Archive for the ‘Constituent Assembly’ Category


January 2, 2008

 As many people in Bolivia, I disagree with the MAS constitutional draft because it was brought to life ilegally. It will still be a draft as long as a plebiscite does not confirm it. But it was sanctioned out of its legal matrix, Sucre, and in a venue totally unfit for a country that has suffered the atrocities of military dictatorships__  in a military academy. Adding offense to the wound, the government assembly members vanished at down Nov. 24 as though aware of having committed something illegal. They reconvened in Oruro where, assisted by colleagues who acted like orchestra directors, they passed the draft in one single night (over 400 articles). Besides, it happened without calling members within agreed notice and without distributing the text to discuss and approve. Conclusion: False and tortuous the beginning, false and tortuous the end.

This should be known by those who believe the Bolivian process has been pristine.

A constitution is a pact that a whole country subscribes to rule itself. In this game there should not be majorities imposing their will over a minority. Assumingly it was not a war (or was it?).  Besides, the six percentage points of Mr. Morales and his party victory two years ago (53.7% vs. 47.3%) might have well have vanished by now.

MAS CPE included not a single article from opposing forces. It was all plainly ready for MAS yes-members.  At this stage, I would love to know if Sen. Peredo or the government leader at the assembly Santos Ramirez would be able to recite Art. 1 by memory, and explain it to their audience.

I like even less arts.107 and 108 regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press. The draft I have (it is said the real original has been altered many times__ which makes it even more illegal, if that is possible), seems a minestrone of concepts that I am not sure it does exist displayed in that way in any democratic country.

Both articles are written on a lethally vague way (or was it deliberate?). Thwarting free expression means crippling democracy.  As a journalist I feel outraged by those articles.

I would like to know also in which countries it is stated by constitution that the media must “promote  the ethical, moral and civic values of the diverse cultures in the country with the production and publication of educational pluri-lingual programs…” (Poor multi-ethnic India, Canada or Brazil, I would say.)

If this is the kind of change that will be imposed in Bolivia, it is better to stick to the old 1925 press law.

What other changes? Oil nationalization hasn´t happened, according to technical criteria, although nobody denies that the drastic change in percentages benefitting Bolivia has been positive. But it wasn´t necessary to withstand eighteen months of tribulations without knowing where would Bolivia get investments to meet current export agreements with Brazil and Argentina.

What else? The bonuses for elders and primary school students? Nobody would honestly oppose them, but I wonder about their sustainability over time.

Let´s agree there are good points in the MAS draft, but to propose them it wasn´t necessary irrigating gasoline all over the country.

One also disagrees with the government insistence in placing autonomy and separatism on the same level.  I don´t like a bit the cynical statement by a high government official  saying that Dec.15 rally of Santa Cruz cívicos consisted or “five or ten families”. Maybe all he wanted was to hide the fact that there were by far much more attendants in Santa Cruz (tens of thousands, easily) to approve autonomic statutes than in La Paz to approve the MAS draft. His was a blatant lie.

On the other hand, I don´t like the Autonomous statutes because I don´t think they had been debated enough in forums, university campuses, academy groups, labor unions, etc. It was a matter of setting a difference with MAS. On one side, they are at least clear and articulated. But they should have been born fully legally. There are no specific laws dealing with autonomy. Then it would have had to wait. But over all they should have shown superiority not only in their conceptualization but in their moral consistency throughout open debate across all society segments. That would have shown a difference with MAS´s draft. 

As many other people, I don’t like “ponchos rojos”  brutality reminiscent of the blind violence Shining Path. I don´t like either the clash militia-like groups of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee.

It is a pity that President Morales had accused US Ambassador of conspiring against his government presenting as a proof a color photo of him and a Colombian citizen at a Fair in Santa Cruz. Nobody had enough political clout to tell him: “That picture is no proof at all. Stop showing it. Let´s be serious.”  

A country cannot go on under a who-makes- it- worse dynamics. Let´s hope for a brighter political interaction in 2008.


Cold-blooded Shining Path rite in Bolivia

November 24, 2007

Bolivian Aymara Indians have performed a cold-blooded beheading of at least two dogs, saying they planned to do the same with leaders of the country´s lowlands. The tropical region opposes most policies of Indian President Evo Morales saying he is leading Bolivia on a path similar to that of Venezuela´s Hugo Chavez, his closest South American ally.

The images shown by most TV stations are revolting. The black animals, hanging from a transversal beam, had their heads severed as battle cries celebrated the ceremony and threatened Santa Cruz Civic Committee and its leader Branco Marincovick. “This will be done to them”, said one executioner of the dogs. The red-poncho dressing Indian leaders in a town near La Paz were not identified. One of them is seen producing a big machete. Then, calmly, walks close to one of the dogs, grabs the animal and in two or three sawing-like butcher strokes he dismembers the defenseless beast. The bleeding head rolls over the dirt ground as the headless body shakes convulsively for a few seconds before dying.

Indians near La Paz have formed a pro Morales government militia-like group whose uniform is a red poncho, hence their name—Ponchos Rojos. Their number is unknown. It is not known either whether they have any combat training. But a few dozens have been seen recently  in pro Morales parades.   

The merciless beheading shocked many Bolivians.  TV commentator Carlos Valverde said tonight it was a brutal action shocking the human race.  Interior Minister Alfredo Rada played  down the horror. He said the rite was “barbaic” but equivalent  to ”vandalism” by right-wing gangs in Santa Cruz.

The butchering was reminiscent of the coming to life of communist guerrilla Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in Perú in early 1981. The Maoist guerrilla marked its violent entry in Peru´s political life slitting the throats of four dogs and hanging the bodies from Lima´s downtown traffic lights. The dogs represented “The Gang of Four” led by Mao Zedong´s widow and three other Chinese leaders.  The power struggle was won by modernizer Chou En Lai, whose reforms of China´s communist system set the track for current China´s rapid economic growth.

But the advent unleashed a bloody period in Peru. It is said that about 70,000 people were killed by the communist insurgents and counter-insurgence forces. The bloodshed ended only when Shining Path´s boss Abimael Guzman was captured and tried. He serves a life prison sentence in a security penitentiary.

The bloody rite hit TV screens as riots erupted in Bolivia´s legal capital Sucre, leaving tens of injuries and at least a dozen people under detention. Angry citizens were violently repressed by police after they tried to stop agents working to remove computers and electronic equipment from the building where a Constituent Assembly was convening till yesterday. The government party MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) decided to leave the building where the Assembly has not been able to meet since September.  

Under heavy military protection, it is striving now for a speedy approval of a new Constitution.  Opposition considers the new chart as an attempt to impose in Bolivia a Socialism a-la-Chavez, including perennial reelection of the President. A hundred and ten representatives of the 255-member assembly are not attending the sessions held under the weight of MAS majority.   At least four departments (states) have said they will not abide by the rules of the new chart, which is been drawn in a military academy.     

Endless Reelection

July 24, 2007

Endless Presidential reelection? Yes, that was the proposal by Movement Toward Socialism lawmakers at the constituent assembly gathered in Sucre. The idea is to allow current president Evo Morales to run for reelection as many times as it fits him or his party. The bill was approved by a constituent assembly committee and is to be debated by the whole body over the next coming days. I haven´t seen this innovative system working anywhere these days, save for Libya, or other rulers in the middle east, all of them would hardly fit the notion of western democracy. If Bolivians in the government want this original (?) proposal, why do not make it more universal? Let´s mayors, governors, city councils, etc. run for ever, as many times as they might like. Or make all elective authorities´ terms last, say, 50 years. Two generations. That would spare national coffers the cost of funding elections and will be in line with the idea held by some in the government of Mr. Morales that chewing coca leaves makes one live hundreds of years.