Bolivian President Evo Morales has approved a decree allowing the state to seize property from citizens suspected of terrorism or separatism.
Mr Morales said on Wednesday that the measure is needed to dissuade right-wing extremists in the conservative eastern lowlands from launching a violent separatist campaign.
In a raid last month on a Santa Cruz hotel, police killed three men who allegedly planned to kill Mr Morales and other officials in a bid to spark a separatist revolt.
Mr Morales accused several opposition leaders of backing the alleged mercenaries and he warned that ‘businessmen financing separatist activities will be punished.’
Santa Cruz MP Oscar Urenda claimed that the decree, which lets prosecutors freeze bank accounts and seize property belonging to suspects, amounts to ‘state terrorism.’
But Bolivian government spokesman Juan Ramon Quintana said that it only targets ‘activities aimed at undermining national unity.’