August 22, 2008

The Last Battle?

MABB © ®

The Bolivian newspapers are prognosticating the last battle is coming. The central government is emphatic on passing its Oruro constituton, it seems, regardless of the consequences. The opposition departments who want autonomy are equally determined to stop the government from approving its constitution and to recovering tax intakes from the export of natural gas.

I am afraid the government's intentions are somewhat now ideologically driven. President Morales, some say (F. Patzi, for example), is surrounded by what they call the traditional left. They go on further and allege the traditional left has hijacked the MAS. I heard Patzi in an interview in Bolivian television saying that Morales had left the indigenist wing aside and had embraced the leftist groups by encircling himself, and in the process enclosing himself, with leftists in his cabinet (starting with his Vicepresident). I mention this, because if this were true, one could interpret some leftist readings of the doctrine. When the talk about change is raised, it is always accompanied by revolution. And, this revolution cannot happen without discarding the old system to 'impose' a new one. Violence is just an effect (necessary, some might say). Without having to delve into communist ideology, of for that matter any other kind of leftist ideology (the Bolivian left is diverse in this respect), I argue that seen from this point of view, the Morales government makes more sense. Especially, when one pays attention to the words.

Taking this into account, it makes sense that the government will continue with its 'revolution', i.e. the passing of its own constitution. Morales himself has explained what he is pursuing by remembering what Castro once told him. He said, the Comandante told us (Morales) don't do what I did. Do what Chavez has done in Venezuela. And so, Morales, I think, is following these words truly. His revolution in democracy, is just that, to take control of the most important posts of government and to pass a new constitution. All this, should be done through the ballot box.

That is why I think Morales is close to achieving his goal. He has control of the lower chamber, where he can pass many laws. The Senate, as seen already, is very vulnerable and thus prone to make decisions that some times might not make sense.

With the latest agreement between the opposition and the MAS, the Vicepresident has gained power to move ahead with the selection process for judges and electoral court officials. According to some reports, Garcia has received a blank check (negotiated with the opposition in the Senate) to select and appoint judges for the district courts, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and officials at the National Electoral Court (CNE). This would mean that if everything goes according to Garcia, all these people will be 'compromised' with the change in Bolivia. That means support the government.

And, if these people are in place, the decisions the government will take will be much easier and legitimate. The acceptance of the Oruro constitution will be the crowning of the struggle and will indeed cement the changes Morales wants to put in place.

It is because of that that I am not so optimistic now because the opposition will try to influence these plans and, of course, will try to march ahead with its own plans. That would mean to finish putting in place the autonomic statutes and start implementing them. In the latter, Santa Cruz is very advanced.

Just wanted to think out loud!