November 22, 2006

A New Period of Conflict in Bolivia

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Clonflict is approaching, once again, in Bolivia. The campesinos in the right are marching to La Paz to force the Senate to approve reforms to the INRA law. The landowners, businessmen and workers in the left are marching in defense of their land and their jobs.

There are three hot issues currently bringing conflict back into the daily lives of all Bolivians. The first reason is the planned reforms to the agrarian reform law, which would result in massive confiscation of land. The second reason is another reform initiative from the part of the government to exert more control over the heads of state governments, the Prefects. The third reason for the current conflict is the passing of article 71 in the internal regulations code of the Constituent Assembly. This article, easily passed by MAS using a not consensuated simple majority vote, would allow every article to be voted by simple majority.

Three issues originating from government moves are the cause of massive mobilizations amongst the opposition forces. The Prefects have formed a block repudiating the proposed reform. A small group is counter proposing a measure where the President can be held accountable by the voters too. On the voting issue in the CA, there are at least 120 people in hunger strike, protesting what they call a MAS rollover. Many assembly delegates are complaining that their presence is not required. However, the most dangerous actions are the mobilizations of hundreds of campesinos on the one side and land owners, businessmen and their workers on the other side. These two groups are heading to a confrontation in the Santa Cruz region. One reason for this confrontation is the repetitive government requests to "defend" government propossed reforms. There is even talk of sending a contingent of people to Santa Cruz to (again) "defend" the government's plans.