La Paz: In the latest chapter of the political telenovela gripping Bolivia, the jailed ex-girlfriend of President Evo Morales told a UN official her life is in danger, and confirmed that her son with the country`s leader is alive.
Gabriela Zapata is in jail accused of using her influence with Morales to land big contracts for the Chinese engineering group CAMC.
The explosive case has turned into a nightmare for Morales, who has acknowledged fathering a child with Zapata -- though he says the boy died, while her family insists he is alive.
In a letter to Denis Racicot, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bolivia, Zapata said that she was "writing to you with urgency, because my life is in danger." She did not say why she felt threatened.
The letter was made public late Thursday by the Catholic news agency Fides.
"This has to do with the life of my son, whose name and existence is being questioned, I cannot imagine with what purpose," Zapata wrote.
Zapata claimed that the president "has ordered" that any reference "to the son that we have together remain private, therefore neither I nor my relatives can let the truth be known."
She urged Racicot to closely follow her case.
Zapata, who until recently was a senior manager at CAMC, entered into a relationship with Morales in 2005, when she was 18 years old. Morales, 56, says it ended two years later.
Morales is single, and his elder sister performs the functions of Bolivia`s first lady.The interior ministry quickly fired off a statement to AFP saying that "Mrs. Zapata is making accusations without proof."
Zapata has yet to produce the boy, claiming that a government legal move has prevented her from doing so.
Vice President Alvaro Garcia and Attorney General Ramiro Guerrero have said separately there is no child. Communications Minister Marianela Paco blasted Zapata as "a heartless woman, a liar that has deceived our president from the first moment."
The president has said his son with Zapata would now be eight or nine years old, and that he would like to raise him if he were alive. Morales has a son and daughter whom he has recognized, from other previous relationships.
Zapata, who faces charges of money laundering, embezzlement and abuse of influence, was detained on February 26 on orders of a prosecutor investigating corruption allegations.
Investigators said she sent letters in the government`s name to different government offices urging them to favor CAMC.
Morales asked the office of the Comptroller General and Congress to look into CAMC`s activities, and vowed that he would protect no one in the probe.
In February, with Bolivia heading toward a key referendum on whether to change the constitution to allow Morales to run for a fourth term, an investigative journalist dropped the bombshell revelation of the previously undisclosed relationship between Zapata and the president.
That raised questions about $560 million in government contracts awarded to CAMC.
Morales, Bolivia`s first indigenous president, lost the February 21 referendum, the leftist leader`s first electoral defeat in a decade in power.