June 22, 2007

Multinational or Multicultural

MABB © ®

The Bolivian Constituent Assembly (CA) is going through a critical phase. All the commissions are rushing through to finish up their proposals to meet the July deadline. The constitutions must be ready by August 6. At least that is what the law calls for. Nonetheless, the work is tenuous and slow. There are very few commissions ready with their texts.

The commission which is supposed to come up with the 'vision' of the country is having very public problems. The members cannot agree on whether Bolivia should be a multinational or a multicultural country. That is why there are basically two very different proposals. The commision is supposed to present two proposals, one belonging to the relative majority and the other to the minority. After the votes were counted at the time of approval, the opposition (Podemos, MNR and others) complained that MAS, which has a relative majority, concocted a scheme to leave the opposition's proposal out of consideration. Allegedly, MAS and its allies drafted two proposals, and presented them as two separate groups, one with enough votes to call it majority and the other with enough votes to be called minority. Apparently, the two proposals are remarkably similar.

It is for that reason that this commission is making headlines. The opposition is very angry because they feel they were left out. They are even threatening with legal action if they are not taken into account. As a result, the work of this commission has been put into doubt. Will it finish its work on time? The MAS says yes, the opposition cries foul!

But, what is wrong with a multinational country? Apparently nothing, other than at the same time Bolivia will be defined as a unitary country. These two definitions seem to be in contradiction. How can a Unitary country be multinational? Specially problematic is if we consider that Bolivia is already a pretty decentralized country. Additionally, let's assume decentralization is reverted (any law can be reverted, right?). There is not doubt that there will be autonomic regions, departments, nations, tribes, etc., etc., etc. We know that because there is a commission working on the issue of autonomy as well.

Also, what is wrong with multicultural. It is a concept that encompasses diversity, period. Multicultural and autonomous does not contradict each other.