Bolivia: Prominent opposition leader, Luis Fernando Camacho, detained on ‘terrorism’ charges

Prominent opposition leader and Bolivian city, Santa Cruz governor, Luis Fernando Camacho, was detained by the country’s police on Wednesday, after being charged with “terrorism”. The incident has since sparked protests and marked a major escalation between President Luis Arce’s government and Camacho’s supporters. 

The former right-wing presidential candidate and 43-year-old, Camacho has reportedly been under investigation for a number of allegations including his potential involvement in the ouster of former president Evo Morales in 2019, which the South American nation’s government categorises as a “coup”, as well as inciting unrest in Santa Cruz last year. 

The public prosecutor’s office without giving additional details on the arrest has said that Camacho has been detained and charged with “terrorism” for his alleged involvement in the ouster of Morales. 

Camacho’s allies and lawmakers Paola Aguirre and Erwin Bazan alleged that firearms were used during the arrest, while the Santa Cruz government have reportedly described his arrest as “kidnapping” following a “completely irregular police operation.” 

According to the city’s government, “The operation to kidnap the governor was carried out in the streets near his home, as he was returning from his duties”. Meanwhile, Camacho’s supporters have taken to the street, torched the regional prosecutor’s office in Santa Cruz, and blocked roads with stones, trees, and cars demanding his release. 

Additionally, the protestors had also blocked two airports in the city, in a bid to stop his transfer to La Paz but were ultimately unsuccessful, however, several flights at both airports had to be suspended. As protests erupted in Santa Cruz, yet again, long queues were witnessed as people rushed to stock up on food and gas fearing road blockages. 

“We inform the Bolivian people that the Bolivian police executed an arrest warrant against Luis Fernando Camacho”, said the country’s interior minister Carlos Eduardo Del Castillo. Furthermore, the official also indicated that Camacho was taken to La Paz, the Bolivian administrative capital, for questioning in relation to the allegations. 

Subsequently, he also took to Twitter, to assure people that the Santa Cruz governor’s health is “stable” and he is undergoing medical assessment rejecting the claims that he had been injured.

If convicted, Camacho could face at least 15 to 20 years in jail, said a report by Reuters, citing a constitutional lawyer Israel Quino on state media. The arrest follows weeks of unrest in the South American city of Santa Cruz, which has reportedly been led by Camacho against Arce’s administration. 

Previously, the protesters had also blocked streets and halted trade as they were angered over the government’s delay in carrying out Bolivia’s population census, which might result in increased representation from Santa Cruz in Congress, which has long butted heads with La Paz, as well as help secure more tax revenue. 

(With inputs from agencies) 


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