Speech given by Evo Morales to the opening of the Constituent Assembly, August 6, Sucre, Bolivia
Comrade Alvaro Garcia Linera, vice president of this republic; ministers of state; members of the national Congress; special guests, to attest to this Constituent Assembly who have arrived from Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Brazil and South Africa. Assembly members, and all the people of Bolivia, I ask you to show your gratitude by a round of applause to thank these international delegations.
Today 181 years since the beginning of our country as a republic, this historic moment to refound our dearly beloved homeland Bolivia, to refound our homeland, has arrived. This homeland and its peoples have suffered a profound discrimination, mistreated, and has seen its natural resources looted. Now we are here, all together to change this badly treated Bolivia. Those humble peoples, those discriminated peoples, looked down upon, I say to you brother constituents, sister constituents, that you clearly have an enormous responsibility to change our Bolivia.
Not only a responsibility to bring us a new constitution, but it is through you, as soldiers of a true independence of our country, as constituents, as soldiers in the struggle for freedom, for dignity, for equality, you as soldiers to recuperate the natural resources of this noble land that we are all here. Those who wagered from within the originarios indigenous campesino movement, those who wagered for the Constituent Assembly from the urban social movements.
But I also want to say to you, that present here are constituents who are enemies of the Constituent Assembly, and between Bolivians we cannot deceive ourselves, this is the space, this is the democracy where together we have to debate, because of the struggle of the social movements since back then, since the 80s, 90s, and who never wanted the Constituent Assembly.
I want to say to you with a lot of responsibility, that we need to guarantee, we need to achieve this task of guaranteeing the Constituent Assembly so that from now on there can be a new social pact that benefits the historically marginalised and humble people.
We will no longer continue reclaiming because of the fact that in the years 1825-26 the originarios indigenous movements, who struggled for the independence of our country, were excluded.
Close to here, our brothers from Tarabuco, our brothers from Chuquisaca know exactly how the brothers from Tarabuco organised themselves to defend our territory, to defend against the invasion of the Spanish at that time, it is no coincidence that we call on our friends from Tarabuco from some regions, the (soncovicos) who defended, confronting this invasion in those times.
It is no coincidence comrades, that there were guerrillas in the province of Ayopaya who are being represented here in a dignified manner by two comrades from the province of Ayopaya, comrades Roman Loayza and comrade Isabel Ortega, leaders, and also current leader of the National Federation of Women.
It is no coincidence comrades, the cocalero zones of Yungas, in La Paz, who just like the Aymara brothers organised themselves to defend their territory, land, the rights of the indigenous peoples, these comrades were never called upon at the time to establish Bolivia.
There have been so many women who have struggled for the independence of this country, and it is no coincidence - I reiterate what I said last night - that here we have an airport in Sucre, Chuquisaca, called Juana Azurduy de Padilla, named after a woman guerrilla fighter who fought for the independence of this country, so many women who struggled, and yet women have been excluded in helping to establish Bolivia.
That is why I say, brother and sisters, that the so called, great day has arrived today, the jacha uru has arrived, brothers and sisters, the so called sumaj punchai has arrived and as the Guarani brothers say, the ara ica yay has arrived, for the originarios indigenous peoples.
And we are now under the obligation to understand each other, to plan, to better the economic situation, not only the economic but also the social situation of our brothers and sisters.
We must tell the international community, that if we do not resolve the economic and social problems of our brothers, be they Aymara, Quechua, Chiquitanos, Guarani, be they from the altiplano or the Bolivian east, or be they from the cities, we will never be able to resolve the economic and political situation of our country.
And it is with great happiness that I can say at this moment, there are constituents who come from the colonies; there are constituents who come from huts, there are constituents who appear to be the majority here who come from communities were they do not have electricity, they don’t have energy. This is the great participation of the peoples to refound our Bolivia, these comrades have the obligation of writing, of proposing the sentiments, the suffering, the thoughts of our communities, our ayllus, our capitanias, of our organizations who put them into the position of constituents.
I feel that here our new history is truly beginning to change, a history where there is equality, a history were there is no discrimination, but we also have to clearly say, that it is not just the originarios indigenous movement who is here, the miners are here, the other sectors are here too. There are business owners; they have ever right to be business owners, we hope that they haven’t been business owners who have exploited their workers, or looted our natural resources.
There are people here of all colours from across this noble land, and now, chapacos, vallunos, together with the Bolivian campesino movement, chaquenos, we are going to push for this truly new Bolivia that some leaders since the 80s, 90s have dreamed about. How we could recover our territory, as our ex-union leaders use to say. I listened to and learnt from comrade Genaro Flores, founder of the Confederación Sindical Unica de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia (CSUTCB - United Union Confederation of Rural Workers of Bolivia). That dream of our national leaders, is beginning to come true, those social movements, the indigenous peoples of the Bolivian east like CIDOB, these campesino comrades, indigenous peoples from the altiplano, from the valley who go to the Bolivian east to look for land like the Union Confederation of Colonisers of Bolivia (CSCB), together with our campesino organizations we backing this change.
I am convinced, comrades, that we are going to change this black history of the colony, as well as of the republic, let us salute those who founded, but marginalised some sectors at the same time.
We would like to, for example - although undoubtedly some have already said, it is absolutist, it is authoritarian the way the indigenous communities live - their democracy based on consensus. There is no majority or minority, the idea of majorities and minorities is a democracy imported into our country
If we put forward a problem for a community, for a region or for a country, the proposal needs to resolve the problem for all, there is no majority and minority vote, because the proposal resolves, in an egalitarian manner, the situation for the whole region.
And when there is majorities and minorities, as we have just heard a few moments ago, we they are already whistling, there is undoubtedly some small or reasonably sized group that are here defending the interests of groups. Here we need to think of the majority of all of us. Hopefully our sisters and brothers who come from this idea based on communal democracy, based on consensus, can understand each other in order to better and deepen democracy in our country.
And on the issue of justice, I believe comrades, the time has truly come to decolonise the law in order to nationalise justice, the time has come, comrades, to decolonise the state, to deneoliberalise the Bolivian people, the Bolivian state, this will be an important task for all of us.
Even if in the years 1825, 26, this country was founded excluding 92% of the indigenous population, now history is showing me that the indigenous tribute is what has maintained the colonial state which was founded.
We very much respect Sucre and Bolivar for founding this homeland, they are not at fault for not allowing the participation of the indigenous peoples, there were other groups who they threw out to establish Bolivia, but it has been the indigenous tribute that has maintained the state, that is, its armed forces, the executive power, the parliament, even including the Catholic Church, that is the real history, comrades.
That needs to change now, that is the task of all of us, just as with our natural resources which have been permanently looted during all of our history, these natural resources have to return to the hands of the Bolivian state. I believe there is consensus on this, never again should we privatise, hand over, our natural resources to the transnationals.
I have some differences with some of the leader, comrades; I have differences even with some ministers, when we talk about concessions. One thing is to hand over, privatise, another is to give concessions, lead momentarily. Personally comrades, I don’t agree even with agreements of concessions of natural resources to transnationals
I want to say to the constituents, this Constituent Assembly did not come for free, it cost blood, this Constituent Assembly has cost days, weeks, months of struggle, of marches, like the ones of the indigenous brothers of the Bolivian east, the brothers of El Alto who lost their lives, gave up their lives for the Constituent Assembly.
And that is why I want to say to all of you, that personally I do not agree that this should be a derivative Constituent Assembly, this Constituent Assembly should have all the power, above Evo Morales, above National Congress, above the judicial power. Comrades, we are not talking about a simply constitutional reform, we are talking about refounding Bolivia, a refoundational Constituent Assembly of our land, for our land and for our people of Bolivia.
If it was just a simple constitutional reform, then it would not have been so important to elect constituents, the national Congress can make constitutional reforms, the national Congress can revise it as it has done many times before.
That is why comrades, there is a responsibility on you, and I am sure that you as brothers, as comrades who come from the social movements from all the sectors are betting on this change.
Just one suggestion, not as an instruction, nor recommendation; there are sector who will surely want to impede the development of the Constituent Assembly, they will try to block the refounding of Bolivia, they will try to discredit the constituents, and so we all need to orientate ourselves, those of us who come fundamentally from the originarios indigenous campesino movement need to unite, and I am not talking about MAS, the party…. regardless of party, all of us need to unite to make sure that the rights of the Bolivian people are respected, the rights of this nation.
Comrades, I just want to wish happiness to all the constituents, to the social organisations, especially the originarios indigenous movement.
Hopefully the whole world will see, here we not only have a Constituent Assembly of the workers, of the indigenous peoples, here we have people that surely come from nice hotels, from houses which are probably just as nice as the five star hotels, they have rights, all of us have rights.
But I also want to say, truthfully, this Constituent Assembly is not to subordinate anyone, it is not to oppress anyone, we only want everyone to have equal rights, equality, dignity, freedom for all Bolivians, that is what we are looking for.
And the originarios indigenous movement has never exploited others, even though we have been exploited. The originarios indigenous movement has never discriminate against anyone, even though we have been discriminated against. The originarios indigenous movements has never exploited others, even though we have been exploited, comrade [Samuel] Doria Medina [millionaire business owner and leader of the centre UN], but welcome, we are all now backing this profound change that the Bolivian people are looking for.
Comrades, once again I wish you happiness, what ever you as constituents say to the president, to Evo Morales, I will do it comrades, and one …. task, also of subordinating myself to the Constituent Assembly, to the constituents.
I want to say to the indigenous brothers of Bolivia, thank you, CIDOB, CSUTCB, Confederation of Colonisers, National Federation of Women, the miner comrades, who historically have struggled for democracy, these women recovered democracy from the dictatorships of the 70s, those dictatorships which then transformed themselves into ADN [National Democratic Action], now PODEMOS, who are also here to debate principals, programs, our identity, comrades, it is the struggle of the Bolivian people, welcome those who come looking for equality and the rights of all Bolivian people.
Comrades, once again I want to wish you happiness, personally I have much hope in the constituents and that there will be equality for all our abandoned brothers.
We await your work, which in a maximum of one year can change our Bolivia, and we hope that the constituents can really be instruments of a cultural, democratic and peaceful revolution. We hope that this cultural democratic revolution, these profound economic, social and political changes will also be a light for other peoples who are struggling in order to change their histories, that is why I want to say that I have confidence and hope in you to change our Bolivia.
Once again I wish you all happiness, to the directorate of the assembly, the constituents and all the people of Bolivia, especially the originarios indigenous movement, many happiness.
Thank you very much
Sucre, August 6, 2006