This is an effort by the culturally Spanish Bolivians to preserve their economic freedoms against the currently more culturally Indian and socialist federal government. The eastern departments due not want independence, they claim they just want to protect themselves in a time of concern.
President Morales has declared the referendums and illegal and vows to preserve the government's rights to rule the departments. For their part the eastern provinces are vowing to push a recall of Morales but any effort will fail due lack of support in the mountainous west.
While their is potential for low level violence with gangs on both sides the military will probably keep order. The military's background is mixed, some have American training in democratic government, and all of the officer's view themselves as protectors of the just constitution. The army will preserve the peace and not interfere unless it feels one side has over stepped the constitution. If that happens, there will be a winner in this cultural battle real quick.