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!


StJacques said...


I note a tone of dismay in your post that saddens me as well, because I am following the situation in your country very closely and I have been doing a lot of reading on the news sites of El Deber, La Razon, and El Mundo recently and I am alarmed at what I am finding.

I have no way of knowing whether Morales has moved in the direction of the "old left" as you suggest, certainly Garcia Linera seems to fit that description in my view, but I notice from an article at El Deber that many of the Masistas are now calling for Morales to convene a national referendum on the Oruro constitution by decree, rather than going through the process of presenting it in the Bolivian congress, and even there some are calling for a second Cerco which will be certain to anger the Media Luna beyond any hope of return to peaceful dialog.

I am a great distance removed from Bolivia so I am not seeing what is in front of you every day.  But the tone of the news reports I am reading suggests that there is real danger in the air of a complete political meltdown.

I hope that such does not come to pass, because I fear the consequences of an end to political dialog -- and yes I have read your next post on Alberto Melgar's warning of a possible "civil war" in Bolivia.  I saw that news item earlier this evening and it frightened me, but I can only ask myself what those in eastern Bolivia must think of the submission of the Oruro constitution for a vote when its final text was approved by means of the violence of El Cerco, and its possible presentation to the voters may come either by way of a second violent confrontation at the congress, or worse, by an illegal executive decree.

I do want you to know that I am watching very closely and blogging on these events as best I can.

I will hope for the best for you and all in your country.

You may feel free to contact me at any time you may wish to circulate information you feel is important at

And I will keep an eye on what you post.


Kevin said...

Nice post Miguel. I've realized since my last visit in March 2008 that the two sides are not coming together. Dialouge and referendums are not going to solve this while Evo can manpulate the vote without inspection. At this point separation is required. Some type of autonomous region - there are plenty of examples - needs to be negotiated.

Kevin said...

BTW - your web-site clock is 'off'. I care about Bolivia but not at 4:58am :-)

mabb said...

StJaques, thanks for the kind words. At the moment I am not living in Bolivia, so I am also observing it from the distance. I keep up to date however not only with info available but also talking with contacts in Bolivia. Just wanted to clarify that.