One year after a deadly raid on a supposed right-wing terrorist cell in a hotel in Bolivia’s eastern city of Santa Cruz apparently thwarted a conspiracy to launch an armed separatist movement, the affair is back on the front page of the nation’s newspapers, with the government charging the plot was overseen and financed by powerful Masonic lodges. Especially named are the lodges Caballeros del Oriente (Knights of the East) and Toborochis (named for a tree that grows in the region). Pablo Costas, brother of Santa Cruz governor Ruben Costas, is named by the Bolivian press as “brother number one” in los Caballeros del Oriente. Vice-Minister of Interior Gustavo Torrico warned that another lodge linked to eatern Bolivia’s “oligarchy,” Mariscal de Zepita, may have infiltrated the Bolivian military. President Evo Morales called upon the armed forces to “punish” those within their ranks who have collaborated with the separatists. (Estrella del Oriente, Santa Cruz, Cambio, La Paz, April 17; La Razon, La Paz, April 16)
Meanwhile, conservative leaders in Santa Cruz blasted the government’s investigation of the affair, which has been overseen by prosecutor Marcelo Soza. Fernando Cuellar, ex-president of the Santa Cruz College of Lawyers, the regional bar association, charged that “Soza speeds up or slows down the investigation depending on the political situation in the country… a judicial process of this type…should not be subject to political interests.” (La Prensa, La Paz, April 17)
See our last posts on Bolivia.