President Trump on Monday hailed the ouster of Bolivian President Evo Morales as a “significant moment for democracy” even as Morales’s supporters and some U.S. lawmakers likened it to a coup.
Trump issued a statement approving of Morales’s resignation, which capped weeks of unrest following the country’s elections last month.
“After nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people, Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump said the events in Bolivia “send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”
Mexico on Monday offered asylum to Morales, and later said the Bolivian leader had requested it.
Morales and his leftist government have been in power for 14 years, but the country’s first indigenous president has come under scrutiny toward the end of his tenure. Morales changed the country’s laws in order to run for office a fourth time and declared he won last month’s election despite widespread accusations of fraud.
The Washington Post reported the the heads of the armed forces and police withdrew their support for the government in recent days amid escalating protests. By Sunday, all four socialist officials atop the Bolivian government had resigned in what Morales likened to a coup.
That language was echoed by prominent liberals in the U.S. Congress, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), both self-described democratic socialists.
“I am very concerned about what appears to be a coup in Bolivia, where the military, after weeks of political unrest, intervened to remove President Evo Morales,” Sanders tweeted.
“What’s happening right now in Bolivia isn’t democracy, it’s a coup,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “The people of Bolivia deserve free, fair, and peaceful elections — not violent seizures of power.”
Trump has used socialist governments around the world to attack Democrats and their progressive policies ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
The Trump administration has pushed for the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, but has thus far been unsuccessful.