The Opposition Tried to Stop the Government From Imposing Its Majority: Fights in the Bolivian Congress Over a Political Judgement

Pablo Stefanoni, Clarín, August 23

The Bolivian Parliament turned into a boxing ring yesterday (Wednesday) when opposition congressmen tried in vain to stop the MAS government enforcing its majority to suspend and open the path to a judicial review against four members of the Constitutional Tribunal.

Back in May, President Morales responded harshly to these 4 Tribunal judges' decision to terminate several Supreme Court judges named by Morales as interim jurists.

Back then, Morales denounced that the hidden objective of the 4 "neoliberal" Tribunal magistrates was to hinder the trial against former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, accused of murdering at least 60 Bolivians during the cruel end of his abandoned administration in October 2003.

Wednesday, the Bolivian president's threat was enforced. In light of the bruhaha in Congress the majority MAS moved the legislative session to a neighboring building of the Vice Presidency where MAS established their own quorum and approved the trial against the Tribunal judges.

Although the opposition announced it would use it's majority vote in the Senate, which is the final authority, to stop the process, the immediate result of the MAS Congressional vote was the suspension of the Tribunal judges who have been accused of lying.

In anticipation of a crisis between "powers" the Tribunal judges decided to ignore the MAS congressional vote since "it lacked any juridical value." Amidst this renewed tense political climate, the opposition lead by Podemos, the party of ex-president Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga, rejected the legality of the decision and accused the government of having "undertaken a coup d'etat in best Venezuelan style" with an illegitimate congressional session. The Presidential spokesperson Alex Contreras replied that "the rightwing is looking for violence since they no longer have arguments to stop the process of change."

On top of these boxing scenes in La Paz, there were violent images in Sucre, where protestors demanding that the city become the “full capital” of Bolivia tried to take over the Gran Mariscal Theater where the Constitutional Assembly has been meeting. In this tense climate, the president of the Constitutional Assembly, Silvia Lazarte, decided to suspend all further sessions until further notice for "lack of (safety) guarantees."

The nation's VP, Alvaro García Linera, dismissed the idea that the government was considering declaring a state of siege and he accused small groups "fascist and intolerant, trying to undermine the Bolivian democracy so as not to lose their privileges."

With placards declaring "Democracy Yes, Dictatorship No" a group of radical university students attacked a MAS representative of the Constitutional Assembly and almost destroyed a private home looking for another MAS member. Meanwhile the hunger strike in support of
Sucre as the capital grew to some 200 participants.

The Inter-Institutional Committee which is spearheading the fight for Sucre to be recognized as the "full capital" of the country announced a "mobile civic strike" for today (Thursday) after the constituent assembly leadership decided to not consider the bid to be capital of the "white city" Sucre.

Translated from Clarin

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