Mexico Takes Diplomatic Spat With Bolivia to International Court

(Bloomberg) -

Mexico will ask a United Nations court to settle a simmering diplomatic dispute with Bolivia, which it says is harassing allies of ousted President Evo Morales at its embassy in La Paz.

The government will submit a complaint to the International Court of Justice, a U.N. body based in the Hague, claiming Bolivia is violating diplomatic norms by surrounding its embassy with security forces, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said.

A group of Morales’ allies have been holed up in the embassy since last month, when they were granted asylum by Mexico. Bolivia’s new government, which took power after Morales was ousted by the military last month, has issued arrest warrants for four of them, Ebrard said.

“We’re reaching out to the entire international community because even during the worst moments of the military coups of the 1970s and 80s, the integrity of the Mexican embassies or residences were not at risk,” Ebrard said at a press conference in Mexico City Thursday.

Diplomatic relations between the countries have deteriorated since Mexico gave refuge to Morales when he was forced to resign amid nationwide unrest in the wake of an election victory widely seen as flawed. Morales later relocated to Argentina.

Tensions began to rise again Monday when Bolivia sent about 90 police officers and soldiers to surround the embassy, compared with no more than six normally, Ebrard said.

A day later, Bolivia’s Deputy Minister of Public Security, Wilson Santamaria, denied claims of harassment, but demanded Mexico turn over those facing arrest, according to a statement posted on Twitter.

The Andean country of 11 million has been wracked by crisis since the Oct. 20 election, which was marred by several irregularities, according to a team from the Organization of American States. The government of President Jeanine Anez has said it will organize new elections, but it hasn’t yet set a date.