MAS looks to "accommodate" mestizos

El Deber, May 29

The Movement Towards Socialism decided in Cochabamba to further include mestizos in its project for the Political Constitution of the State in order to make agreements with the opposition possible and to win support for its presidential re-election campaign. According to the explanation given by Raúl Prada, one proof of the desire to be more inclusive of mestizos is that the definition of plural sovereignty has been modified.

Up until the reunion in Cochabamba, MAS had presented a project of articles in the Vision of the Country Commission in which it had established that sovereignty resided with the indigenous peoples, originarios, campesinos and in the intercultural population.

Now, within this concept the current declaration in the constitution is maintained, in the sense that sovereignty resided in the people, but with the clarification that it is made up of “originario peoples and nations, indigenous peoples, campesinos and cultural diverse populations”.

According to Prada, this affects the consequences of what it means to have a plurinational state, given that it is only recognising one collective subject, which is the Bolivian population, and not the indigenous nations and peoples that conform it. “They asked us to best include the mestizos in the constitution,” he said.

He also admitted that there is a certain confrontation of ideas between the assembly delegates and advisors that belong to the Grupo Comuna, and those that belong to the non-government organisation Centro de Estudios Jurídicos e Investigación Social [CEJIS, Centre of Juridical Studies and Social Investigation].

Another leading representative of MAS assured that one of the neurological points of the Pacto de Unidad [Unity Pact] proposal would also be left out: the right to the reconstitution of indigenous territories like they were before colonialism. They assure that pro-government analysis indicates that it could put in risk the territorial unity of the country, given that nations like the Aymara, Quechua and Guarani are located in more than one South American country.

For his part, Carlos Romero, president of the Land and Territory Comission explained that the Pacto de Unidad came to Cochabamba with the proposal that natural resources should be indigenous property and that in order to exploit non-renewable resources there needed to be a binding consultation with the indigenous people.

Nevertheless, the pro-government bench decided that natural resources are the property of the state and that non-renewable resources that are located within indigenous territories should be utilised for their benefit.

The issue in which there was complete agreement was the re-election of Morales, which in reality is seen as an election, given that they consider that there will be a constitutional rupture regarding the 2008 elections, which means that if Morales wins the elections it will not count as a re-election.

There was no decision made regarding the Congress

The discussion over whether the Congress will be bicameral or unicameral remains open within MAS. Despite the fact that the Pacto de Unidad and the majority of the pro-government bench support a unicameral system, the representatives of the Legislative Power Commission proposed that the bicameral system be maintained, but in place of a Senate made up of departmental representatives, it should be made up of indigenous, originario, campesino and intercultural representatives.

Neither has a decision been made on if there will be 140 electorates. According to Raúl Prada, it was noted that if the proposal in which 70 representatives are elected by indigenous traditions and customs and 70 by universal vote is maintained, it could give the impression to the population that MAS wants to monopolise power.

Experts called on to orientate discussion on autonomy

The discussion in the Autonomy Commission has not moved beyond the current logjam. Yesterday, with the objective that the directorate could find a path towards some deliberations, it was decided to resort to the social movements and national experts to advise and better orientate the debate.

With the aim of avoiding that discussion continues dilating over types of autonomies, competencies, and the different conceptions of autonomy that each of the pro-government and opposition members hold, the directorate of the commission accepted that it needed help to resolve the entrenchment evident after the presentation of the two opposing proposals, that of the pro-government supporters and the opposition. From MAS the position emerged that the participation of organisations such as campesinos, CIDOB [Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia], APG [Assembly of the Guarani People], Conamaq [National Council of Ayllus and MArkas of Qullasuya], and the Federation of Municipal Associations as well as invited experts such as Xavier Albo and Jerjes Justiniano, was vital.

The opposition, to not be left behind, proposed the participation of the Comité pro Santa Cruz [Pro-Santa Cruz Committee] and authors Juan Carlos Urenda, Carlos Hugo Molina and Franz Barrios

Translated from El Deber

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