Latin America & Caribbean

Bolivia President Morales wants to meet son he thought was dead

Evo Morales ahead of press conference in La Paz Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Morales, a 56-year-old bachelor, says he is "married to Bolivia"

Bolivian President Evo Morales has said that he wants to meet a son he was told had died nine years ago.

It is the latest twist in a scandal involving Mr Morales' former girlfriend, the boy's mother Gabriela Zapata.

She has been arrested as part of a corruption investigation.

A relative of Ms Zapata has now revealed that the child is alive and living in an undisclosed location in Bolivia.

"It may be true, or it may be unfortunate but it is worrying that an alleged aunt claimed that the child is alive," said Mr Morales in a statement.

"Nevertheless, now that they say the child is alive, I want to tell you that if he is alive, well firstly it is a great joy for me, it is like a blessing in the end, if he is alive."

Mr Morales said he could not believe that the truth had been hidden from him for so long.

"I ask myself why since 2007 did they hide him from me? For what reasons did they distance me? "

Ms Zapata told him at the time that their baby had fallen ill soon after birth and had died.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ms Zapata is a top executive at China's CAMC Engineering

The opposition has accused Mr Morales of using his influence to grant lucrative government contracts to the Chinese building firm where Ms Zapata works.

Mr Morales rejected the accusations and said they were part of a strategy from right-wing forces to undermine his credibility ahead of a referendum last week.

He said a dirty war had been waged against him.

Mr Morales was seeking to change the constitution to allow him to run for a fourth successive term, but the referendum was rejected by 51.3% of voters.

He has been in power since 2006 and his current term runs out in 2020.

Ms Zapata has not as yet made any comments on the corruption allegations.

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