LA PAZ – The Bolivian government said Monday that the opposition is pursuing political advantage in attacking President Evo Morales over the case of a former girlfriend charged with influence-trading and the fate of the son they had together in 2007.
“We are here demonstrating – I’m not inventing it – an entire political coordination to attack President Evo using the issue of Mrs. Zapata,” Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera told a press conference in La Paz.
Morales’ relationship to Gabriela Zapata came to light during the campaign ahead of the Feb. 21 referendum on amending the constitution to allow the president to seek a fourth consecutive term.
Journalist Carlos Valverde reported that Zapata traded on her 2005-2007 romance with Morales to obtain $566 million in government contracts for her employer, China-based CAMC Engineering.
Morales acknowledged the relationship and said the couple had a son, but the child died in infancy. He denied any favoritism toward CAMC and called on Congress to investigate the allegations.
Zapata, who likewise rejects the charges, was arrested last Friday. At her bail hearing, her aunt and her attorney said that the son she had with the president is still alive.
During his session with reporters, Garcia Linera displayed photographs of two of Zapata’s brother with opposition lawmakers, citing them as evidence of ties to Morales’ main political foes, cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina and former President Jorge Quiroga.
Doria Medina and Quiroga “forgot” about the influence-trading allegations and are now engaged in an “unworthy, immoral and unethical” attack on Morales over the child, the vice president said.
Morales said Monday that if the child is really alive, he would like the boy to live with him.