Bolivian politician marks year in Brazil embassy

A Bolivian lawmaker who has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy for a year is suffering from health problems and should be allowed to leave the country, his supporters said Tuesday.

Senator Roger Pinto, an outspoken critic of leftist President Evo Morales, has been granted asylum by Brazil but is not allowed to leave Bolivia because of pending government court cases against him.

His supporters say he is being unfairly targeted for accusing the Morales government of corruption and have planned a vigil outside the embassy to call for his release.

"Senator Pinto has been in the embassy for a year, and his health is deteriorating because he is in a three by four meter (nine by twelve foot) room," fellow rightwing lawmaker Tomas Monasterios told AFP.

"This is an act of official stubbornness," he said, adding that Pinto who is in his early 50s was suffering from jaundice because of a lack of sunlight.

Communication Minister Amanda Davila was quoted by the ABI news agency as saying the government could not grant Pinto an exit visa because of the pending court cases.

Pinto has been a lawmaker from Pando department in the northern Amazon since 1997 and is a member of the conservative National Convergence party.

The Andean nation, the poorest in South America, returned to democracy in 1982 after three decades of military rule.

Morales, a leftist who is majority-indigenous Bolivia's first indigenous president, has alienated a long list of political foes, at least 20 of whom have left Bolivia since he was elected.