Another Separatist Attempt by the “Media Luna”

News Desk of APM, 3/10/06

The threats by the most conservative sectors have renewed themselves in Bolivia. This time, various leaders from the departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija, the so-called “media luna” (half moon), adverted that they would not abide by the constitution, if President Evo Morales and the representatives of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) did not respect the Law of Convocation for the Constituent Assembly. This comes after last Friday, when the constituent assembly delegates declared the body to be “all-powerful, refoundational and originario”.

At the same time, they announced that, if the situation did not change, they would push forward on a referendum so that their citizens could decide on autonomy for the region and whether they want to, or not, be part of the new state that will be determined, coming out of the constitution.

The declarations were manifested in a document titled “For a Democratic Bolivia”, which was consented to behind closed doors and without the presence of the media. “In the case of persisting with not respecting the law of convocation for the Constituent Assembly and of approving a constitutional reform outside the bounds of it, we express our decision of not obeying the new constitution”, said the resolution read out by the prefect of Santa Cruz, Ruben Costas, at the end of the meeting that was held in this city.

The four regions agreed to declare themselves autonomous, “in the case that the Constituent Assembly decides to mock” its “historical aspiration” of obtaining autonomy and they called on the other regions to unite in order to “defend unity and democracy”.

For its part, the MAS Senator Antonio Peredo, regarding the attitudes of the leaders of the “media luna”, affirmed that they were dealing with “the last death throes of those who want the Constituent Assembly to not advance”. At the same time he signaled that “the opposition with its 15% representation wants to impose its vision on the majority”.

According to another MAS senator, Guido Guardia, the prefects of the eastern region receive orders and instructions from the United States to undo all that the government of Evo Morales proposes. “The young prefects from the ‘media luna’ traveled to the US, it seems they not only receive the corresponding instructions but they also received the support that used to be called reserved costs….”.

The declaration of the Constituent Assembly as “originaria” implies that the assembly can carry out its work above the three constituted powers. President Evo Morales affirmed that this step occurred last Friday within the framework of the vote over the internal regulations of the Constituent Assembly, and was voted upon by two thirds of the constituent assembly delegates, the number of votes that the opposition, headed by the Social Democratic Power (PODEMOS) bench, considered necessary.

For its part, the delegates from MAS insisted that the regulation and the final documents need to be approved by an automatic majority that is representative of the Constituent Assembly. In all cases, they obtained the number of votes demanded by the opposition who, despite this, intend to boycott the declaration of a “all powerful, refoundational and originaria” Constituent Assembly.

The first point approved by the body, affirms that “the Constituent Assembly convoked by Law 3334 of March 6, 2006, is singular and indivisible and is the maximum expression of democracy”. In this sense, it is located above the constituted powers, with full powers and has as its mandate the transformation and construct of a new Bolivian state.

Regarding this point, the civic committees of the “media luna” presented a case demanding the unconstitutionality of an “originaria” Constituent Assembly because they believe that this measure “violates legal rules”. According to the president of the civic committee of Santa Cruz, German Antelo, who leads the civic movement of the east of the country, the decision of the MAS delegates goes against the constitution. Because of this they decided to convoke a referendum in opposition to the decision voted on last Friday.

In response to this convocation, the vice minister of Governmental Coordination, Hector Arce, clarified that, according to the current constitution and Law 1836 of the Tribunal Constitution, popular consultations can only be put forward by three authorities: the president, the president of the National Congress and the president of the Supreme Court of Justice. This makes the convocation of the leaders of the east illegal.

The secessionist will of part of the “media luna” region is not new. Last July, at the same time as the Constituent Assembly was approved, the no vote won in a referendum for regional autonomy. Nevertheless, various sectors of the wealthiest region of Bolivia insist on the conformation of a new state, at the same time as leading a strong campaign of desprestigio, nourishing by the mass media, against the government of Evo Morales.

Regarding this issue, the president affirmed that “the main opposition and enemy of this government and the indigenous campesino movement is for a large part the mass media”. He added that “each day” they attack his term, they “denigrate him” and “offend with lies” in order to “political destroy the government and the Constituent Assembly”.

Translated from Mercosur Press Agency

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