Bolivia remains deeply polarised over the disputed 2019 elections that resulted in the resignation of then-President Evo Morales and a brief hiatus in the long-running rule of his party Movement to Socialism, in power since 2006. Fierce disagreement between those who believe Morales was ousted by a coup and those who accuse his party of committing electoral fraud has triggered waves of political retaliation, partisan use of the judicial system and threats of violence. Bolivia’s fragmented society now faces an economic and health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Crisis Group works to find paths to establish trust in the state’s institutions, minimise tensions and find long-term reconciliation among all sectors of the population.

CrisisWatch Bolivia

Unchanged Situation

Amid ongoing protests against arrest of right-wing opposition leader and Santa Cruz Governor Luis Fernando Camacho, opposition-led “national assemblies” took place across country.

Santa Cruz unrest continued, protesters launched opposition assemblies. Following arrest of Luis Fernando Camacho late Dec, protests persisted in Santa Cruz province during Jan amid clashes between police and protesters; Civic Committee of Santa Cruz president, Rómulo Calvo, 1 Jan stated that blockades around Santa Cruz would remain in place to deny province’s resources to capital La Paz. Yet as concerns grew over economic impact of blockades, Civic Committee 16 Jan announced opposition-led “national assemblies” would take place 25 Jan in all regional capitals to discuss “new measures” to demand Camacho’s release. Ahead of assemblies, protesters 18 Jan lifted blockades. Judge 19 Jan ruled Camacho must remain in detention while awaiting trial. Thousands 25 Jan attended Santa Cruz “national assembly”, which pressed for Camacho’s release via proposed Amnesty Law and called on all opposition forces to form political party to oppose ruling Movement for Socialism party in 2025 elections. Minister of Government Eduardo del Castillo 26 Jan dismissed “national assembly” resolutions as Santa Cruz citizens’ “new coup adventure”, Minister of Justice Iván Lima same day called them “unconstitutional”.

Govt and protesters faced criticism for violence. Ombudsman’s office 10 Jan reported 25 alleged human rights violations since protests began late Dec, and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression 17 Jan condemned “excessive use of force by the security forces and the acts of violence perpetrated by organised groups”.

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