The demonstrators set fire to the prosecutor’s office in the City of Santa Cruz de la Sierra,Bolivia, as a form of protest against the arrest of opposition figures in the country, on Thursday (29/12).
The governor of Santa Cruz Province, Luis Fernando Camacho, was arrested by the authorities the day before. The right-wing opposition figure was reported to have been involved in thecoup d’etatBolivia in 2019 which overthrew the former left-wing president, Evo Morales.
Camacho’s arrest immediately drew condemnation from the Santa Cruz provincial government and his supporters. According to them, the arrest was an arrest operation by the police which was not in accordance with the rules.
“The operation to kidnap the governor was carried out in the streets around his house when he was returning from management activities,” the Santa Cruz governor’s government office said, as quoted by Russia Today.
According to the video circulating on social media, Camacho appears to be in a helpless condition — lying on the ground with his hands handcuffed and surrounded by heavily armed officers.
The Santa Cruz government said Camacho was then taken to an unknown location and held President Luis Arce personally responsible for Camacho’s safety.
To express their disappointment, besides setting fire to the prosecutor’s office, Camacho sympathizers also set up roadblocks and stormed the Viru Viru and El Trompillo airports.
They scattered on the runway and entered several planes, to check Camacho’s whereabouts.
On the other hand, the government in power in the capital city of La Paz condemned the violence that broke out due to Camacho sympathizers. It emphasized that Camacho’s arrest was according to procedure and that the 43-year-old politician was still alive and well.
“The authorities respect Camacho’s constitutional and human rights, who was not injured,” said Bolivian Justice Minister Eduardo Del Castillo.
Furthermore, Santa Cruz is the largest and most populous province in Bolivia. Camacho has been serving as governor of the region since May 2021 — having secured just 14 percent of the vote in elections held a year earlier.
The government under President Arce suspected Camacho’s involvement in the 2019 coup when Morales’ rivals falsely claimed electoral irregularities. This situation prompted Morales to flee to Mexico.
Camacho’s deposition that had been scheduled under the investigation was then delayed by the general strike he had previously called last November.
His main demands are for the government of La Paz to repeat the census by 2023, so that it can reflect Santa Cruz’s true population and provide the province with appropriate funding and representation.
Separately, Morales has returned to Bolivia after having fled to Mexico. However, now he is no longer in office. Morales said Camacho had been a proven coup leader and raised multiple misconduct charges against him.
Morales accused Camacho of being responsible for four deaths, 33 days of looting, fires, human rights violations, and the destruction of the Bolivian economy as a result of organizing the strike — which led to the overthrow of Morales’ government.
In the end, by this time Camacho was already in the custody of a Bolivian court. Based on the latest information, he was sentenced to four months in prison before his trial.
In his statement on Twitter, Camacho maintained that he did not feel guilty and argued that he had been unfairly detained.
“I will never give up, this is a fight for democracy and freedom,” the tweet read.