September 07, 2008

Morales Sends Bills to Congress

MABB © ®

Things are becoming clearer in Bolivia's latest ever going crisis. The decree promulgated by the President was decree number DS 29699 (issued September 6, 2008). This decree calls for the elections of the La Paz and Cochabamba Prefects.

The proposed law which is supposed to call the approval referendum for the Oruro constitution sets the referenda to be on January 25, 2009 as well.

The proposed law seeking to reform some laws will reform the laws of political parties, citizens organizations and indigenous peoples. This law will create the Subprefect and Departmental Council figures. Funny, this figures already exist in Santa Cruz.

So in summary, the aim of the government is to set January 25, 2009 as the date when:

- the elections for the Prefects of La Paz and Cochabamba are carried out
- the elections for the newly created Subprefects and Departmental Council Members are carried out
- the two referenda are carried out

The result is that the December 7 date is discarded.

This move means that the ball is on Congress' court. They have about 19 days, until September 25, 2008, to come up with an agreement. This is, since the law has to be signed 120 days before election day.

Now, if recent history serves us right, this will mean that the bickering between the Government, the MAS forces in Congress (Deputies Chamber and Senate) and the opposition forces will drag on to the deadline. In the end, the government will force the passing of the law with the help of its supporters wich will physically prevent the opposition Senators from attending the debates and vote. This will have been with the assurance that some substitute Senators from Podemos would support the bill.

Can it really be that easy? To tell you the truth, I don't know! If I could tell the future I would be famous. But, certainly we can look back and observe some behavioral patterns. And that is what I am doing right now. But, the Bolivian problem is so complex and dynamic that is imposible to say what is next. We can only guess.

My guess is that we are bound to see more violent acts this time. The military is starting to act on the road blocks. They have unblocked the road between Beni and La Paz. This will prompt a radicalization from the part of the protesting forces. As it has done in the past. This, certainly, is the recepy for more violence.

As I argue, the civic forces will radicalize and, if their word is good, they'll start occupying more government offices, as they have started doing.

The government will keep pressuring Congress. Morales and Garcia will keep inciting MAS supporters to 'help' and 'defend' the changes taking place. And to clarify, I say inciting because when the President or his Vicepresident tell supporters they have to defend the change, the masses understand (have understood so far) physical resistance, as we have seen.

And yes, the opposition leaders will also incite their supporters, though in a less public manner. At least, less public in the sense that the press does not cover these too much.

Overall, I am expecting deeper trouble in the weeks to come before it gets better.


President Morales sent Congress today two proposed laws and promulgated one decree. The decree calls for elections for the Cochabamba and La Paz Prefects. Elections day should be January 25, 2009.

The first proposed law deals with the referendum to approve the Oruro constitution and the second, will approve or reject the article dealing with land property in that constitution. Congress should be the one instance to approve the law calling for those referenda.

The second proposed law will seek to change the law of electoral parties and citizen groups and the electoral code to provide for the election for Subprefects and Departmental Council Members.

I think Morales is playing it safe because he might have the necessary votes in Congress. It wouldn't be the first time that some substitute congressmen from the opposition vote with MAS. It happened before and it can happen again. Besides, as my prior post states, the leadership in MAS is pretty sure it has the necessary votes. That would make things a lot easier for MAS and Morales.