Wednesday saw the third consecutive day of anti-government demonstrations, with epicenters in Potosí and Santa Cruz. At least one death is recorded, which has yet to be investigated.
Bolivia has been going through days of protests and blockades since Monday, in which several acts of violence and at least one death were recorded, while the Government of Luis Arce asks the Police to “defend democracy” against actions branded as “seditious”, and the opponents they call for a fourth day of mobilizations for this Thursday.
The demonstrations were unleashed within the framework of a national strike encouraged by sectors that oppose the National Strategy Law to Fight the Legitimization of Illicit Profits and Financing of Terrorism, better known as ‘mother law’. This is a regulation that seeks to combat money laundering, and that could be modified by decrees by the Government of the day.
Now, workers from different sectors are bowing to the claim by interpreting that the measure could affect their own earnings, as it is an economy with high rates of informality, where very few can explain the origin of the money. This, although the Executive clarifies that the legislation only aims to persecute high-income people who carry out controversial maneuvers: “You have to be crazy to think that our government is going to affect the poorest”Arce replied.
Beyond this specific legislation, approved in August, the protest took on a strong anti-government tinge, being also encouraged by the National Committee for the Defense of Democracy (CONADE) and different civic committees, standing out the Committee for Santa Cruz, from which leaders emerged – Fernando Camacho at the head – who ignited the coup d’état that took place in 2019.
For this reason, some Bolivian analysts compare this scenario with that of two years ago, but affirm that Arce has greater democratic legitimacy than the then reeling Evo Morales, who was going for his fourth consecutive term in a context of social and political crisis.
Mobilizations, confrontations and misinformation
The protests are centered in Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Potosi, which had massive mobilizations. There, next to Tarija and Cochabamba, the main disturbances were registered. The most serious incidents took place on Monday and Tuesday, with clashes between opponents, militants of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) – who wanted to release the blockades – and the Police. There were also demonstrations in Peace, Oruro and Beni.
The context of confrontations between detractors and the ruling party was even characterized by misinformation and fake news around different violent episodes. Just to cite one example, an ‘influencer’ with 135,000 followers posted on Twitter images claiming that “paramilitary groups” related to the government were “going to look for protesters in droves.” In the video you can hear detonations, there are runs and you see how an angry mob hits a subject on the floor.
However, a MAS councilor also used her networks to maintain that the victim of the video would actually be Basilio Titi Tipolo, a young ruralista who was killed in Potosí during the incidents, and not a civic protester, as he wanted to install with the ‘fake new’.
They assassinated 22-year-old Basilio Titi Tipolo today. His hatred, his racism, his personal and petty interests killed him. Another mother without her child, another family that mourns an absent person. May justice be implacable and the people irreverent. For the right, lives are collateral damage pic.twitter.com/nw5LeFzBRf
– Roxana Pérez Del Castillo Brown (@Roxana_Concejal) November 10, 2021
In fact, on his coffin, friends and family placed a sign that read: “Martyr of democracy”. And his sister said in an interview that the body had “much damage”.
#News | “Justice! Justice for my brother who has died, why are they like this? they killed my brother with (beatings). The whole story that has choked on coca (…), everyone has hit him ”, reproached Julia Titi, sister of Basilio Titi. Read the note here 👉 https://t.co/JqEigx7zgJpic.twitter.com/xZfEPgoL6s
– Bolivian Information Agency (@abi_bolivia) November 10, 2021
Dying “for coca leaves”?
Former President Morales has already called for “an urgent investigation” and attributed the death to Shock groups linked to Comcipo“, the Civic Committee of Potosí. In return, the civic disclaim all kinds of responsibility.
Once again, the racist hatred of our indigenous brothers causes death and pain in the Bolivian people. We demand an urgent investigation from the authorities to identify and punish those responsible for the death of a young man at the hands of shock groups linked to Comcipo pic.twitter.com/82CuxwX0Ni
– Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) November 10, 2021
In the midst of crossed versions, the legal medical autopsy —which was attended by the Ombudsman’s Office— indicated that Tipolo “died of mechanical suffocation for bronco aspiration with a foreign body, “presumably,” for coca leaves. “The Ombudsman’s Office also pointed out that” the body did not show signs of violence.
Likewise, the Minister of Justice, Iván Lima, remarked that the body had injuries resulting from a possible fall, and questioned the hypothesis disseminated by the opposition: “Although there have been no fractures and at the level of the body there are no other vital injuries, it is clear that the cause of death cannot be given because a citizen is consuming a bolus of coca.”
It is that, beyond the state of the corpse, the Justice must investigate the circumstances that accompanied the death. According to the testimonies collected, it is possible that the event occurred while the peasant “escaped from other groups”added Nadia Cruz, defender of the people.
In addition to the death, your entity reported that there are at least 63 people injured for the riots on Tuesday, including civilians, peasants, three policemen and a journalist. In turn, two people were arrested for having explosives.
On the other hand, on Wednesday the Ombudsman asked to end the racism and denounced threats against members of his delegation. He also urged the Protestants to avoid roadblocks, to guarantee basic human rights, such as hospital care.
“Unconscionable use of force”
In the midst of the general tension, the Executive removed the five departmental commanders from Tarija, Potosí, Oruro, Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz, and amounted to three colonels. The changes are due to “an excessive use of force over and above the orders that have been established,” said the spokesman for the Presidency, Jorge Richter. And it is possible that new modifications will take place among the uniformed in the next few hours.
Regarding the protests, Arce said that opponents use the excuse of the law but only seek “the impunity of what happened in 2019 with the coup, “while the trials progress.
With this framework, the president who returned to the MAS to power after the democratic interruption in the multinational country, fulfills his first year in office with a climate of great social tension and attempts by the Civic Committee to weaken his administration, encouraging street riots.
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