July 25, 2013

Constitutionalism and the Analysis of the Bolivian Constitution


To those who are interested on the study of the latest Bolivian Constitution, I want to recommend a newly published website from the Center for Constitutional Studies (Centro de Estudios Constitucionales, CEC) at the Catholic University in La Paz. The web address of the site is: www.econstitucional.com.

The site is aimed at researchers and academics, most of all, who want to take an annotated, commented and analyzed view of the 2009 Bolivian Constitution. All that, with an interdisciplinary (i.e. not just juridical) approach.

What I liked is, first of all, the section where you can find all the Bolivian constitutions since 1826. I am not sure all the Bolivian constitutions are there, because that is just a matter of preference from the part of the center, I think, however, most are available in PDF format and one can even download the one preferred. The reason I say the latter is because some Bolivian constitutionalists make a difference between a newly drafted constitution and a constitutional reform. Some academics think this difference should be done and some others are a bit more relaxed and tend to include all modifications. In addition, because of the purposefully extended design of the process, some constitutions have been counted twice due to them having been passed by Congress first and official adopted by the President in litterally different times. At times in Bolivian history constitutional reforms or drafts have had to extend over two legislative periods so, in the end, the new documents would have to be approved by two legislative bodies with potentially different power structures. Nevertheless, the texts are there and are ready to be read.

Of course, I also liked the fact that one can one can click his way through the 2009 Constitution's text, that is, article by article. This is complemented by description, commentary and analysis of the different issues, themes and legal jargon. It is also supported by the bibliography on which the analysis and interpretations are based. One can also find a useful list of all the parts within the constitutional text which the particular article is also relevant. Finally, the texts is referenced to other laws which are relevant or perhaps the origin of such thematic issue.

In addition, you can basically follow the Constitutional Assembly process from 2007 to 2008. You'll get a peak on the first attempts at writing the articles in the various committees, the revisions made and the final adaptation by the Bolivian Congress in November-December 2008.

One other thing one can do is search the text by words. That is, if you search for indigenous peoples, you are bound the get lots of results directing you to the different parts the constitution makes reference to such words.

Finally, as a bonus, you get access to many publications in PDF format. These are all freely accessible and downloadable.

In my opinion, this is a very good tool for people who are interested in taking a deep view into Bolivian constitutionalism and, in particular, into the text of the 2009 constitution. There is one caveat though, for English speaking people who do not speak Spanish. As many things about Bolivia, the entire website is in Spanish. So if you don't have a working level of Spanish, it will be difficult to access the information.

With that said, happy clicking!