Campesinos march in support of the Constituent Assembly

Pablo Stefanoni, Sucre, Sept 11
Sucre basked in its majestic splendour, inherited from the old colonial Charcas. Only a few remnants of burnt tyres and broken windows from the Gran Mariscal Theatre – seat of the Constituent Assembly – provided evidence of last week’s violence, which provoked a one-month closure of the assembly. This measure, surprisingly taken, temporarily deactivated the central conflict: the transfer of the executive and legislative powers to this “white city”. The committee in support of making Sucre the full capital (currently it is the symbolic capital), took advantage of the ruling by the District Superior Court –obliging the Constituent Assembly to deal with this issue, excluded from the agenda last August 15 – in order to lift all protests, in the midst of the notorious tiredness of the population.

In this context, despite all the fears, some 10,000 campesinos from all across the country, aligned with Evo Morales, march yesterday through the city with a festive tone, chanting songs in “defence of national unity” and met all day in the social summit “for dialogue and defence of the Constituent Assembly”.

“Sucre, wake up, los Yungas greets you”, chanted a large column of cocaleros from the tropical region of La Paz, as they entered into the city during the morning. Many neighbours and shopkeepers applauded them and even gave them water. “If they want to bring down Evo and close the Constituent Assembly, they will have to do it over our dead bodies. In the gas war of 2003, more than 80 companeros died for this process of change”, said one of the protestors, who remained mute when students from a primary school came out and shouted, “make Sucre the capital”.

With all this, the crisis over the shifting of the capital has not been resolved and the sense of calm is fragile. Yesterday, in a speech to the campesinos, the president of the assembly and cocalera leader, Silva Lazarte, anticipated that they would not recognise the judicial ruling, which obliges them to incorporate Sucre’s demand in the Constituent Assembly discussions.

“These judges marched a few days ago in favour of the Sucre becoming the capital. They have no earnestness”, La Paz delegate Marcela Revollo told Clarin.

Today, no one is capable of predicting the future of the assembly, which has to hand over to the country a new constitution before December 14. Nor the possibility of reaching agreements in just one months time. That is why, the government is tossing around the idea of presenting a referendum with two constitutional projects: one supported by MAS and the other by the opposition, both of which are nearly completely drafted.

Without a new constitution, everyone would lose something. The rebellious and rich department of Santa Cruz, the autonomy it yearns for and President Evo Morales, the possibility of re-election.

Translated from Clarin

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