Pro-business 'strike’ targets Morales
Reporting in La Epoca, Daniela Otero wrote of the September 8 “pro-autonomy” strikes across
“They did it in a day of regional stoppage marked by an elevated participation, as well as street scuffles and provocations, from both sides; one side demanded the respect of minorities in the Constituent Assembly and the others defended the governing party that insisted in utilising its majority of votes to approve the new constitution.”
Otero noted that groups from the Crucenista Youth Union (UJC) — renowned for racist provocations against unarmed campesinos (peasants) and indigenous demonstrators — “were mobilised by the civic committees to guarantee that the stoppage was effective”.
Claiming that the strike was a success, the bloc opposing the government of left-wing President Evo Morales, involving the pro-business civic committees, business federations, and the right-wing parties PODEMOS and the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement, along with the institutions of the opposition-controlled prefectures, have threatened more radical measures if the government does not change its current “totalitarian” course.
They will meet on September 18 to discuss their next moves, but have already talked about measures ranging from a follow-up 48-hour strike to the possibility of forming a parallel constituent assembly to draft a constitution to present to the eastern departments, raising fears of a possible division of the country.
Since mid-2004, the pro-business
However, there was significant resistance to the anti-government stoppage from within the east. This reflected that despite a resounding “yes” vote for autonomy in the east, Morales’s Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) won the highest vote of any parties in Santa Cruz and Tarija in the July 2 Constituent Assembly elections.
While the centres of department capitals were desolate, as businesses locked out workers and the UJC enforced the stoppage, in the poor neighbourhoods surrounding
Significantly, the stoppage did not go ahead in the indigenous region of
The strike came after disagreements over the Constituent Assembly. The pro-business opposition claims that the law of convocation for the assembly means all decisions should be made by a two-thirds majority, which in practice would give them a veto over any new constitution.
On the other hand, MAS, which won over 50% of the delegates, argues that each article should be voted on by simple majority and that only the final text should be approved by two-thirds of the assembly, before going to a referendum. (If after three attempts a two-thirds majority could not be reached, the draft would go directly to a referendum.)
The opposition fears the possibility of MAS “constitutionalising” the dramatic changes it has made in its first eight months of government.
Seeking to “re-found”
On September 12, Morales commented that “the strikes have been aimed at the policies of Evo Morales, against the nationalisation of hydrocarbons, against the constituent assembly, against the new land policies, against the agrarian reforms”. He stated that there was clear evidence of a plot to destabilise his government and its project of change for
ABI reported on September 12 that Alex Contreras, a spokesperson for the government, recounted that after Morales became president, members of the Military High Command revealed that a meeting had taken place between business owners, political parties and representatives of the departmental institutions to “define” a new system of government, because “they were certain that the Morales presidency would not last more than 3 months”.
Morales lashed out at the
Additionally, a number of campesino and indigenous organisations from the east have declared that they will initiate an indefinite blockade of the city of