November 28, 2007

Evo's Gamble, Will It Pay Off?

MABB © ®

Source: La Razon

By now it is pretty much clear what is the government's strategy to push its agenda. It seems that Morales has decided to just leave the opposition out of the decision process. First, we simply have to look at the way the MAS Constitutional Assembly approved their Constitution. According to various reports and personal accounts, the MAS decided to take the assembly sessions to La Glorieta (the military academy in Sucre). The directory argued that in the city of Sucre there was not enough security. Which was true, due to the demonstrators or citizens who were gathered around the building where the assembly was meeting. So president Lazarte and her MAS colleagues, took the sessions to the military academy because it was secure and it laid within the boundaries of the city, thus meeting the technical problems raised by the law. At the same time, the opposition was not informed and (according to some news reports) was not even allowed to go to the place. It was in that manner, that MAS, with around 130 assembly members, could rush through the passing of the new constitution.

A second example, depicted by the photo above, is the way in which Congress approved the Renta Dignidad (Dignity Rent for retired people). Apparently, during the day (Tuesday, November 27) several thousand campesinos (indigenous people from Altiplano) closed up the streets and access roads to Congress. They organized a system of tight control points to regulate who was allowed to go into the building and, most importantly, who was allowed to attend the session called by the congressional leaders. As you can imagine, none of the opposition congressmen could enter the building, unless they swore to pass the law to be debated and voted on. Some congressmen were even warned by the police that their personal security was not guaranteed. So, it was that way that the MAS, which has no problems in getting the necessary quorum, made the Renta Dignidad into law. In addition, taking advantage of the situation, it modified the Constitutional Assembly law to allow the directors to change the meeting place.

This is a great gamble MAS is taking. It seems it did not see any other alternative and the reasoning is, we pass the laws first and then we see how we manage. It could pay off, big time or it could backfire terribly. If it pays off, the consolidation of MAS' (or rather Morales') power is well under way. Using the same tactics, the next obvious steps are the appointment of the Supreme Court Justices and Constitutional Court Justices. This will allow MAS to do every thing within the law. Subsequently, MAS or Morales would have to sack the people in the Electoral Court, to have ample leeway to manage the elections. Until now, the Electoral Court has been rather independent and has carried out its mandate efficiently. But, MAS and Morales need a friendly Electoral Court.

However, if the gamble does not pay off, it would be a disaster. Predictions are not useful because the sky is the limit. Here we have to start talking about best and worst case scenarios. The best scenario would be that somehow the opposition and MAS find some type of consensus. This, under the current circumstances, is difficult to foresee. The worst case scenario would be armed conflict. Lets not forget that firearms were taken from the arsenal of the looted police precinct in Sucre last weekend. Also, that there were reports which indicated the delivery of Venezuelan arms to the Army post in Trinidad, Beni. In the same manner, there were reports that there are armed militias training in Beni or Santa Cruz.

Whether the gamble pays off, it remains to be seen. The hope is that the worst scenarios do not become reality.


Tambopaxi said...

This is a gamble, indeed. If these moves by Morales y MAS don't trigger civil conflict or the downfall of Morales, nothing will...

Anonymous said...

Do you think the opposition is gambling too?


miguel (mabb) said...

Yes, I think they both've been gambling, and big time. However, the latest Morales' moves are the biggest gamble to date. I mean, he is risking loosing his office, as tambopaxi above pointed it out.

I think it is a big gamble, because the risk is enormous.

But, then again, if you don't risk, you don't win, right? :-)

Norman said...

Morales has unequivocally demonstrated that the law is not to be considered an obstacle. He will make a game effort to move his agenda within the limits of the law, but if that presents a problem, he will change the law, circumvent it, or ignore it. If the opposition accepts these obviously illegal manuevers, they may as well roll over and play dead.

Kevin said...

Agree with all of you. The next move in this chess game is the CONALDE - what they do is key and it seems they are about to approve a Carta of Declaracion de Autonomia. That's the 'legal' basis - but then they will have to 'take over' central government offices - which is where the battle will be fought.

Bosqué said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bosqué said...

Why do you kill one another over disagreements? It hurts my heart to hear of such.

miguel (mabb) said...

Yes, there is that tendency of disregarding the law. Which I hope does not turn chronic.

CONALDE indeed will be decisive. How they go about confronting this problem, will be interesting to see.

I think the government is playing its hand at the expectation that the problems will eventually die down and the new CPE be accepted as it is.

Gringo said...

The strike announced for 6 provinces is evidence that Mortales(deliberate) will not be able to pull a fast one.What do you expect from someone whose path to power basically involved roadblocks?
At the same time, Mortales is simply following Bolivian tradition of disregard for the law and disregard for political compromise.

Anonymous said...

"I think the government is playing its hand at the expectation that the problems will eventually die down and the new CPE be accepted as it is."

But maybe the government is playing its hand in expectation that the problems will eventually die down and negotiations will begin.