Bolivia's armed forces criticised exiled former president Evo Morales on Monday January 13th after a call he made for the formation of armed groups, a recording of which was leaked on public radio.
The exiled former president said people have a right to defend themselves if the new government was attacking them. He said he had not meant armed with guns, and was instead referring to civil defence groups that had always loosely existed.
In his interview with Reuters, he explained that in Bolivia, "if the armed forces are shooting the people, killing the people, the people have the right to organise.”
"We're not talking arms, more like slingshots," he clarified.
"In some times (these groups) were called militias, in other times they were called union security or union police, and in some places, it is called communal guard. It is not new", he further explained
"Bolivia's people are hurt and our armed forces outraged," said Defense Minister Luis Fernando Lopez in a press conference.
The controversial recording was played on January 12th on Bolivia's Radio Kawsachum Coca (RKC), owned by the coca planters union.
"Before long, if I return to Bolivia, we will have to organise popular armed militias, as Venezuela has done," Morales told RKC.
According to Bolivia's interim president Jeanine Añez, a former senator and political opponent of Morales, the recording has shown that "peace, reconciliation and democracy were never options for him."
Morales, who fled Bolivia last November following political unrest criticising his controversial election win, has since been accused of terrorism and sedition by the interim government.
IIn Venezuela, about 3.2 million civilians belong to a militia created by former president Hugo Chavez, an ally of Morales and mentor of the country's current socialist President Nicolas Maduro.