Bolivian opposition leader held on ‘terrorism’ charges | Politics News

Prosecutors in Bolivia are seeking six months of pre-trial detention in the case of Luis Fernando Camacho, the governor of Santa Cruz and prominent right-wing leader whose arrested suddenly on Wednesday raised allegations of kidnapping.

Camacho is being held in the political capital La Paz on charges of “terrorism,” prosecutor Omar Mejillones confirmed in a statement on Thursday.

Governor of Santa Cruz also faces ongoing investigations into his role in Bolivia’s 2019 political crisis, which led to the the departure of then-President Evo Morales. Among the charges being considered are breach of duty, abuse of influence and assaulting the president and senior officials.

Camacho — a former presidential candidate who heads the powerful Christian conservative coalition Creemos — served as a leader in the 2019 protests that helped remove Morales, the country’s leader. first native presidentfrom the office.

In a statement, Camacho denied the allegations, saying they lack credibility.

The political crisis of 2019 saw Morales look for a fourth term in a row as president, a move his critics denounced as unconstitutional. Morales successfully appealed to the Supreme Court remove term limit after voters refused to do so in a 2016 referendum.

Morales successfully won a fourth term in October 2019 but the election was mired in allegations of fraud and demonstration broke out Morales’ leadership. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights estimated that 36 people died in the crisis. With an international audit underway and violence in the streets, the Bolivian military has called for Morales to step down.

he did, left office in November 2019but condemn the conflict as a “coup”. On Thursday, Morales welcomed Camacho’s arrest with a post on Twitter.

“Finally, after three years, Luis Fernando Camacho will answer to the coup that led to the looting, repression, arrest and de facto massacre of the government. We are confident that this decision will be upheld with the determination that the people demand justice,” Morales wrote.

Meanwhile, Camacho’s allies called the arrest a “kidnapping”, organized by Morales’ political party Movement Towards Socialism (MAS).

In a statement posted on Camacho’s social media on Thursday, his legal team said Bolivia’s judiciary had “closed the door” against its legal actions to release him. to the governor and is continuing to “violate [his] constitutional rights”.

by Camacho arrested and imprisoned afterwards has increased existing tensions between the leftist government of Bolivia and the conservative-led Santa Cruz, the largest of the country’s nine agencies.

Following the prosecutor’s announcement on Thursday, the right-wing Santa Cruz Pro-Santa Cruz Committee – a civic group of which Camacho served as chairman – announced it would lead a general strike on Friday as well as blockade roads. department’s highway.

Currently, protesters have taken to the streets of Santa Cruz to block the road. The local prosecutor’s office is said to have been set on fire. And on Wednesday, amid news Camacho would be taken to La Paz to face charges, protesters entered two Santa Cruz airports in an apparent attempt to block his transportation. .

Bolivia’s public works minister, Edgar Montano, took to Twitter on Thursday to say that his home in Santa Cruz had been targeted and burned, “violating the integrity and safety of my family.” “. He blamed Camacho and the Santa Cruz Advocacy Committee for the attack.

“They won’t threaten us with crimes like burning my house and calling on social media to loot other officials’ offices and homes,” he wrote on Twitter, adding: “# SantaCruz is not an independent country.”

A protester screams during a demonstration in Bolivia
A protester outside the state attorney’s office in La Paz, Bolivia, calls for the release of Santa Cruz governor Luis Fernando Camacho [Claudia Morales/Reuters]

Earlier this year, the Santa Cruz Advocacy Committee led widespread protests after the current President Luis Arcea member of Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party, announced the plan Bolivia’s census postponement.

The census, originally scheduled for this year, is expected to show population growth in Santa Cruz, an agriculturally rich soybean growing area that’s also a city largest in the country. That, in turn, would lead to more government funding for the department, as well as more representation in Congress.

Prosecutors have promised to seek the “severe punishment” for any violence stemming from this week’s protests. Meanwhile, Bolivian politicians representing Camacho’s Creemos party have called on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protect Camacho’s “safety and integrity”.

A spokesperson for the US State Department told Reuters: “We encourage adherence to international standards and trust in democratic institutions. We call on all parties to resolve this issue peacefully and democratically.”


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