Crime & Justice

Bolivia’s main opposition leader arrested

La Paz, Dec 28 (EFE).- The most prominent opponent of Bolivia’s leftist government, Santa Cruz Gov. Luis Fernando Camacho, has been taken into custody, the interior minister said Wednesday.

“We inform the Bolivian people that the Bolivian Police complied with the arrest warrant against Mr. Luis Fernando Camacho,” Carlos Eduardo del Castillo said on social media.

The governor was apprehended in Santa Cruz city, the regional capital.

Camacho, scion of a wealthy family active in the secessionist movement in Santa Cruz, played a major role in the events of October 2019, when President Evo Morales was effectively forced to resign by the army chief amid protests over what proved to be baseless allegations of fraud in elections that saw the first indigenous head of state of Indian-majority Bolivia secure a fourth term.

Morales’ leftist MAS party won the October 2020 elections in a landslide with Luis Arce as standard-bearer.

The Arce government has accused Camacho in connection with the deaths of a score of MAS supporters in late 2019 during demonstrations against the de-facto regime of Jeanine Añez.

The regional governor also faces charges over violence associated with a recent general strike in Santa Cruz aimed at compelling the national government to hold the census in 2023 instead of 2024.

The Attorney General’s Office said that Camacho was detained in connection with the 2019 case.

The Santa Cruz regional administration denounced the detention as a “kidnapping.”

“The operation to abduct the governor was carried out on the streets near his residence,” the regional government said.

Video posted on social media shows heavily armed police in masks intercepting Camacho’s vehicle and taking him into custody.

Camacho supporters, including members of the regional and national legislatures rushed to the international airport serving Santa Cruz city, Viru Viru, to prevent police from transporting the governor to La Paz.

EFE witnessed Camacho partisans occupy the runway at Viru Viru to ensure that no planes take off. Some in the crowd also boarded aircraft to verify that the governor was not aboard.

Bolivian state airline BoA subsequently announced the closure of the airport due to the disturbances.

In La Paz, meanwhile, supporters of the Arce government gathered to celebrate the news of Camacho’s arrest, according to the Kawsachun News website. EFE gb-jct/dr

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