Indigenous organisations warn they will leave MAS over its Vision of the Country

Gabriela Ramos, La Prensa

Sucre – Leaders of the Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qollasuyu (CONAMAQ), and the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples from the East of Bolivia (CIDOB), warned that the indigenous peoples could separate themselves from the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) because they consider that this party is backtracking on its position in the Constituent Assembly.

MAS began to fracture inside the Constituent Assembly, over differences between the indigenous and campesino sectors which was demonstrated in the lack of a unified proposal within the Vision of the Country, Land and Territory and Autonomy commissions.

On Monday, the directorate of the body – controlled by MAS – decided to reject the report coming from the Vision of the Country commission – where the positions of a “plurinational” and “multinational” state were approved, leaving out the opposition’s proposal. This was the spark that unleashed the conflict.

The crisis within MAS was confirmed by the leaders, Justino Leaño, from CONAMAQ, and Lázaro Tacoó, from CIDOB, who announced the convocation of an Indigenist Congress of the highlands and lowlands for June 28, where they would make official their separation from the ranks of MAS, as well as their disposition to direct their assembly delegates to not follow orders from MAS, and instead conduct themselves according to the decisions of their own organisations.

That was how Justino Leaño expressed the situation to La Prensa. “It is true that we support the project of Evo Morales, but we no longer feel represented by MAS… there has always been a battle between indigenous peoples and campesinos, a difference over visions, we hoped to save this through debate but we see that there is an intention to displace one sector, this is the intention of the campesinos”.

Lázaro Tacoó added that the indigenous peoples are not happy with the role that they had been relegated to within the Unity Pact, which is made up of social organisations.“The indigenous peoples have a communitarian way of conceiving of the new country, whilst the campesinos have a more individualist perspective… the campesinos, colonisers and cocaleros are the organic organisations of MAS, we have been relegated”.

The assembly delegate Humberto Tapia (MAS), who belongs to the “Red Ponchos” of La Paz, warned about this problem, and had no doubts in signalling that this was the cause of the weakening of MAS, faced with an opposition which had unified behind a single proposal. “This is a demonstration of the fact that MAS never had a project for the constitution, because if it did, we would not be fighting amongst ourselves, this is our great weakness, and many are leaving”.

MAS also counts amongst its allies another fractured bloc. According to sources within MAS, last Wedesday, when MAS delegates met with the vice president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, the most rebuked were the delegates from the Movement Without Fear (MSM) who make up part of the Autonomy commission, and who presented a third proposal, weakening the MAS document. On this opportunity, the “without fear” were accused of being “traitors”.

Another case in point is that of the president of the Vision of the Country commission, Félix Cárdenas (CN, National Concertation), which united around itself some MAS delegates, to defend the reports from this commission that reclaim a plurinational and a multinational state

Even though the MAS spokesperson, René Navarro, accepted that this was a reality within his party, he did not doubt in affirming that, more than a weakness, it was a strength, because debate and consensus amongst the MAS currents is being constructed along the way.

Working out timeframes

Nevertheless, the extension of the timeframe in the assembly also generated counter posing reactions amongst the union organisations

The Bolivian Workers Central (COB), the urban teachers, waged miners, the council of ayllus and an alteño councillor all let their discomfort be known over the idea of extending the timeframe for the work of the constituent assembly, accepting the proposal, but asking that after August 6, the delegates work ad honorem (without pay) and “with much efficiency”.

These sectors objected to the work carried out by the assembly delegates and condemn the divisionist labour of the body.Celebrating the 28th anniversary of the United Union Confederation of the Campesino Workers of Bolivia (CSUTCB), who are allied to MAS, some of the its members expressed their displeasure with the possible extension of the timeline for handing over the new constitution, considering that these actions would strengthen the opposition bloc, made up of the civic committees and PODEMOS.

The general secretary, Issac Ávalos, denied that there was a weakening of the social movements, or a fracturing, and alleged that the protest actions are directed only against the oligarchy, which does not want to try and reach a consensus with MAS’ project.

Moreover, he did not know about the protest action that the Guarani peoples had initiated, despite the fact that they form part of this organisation.

Translated from La Prensa

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