty for attacking the Bolivian people,” said Cynthia Ramos, 31, one of the protesters in prison.

Families may say their loved ones are innocent, but Ramos said: “This cannot be done by just one person. This person had allies, high-level allies. … They should also be given the maximum penalty.”

Police were seen Friday morning walking a handcuffed Zuniga through the jail.

Shortly before, his wife, Graciela Arzacibia, kept her eyes down as she waited for the general to emerge from the police station. Carrying a small bag of snacks, she worried about her 6-year-old son, who she said thought his jailed father was away at work.

“I ask them to take into account the families. We haven’t done anything,” she told the Associated Press.

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