Right-wing groups in Santa Cruz are leading violent protests against the democratically elected Luis Arce government in Bolivia.
They are scaremongering around the national census in a year’s time to call an “indefinite strike”.
Luis Fernando Camacho, far-right governor of Santa Cruz, is one of the leading figures in this destabilisation campaign. He led the coup against the democratically elected Evo Morales government in November 2019.
Despite an agreement on a new census date, December 2023, right-wing groups are continuing to attacking Indigenous people, health workers and unionists. They are also burning public buildings.
Human rights activist Juana Maldonado gave the following speech at Green Left’s end-of-year Asado on December 4 at the Parramatta Activist Centre. It has been translated by Ben Radford.
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The Association for Human Rights in Bolivia, based in Sydney, would like to inform the Australian and Latin American public that democracy is once again under attack in Bolivia from the same minority oligarchy, based in the Santa Cruz department (state).
The same racist oligarchy that broke the constitutional order in 2019 again tried to throw Bolivia into turmoil. They are aiming to overthrow the democratic government of Luis Arce, using the date of the national census as a pretext.
This oligarchy, led by Santa Cruz governor Luis Fernando Camacho, Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee president Rómulo Calvo, Gabriel René Moreno, University vice-chancellor Vicente Cuellar and their paramilitary shock group — the Santa Cruz Youth Union — started a violent strike that began on September 22.
They have murdered four Santa Cruz citizens, burned and looted the headquarters of the Trade Union Federation of Campesinos of Santa Cruz and the Central Workers’ Union, and razed the houses of Indigenous Ayoreo people to the ground, as reprisal for their opposition to the strike.
The Santa Cruz Youth Union has done the same to the residents of the neighbourhood “Plan 3000”, who have been violently attacked and their markets burned and looted because they did not take part in the strike.
This forced and violent strike, in which the most basic rights of the people of Santa Cruz were violated, lasted 36 days.
For 36 days, people were unable to move around.
For 36 days, people were unable to access emergency health care and many lost their lives.
For 36 days, the most vulnerable people who live day-to-day went hungry because they could not work.
For 36 days, children and youth lost their right to an education.
The forced and violent strike caused devastating damage not only to Santa Cruz’s economy, but the whole of Bolivia.
It is estimated that thousands of workers lost their jobs in Santa Cruz, causing national unemployment to rise.
We demand the Bolivian judiciary punish those responsible for this new abuse of power and their attempt to destabilise the government of Luis Arce.
The racist oligarchy of Santa Cruz cannot go unpunished again.
We are still waiting for justice for the Senkata and Sacabo massacres in 2019. We demand this fascist and racist trio — Fernando Camacho, Rómulo Calvo and Vicente Cuellar — are forced to stand trial for violating the basic rights of the people of Santa Cruz and for attempting to shorten the democratic mandate of Arce.
We call on Australians and the Latin American community to stand in solidarity with the people of Santa Cruz, condemn the violent strike and demand the perpetrators be brought to justice.