Bolivians burn cars, buildings as anger widens over Camacho’s arrest

Protesters in Santa Cruz region attack buildings and block highways to protest the arrest of right-wing opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho.

Protesters in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz, a relatively wealthy farming region, have attacked buildings, burned cars and blocked highways as part of a 24-hour strike following the arrest of the regional governor, a right-wing opposition leader.

As night fell on Friday, protesters in parts of the provincial capital torched cars and tires and hurled fireworks toward police forces, who used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

During the day, around the city, largely peaceful groups had protested by blocking roads with tires, rocks and flags strung across streets as blockades.

The protests are the latest face-off between Santa Cruz, led by right-wing Governor Luis Fernando Camacho, and leftist President Luis Arce’s government.

Camacho was detained on Wednesday on a charge of “terrorism” for his alleged involvement in 2019 political unrest that saw then-president Evo Morales resign and flee the country.

He was sentenced to four months of pre-trial detention late on Thursday and was transferred to a maximum security prison early on Friday.

Camacho has maintained his innocence and called his arrest and transport to La Paz, the country’s capital, a kidnapping.

Prosecutors denied the arrest was a kidnapping or politically motivated.

Tires burn at a barricade as demonstrators clash with riot police in the surrounding of the Santa Cruz Police Department in downtown Santa Cruz.

‘It was not a coup’

The governor became a face for the right-wing opposition movement as a civic leader who called for leftist Morales to step down in 2019.

On Twitter on Friday morning, Camacho’s communications team said the fallout from the contested election “was not a coup, it was a fraud.”

Camacho also led weeks-long protests snarling trade from the region through last month, calling for the government to move up a census date that would likely give Santa Cruz more political representation and tax revenues.

The government has not said how it will respond to Friday’s roadblocks, though some military forces were spread throughout Santa Cruz late Thursday.

In the last round of protests, government-allied groups violently clashed with Camacho supporters.

Source: TRT World


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