BRASïLIA, Federal District: Brazil’s foreign minister resigned on Monday over rising tensions with La Paz after Brazilian diplomats spirited away a Bolivian opposition senator wanted for corruption.
“President Dilma Rousseff has accepted minister (Antonio) Patriota’s resignation,” a government spokesman told Agence France-Presse, adding that he would be replaced by Luis Alberto Figueiredo, Brazil’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York.
The announcement came after a meeting between Rousseff and the 59-year-old Patriota on Monday.
A Brazilian diplomat had revealed earlier in the day that he helped Bolivian opposition senator Roger Pinto escape to Brazil after he was holed up for 15 months in Brasilia’s embassy in La Paz despite having been granted asylum.
Pinto, an opponent of Bolivian President Evo Morales, made his escape on Friday in an embassy car escorted by Brazilian marines, driving 22 hours to the southwestern Brazilian city of Corumba, 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) from La Paz.
“I chose life. I chose to protect a person, a persecuted politician, like President Dilma was persecuted,” Eduardo Saboia, the Brazilian charge d’affaires in La Paz, told Globo television on his arrival in Brasilia, where he was recalled for consultations.
The diplomat said he made the personal decision to help Pinto escape “because there was an imminent threat to the life and dignity of the senator.”
He said Pinto was suffering from depression and was contemplating suicide.
The Bolivian government views Pinto as a fugitive from justice after he was accused of corruption, for which he was sentenced to a year in prison.
He sought refuge at the Brazilian embassy last year, claiming to be a victim of political persecution after he denounced alleged cases of corruption and alleged links between authorities and drug traffickers.