Bolivia: Opposition Leader Arrested on Terrorism Charges

Luis Fernando Camacho, right-wing governor, and former presidential candidate was arrested on terrorism charges on Wednesday. He was sentenced to four months of pre-trial detention by a Bolivian judge on Friday.

Bolivia: Opposition Leader Arrested on Terrorism Charges
Image credit: AFP [via France24]

Facts

  • Luis Fernando Camacho, right-wing governor, and former presidential candidate was arrested on terrorism charges on Wednesday. He was sentenced to four months of pre-trial detention by a Bolivian judge on Friday.
  • The charges stem from Camacho's role in the 2019 protests that led to the resignation of then-president Evo Morales, which prosecutors claim constituted a coup. Several political and military leaders are facing similar charges — including the interim Pres. Jeanine Áñez, who was installed after Morales resigned and is currently facing a 10-year sentence.
  • Morales praised the arrest, stating that Camacho will "answer" for the "robberies, persecutions, arrests and massacres of the de facto government," while Camacho's office alleged he was "brutally kidnapped" on charges "lacking truth and credibility."
  • The news sparked protests in Camacho's home state of Santa Cruz, with a powerful committee calling for a 24-hour civic strike in support of the governor.
  • The unrest in 2019 saw the deaths of 37 people after allegations of fraud against Morales's Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, which returned to power in a 2020 election helmed by incumbent Pres. Luis Arce. The MAS has pledged to prosecute those responsible for the abuses that occurred during the power struggle.
  • The US Dept. of State and the United Nations both issued statements urging non-violence as the situation develops in Bolivia.

Sources: France24, Associated Press, BBC News, Guardian, Al Jazeera, and Reuters.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Peoples Dispatch. Camacho was responsible for a violent, far-right coup against a democratically elected government. The allegations of fraud are dubious at best, and the power grab led to death and destruction across Bolivia. The government is seeking justice for the victims of this violence through the legal system, even at the risk of violence from Camacho's many vocal supporters.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Telegraph. Camacho is an outspoken critic of the MAS regime, and this is a blatant act of retaliation against him and his allies. Unable to cope with his widespread popularity in one of Bolivia's fastest-growing regions, the regime has resorted to dictatorial tactics by fabricating these charges. This is a dark day for democracy, as a popular, incumbent governor is arrested for opposing the ruling government.