The Bolivian opposition will hold a national meeting to discuss a return to protests and demand the release of political prisoners
The call for the mass assembly will be throughout the country and meetings are planned in nine cities. The civic movements seek to defend Governor Luis Fernando Camacho, who remains imprisoned, and demonstrate against the Arce government
Demonstrators demonstrate in support of jailed opposition leader and Santa Cruz Governor Luis Fernando Camacho in Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Leaders of civic groups and Citizen platforms critical of the Bolivian government decide on Wednesday in a town hall, a sort of mass assembly of the grassroots at the local level, whether to resume the protests that they lifted last week after almost 15 days of mobilizations and roadblocks in protest against the arrest of an opposition leader.
Santa Cruz, the region considered the economic engine of the country and opposition stronghold, spoke out against the imprisonment on charges of alleged terrorism of Luis Fernando Camacho, governor of that province and opponent of the administration of President Luis Arce and that of Evo Morales in the past.
The call to the council is nationwide and meetings are planned in nine cities. In some cases, the civic movements seek to defend Camacho, but in others they are summoned against the Arce government.
The Santa Cruz council is the one that It has signs of becoming massive. Any citizen can attend these meetings to present their position so that the civic leadership can make a final decision on the course of the mobilizations or the opposition strategy to follow.
“We want a council of unity, of struggle that can lead us to long-term measures,” said the president of the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz, Rómulo Calvo . “Santa Cruz is the foundation of democracy… Because we do not accept authoritarianism, we do not accept that they want to impose a dictatorship in Bolivia,” he added.
Camacho, who is in pretrial detention for four months, faces charges for his participation and leadership in the 2019 social unrest that forced then-President Morales to resign after elections described as fraudulent by the Organization of American States (OEA) in which he was seeking his fourth term.
Luis Fernando Camacho, governor of Santa Cruz
The reasons for the call
Leaders of critical civic movements and citizen platforms the government called a national council, in which it will be decided if they resume the days of protests and strikes. Opponents of the government aspire to gather more support in the western provinces of the country, where Camacho has not garnered the same sympathy as in his native Santa Cruz.
According to the law of Bolivian Electoral Regime, the assembly and the council have a deliberative nature; their decisions are not binding, but must be considered by the authorities of the movement that convenes the bases.
The governor of Santa Cruz, leader of the right-wing political force We believe, the second in Congress, came out precisely from the ranks of a civic movement. Today he exercises his functions as governor from his cell.
The strong protests against the criminal proceedings against Camacho left a balance of more than 100 detainees, 27 of them charged with destruction , according to the Ministry of Government. The roadblocks left that department isolated for more than 15 days and this also affected the supply of food and prices in La Paz, the seat of government.
Deputy Tatiana Añez, spokesperson for the right-wing opposition force Creemos, has denounced that what the government party is looking for is to carry out a “coup against the government , using justice, so that Governor Camacho cannot exercise.”
According to his criteria, “with the use of the same tools they will go for mayors and governors who think differently and are against the MAS”, he added.
From parliament, the two opposition forces Citizen Community (CC), led by former president Carlos Mesa (2003-2005), and Creemos, led by Camacho, They have made complaints of political persecution at the national and international level. They claim that there are close to 200 political prisoners in Bolivia.
The governor of Santa Cruz is under investigation on alleged charges of terrorism for his participation and leadership in the 2019 social unrest that ensued from the unsuccessful elections that year. Then-President Evo Morales was seeking a fourth consecutive term and ended up resigning. The OAS pointed out that the elections were fraudulent.
“The definition of terrorism in Bolivian law is so broad and vague that it allows its arbitrary and political use,” said César Muñoz, associate director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) for the Americas.
(With information from AP)