Former Bolivian Government Minister Arturo Murillo pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of conspiring to launder bribes, and is expected to receive a sentence within the next month, said Bolivia’s Prosecutor General Wilfredo Chávez. Mr. Murillo faces up to ten years in prison.
Arrested in Florida in 2021, the former cabinet member was targeted by Bolivian and US authorities for illegally assisting a US company win a USD 5.6 million contract from the Bolivian government. Mr. Murillo “received at least USD 532,000 in bribe payments from a Florida-based company,” a document published by the US Department of Justice said.
The US said the former minister’s co-conspirators “pleaded guilty” in 2021, and were sentenced to between 26 and 42 months in prison.
Mr. Murillo became the right-hand man of former Bolivian President Jeanine Áñez, sworn in as head of state after a coup against Evo Morales in 2019. One year later, after massacres and an unresolved political crisis, Mr. Morales’s economic mastermind Luis Arce was elected president in a landslide victory.
Officials serving under the interim government faced trial for alleged committed crimes during that period — including Ms. Áñez herself, who was sentenced to ten years in prison after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Mr. Morales. She remains behind bars.
Claiming to be a “political prisoner” and victim of “political persecution,” Ms. Áñez has protested by holding hunger strikes, while also looking to gather political support in the region.
Her daughter Carolina Ribera has been touring Latin America in search of allies among the continental right to call for her mother’s release. Ms. Ribera met Peru’s Keiko Fujimori and appeared alongside Brazil’s First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro, whose government still sees Ms. Áñez’s time in office as legitimate.