Conflicts & War

Bolivia’s largest region calls nationwide protest for ‘recovery’ of democracy

Santa Cruz/La Paz, Bolivia, Jan 10 (EFE).- Bolivia’s largest province, Santa Cruz, on Tuesday called for a nationwide protest for the recovery of the rule of law, democracy and release of “political prisoners,” amid several demonstrations in other regions, including La Paz, where clashes erupted between pro-government groups and citizens’ platforms.

Civic platforms of many of the country’s nine regions called a protest on Tuesday against the recent arrest of Santa Cruz’s governor, Luis Fernando Camacho, leveling criticism at the judicial system, which it described as an “instrument of persecution” of President Luis Arce’s administration.

Thousands took part in the main protest in eastern Santa Cruz and marched to the city’s main square, demanding “freedom” for the country and Camacho’s release.

The head of Santa Cruz’s civic committee, Rómulo Calvo, declared that, with Camacho’s arrest, “democracy and the rule of law are fatally wounded” and the establishment of a “dictatorship” formalized.

The leader announced a “permanent state of emergency” and demanded the release of more than 180 “political prisoners.”

He announced that actions against the “authoritarianism” of the government would be stepped up.

In La Paz, there were some tensions between civic and pro-government groups, made up mainly of public officials and members of the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) party.

A march in the south of the city was interrupted by a group of pro-government supporters, who burnt firecrackers and flares in the direction of the demonstrators.

The pro-government group claimed to have gathered to prevent a new coup attempt and demanded that Camacho be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Brawls broke out in the city’s center between opposition and pro-government factions along with attacks on the press.

Demonstrations against and in support of the Santa Cruz governor were also held in Oruro although no clashes were reported.

In Potosí, the Potosinista Civic Committee led a march of several organizations that ended with a rally in the main square of the city.

The protesters criticized justice operators for working in the interests of the government.

Hundreds of people also marched in the central Cochabamba city as well as in Tarija, in the south, demanding “freedom”, “democracy” and the “restitution of the rule of law” in the country.

Two weeks ago, the police conducted a controversial operation to arrest Camacho for a terrorism charge in the “Coup d’Etat I” case, related to the 2019 political crisis.

Two days later, a judge sentenced Camacho to four months of pre-trial detention at the Chonchocoro prison, located 35 kilometers (22 miles) from La Paz, a move that has sparked a wave of protests, mainly in Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s economic engine.

His supporters have insisted that he continue to govern from prison.

The ruling party claims that there was a “coup d’etat” against then-President Evo Morales in 2019, while the opposition maintains that the protests that led to the resignation of the president were due to fraud in the annulled elections held that year. EFE


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