Extraordinary moment Bolivian politicians trade punches, pull hair and roll around the floor

Extraordinary footage has captured the moment chaos descended on the floor of the Bolivian Parliament when opposing politicians threw punches during a debate over the detention of a former president.   

The dramatic brawl broke out between opposition politician Henry Montero and a member of the ruling socialist MAS party, Antonio Colque, in La Paz on Tuesday.

The pair exchanged blows on the floor of Bolivia’s legislative assembly, where ministers had gathered to discuss the events which led to the detention of former interim president Jeanine Áñez. 

Their parties disagree on whether Áñez led a legal transitional government following election fraud, or launched a coup d’état to overthrow former president Evo Morales. 

Footage from the fight captures Colque as he rains punches on Montero while two onlookers frantically try to pull the feuding men apart. 

A dramatic brawl breaks out between opposition politician Henry Montero (left) and a member of the ruling socialist MAS party, Antonio Colque (right, in blue), in La Paz, Bolivia, on Tuesday

A dramatic brawl breaks out between opposition politician Henry Montero (left) and a member of the ruling socialist MAS party, Antonio Colque (right, in blue), in La Paz, Bolivia, on Tuesday

A dramatic brawl breaks out between opposition politician Henry Montero (left) and a member of the ruling socialist MAS party, Antonio Colque (right, in blue), in La Paz, Bolivia, on Tuesday

Montero soon reciprocates, the pair moving through the Bolivian Parliament until eventually toppling over and continuing their tussle on the ground.

But as the politicians scramble to their feet, a second fight between two female legislators – Tatiana Áñez de Creemos and María Alanoca – breaks out nearby.

One of the women grabs the hair of the other, but the pair are quickly pulled apart as chaos continues to descend and members of the two parties shout across the room.

‘They all grabbed me, pulled me by my back,’ Colque said after the fight. ‘We can’t allow this.’

The conflict was rooted in Bolivia’s recent tumultuous political history.  

In March, former interim president Áñez was jailed amid allegations that she helped plot a coup that forced Morales to resign as president in November 2019. 

The Bolivian Parliament was reviewing how she came to be in power and questioning Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo when the brawl began on June 8. 

Montero (left) and Colque (right, in blue) exchange blows on the floor of Bolivia's legislative assembly as onlookers attempt to break up the fight

Montero (left) and Colque (right, in blue) exchange blows on the floor of Bolivia's legislative assembly as onlookers attempt to break up the fight

Montero (left) and Colque (right, in blue) exchange blows on the floor of Bolivia’s legislative assembly as onlookers attempt to break up the fight

They topple to the ground after raining punches on each other during a meeting at Bolivia's legislative assembly

They topple to the ground after raining punches on each other during a meeting at Bolivia's legislative assembly

They topple to the ground after raining punches on each other during a meeting at Bolivia’s legislative assembly 

Following a recess called amid the chaos, Del Castillo explained why he believed that in 2019 there was a ‘coup d’état and not an electoral fraud’, according to the Rio Times

The two political parties involved in the fight are polarised on this very issue.   

There was an equally bitter atmosphere outside the room, where many had gathered with cardboard coffins and banners calling for ‘justice’ for victims of clashes that claimed the lives of 33 people following the election of Morales.

Morales, Bolivia’s socialist former president, had resigned from office and fled to Mexico amid several violent protests against his government in October 2019.

A second fight between two female legislators - Tatiana Áñez de Creemos and María Alanoca (seen pulling hair) - breaks out nearby

A second fight between two female legislators - Tatiana Áñez de Creemos and María Alanoca (seen pulling hair) - breaks out nearby

A second fight between two female legislators – Tatiana Áñez de Creemos and María Alanoca (seen pulling hair) – breaks out nearby

The conflict was rooted in Bolivia's recent tumultuous political history

The conflict was rooted in Bolivia's recent tumultuous political history

The conflict was rooted in Bolivia’s recent tumultuous political history

It had been alleged that he fraudulently won the election when running for an unprecedented and unconstitutional fourth term. 

In October 2020, after an 11-month caretaker government, Morales’ former economy minister Luis Arce won a landslide election, paving the way for Morales to return home.

Áñez, a conservative lawmaker who took the helm of the interim government, was sent to prison in March 2021 on charges she helped plot a coup against Morales. 

She had spent a year in power, between November 2019 and November 2020, and now faces allegations of ‘sedition, conspiracy and terrorism.’   

In March, former interim president Jeanine Áñez (above) was jailed amid allegations that she helped plot a coup that forced Evo Morales to resign as president in 2019

In March, former interim president Jeanine Áñez (above) was jailed amid allegations that she helped plot a coup that forced Evo Morales to resign as president in 2019

In March, former interim president Jeanine Áñez (above) was jailed amid allegations that she helped plot a coup that forced Evo Morales to resign as president in 2019

Morales (above in January 2020), Bolivia's socialist former president, had resigned from office amid violent protests against his Government

Morales (above in January 2020), Bolivia's socialist former president, had resigned from office amid violent protests against his Government

 Morales (above in January 2020), Bolivia’s socialist former president, had resigned from office amid violent protests against his Government

Áñez has rejected the allegations against her as ‘political persecution’ and insisted she took part in a ‘constitutional succession’ to replace Morales after he stepped down. 

‘All we are asking for is that we be respected, that they stop calling us criminals, murderers, and that they stop exploiting the pain of the Bolivians who died in Senkata,’ said Montero, for Comunidad Ciudadana and Creemos. 

‘And surely it will be up to the law to clarify it all, as with all the subsequent tragic events.’ 

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