May 09, 2008

What Will Happen Now?

MABB © ®

What will happen after the 4th of May?

According to the referendum organizers, once the results are official and it is established that the autonomic statutes are approved, they come into force immediately. The fist thing to be done is to provide for the departmental council to, pro tempore, assume the duties of the departmental assembly. This body will oversee the election of the new departmental assembly members, 90 days after the referendum. The Prefect of Santa Cruz, Ruben Costas, automatically becomes the first Governor of the province of Santa Cruz until 2011 (five year term).

According to Pablo Klinski, president of the pre-autonomic assembly, the first decisions can be in the areas of Education and Health as well as setting a minimum wage of Bs. 1000.

The next important dates are the 1st and the 22nd of June. On the first date, Beni and Pando will carry out their own referendums to approve their own autonomic statutes. On the 22nd, Tarija will do the same.

The government will desperately try to make some kind of contact with these provinces. But, the provinces will wait until their statutes are voted on to engage in any kind of negotiation with the central government.

What is the significance of the Santa Cruz referendum?

The referendum is significant in so far as to force the central government to negotiate. According to the leaders of Santa Cruz, the autonomic movement is a direct reaction to what they call the errors of the central government in the administration of the state and policy setting. The most significant example of these errors, as the opposition points out, is the actions from the part of the central government to force their constitution (the so called Oruro constitution). They argue the current government has to understand that the current autonomic movement has been forced by the erred actions of the government. They hope the government starts including all the departments (meaning opposition) in the decisions concerning Bolivia. They also warn that if the government continues on its narrow path, Santa Cruz might be further forced to take more radical decisions. With this they mean federalism (I think).

The first speech of Governor Costas opened up the road to negotiation by expressing that the statutes are not set on stone. Some aspects can be negotiated. Throughout the night I listened to the Santa Cruz leaders repeat over and over that they hope Morales negotiates with them.

It is also significant because it opens a precedent for the other provinces to carry out their own referendums. On the celebration party, symbolically, Costas handed the Bolivian flag to all the other Prefects, in chronological order.