Just in from Santa Cruz.
Translation (mine) follows. Please feel free to correct.
Autonomous Department of Santa Cruz. Dec. 4, 2008
The Pro–Santa Cruz Committee is an institution that for more than 50 years has fought for democracy and progress for the people of Bolivia and Santa Cruz. Thus, today it fights for autonomy, through a democratic media. For example, this past May we backed a popular referendum in which 85% of the citizens voted for the Santa Cruz autonomy statute. Similarly, citizens of Pando, Beni, and Tarija departments also backed their respective autonomy statutes. Autonomy is our proposal to change Bolivia and create a more democratic and prosperous society, with better opportunities for everybody equally.
Today in Bolivia we live with a constitutional referendum campaign backed by the [ruling party] MAS and the government of President Evo Morales. The Pro–Santa Cruz Committee has decided to participate in this campaign, asking the citizens to vote "No" to the proposed constitution. We do not think that this constitution grants liberty, democracy, and equal justice for all, nor does it contribute to the unity of Bolivia, and it especially does not recognize our autonomy. It requires that departmental resources be administered by the central powers in La Paz.
The government of President Morales has answered our peaceful and democratic campaign with political and judicial persecution against our autonomy leaders--the departmental prefects and the civic leaders. This persecution is based on false accusations. For example, the MAS government accuses the president of the Pro–Santa Cruz Committee, Brank Marinkovic, of having allegedly participated in a dynamite attack against a gas pipeline in Tarija department. But this grave attack never happened. This was confirmed by published technical reports from the company that runs the pipeline, Transierra, stated that the damage was from a fire due to poor operation.
The government persecutes; it hides military operatives; it prosecutes its opponents with its own judges and prosecutors, ruling through propaganda and paid television. This demonstrates that the MAS government does not want any contrary opinion in the campaign for its constitution.
The letter is to inform you of this crisis of liberty and democracy that Bolivia is suffering.
[Signed] Luís Núñez Ribera,
First Vice President
[Seal, Pro–Santa Cruz Committee]