LA PAZ, Bolivia ( Associated Press) — After eight days of protests, the effects of the blockade in Santa Cruz are beginning to be felt in Bolivia as food prices soar. The mobilization follows the arrest and preliminary detention of the governor of Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho, on terrorism charges, where street protests have continued.
Santa Cruz is an economic engine in eastern Bolivia and a bastion of opposition to the government. Chicken and meat producers’ associations pointed out that it supplies grain, meat and other food items to neighboring provinces, but protests as well as blockades have disrupted the flow of goods.
The Bolivian Highways Authority has reported that there are more than 10 blockade points in this department, leaving long lines of trucks stranded.
Dozens of truckers organized a caravan in Santa Cruz on Thursday morning in support of Camacho. Its leader, Juan Yuzra Aquino, told The Associated Press that he disagreed with “this injustice done to the governor”, but also called for his territory to be respected.
“President Luis Arce has to rule for everyone. It’s a revenge.. It’s a revenge he’s taken, but it’s not going to work for him.”
The effects of the blockade began to be felt in the popular markets of La Paz. According to traders, the price of beef has increased by 8 per cent and that of chicken by 29 per cent.
The government through its state company wants to guarantee supply to the markets with low prices.
In the Rodriguez market, a crowded neighborhood in La Paz, Nemesia Nuñez said she had to transfer the increase to the consumer. “When meat from Santa Cruz is scarce, meat from Beni and the Altiplano automatically goes up,” he said.
Both of these regions supply La Paz with their own production, but to a lesser extent. Consumers rejected the hike; However, when they are forced to buy food they agree. “The meat goes up, the vegetables go up too, and it’s not convenient for us,” said Teresa Cárdenas, a 60-year-old mother of a family.
Camacho’s arrest and preventive detention for four months in Chonchoro prison polarized public opinion. He is being investigated for his protests in 2019 after the Organization of American States (OAS) called the general elections fraudulent.
Then-President Evo Morales, who was seeking a fourth consecutive term, was forced to resign following mass demonstrations across the country that left 37 people dead in 21 days of street clashes.
Cárdenas was outraged and said that “Camacho would have to pay.” “Camacho is happy in the bandh, but we are suffering here and he has to make us suffer; He is to blame,” he said.
while Ramiro Rodríguez, a teacher who bought meat at a neighboring point, offered his support. “Santa Cruz is fighting for Bolivia, it’s not just Santa Cruz fighting. Everyone’s freedom is being played with here.
The justice denied the governor liberty for health reasons, as requested by his defense and family, and also confirmed the four-month preventive detention that Judge Sergio Pacheco gave him last Friday to consider There was a flight risk if the investigation proceeded. ,
Eduardo del Castillo, a Bolivian government minister, said that Camacho’s detention procedures were respected in response to criticism from the opposition of the way it was done. He accused Camacho of failing to obey summons from the prosecutor’s office and clarified that he had been given a room with full care for his health. The defense asks that he be treated in hospital and denies that the authority has been informed.