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.


Crisis en Bolivia said...

I just write to say hello and thank you because your blog was a door to the bolivian blogs.
We invite you to visit our blog in Spanish.

Crisis en Bolivia said...

Just a cuestion... It seems in Bolivia blogs become very important to say the things are giong on in the country. We are very sorprised about it... could we supouse in Bolivia is a blog phenomenon because the time it is living?

Miguel said...

Thank you for visiting and I am glad you found it useful. That was the idea with the list. I'd like to add your blog to the list. I find it interesting to have a Chilean perspective.

I wouldn't call it a phenomenon yet. A great majority of blogs are written by Bolivians living overseas. Specially those in English. What I would say is that blogging is a medium to express people's opinions, specially those of the young.

boz said...

I've been telling people that the Bolivian Congress has become more important than the presidency in this election. The presidency is up for grabs, but unless the Bolivian Congress can manage to form coalitions and compromise, the next president is doomed to fail, the same as the previous two.

As for the previous question, I think you should be proud. Bolivian bloggers, including Bolivian expats like you, Eduardo and the other Miguel (CIAO) are breaking ground in a way that many countries are not, even in Latin America. Try to find Colombian or Peruvian or Chilean or Paraguayan blogs with the same level of political information in English. There are a few in Spanish, but even then not many. As someone who studies Latin America, I can only wish there were bloggers like the Bolivian ones from every country. I'm sure someday there will be, but right now you guys take the prize.

Miguel said...

Thank you very much for the comment. It is very encouraging.

As for Congress' importance, I think that is just a reflection of Bolivia's semi parliamentary system.

mcentellas said...

I, too, was surprised at parliament's decision. Now is definitely not the time to upset Santa Cruz, a department that has (in my opinion) responded w/ relative moderation by regularly backing down & compromising.