Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, has threatened to sue his ex-girlfriend after she claimed that the baby they had in secret, and who the nation was later informed had died, was in fact still alive.
Bolivian President Evo Morales
The government has said it will sue Ms Zapata for slander if she cannot prove the child is alive or for lying to the president if she does present the boy before the authorities.
The arrest of 28-year-old Ms Zapata comes weeks after local media revealed that the president’s former girlfriend worked for China CAMC Engineering Co., which recently won a $560 million (£403m) government contract for a railroad project.
The Chinese firm also has contracts to build a hydroelectric plant, a sugar refinery and a lithium plant in the Uyuni salt flats.
Opposition politicians quickly accused Mr Morales of influence peddling, which he denied, ordering a full investigation and sanctioning the company.
Investigators also discovered that Ms Zapata had sent letters in the government’s name to different government offices urging them to favor CAMC.
The government has now demanded Ms Zapata present the child before a judge. “Then Bolivians will know the truth,” said Lenny Valdivia, the minister for transparency and the fight against corruption.
Ms Valdivia said that according to the government’s information, the child had been born in 2007 but the president was told that the baby had health problems and had died soon after. “The big question is why Ms Zapata has hidden this boy for eight years.”