EspañolA senior Bolivian official suggested on local radio on Monday that party members who fail to campaign for the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) in regional elections this March should be executed.
“Traitors should be shot; it’s a shame that we’re not allowed to do it,” Interior Vice Minister Jorge Pérez said. “We are going to make them feel all the weight of our censorship and marginalization for the next five years.”
Pérez issued the threat after news emerged of the destruction of campaign material belonging to Rodrigo Ibáñez, the MAS candidate for mayor in Tarija, southern Bolivia. Pamphlets and posters had reportedly been ripped up and thrown into a ditch.
The vice minister called on voters to choose MAS for all the positions at stake, including governors, mayors, local lawmakers, and councilors, and he emphasized the need for MAS candidates in all positions to win with high levels of support.
“I’ve heard some comments from officials in local government that will make them lose their job. They’re saying that we shouldn’t worry about the campaign of Rodrigo Ibáñez since he’s not going to win. These are traitors,” he said.
Mauricio Lea Plaza, a candidate for the local legislature from the opposition Tarija Regional Autonomy Movement, condemned that the threats came from a public official.
However, Rubén Velasco, president of the local chapter of MAS, came to Pérez’s defense. In MAS party meetings, he claimed, officials regularly speak about punishing activists “in jest.”
With regard to the the vice minister’s apparent support for executing nonchalant members of the MAS rank and file, Velasco explained that the party often used “historical references” and “metaphors” so that “people can understand.”
Bolivians are due to go the polls on March 29 to elect governors for the landlocked nation’s 9 departments, and mayors for its 399 municipalities.