Mexico City (AFP) – Bolivia’s ex-president Evo Morales arrived in Mexico Tuesday to take up political asylum, vowing “the struggle continues,” two days after resigning amid mounting protests over his fraud-stained re-election to a fourth term.
A Mexican air force plane carrying the leftist leader touched down at the Mexico City international airport, where Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard — who says Morales was the victim of a “coup” — warmly greeted him.
Grinning, waving and raising his fist in the air as he touched his heart, Morales thanked leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, saying “he saved my life.”
He vowed his flight into exile would not be the end of the story.
“As long as I am alive, I will remain in politics. The struggle goes on,” he told a large crowd of journalists gathered at the airport.
Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, defended his record bettering living conditions for poor and indigenous Bolivians, and said “there will only be peace when social justice is achieved for all.”
Wearing a sky-blue polo shirt and jeans, the former leader looked more well-rested than the previous day, after an overnight trek across much of Latin America — made longer when Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia itself denied requests to use their airspace, forcing the plane to make an unscheduled refueling stop in Paraguay.
Morales led Bolivia for more than 13 years before mounting protests over his fraud-stained fourth re-election on October 20 forced him to resign.
Morales, 60, was a member of the “pink tide” of leftist leaders who held sway across much of Latin America in the 2000s.
However, he was forced to step down after losing the backing of the military and police amid weeks of increasingly violent protests over his constitutionally questionable re-election.
A host of top officials resigned along with him, including his vice president and the heads of both houses of Congress, leaving the country with no clear leader and torn by looting and riots.
The constitutional next-in-line, deputy senate speaker Jeanine Anez, has pledged to call fresh elections.