BOLIVIA: Fraud and abstention mark Santa Cruz referendum

Bolpress and ABI

The consultation on autonomy in Santa Cruz held Sunday May 4 was characterised by a high abstention rate that surpassed 35% in the provinces and capital city of the department, according to preliminary polls released by the radio station Fides and the television network ATB. Throughout the day, television reports showed almost empty polling places.

ATB reported that 933,000 people are enrolled in the Santa Cruz electoral roll, of which 569,000 voted. That is, 364,000 people abstained from participating, or 39%

Radio Fides announced details of... a partial count of 168 voting tables that had been scrutinised in the city of Santa Cruz, 12% of the more than 5,000 tables in the whole department. A significant number of tables did not function

According to the electoral role there are 30,493 people enrolled in these 168 tables, of which 21,436 voted, that is, 70.3%. The number of people who abstained from voting was 9.057 or 29%. Of these, 17.544 people voted Yes (81.8% of participants); No 3.114 (14.5%), meaning that null and blank votes add up to 563 (2.63%).

Fides informed that in the 10 tables installed in the rural region of Boyuybe, 1198 people figured on the electoral roll, of which 752 voted, that is 67%, and 33% abstained. Of these, 592 people voted Yes, 141 for No and 12 blank votes and 7 null votes were counted.

In San Javier, abstention surpassed 36%. Out the total number of voters, 70% voted Yes and 20% voted No.

In the locality of Concepción 19 tables functioned. The number of voters who participated was 2784, 63% of those enrolled in the electoral roll, with 1601 people abstaining, or 36%. The number of people who voted Yes was 2009 (72%), No 608 (21%), 88 blank votes (3%) and 2.84% cast null votes.

Meanwhile, neighbours from the poor neighbourhood of Plan 3000 in Santa Cruz reported cases of fraud in the referendum carried out today, showing ballot boxes full of ballot papers marked with the "yes" option.

These citizens gathered at La Rotonda commented that when they burnt at least 20 ballot boxes, they found that the ballot papers were already marked so they decided to report this to the media. They hope that media which belongs to entrepreneurs will show this fraud promoted by the civic committee, the prefect Ruben Costas and the entrepreneurs.

Jaime Choque, Popular Committee's chairman, showed the marked ballot papers and identified Mario Parada,
Departmental Electoral Court's representative, as responsible for this fraud.

"We won't allow them to carry out this fraud out in
Santa Cruz and we have the proof such as these ballot papers which are already marked, the responsible people for this fraud are: Mario Parada, Branko Marinkovic and Ruben Costas who must receive a sanction owing to this crime. " stated Choque.

The neighbours are watching over the schools in order not to allow the installation of ballot boxes.

At Plan 3000's entrance, police searches were being carried out on cars in order to avoid the entrance of weapons.

On some streets some young people who were drunk threatened the people who opened their shops today.

Translated from Bolpress and ABI

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