August 01, 2005

Once Again. What Are They Thinking?

MABB © ®
Source: La Razón

Some times I seriously wonder whether the Bolivian Congress has too much power or whether it is in good hands. Personally, I tend to side with the second thought.

Congress' lower chamber (the Constitution Commission to be more exact) has recently debated a motion presented by the Santa Cruz faction, which would update the electoral code and would follow what the Constitution says. According to the Constitution, the number of deputies representing each electoral district has to be calculated according to the number of inhabitants living in each district. The number of inhabitants has to be based on the latest census, which in this case would be the 2001 census. However, the result of the debate was to postpone the updating of the law until the 2010 elections.

The updating of the code would benefit Santa Cruz (see figure above). This department has been the most dynamic in recent times and its population has increased at fast rates. If the code is updated using the latest 2001 census, Santa Cruz stands to gain four deputies while departments in the West like, La Paz, Potosi, Sucre and Oruro stand to lose deputies.

Because of the decision, the Santa Cruz faction is livid. In effect, they say, congressmen from the West are conspiring against Santa Cruz so it doesn't reap the gains due to its growing population. They also argue that the new "crucenos", which most likely come from western departments, will not be properly represented in Congress.

The members of the lower chamber's Constitutional Commission (mostly the ones representing western departments), argue that because of the current situation Bolivia is going through it is not the right time to update the electoral code.

As a result, Santa Cruz is in state of emergency and has threatened not to participate in the next elections. The Santa Cruz faction is currently preparing to start a Constitutional process and bring the Constitutional Court in.

Once again I find myself asking: What are these people thinking? (the congressmen)

It is precisely in these dire times when Bolivia needs to adhere most to the law and avoid unecessary conflicts like these. Why not just follow the "law of the land" and update it.

Situations like these are the ones that make me think about the necessity of a total renovation of the Bolivian Congress. Often I think that the deep divisions everyone is talking about affecting the Bolivian nation is mainly on the congressmen's heads and to a lesser extent in the people's minds.