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  • MAS Senator Candidate Lucy Escobar before being arrested on Tuesday.

    MAS Senator Candidate Lucy Escobar before being arrested on Tuesday. | Photo: Radio Kawsachun Coca

Published 23 June 2020
Opinion

Attempts to destabilize the working class and social movements have intensified in the light of the elections.

The political persecution of the de-facto government of Bolivia continues as three leaders associated with the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) were illegally arrested Tuesday on charges of sedition and terrorism. 

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Protests have erupted in the working-class districts, south of the city of Cochabamba, following the arrest of the senator candidate by the MAS Lucy Escobar and leaders Remy Fernandez and Osvaldo Gareca, while they were organizing the transfer of biosafety implements to the Tropic region in solidarity with the blockade that the region has been experiencing amid a pandemic.

"They were apprehended just as they were moving to the Tropic of Cochabamba carrying masks, eucalyptus plants, and various biosecurity inputs," their lawyer Rolando Ramos said while some witnesses claimed that the police violently attacked them without showing identification and under threats. 

The reason for the arrest appears to be in response to protests against hunger and the state abandonment in the K'ara K'ara region last May, for which leader Remy Fernandez was charged with alleged terrorism and health-related crimes. 

According to Ramos the arguments of the arrest warrant as "insolvent" and "inconsistent," because the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not demonstrate how the security of citizens has been put at risk and, therefore, in the hearing that is expected to be installed Wednesday, the defense will demand unrestricted freedom.

Meanwhile, residents of the southern zone set up a blockade on one of the main avenues demanding the release of the three leaders.

"We are taking the blocking measures again because there has been unjust apprehension, there has been political persecution. We are back in a state of emergency and this is just the beginning," they said.

After the health and social crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the poorest regions have been hard hit, but also forgotten by the state, so that solidarity among the working-class neighborhoods of the city and the Tropic region have been seen in recent times.

However, the criminalization of the Tropic region, which is currently blocked by the de-facto government, has mainly been due to its political link with the MAS as it is one of the key regions of support for the party and also for former president Evo Morales.

Morales, exiled in Argentina, described the event as an illegal act. "With the new arrests, the government shows that it is more concerned about politics than about life," he tweeted.

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