Sex, lies and paternity claims: Bolivia’s president reels amid tumultuous scandal
That Evo Morales lost a bid for a fourth term in February is today the least of his problems, as his government stands accused of targeting press freedom over coverage of the spiralling saga of a child fathered with an ex-girlfriend
A real-life telenovela of sex, lies and paternity claims has gripped Bolivia, putting unprecedented pressure on one of Latin Americas most consistently popular leaders and prompting warnings that press freedom in the country is under threat.
When Evo Morales, the countrys first indigenous president, celebrated 10 years in office in January he appeared to be at the height of his power: under his rule, Bolivia had seen unprecedented economic growth, dramatic drops in poverty and inequality, and indigenous rights enshrined in the constitution.
A month later, however, Morales narrowly lost his bid for a fourth re-election in February in a referendum which was largely overshadowed by the revelation that his former girlfriend, Gabriela Zapata, had helped secure $500m in government contracts for the Chinese engineering firm which employed her.
Since then, the scandal has taken a series of dramatic turns, culminating this week in warnings that journalists have been threatened with arrest for investigating the tawdry saga.
After the initial reports of the presidents relationship with Zapata, Morales, 56, admitted he had fathered a son with her in 2007, but said the child had died soon afterwards.
Morales denied any wrongdoing and called for an investigation. Soon afterwards, Zapata, 29, was arrested for alleged influence-peddling, illicit enrichment and money-laundering.