Bolivian General Arrested After Failed Coup Attempt Amidst New Crisis

Bolivia coup attempt, Luis Arce, Juan José Zúñiga, Evo Morales, Bolivian political crisis, economic crisis, South American politics, failed coup, Bolivian government, MAS party

Explore the recent failed coup attempt in Bolivia, led by General Juan José Zúñiga, and its impact on the nation’s political and economic crisis. Learn about the responses from President Luis Arce, his supporters, and international leaders.

Bolivian General Arrested After Failed Coup Attempt Amidst New Crisis
Bolivian General Arrested After Failed Coup Attempt Amidst New Crisis

Bolivian General Arrested After Failed Coup Attempt as Government Faces New Crisis

In a dramatic turn of events, Bolivia witnessed an apparent failed coup attempt on Wednesday, spearheaded by a top general who vowed to “restore democracy.” Armored vehicles stormed the doors of Bolivia’s government palace, only to retreat a few hours later. This incident marks the latest crisis in a country already struggling with political strife and an economic downturn.

The Coup Attempt Unfolds

The nation of 12 million people was thrown into chaos as troops seemed to take control of the government of President Luis Arce. However, Arce stood firm and swiftly named a new army commander, who immediately ordered the troops to stand down. The rebellion ended after just three hours, with soldiers and military vehicles pulling back. Hundreds of Arce’s supporters then flooded the square outside the palace, waving Bolivian flags, singing the national anthem, and cheering.

Following the soldiers’ retreat, the army chief, General Juan José Zúñiga, was arrested as the attorney general opened an investigation into the coup attempt. Government Minister Eduardo del Castillo announced that former navy Vice Adm. Juan Arnez Salvador was also taken into custody. Del Castillo stated, “What was this group’s goal? The goal was to overturn the democratically elected authority.”

Late Wednesday, Defense Minister Edmundo Novillo declared, “everything is now under control.” Surrounded by newly appointed military chiefs, Novillo said Bolivia experienced a “failed coup.”

Political and Economic Tensions

The coup attempt came amidst months of tensions between President Arce and his former ally, ex-president Evo Morales. The infighting within the ruling party has paralyzed the government’s efforts to address the severe economic crisis. Morales’ allies in Congress have consistently blocked Arce’s attempts to secure debt relief measures.

During the rebellion, General Zúñiga cited the political paralysis, claiming the military was seeking “to restore democracy.” He accused politicians of “destroying the country” and leaving it in a crisis. “The armed forces intend to restore the democracy, to make it a true democracy,” Zúñiga said.

Rapid Crisis Response

The crisis began in the early afternoon as soldiers filled the streets of La Paz. President Arce quickly labeled the troop deployment as irregular and warned of a coup attempt. Despite the initial chaos, the coup lacked substantial support, and even Arce’s rivals defended democracy and condemned the uprising.

In a surprising twist, Zúñiga alleged that President Arce himself had orchestrated the coup attempt to boost his popularity, a claim that Arce vehemently denied. Justice Minister Iván Lima dismissed Zúñiga’s claims as lies and stated that the general would face justice for attacking democracy and the Constitution. Prosecutors are seeking a maximum sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison for Zúñiga.

Historical Context and Reactions

Bolivia has a history of political unrest. In 2019, Evo Morales was ousted as president following another political crisis. As Wednesday’s crisis unfolded, President Arce confronted Zúñiga in the palace hallway, ordering him to withdraw the soldiers. Arce announced new military leadership amid the support of his backers and thanked the police and regional allies for their support.

The attempted coup drew condemnation from regional leaders, including the Organization of American States, Chilean President Gabriel Boric, and the leader of Honduras. Gustavo Flores-Macias, a professor at Cornell University, emphasized the importance of international condemnation to prevent similar attempts in other countries. “If we allow the interruption of the constitutional order to take place in Bolivia, it could serve a demonstration effect,” Flores-Macias said.

Economic and Political Fallout

Bolivia has faced escalating protests in recent months due to a severe economic decline. Once one of the fastest-growing economies in South America, Bolivia is now one of the most crisis-stricken. The struggle between Arce and Morales has further splintered the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, ahead of the 2025 elections.

In the wake of the failed coup, local media reported Bolivians stocking up on essentials, fearing further instability. Addressing supporters outside the presidential palace, Vice President David Choquehuanca vowed, “Never again will the Bolivian people permit coup attempts.”


The failed coup attempt in Bolivia underscores the deep political and economic crises facing the nation. While the immediate threat has been neutralized, the underlying tensions between President Luis Arce and former President Evo Morales continue to pose significant challenges. The government’s ability to navigate these crises will be crucial in determining Bolivia’s future stability and democratic integrity. As the world watches, the Bolivian people remain resilient, hoping for a resolution that ensures lasting peace and prosperity for their nation.

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