Santa Cruz looked tense on Friday morning (30/12). The streets filled with mobs of protesters who moved to attack buildings and set fire to cars.
Others were seen blocking roads while chanting demands for the right-wing governor Luis Fernando Camacho to be freed.
The night before, crowds had been seen lining the streets of this popular agricultural area. The demonstrators clashed with the authorities. They threw fireworks and firecrackers, also set cars on fire, forcing police to use tear gas. The news that developed was that there was violence perpetrated by the security forces when they tried to disperse the masses. Pedro Vaca, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), said in a tweet that there had been a major attack as well as police deployment.
“I call on the authorities to give public instructions to their agents in charge of guaranteeing freedom of the press, peaceful assembly and association,” he said.
The New York Post wrote that this is a major battle between Santa Cruz, led by Governor Luis Fernando Camacho, and the leftist administration of President Luis Arce.
Camacho was detained Wednesday on “terrorism” charges over his alleged involvement in the 2019 political unrest that caused then-President Evo Morales to flee the country.
He was sentenced to four months of pre-trial detention on Thursday night and transferred to a maximum security prison Friday morning, which prompted his followers to storm the airport, refusing the transfer.
Camacho has maintained his innocence, labeling the arrests a politically motivated kidnapping.
Earlier, Camacho led weeks of protests that snarled trade from the territory until last month, calling on the government to raise the census date which would likely give Santa Cruz more political representation and tax revenue.
The government has not said how to respond to Friday’s roadblocks, although some military troops were scattered across Santa Cruz late Thursday. In the latest round of protests, groups allied to the government clashed with Camacho supporters.