January 19, 2012

The Fragility of MAS in Congress

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This is a development that was expected to come, some time, to Bolivian politics. As you may already know, the Bolivian political forces in the Plurinational Assembly are distributed thus. From a total of 166 seats in the assembly (36 in the Senate and 130 in the Deputies Chamber), the MAS controlled, until now, 113 (88 in the Deputies Chamber and 25 in the Senate). So, a fragile 2/3 majority, considering for such a majority 111 seats are needed.

Now, two seats above the needed is anything other than comforting for the government because with such a small margin there is always the danger of losing that majority. This is especially true in the constantly changing political environment in Bolivia.

Well, this is exactly what is about to happen. A group of indigenous congressmen and congresswomen have decided to diverge from MAS and place their "compromise with the change" the government is leading on hold to practice a bit of opposition. These group wants to oppose the central government's efforts to build a road through the natural reserve and indigenous territory TIPNIS. If you followed a bit of Bolivia's politics lately you might know that the government was practically forced by indigenous groups to back down on its plans to build that road. In fact, it was forced to pass a law declaring the whole territory as intangible.

However, the MAS government must be regreting that outcome because it is still trying to somehow build the road. One way in which it wants to do that is by inciting other indigenous groups who are in favor of the road to support the repeal of that law.

That is what the group of indigenous members of congress want to stop.

The group, denominated originary block, is said to be made up by Justino Leaños, Blanca Cartagena, Pedro Nuni, Bienvenido Zacu y Cristina Valeroso. It is also possible that other members will join this effort, such as Julio Cortez, Teresa Nominé, Bertha Ramallo y Sonia Justiniano.

The report can be found in Pagina Siete.