Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Further to what I wrote last month about the Bolivian constitution, this article by Benjamin Dangl serves as a useful precis of the situation as it stands.

In essence, the agenda for Bolivia in 2008 (along with maintaining order and peace) is:
  • to hold a national referendum on the new constitution
  • to hold a national vote on the reform articles which, if passed, could see major redistribution of land from the wealthy haciendistas to the poor
  • to hold a national referendum on the Morales Presidency and all governorships.

That's quite a programme of work, but it further demonstrates what I discovered when I was in the country last year - that this is a truly democratic country. The wealthy business elite of the eastern provinces have always been politicised in so far as politics enable them to hold onto their property. But now the poor are becoming enfranchised, are talking about the country which, for the first time, feels like it belongs to them, and are taking to the streets in protest against the politics of privilege.

In establishing so many electoral mechanisms, the government is obviously taking a gamble - it may well lose these votes. But it also knows that if it wins, the Bolivian right will be unable to continue protesting against Morales's lack of democracy. The right has opposed the proposed national pension plan on the grounds that the plan diverts money from departmental revenues, and it argues this in the name of democracy. This year will put those arguments to the test.


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