Bolivian security forces detain Argentine deputy Federico Fagioli

The deputy from Frente de Todos coalition in Argentina was detained at the airport in El Alto by immigration officials, police and unidentified individuals and taken to a detention center in the airport

October 17, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch

In the midst of an increasingly tense pre-electoral climate in Bolivia, an Argentine national deputy Federico Fagioli was detained upon arrival to Bolivia’s political capital La Paz. Fagioli traveled to Bolivia as part of a delegation of 3 Argentine deputies to fulfill the function of international electoral oversight in the elections to be held on Sunday October 18. Fagioli, a national deputy from the Frente de Todos coalition, along with four other deputies were invited by the president of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, Eva Copa to oversee the electoral process and were approved by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

The Argentine deputies traveled from Buenos Aires to Cochabamba, where they passed through the Bolivian migration checkpoint with no problems. According to reports, when arriving at the airport in El Alto, next to La Paz, immigration officials detained Fagioli in the airport and took away his documents without any explanation. The group was accompanied by a member of the diplomatic staff of the Argentinian embassy in Bolivia who attempted to negotiate with the authorities.

After a drawn-out negotiation process within the airport, immigration officials announced that they were prohibiting the entrance of Fagioli. In a document shared on twitter by national deputy Paula Penacca the immigration officials justified the prohibition of entry because the person in question (Fagioli) had been condemned of at least one of a series of crimes including crimes against humanity, war crimes, money laundering, human trafficking and other serious crimes.

Following this, over a dozen immigration officials, police and unidentified armed men forcibly removed Fagioli from the airport along with the member of the diplomatic staff at the Argentine Embassy. They proceeded to attack and beat up the two. The member of the diplomatic staff was struck to the floor and had a respiratory attack amid the commotion. Fagioli was then taken away with no explanation and brought to a detention center, where he remains at this moment.

The incident has been widely denounced by organizations within Argentina, Bolivia and the world as a grave violation of international laws and norms as well as a serious blow to the democratic process in Bolivia.

Argentine president Alberto Fernández tweeted: “Argentine legislators were mistreated when they arrived to La Paz to fulfill their tasks to do oversight of the elections this Sunday. It is the direct responsibility of the de facto government of Jeanine Áñez to preserve the integrity of the Argentine delegation.”

Former president of Bolivia Evo Morales, forcibly removed in a coup d’état in November 2019 also denounced the incident stating: “We condemn the shameful actions of the de facto government against the deputy Federico Fagioli, member of the Mission of Observation of the Argentine Congress for Sunday’s elections in Bolivia. He was illegally retained and had his documents taken away upon his arrival to the airport in El Alto.”


UPDATE: Federico Fagioli was allowed to leave the airport at around 3am.