In the afternoon on December 23, the Mexican government released a statement in which it alerted to an excessive presence of security forces at the installations of its diplomatic mission in La Paz, Bolivia. According to reports, as many as 150 civilian and uniformed officers arrived to the installations in the Bolivian capital on Monday December 23 and surrounded both the residency and the embassy itself.
On November 10, the democratically elected government of Evo Morales was overthrown in a coup d’état. Dozens of his ministers and legislators from his party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) were also forced to resign amid a heavy campaign of threats, intimidation and violence. Evo Morales and his vice-president Álvaro García Linera fled to Mexico in order to preserve the lives of themselves and their family members while around 9 functionaries of Morales’ government and others sought refuge in the Mexican embassy located in La Paz.
In the last week of November, the coup regime issued arrest warrants for five of the government functionaries believed to be seeking asylum in the Mexican embassy including Juan Ramon Quintana (ex-Minister of the Presidency), Wilma Alanoca (ex-Minister of Culture), Víctor Hugo Vásquez (ex-Governor of Oruro), Nicolás Laguna (ex-director of the Government Agency for Electronics and Information and Communications Technology) and Sergio Daniel Martínez Beltrán (ex-functionary of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, who allegedly has now fled the country).
In this context, the enclosure of the embassy is seen as an act of intimidation to those seeking asylum in the embassy. However, the Mexican government has warned that any incursion into the embassy would be a violation of the Vienna convention to which Bolivia is a signatory: “The Government of Mexico calls on the parts that make up the Plurinational State of Bolivia to respect and fully cover the obligations of the Bolivian state with respect to Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” They highlighted the clause which states “The premises of the mission are inviolable. The agents of the receiving state cannot penetrate them without consent of the chief of the mission.”
Former president Evo Morales denounced the militarization of the embassy on twitter, “We repudiate that the de-facto government in the military dictatorship style violates the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relationships to enclose the Mexican residence with police and use drones that violate its airspace to intimidate and put at risk the security of the asylum seekers.”