LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — The Bolivian government on Monday summoned the Argentine ambassador to address the country’s claims that the attempted military coup that rattled Bolivia last week was a hoax.

Bolivia’s official reprimand of its neighbor adds to the fallout from the purported foiled mutiny last Wednesday that has left the country of 12 million shocked and bewildered. Bolivian President Luis Arce faces a wave of criticism at home and abroad from those claiming he engineered the coup to make himself look like a hero — an accusation first made by General Juan Jose Zúñiga before his sacking and arrest on charges of leading the armed uprising.

A string of Bolivian opposition figures united in calling the coup a political stunt, with Arce’s main political rival and one-time mentor, former leftist President Evo Morales, echoing the accusation late Sunday without providing evidence. Arce has vigorously denied the allegations.

Right-wing Argentine President Javier Milei became the first head of state to join the chorus of skeptics, attacking Bolivia’s history of socialist governments which he said endangers democracy. “The tale that was told was not very credible,” the presidency said of Wednesday’s alleged coup attempt — a dramatic reversal from Argentina’s initial statement condemning the troops occupying central La Paz.

Bolivian interim foreign minister, María Nela Prada, denounced Milei’s statement as “unfriendly and reckless” and “misinformed and biased” on Monday. Incensed over what she called Argentina’s “unacceptable denialism,” Prada and other officials appealed to Milei to respect Bolivia’s national sovereignty.

“We have always maintained a position of respect and we will demand the same respect,” said Gabriela Alcón, Bolivia’s deputy minister of communication.

Milei’s government doubled down on its denial of Bolivia’s attempted coup, escalating the diplomatic spat between the nations that share a long border and history of trade and cooperation.

“It is simply a description of the facts, an account of the different information that we are collecting,” presidential spokesperson Manuel Adorni said in his daily press conference, without elaborating. “We are aware of the delicate institutional situation.”

Various right-wing opposition figures in Bolivia, arrested and still detained, over their alleged role in the 2019 mass protests that prompted then-President Morales to resign and flee, praised Milei’s stance against President Arce.

Last Wednesday, Gen. Zúñiga and other military officials stormed the presidential palace, ramming its doors with a tank and demanding a change of Cabinet. In a dramatic face-to-face confrontation, Arce ordered Zúñiga to back down — successfully putting a lid on the rebellion after just three chaotic hours that roiled the capital.

A brief outpouring of popular support for the embattled President Arce has given way to a firestorm of speculation about what really happened and whether Arce played a role in it. Authorities are widening their dragnet after arresting 21 soldiers, several of them retired, and at least one civilian in connection with the coup attempt. The alleged ringleaders, including Zúñiga, remain in custody pending investigations.

Senior Cabinet member Eduardo del Castillo insists that the coup was no ploy by Arce but rather a serious effort to change the government. Explaining its failure, he said: “Fortunately, many people were insubordinate.”

Brought to you by www.srnnews.com