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Bolivia governor arrested on genocide charges

[JURIST] Bolivian President Evo Morales [official website; BBC profile] on Tuesday announced the arrest of a provincial governor and political opponent on genocide charges in connection with the deaths of several Morales supporters [CBC report] during demonstrations last week. Gov. Leopoldo Fernandez [Univision interview, in Spanish], who had refused to recognize Morales' declaration of martial law [Reuters report] in Pando province on Saturday, was taken to La Paz by federal soldiers. At a press conference, Morales defended the governor's arrest [Reuters report] as "legal and constitutional." On Monday, the newly formed Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) implored Bolivians to end the violence [AP report] as it recommended the creation of a commission to mediate negotiations between Morales' government and the opposition, which favors autonomy. Reuters has more. AFP has additional coverage. From La Paz, La Razon has local coverage, in Spanish.

Weeks of regional protests in affluent states opposing Morales' income redistribution proposals culminated in the president's accusation [AFP report] earlier this month that opposition governors were engaged in a "civil coup against democracy." After a national referendum in August permitted Morales to retain his office [JURIST report], he renewed his campaign for constitutional amendments that would distribute more of Bolivia's land and energy resource income to the country's indigenous population. Several of the provincial governors also confirmed by that referendum, including Fernandez, have fought the constitutional reforms [JURIST reports].

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