May 25, 2007

Attacks on the Judiciary

MABB © ®

Over the last week or so I have been following, with a certain degree of worry, the attacks the Morales government has been throwing on the country's third government branch, the Judiciary. I started to write a post but found Miguel Centellas has posted twice on the same topic.

In his first post Centellas says "A series of attacks against the judiciary (most recently, claims of corruption & lack of “austerity”) have prompted many of the Supreme Court’s ministers to publicly consider resigning in protest. Additionally, a number of magistrates from the Fiscalía (the Bolivian Department of Justice) have complained that they are unable to properly carry out numerous ongoing investigations against members of the executive & legislative branches—particularly, when the targets of investigation are members of MAS (the ruling party). Their complaint: the government insists on assigning oversight to these proceedings, but often assigns the very officials under investigation to do the oversight."

According to current reports, the resignation of some magistrates (namely that of Supreme Judge Juan Jose Gonzales Ossio) has been another strategy by the government to incite massive resignations. La Razon reports that Gonzales, days after his seeming protest resignation, is being considered for a sort of promotion by the government.

On his second post Centellas continues: "This is really the most troubling thing about the current government. Its most frequently used tactic is social mobilization, which is more a tactic of opposition rather than of government. But they’re unwillingness to cede any political terrain suggests that MAS is unwilling to entertain the notion of political defeat. Having seized the reigns of power, MAS consistently seems to want more. And any institutionalized opposition is threatened with a battering ram of “social mobilization”—clearly an intimidation tactic—even while any counter-mobilization is dismissed (apparently only groups allied w/ MAS count as “social movements”)."

The big question that MAS supporters must be asking themselves is whether Morales is seeking to consolidate his power as it's being alleged. Why is his government attacking the Judiciary and provoking severe instability? Surely, there are other ways to deal with corruption without having to push the Judiciary into crisis and change all of the magistrates at once.