A Bolivian university student was arrested on Tuesday for circulating critiques against the South American country’s interim government through a leftist meme account that has since been deactivated.
The arrest of María Alejandra Salinas, a student at La Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, has sparked criticism in Bolivia, with her university leaders coming to the student’s defense and calling her apprehension a threat to free speech in the country, the Daily Dot reports.
Salinas, a graduate student of feminist studies, started the Facebook account called Suchel following the resignation of former Bolivian President Evo Morales on November 10. The Indigenous leader stepped down after being accused of election fraud and learning that police had illegally ordered for his arrest. Morales, who has since taken asylum in Mexico, as well as his supporters maintain that he is the victim of a coup. Since stepping down, conservative Senator Jeanine Añez Chavez declared herself interim president.
Salinas has said that her platform aimed to counter opposition-run state media. Suchel largely featured content that used humor to discuss the current political struggle and was critical of the conservatives in leadership. However, as the page grew — gaining more than 10,000 followers — Salinas began receiving death and rape threats. On December 28, she announced that she would be deactivating the platform out of fear for her and her family’s safety.
The student was accused of inciting violence against the state, a claim she vehemently denies.
“They say that I promote hate, indoctrinate people. This is just a page that doesn’t even reach 10% of the population in Bolivia I have no power over people,” she said in response to the allegations.
Añez’s interim government has faced other accusations of human rights violations in its less than two months in power.