March 16, 2007

Bolivian Constituent Assembly: MAS' Proposal

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The Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) has put forward its vision of a state. Following is a brief summary of the proposal.

MAS considers that the Bolivian state should be unitary, multi-national, decentralized, social and communal. It should recognize the existence of the indigenous communities. It should be based on direct participatory democracy, where the communal social power is the highest power in the country. Land and territory should be shared with the state. It should be equally distributed and there should be no large concentrations of land in private hands. Non-renewable natural resources should be the property of the state. Their industrialization, however, should be shared with the indigenous communities. The renewable natural resources should be the property of the indigenous communities. The conservation of the environment should be the responsibility of the indigenous communities. The state should make an economic plan of development, with equitable re-distribution of gains. The state should also promote private enterprises but no monopolies.

Values: Equality, equity, reciprocity, complementarity, solidarity, transparency, social responsibility, liberty, respect for life, respect for human rights, cultural diversity, respect for free speech and belief.

Principles: Unity, multi-nationality, independence, sovereignty, pluralistic justice, participative democracy, 'to live well.'

The state should promote direct participation through assemblies, town-hall meetings, referenda, plebiscites, mandate re-call, popular veto, legislative initiative.

The executive: The president and vice-president should be elected directly by including a second round election. Also, the president's cabinet should be proposed by the people, and picked by the president.

The legislative: There should be one chamber, with representatives elected according to population and region or territory. The election process should be twofold: in the multi-national regions, by vote and in the indigenous communities with one national identity, by uses and customs (picked by the communities).

The judicial: The state should have ordinary justice and incorporate communal justice. Judges should be elected.

The social power: This additional branch would be the controlling power of government.

The state should have three levels of organization:

The national level: The central state, which should administer the government, execute laws, equitable distribution of natural resources and to guarantee sovereignty, independence and integrity.

The meso level: In charge of the regional administration of the governments. Autonomous status.

The local level: Municipal and indigenous territories, with autonomy.

The non-renewable and renewable natural resources should be the property of the indigenous peoples and the state, which should administer them in favor of the people.

The natural resources should be exploited according to the sustainable development idea.

No transgenics in Bolivia.

The international financial aid should not have any conditionality.

Coca is considered sacred.

Education: The state should be multilingual, with the indigenous languages as primary language in each region and Spanish as secondary. Education should be free.

Work: Work is guaranteed by the state. Social security and health insurance is free.

Note: This is a summary according to what I thought was interesting from the whole document. By no means it is an exhaustive summary. Please take a look at the document if you need more details. The entire documents, in Spanish, can be found here.


galloglass said...

Are you going to comment on these proposals? I have my opinions but would like to hear yours.

galloglass said...

Page 42 is a doozy...if my name was on that list, I'd be worried.

Miguel said...

On MABBlog I try to keep my opinions to the minimum, although it is hard. The reason being is that the site is to mainly bring information about Bolivia to the English world. However, I do bring my opinion in, some times I cannot stop it.

But to answer your question, I want to write a longer article commenting on MAS' proposal, but I just have to find some time between work and dissertation work. It's just hard to find time.

But, you can probably guess what are my problems with this proposal. For one, the institutionalization of communal justice. That is a big mistake. Especially, if you look at the literally dozens of lynchings being carried out around the Andean region of Bolivia. In my opinion, it has nothing to do with the idea of justice you and me have.

Another problems I have is the handling of private property. Yes, of course, it is probably not good to have 14 families owning half the country, but the answer is not to do away with the idea of private property.

One thing that I like is the secularity of the state. Freedom of religion. In that aspect, I became very American.

Another good thing is the idea of a participative democracy, but direct democracy? I don't know. I mean, have they heard about the tyranny of the masses?

And lastly, there is too much emphasis on the indigenous. However, I think about the hundreds of thousands of people who do not identify themselves as indigenous and are mixed. Those who are neither white nor bronze. Yes, probably the indigenous population is about 63%, but what about the rest? It is not like they'll go away.

Those are just some of the things I have been thinking about.