Bolivian Oppositionists Will Be Investigated For Racism
Bolivia’s courts will investigate allegations of racism and harm to national symbols, made against the Governor of Santa Cruz, Fernando Camacho, as well as against senior members of the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee. Bolivians were outraged when oppositionists in Santa Cruz tore down the indigenous wiphala flag and carried out numerous acts of racially-motivated violence, following the department’s anniversary celebrations on September 24th.
Estefania Morales, MAS congresswoman for Santa Cruz, announced last night that the courts have “admitted our complaint that was filed on Monday, the 27th, against Governor Luis Fernando Camacho, the president of the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee, Rómulo Calvo, José Carlos Gutiérrez, Adalid Farel Moreno, for the crimes of racism, discrimination, and harm to the wiphala, during official acts on September 24th. We will be following this up so as to ensure that those responsible are punished.”
The day before, President of the Civic Committee Romulo Calvo said in a press conference, “The wiphala does not represent the people of Santa Cruz, nor many Bolivians, due to the political use that has been given to this symbol… I call for the resignation of the Interior Minister and Justice Minister, for the audacity of recklessly provoking the people of Santa Cruz.”
Santa Cruz has a long history of separatist violence. In 2008 and 2009, the region attempted to secede from the rest of the country, refusing to be governed by indigenous President, Evo Morales. Indigenous residents suffered from a wave of violent street attacks during the secession attempt. Wikileaks revealed that the movement was funded by USAID to the tune of $US 4 million.
Last week, tensions flared up again as governor and coup leader Fernando Camacho addressed his supporters. After his speech, opposition supporters swarmed the central plaza and tore down the indigenous wiphala flag, the country’s official flag alongside the tricolor, which had been raised by Choquehuanca as required by the constitution. Javier Reyes, a cameraman for the public channel Bolivia TV, was assaulted for having captured footage of the illegal removal of the Wiphala. A leader of the indigenous CONAMAQ group was assaulted as he left the plaza. The President of the Civic Committee (which Camacho led during the coup) jokingly sprayed the air with disinfectant as indigenous MAS lawmakers, participating in the official parade, marched by.
Bolivia’s Minister of Justice Ivan Lima told Kawsachun News that charges will be pursued against racist oppositionists, saying, “We cannot tolerate what happened. This was not an isolated incident, there was clear coordination between the acts of tearing down the wiphala, the racist violence, and the impeding of the President’s duties. We cannot allow this to pass without an overwhelming response from the state. If these things are allowed to pass then they’ll happen again in an even more harmful manner.”
Our recent interview with Minister of Justice Ivan Lima
By Kawsachun News