Leaders of the Santa Cruz department in Bolivia’s eastern lowlands, the nation’s largest, immediately demanded a census in 2023, not in 2024. Department governor Luis Camacho and Rómulo Calvo, president of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee, warned that without a settlement on the census, they would initiate a strike aimed at undoing the department’s economy, and thereby the national economy.
In response, “over one million Bolivians mobilized” on Aug. 25 in support of the government and against a regional leadership group that is the vanguard of opposition to Bolivia’s socialist and indigenous-led government. Even so, the strike began on Oct. 22. Recent Bolivian history suggests another coup may be in the offing.
The U.S. government and the Organization of American States, serving the United States, facilitated the coup that removed the Morales government in 2019 after his election to a fourth term. Luis Camacho of Santa Cruz led the coup and reportedly delivered the U.S. moneys used in various payoffs. Bolivia’s military participated.
“The Permanent Assembly of Human Rights of Bolivia, denounces to the international community these acts of violence, these acts of racism that are being perpetrated by the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz against our brothers of the Federation of Campesinos of Santa Cruz.
From the Human Rights Assembly we will demand an explanation from the commander of the Police of the Department of Santa Cruz as to why our brothers of the Federation of Peasants have been unprotected, why the police have withdrawn? Why has the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee and its paramilitary group, the Unión Juvenil Cruceña, not been dissuaded?
So what is Camacho’s Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee?
It’s not a citizens group, but basically a far right-wing chamber of commerce founded in the 1950s in the department of Santa Cruz. Its goal, said this article from NACLA, was to “to protect their investments, consolidate their business interests, and create a political powerhouse in the region.
He said the right-wing groups in Santa Cruz were “the most militant and powerful” of all, and linked them to the Unión Juvenil Crucenista, a youth group which “has been known to beat and whip campesinos marching for gas nationalization, throw rocks at students organizing against autonomy, toss molotov cocktails at the state television station, and brutally assault members of the landless movement struggling against land monopolies.” Camacho reportedly was a member of the Unión before moving on to the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee.