Saturday, February 4, 2023

Governor’s arrest paralyzes Bolivian region

LA PAZ, Bolivia ( Associated Press) — Santa Cruz province in eastern Bolivia was cut off from the rest of the country on Monday by roadblocks put up by local officials and supporters of Governor Luis Fernando Camacho, arrested on terrorism charges.

On the fourth day of the protest, a huge march was taken out to condemn the police excesses and demand freedom of the opposition leader. The city was without public transport and shops were closed.

Camacho’s incarceration in a maximum security prison in La Paz sparked violent protests on Friday and Saturday, with the burning of public offices, the arrest of more than a hundred protesters in that area, and dozens of people injured.

The situation remained calm in the rest of the country.

“We will continue on the streets, blocking highways until the governor is released and due process is completed,” said Stelo Kochamanidis, vice president of the powerful Santa Cruz Civic Committee.

From prison in the highlands, Camacho wrote a letter saying he had been “kidnapped”, assured his followers that he would not give up, and blamed President Luis Arce for what might happen to him.

Camacho is under investigation for his 2019 protests 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.

Morales is now the head of the ruling Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), the originator of criminal prosecutions against more than a hundred opposition and military leaders who remain in prison, including interim President Jeanine Áñez, who served as senator as president. Took the position

Morales has been cleared of any investigation. Anez was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was facing other trials. He and the opposition have condemned the former president’s use of political persecution and justice to punish opponents. The government has replied that it only wants justice and has assured that it respects due process.

Agricultural producers have also joined the protest and announced they would not ship food to the rest of the country, said union leader Eleazar Arellano. Santa Cruz is Bolivia’s economic engine and main producer of food.

Arce – Morales’ political successor – has so far avoided mentioning the opposition leader’s arrest. His government’s minister, Eduardo del Castillo, blamed “irregular groups” opposed to Santa Cruz for the disturbances.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, called for “calm” and “restraint” on the part of the parties.

Morales alleges he was the victim of a right-wing coup after the 2019 elections, but the opposition says it was a popular uprising against fraud and all that led to a constitutional succession.

Arce won the election in 2020 with the support of MAS.

Nation World News Desk
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