Crime & Justice

Jailed Bolivian governor’s cabinet backs him

By Gabriel Romano

Chonchocoro, Bolivia, Jan 4 (EFE).- Regional ministers from Bolivia’s largest province, Santa Cruz, visited the maximum security prison on Wednesday to meet and ratify incarcerated Governor Luis Fernando Camacho.

A part of the opposition leader’s cabinet arrived at the Chonchocoro prison, located in a rural village that goes by the same name, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from La Paz, in the municipality of Viacha, to give him an “administrative report” of their management.

“Luis Fernando Camacho continues to be the governor and as such we have come to put ourselves in order, we come as an institution, here we have a branch of the government in Chonchocoro,” the secretary of institutional management of the Santa Cruz government, Efrain Suárez, told media outside the prison.

Also present along with Suarez were the secretaries of justice, planning and health, as well as the legal director of the regional government.

Suarez said that the officials decided to pay the governor a visit “respecting all formal channels” to provide a “detailed report” of the situation of the government, which they described as “normal.”

However, the delegation could not enter the prison to see Camacho, since visits are only allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The cabinet members said that despite being imprisoned, the governor was performing his duties and Santa Cruz’s legislative assembly was continuing to function.

“The governor wherever he is, within the national territory, will continue to exercise his duties,” because “he is not confined, nor incommunicado” but with “restrictions on his movement,” Justice Secretary José Luis Terrazas said.

Suárez said that the government’s statute establishes that the governor is relieved only in case of resignation, revocation of mandate, death or enforceable sentence and that “none of these conditions have been fulfilled.”

Speaking to EFE, Daniel Rojas, a lawmaker of the ruling Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party, urged Santa Cruz legislators to “comply” with their statute regarding the permanent impediments to the governor serving his office and said that it was their “responsibility” to do so.

This week, Senator Simona Quispe, also of the MAS, said that it is “unfeasible” for Camacho to govern from prison and that Vice Governor Mario Aguilera should assume the position in his absence.

On the other hand, a group of indigenous people supporting the government of Luis Arce are holding a vigil to demand justice and 30 years of imprisonment for Camacho – the maximum penalty in Bolivia – for the deaths recorded during the 2019 crisis.

The Santa Cruz delegation met with the indigenous people to explain the reason for their visit but decided to leave a few minutes later after the group issued an ultimatum.

“There have been many deaths” in 2019, “that’s why (Camacho) has to pay,” one of the indigenous leaders told the officials.

Wednesday marked one week since the arrest of the Santa Cruz governor in a controversial operation following an arrest warrant for a terrorism charge in the “Coup d’Etat I” case, related to the 2019 political crisis.

On Friday, a judge sentenced Camacho to four months of pre-trial detention at the Chonchocoro prison, located at almost 4,000 meters above sea level, a move that has sparked a wave of protests in Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s economic engine.

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


Related Articles

Back to top button