Prosecutors in Bolivia are seeking six months of pre-trial detention in the case of Luis Fernando Camacho. The governor of Santa Cruz and prominent right-wing leader whose sudden arrest on Wednesday sparke allegations of kidnapping.
Camacho is being held in the political capital of La Paz on charges of “terrorism” prosecutor Omar Mejillones confirme in a statement on Thursday.
The Santa Cruz governor also faces ongoing investigations into his role during Bolivia’s 2019 political crisis. Which led to the departure of then-President Evo Morales. Among the charges being considere are breach of duty. Misuse of influence and attacking the president and high-ranking officials.
Bolivian opposition leader held on ‘terrorism’ charges
Camacho a former presidential candidate who heads the powerful Christian conservative coalition Creemos. Leader during the 2019 protests that helped to remove Morales. The country’s first Indigenous president, from office.
In a statement, Camacho rejected the accusations, saying they lacke credibility.
The 2019 political crisis saw Morales seeking a fourth consecutive term as president, a move his critics denounce as unconstitutional. Morales had successfully appeale to the Supreme Court to abolish term limits after voters refused to do so in a 2016 referendum.
Bolivian opposition leader held on ‘terrorism’ chargesMorales successfully won his fourth term in October 2019 but the election was mired in allegations of fraud and protests erupted contesting Morales’s leadership. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights estimates 36 people lost their lives in the crisis. With an international audit under way and violence in the streets, Bolivia’s military called on Morales to resign.
He did, leaving office in November 2019, but condemned the conflict as a “coup”. On Thursday, Morales applauded Camacho’s arrest with a post on Twitter.
“Finally, after three years, Luis Fernando Camacho will answer for the coup d’etat that led to robberies, persecutions, arrests and massacres of the de facto government. We trust that this decision will be upheld with the firmness demanded by the people’s clamour for justice,” Morales wrote.
Camacho’s allies, meanwhile, have called the arrest a “kidnapping”, organise by Morales’s Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) political party.
In a statement posted on Camacho’s social media on Thursday. His legal team said Bolivia’s judiciary had “practically closed the doors. against their legal actions to free the governor and was continuing to “violate [his] constitutional rights”.
Camacho’s arrest and subsequent jailing have heightened existing tensions between Bolivia’s left-wing government and conservative-led Santa Cruz, the largest of the country’s nine departments.
Following the prosecutor’s announcement on Thursday, the right-wing Pro-Santa Cruz Committee. A civic group of which Camacho was once president. Announce it would lead a general strike on Friday as well as blockades on the department’s highways.
Already, protesters have taken to the streets in Santa Cruz to block roads. The local prosecutor’s office was reportedly set on fire. And on Wednesday, amid reports Camacho was being flown to La Paz to face charges, protesters entere two Santa Cruz airports in an apparent attempt to stop his transport.
Bolivia’s public works minister Edgar Montano took to Twitter. Thursday to say his house in Santa Cruz had been targete and burne. Violating the integrity and safety of my family”. He blamed Camacho and the Pro-Santa Cruz Committee for the attack.
“They are not going to intimidate us with criminal acts such as burning my home and calls on social networks to loot institutions and homes belonging to other officials”, he tweeted, adding: “#SantaCruz is not an independent country.