Bolivia Parliament erupted in chaos as rival lawmakers engaged in a brawl over the fate of a jailed governor.
The confrontation occurred when pro-government MPs attempted to snatch placards held up by opposition members with messages denouncing the existence of political prisoners.
The fight, involving around 20 lawmakers, quickly escalated as punches and kicks were exchanged on the floor of the parliament.
EKO HOT BLOG reports that chaos ensued in the Bolivian parliament as rival lawmakers engaged in a physical brawl, exchanging punches and kicks during a heated debate regarding the fate of a jailed governor described as a political prisoner by the opposition.
The incident, which took place on Tuesday, highlighted the escalating polarization in the country and left many questioning the decorum of the legislative body.
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Chamber of Deputies leader, Jerges Mercado, expressed his dismay over the unfortunate incident, labeling it as “regrettable” and “an embarrassment.”
The confrontation occurred when pro-government MPs attempted to snatch placards held up by opposition members with messages denouncing the existence of political prisoners and calling into question the state of democracy in Bolivia.
The fight, involving around 20 lawmakers, quickly escalated as punches and kicks were exchanged on the floor of the parliament. Although some lawmakers sought to defend their actions, blaming one another for instigating the fight, at least one parliamentarian announced her intention to pursue legal action in response to the altercation.
The underlying cause of the clash was a report presented by Minister of Government Eduardo del Castillo regarding the arrest of Luis Fernando Camacho, a conservative governor from the Santa Cruz region and a prominent opposition figure.
Del Castillo, who serves in the government of leftist President Luis Arce, defended the legality of Camacho’s arrest and criticized members of Camacho’s party as “radical, thieving, violent groups that came to steal the wallets of the Bolivian people.”
During Del Castillo’s speech, opposition lawmakers displayed banners and placards, including some that labeled him the “minister of terror.” As tensions escalated and lawmakers attempted to seize the signs, the physical altercation erupted and continued for several minutes before ultimately subsiding without serious injuries.
In response to the incident, Vice President David Choquehuanca, who also serves as the president of Congress, announced his intention to convene a meeting between the two political blocs. The objective of the meeting is to address the issue and ensure that such scenes of violence are never repeated within the parliamentary setting.
The arrest of Luis Fernando Camacho on terrorism charges, stemming from his alleged involvement in the ousting of leftist President Evo Morales in 2019, has fueled further discontent and polarization within Bolivia.
Camacho, the conservative governor of the economically significant Santa Cruz region, garnered widespread support and triggered countrywide protests following his detention.
The opposition claims that there are approximately 180 political prisoners in the country, adding to the already deepening divisions.
Camacho’s arrest and subsequent charges echoed the 2021 arrest of former president Jeanine Anez, who was handed a 10-year prison sentence in June 2022 for allegedly plotting Morales’ overthrow. Many dismiss the allegations against Anez as politically motivated, with the former president consistently denouncing the charges as a case of political persecution.
As Bolivia grapples with these deep divisions and ongoing political tensions, efforts are being made to restore calm and foster dialogue between opposing factions.
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The incident in parliament serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced in maintaining civility and constructive debate within the country’s political landscape.
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