March 17, 2006

Evo Wants to Neutralize the Opposition

MABB © ®

The government of Bolivia, headed by Evo Morales, is proposing to change the bill regulating the summon to the Constituent Assembly. You can find the entire text here, in Spanish. The changes are, first to extend the deadline for the registration of candidates, and the second is to stop state campaign finance.

The first change would affect every organization trying to register, but needing more time to do it. Many organizations just do not have the means or the know-how to do this. The electoral court is considering pushing the deadline about a week. That will give them enough time and it will not significantly affect the work of the court to keep the schedule.

The second change would directly affect the opposition. If state financing of political campaigns is stopped, the opposition would have difficulty reaching rural communities or any other region where they do not have a significant presence. Thus those people would not have alternatives for their choice. As far as the government is concerned, they would have the capacity to reach the four corners of the territory.

There are many people who are criticizing this decision as trying to neutralize the opposition and opening the opportunities for the government to control the Constituent Assembly. For its part, Evo Morales has expressed his desire to win the election of assembly members by large margins (70% or even 80%). His reasons were the difficulties Congress presented at the time of decreeing a law. Morales said he often feels constrained by Congress, because when he wants to do something with a decree, Congress has to first approve, and according to him, it is difficult to make Congress agree with his government. (article here)

It is difficult to trust the government on changes like these. Specially when it is widely known (ex post) that there are still Chavez advisors acting behind the courtains, "advising" the government of Bolivia and knowing how Chavez got to dominate the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela and used it to consolidate his grip on government.