Luis Fernando Camacho, the governor of the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz and one of the leaders of the opposition in the government of Luis Arce, was arrested today at one o’clock in the afternoon, Wednesday, when he returned home to investigate the events that took place in 2019. The overthrow of former President Evo Morales. A police team intercepted the car he was traveling in, broke the window and fired teargas shells to reduce the security team of the governor. Relatives of the political leader said he was abducted. Immediately afterward, Camacho was transferred to the airport and flown by helicopter to La Paz, the country’s administrative capital, according to local news reports.
Upon hearing the news of the arrest, a group of hundreds of supporters of the governor, led by regional officials and representatives, marched to Wiru Wiru Airport in Santa Cruz, overpowered security personnel and occupied the runway. He introduced some of the planes that were waiting to take off to prevent Camacho from being pulled out of Santa Cruz. They didn’t find it. Despite this, they decided to shut down the airport after the arrest. A group also burned down the Santa Cruz prosecutor’s office.
Luis Fernando Camacho He faces eight charges, all based in La Paz. Some have it for years. Until now, the prosecutor’s office has not been able to transfer him to the city’s courts. Camacho always requested to be processed in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The city’s attorneys did not plead guilty to the main charges against him. Camacho is protected by the political support he enjoys in his home region, one of Bolivia’s economic engines. A few days ago, the politician had filmed a video in which he said: “Minister, you who preside over this are looking to implicate me in violent cases, don’t be a coward: if you. Want, stop me, stop, come on, stop me”.
His capture immediately caused a spontaneous mobilization. Apart from the incidents at the airport, there have also been roadblocks. The Santa Cruz Civil Committee called the arrest an “illegal kidnapping” and held the government responsible for the governor’s safety. The public is going to announce an indefinite strike.
The prosecutor’s office justified the arrest with a statement that last October Camacho had disobeyed a summons sent to him to testify in the ongoing trial against him and former President Jeanine Anez on charges of terrorism and plotting to overthrow Evo Morales. In 2019. At the time, Camacho was the leader of a civic group that organized protests against the then president. “This tax decision is not about kidnapping or political persecution… Citizen Luis Fernando Camacho has full knowledge of the process provided by the Bolivian legal system,” the statement said.
Although this is the reason for this practice, Camacho is being processed in parallel for another reason: the 36-day strike in Santa Cruz, which occurred last October and November, resulting in four deaths, violent clashes, dozens of prisoners and many property damage. For this, the governor is facing charges of incitement to commit crime, grievous damage and separatism.
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Former President Carlos Meza condemned the incident on Twitter: “Governor Camacho’s violent and illegal kidnapping is outrageous. He is violating the constitution and human rights principles… he should be released immediately. Another opposition leader, Samuel Doria Medina, wrote on the same network that “the government should dedicate itself to the economy, not to political persecution.”
Camacho is the leader of the far-right party Gremos. He is largely responsible for the downfall of Evo Morales in 2019, although he did not personally participate in the interim cabinet that succeeded him, Jeanine Anez. In March 2021, he was elected governor of Santa Cruz with 55% of the vote. It is characterized by its harsh rhetoric against “socialism” and by exalting the regionalism of Santa Cruz against the “centralism” of La Paz. The recent decision by the eastern part of Bolivia is thought to be to fight for “a new relationship with the Bolivian state”, meaning a move towards federalism.