Bolivian police arrest country’s main opposition leader

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Police on Wednesday arrested Luis Fernando Camacho, Bolivia’s main opposition leader who is also the governor of the Santa Cruz region, in a dramatic move that is sure to heighten tensions policies and could lead to further social unrest.

The South American country’s government has not released details of the charges against Camacho, whose region is Bolivia’s wealthiest and a stronghold of opposition detention.

Government Minister Carlos Eduardo del Castillo wrote on social media only: “We inform the people of Bolivia that the police have executed a detention order against Mr. Luis Fernando Camacho.

Shortly after the action, the governorate of Santa Cruz said in a press release that Camacho had been “kidnapped in an absolutely irregular police operation and taken to an unknown location.”

Camacho was detained near his home, according to the press release.

Video of the arrest posted on social media showed Camacho handcuffed on the side of the road alongside law enforcement officers who were holding guns.

Martín Camacho, the governor’s lawyer, told local newspaper El Deber that his client was being taken to the capital of La Paz to answer questions in the cases opened against him.

Video posted to social media showed dozens of his supporters descending on two local airports to try to block the governor’s transfer, although it was unclear if he was still there.

The government has launched several legal actions against Camacho, including one for calling a strike against the national administration of President Luis Arce in November, which lasted 36 days. He faces charges of sedition, treason and corruption, among others.

Camacho is the leader of the opposition alliance Creemos (“We Believe”).

His role as leader of the opposition materialized in November, when he led the strike against the government. The rushed action demands that a national census be taken in 2023, which would likely give Santa Cruz more tax revenue and seats in Congress and therefore more influence in the country’s political decisions.

Camacho was also a leader in major protests in 2019 that forced then-President Evo Morales from power following an election that the Organization of American States says was marred by fraud. Morales was seeking his fourth consecutive re-election.

The 2019 protests sparked social unrest that left 37 people dead and plunged Bolivia into its most serious institutional crisis in years.

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