Bolivia’s largest oppositional civil society group, the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee, says they don’t feel represented by the indigenous wiphala flag and say that imposing it is a ‘provocation’. Nevertheless, MAS lawmakers from Santa Cruz are filing charges against the group’s leader for racism and discrimination following the tearing down of the symbol during the department of Santa Cruz’s anniversary celebration last week and other incidents over the weekend.
In a press conference on Monday, Romulo Calvo, President of the Civic Committee, said, “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.”
Calvo has launched numerous racist tirades since becoming President of the Civic Committee, which had previously been led by Fernando Camacho. In August 2020, during indigenous protests against the coup regime, he said, “This Committee will not rest until it sees these human beasts, unworthy of being called citizens, behind bars.”
When criticized over his racist comments he doubled down, saying, “A citizen seeks the common good, these people are not doing that. They are not worthy of being called citizens, they are not worthy of being called people.”
Right-wing Carlos Mesa has also criticized the government’s defense of the wiphala, by claiming that the MAS has imposed an indigenous symbol to replace the national coat of arms. Commenting on Twitter he said, “How can the government talk about the wiphala, if it violates the article of the (Constitution) that protects the flags and the shield (the 6th), by substituting our shield for the (indigenous) Chakana in official government activities and documents? Enough of the hypocrisy!”
Bolivia’s social movements are expected to announce mobilizations across the country in defense of the wiphala and against racism by far-right and pro-coup sectors.