March 08, 2007

Bolivian Constituent Assembly: Government's Proposal

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The current government, Evo Morales and MAS-IP, have a distinct idea of how should Bolivia look like after the Constituent Assembly. In their proposed constitution they lay out the particulars of government organization, the principles to follow and the form the governmental apparatus should have. What follows is a brief description of the aspects I find most interesting to look at of that proposal. This proposal should be debated by the assembly in the next months.

The government's proposal covers eight areas: Justice; social; land and territory; decentralization and autonomy; economy; natural resources and environmental conservation; security and state's defense; and foreign policy.

Justice: The aim is to adopt the Andean principles of 'don't be a liar, don't be lazy, don't steal'; to make the outcomes of 'communitarian justice' (also called indigenous justice) inappealable; to adopt popular sovereignty; to establish close control of government by the social movements; to make mandates revocable; equality, fairness, protection of human rights, among others. Judges would be elected by the people (including the Constitutional Tribunal), and could be removed by referendum. A mechanism for the protection of the constitution by the people called, Popular Action, should be included. It should also be adopted the concept of 'indigenous justice', which is justice seen from the point of view of the indigenous peoples.

Social: This area includes, health care for all citizens, without discrimination; the use of traditional medicine; the application of the decentralization and autonomy principles to the health sector; universal, intra and inter cultural, communal and secular education; right to assemble and protest for workers; social security.

Land and Territory: The government has the duty to equally re-distribute unproductive land in favor of those who don't have land; prohibition of large land-holdings (over 5000 hectares), except those of indigenous communities; the political division of the country should follow traditional and historical divisions; the state has control of all natural resources; the state will use natural resources in favor of the indigenous populations.

Decentralization and autonomy: Four principles to define state, decentralization, republic, multinational, and solidarity; decentralization and autonomy should reach the local level (i.e., indigenous communities); government services closer to the citizens; preserving the unity of the country; direct participation; the government preserves its status of supreme power (thus it can revert the decentralization, as well as the autonomic processes); four levels of government, the national, departmental, municipal and original, territorial, indigenous entities (ETIOs).

Economy: Draft and follow a national development plan; mixed economy, private, public, and community; the state should participate in majority in strategic industries; any dispute with a foreign company should be resolved according to national laws.

Natural Resources and Environmental Protection: Protect and preserve nature; the state has sovereignty over natural resources; to use natural resources in benefit of all Bolivians; the resource water is not to be commercialized.

Security and State's Defense: to assure citizen security; the police as an agent to provide security; the police as an agent to defend the country; congress can only declare war; national forces to defend unity and integrity of the country.

Foreign Policy: The principles are brotherhood of nations, peaceful co-existence, and protection of the planet; against nuclear energy; to resolve the differences with Chile; based on indigenous culture, establish peaceful relations with all nations; reject war from principle; international solidarity; no international accord should violate the constitution; all international treaties should be approved by referendum; the people reserve the right to rebel against the constitution even if this has been approved by a referendum; no entity such as civic committee, can take decisions affecting the country; if a Constitutional Assembly is convened, the executive and congress are automatically dissolved; the state is secular; the state has an executive and two parliamentary chambers; the creation of an ombudsman office and a constitutional tribunal; to promote and develop nuclear energy is the right of the state only.

Once again, these are some of the aspects included in the entire proposal, which is quite chaotic, I might add. The document can be found here for your own inspection.

Update: Here is a graph from La Razon, explaining the proposed government reform.

As you could read above, the structure should be heavily tilted towards giving power to the indigenous groups. However, it has many aspects that, to me, look contradictory. For example, the central government should be strong and 'unitary', yet many indigenous regions will be autonomous? The state should be pacifist, yet the government reserves the right to develop nuclear energy and gives Congress the power to declare war? War? The country is still divided by municipalities, but what are intercultural territories? or indigenous regions?