Bolivian authorities have arrested a senior right-wing opposition leader on suspicion of plotting a coup.
Luis Fernando Camacho is the governor of Santa Cruz, the richest region in the country. In 2019, he had a role in deposing President Evo Morales.
For almost a month, Mr. Camacho has led an anti-government strike in Santa Cruz, bringing the region to a halt.
His fans have labeled his arrest a kidnapping and flocked to the streets to protest.
According to a statement from the Attorney General’s office, Mr. Camacho was arrested on suspicion of plotting a coup and had been aware of the charges for several weeks.
Mr. Camacho began the strikes in response to delays in the country’s census.
The census would almost certainly result in Santa Cruz, which has long clashed with the highland political capital La Paz, gaining greater tax income and political authority. The census is set to take place in 2024, but opponents want it to take place this year.
Mr. Camacho’s assistant, Graciela Ortiz, who was with him during his arrest, said a white patrol van stopped their vehicle.
Mr. Camacho was arrested and brought to a small airport before being flown to La Paz, according to local media.
According to the AFP news agency, as word of his detention spread, his followers flocked to the streets, erecting barricades and torching the regional prosecutor’s office.
Protesters also converged on Santa Cruz’s Viru Viru airport, ostensibly to prevent Mr. Camacho from being transferred elsewhere.
Long lines have formed as residents stock up on food in anticipation of roadblocks.
The arrest was described as a “kidnapping” by former President Carlos Mesa.
The US State Department has advised the administration not to use disproportionate force against the opposition.
According to a UN representative, “people everywhere should be entitled to express their views and demonstrate peacefully,” while not knowing the circumstances of the case.