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.


mcentellas said...

Thanks for the posts! I can't wait to compare notes once you get back. Let me know. Once I'm settled in my new place, and done w/ my APSA paper, we should compare notes.

Gringo said...

Interesting that the PSFs talk about the "rich white landowners" of Santa Cruz, when 85% voted for autonomy, and while Santa Cruz IS more prosperous than Bolivia's average, it is not of an order of magnitude difference. The 2001 census says that 36% of Bolivian households do not have electricity , and the figure for Santa Cruz is 24%.

I recall a grizzled US oilman in Villamontes 30 years ago comparing Bolivia to the US in the 1930s. The comparison has some validity: many rural areas in the US did not get electricity until the late 1930s. The photos in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men also compare.

I enjoyed reading your reaction to La Paz after a long absence. For all its imperfections, Bolivia has improved in a number of areas in that time. Just consider "coup of the month," for example. As you know the data better than I, I will not add any figures to the discourse.

Devil's Excrement has the reaction of another Miguel to seeing China after 20 years' absence. He said that Venezuela, by contrast to China, has stood still. Bolivia would be somewhere in between these two extremes.

Miguel said...

Miguel: Yes, let's do that! It would be interesting.

Gringo: Thanks. It has been an interesting experience at the personal level. There is a lot more I need to sort out afterwards, I feel. Overall, I am glad to have come.

Depending on how you see it, one can argue Bolivia has made lots of improvements. But, almost immediately come the part that says, but there is still a lot more to do.

Gringo said...

Miguel, it's the glass half-empty or half-full.

Miguel said...

It's half full, for what I could see.

I just came back from Santa Cruz and even in Yapacani, the glas is half full!