Calls for peace and demonstrations in defense of the popular vote on one side, an ongoing coup plan with increasingly extreme actions on the other, have marked the situation in Bolivia for the past week.
As one of the lines of the anti-government attacks, yesterday evening there was a mutiny in the Police Operations Tactical Unit (UTOP) of the central department of Cochabamba, with an immediate official response.
Minister of Defense Javier Zavaleta ruled out the deployment of the Armed Forces on the streets following the incident and assured that under no circumstances would the government enforce quartering or a military operation in the streets of any city. He insisted that the situation of the Armed Forces in the nine departments throughout the country is normal and expressed confidence that the police commander can persuade the officers involved in the mutiny to rethink their position.
Ever since the losing presidential candidate Carlos Mesa implied their had been electoral fraud on October 20, providing no evidence, a series of anti-government mobilizations has been encouraged by extreme oppposition sectors, including stoppages, street barricades, and violent attacks.
Last Saturday, the head of the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee, Luis Fernando Camacho, in front of his followers gathered in a town hall, issued a 48 hour ultimatum to President Evo Morales to resign.
After the deadline, the young lawyer and entrepreneur stated on Monday in a demagogic and contradictory speech that he would secure the resignation of the head of State, and announced the radicalization of his initiatives, including the closure of borders and the taking of public institutions.
Consequently, two days later hooded far-right groups responded by violently attacking Mayoress Patricia Arce of the municipality of Vinto, Quillacollo province, and lashing out at her companions who marched in that city alongside their children.
The attackers cut off Arce's hair and threw dirt and red paint over her, before she was rescued by the police. In addition, the former minister of Interculturality, Feliciano Vegamonte, was kidnapped and, according to a broadcast video, forced to kneel and apologize.
Bolivian lawmakers and senators repudiated these attacks, as well as those against indigenous women, which the Women's Plurinational Service described as intolerable, while social organizations publicly denounced these politically motivated and racist incidents and public officials called on opposition leaders to reflect on their actions.
Meanwhile, Morales reiterated his call for an end to the violence and called on social movements to unite to support social justice, the process of change, and the democratic and cultural revolution in Bolivia.
'I want to tell the people that I am not going to resign, we will respect our Political Constitution of the State, I want to inform sisters and brothers, Bolivia and the world, I will not give up, (...) we will defend our process of change,' the president assured.
Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera set out that it was the people who again gave victory to the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) in the elections of October 20, and that denying that victory would be to bury democracy.
'We were chosen by the people, if we had lost, we would have happily left office. The people gave us victory again and resigning would be to ignore the Magna Carta in force in the country,' he stressed.
Leader of the Bolivian Workers' Confederation (COB) Juan Carlos Huarachi, during a massive rally in the historic city of El Alto, considered the importance of the economic issue, noting, 'In 2003 it was gas, now it is lithium, the underlying issue of the political opposition is the economy.'
Minister of Communications Manuel Canela emphasized that the State responded to allegations of fraud by requesting an audit of the results conducted by the Organization of American States (OAS) three days after the elections, which was nonetheless disregarded by the sectors promoting a coup.
We want to be very clear on making a difference between the people who support democracy and those who are seeking a coup d'état like Mr. Camacho, he stressed.