Giving the Bolivian People What They Want

Lianet Arias Sosa interviews Bolivian Senator Santos Javier Tito Veliz

In March 2006, a few months after Evo Morales took office, the convening of a constituent assembly took place. The goal was clear: draft a new constitution that would transform the historically marginalized population into true actors in the economic and social life of Bolivia.

On August 6, 2006, the assembly members were installed in Sucre with the mission to approve a new constitution in no more than a year and no less than six months.

However, time has gone by without the desired results.

“The oligarchy is definitely there, and in one way or another so is the influence of the United States; that’s evident. They are the ones who place obstacles so that the constituent assembly doesn’t turnout satisfactorily,” said Senator Santos Javier Tito Veliz of the governing Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) in an interview with Granma.

“They want each article of the final text to be approved by a two-thirds vote,” said Tito Veliz. “In the beginning, the government said yes it would be approved by a two thirds vote, that there wasn’t any problem; but also that on some articles it wasn’t necessary, only a simple majority. The opposition insisted on two thirds for everything. This greatly slowed down the work of the constituent assembly because there isn’t a two thirds consensus on each and every article.

“Regrettably we currently have the thorny subject of defining the capital, which is making it difficult to finish as hoped by the December 14 deadline. All efforts have been made to reach a consensus among the most affected, which are the cities of La Paz and Sucre.”

However, it’s not only the issue of a two thirds approval or Sucre trying to become the nation’s capital, although these have provided an excellent cover for the interests of some powerful groups. There is also the matter of the autonomies and the possibility of presidential reelection which have greatly weighed down the search for agreements.

In August 2007, the contradictions appeared to reach their limit. Attacked by civic movements determined to have the capital moved to Sucre, the constituent assembly suspended its sessions. Now, due to serious recent incidents, Assembly President Silvia Lizarte was once again forced to suspend the work.

Facing such a delay, other measures to benefit the population become unfeasible. On Monday, President Evo Morales criticized the Senate, where the opposition has a majority, for blocking approval of 97 legislative bills that would favor the entire country.

“We want to move forward with what the Bolivian people want —said the MAS senator—, the Bolivian people want structural changes, profound changes. To do so, it is important to have a constitution by the December 14 deadline. There is even the possibility that if the assembly fails to resume in Sucre that it be moved to the department of Oruro.

“These are going to be crucial days. We hope that the situation is resolved for the good of the country’s democracy and to have a dignified country, a sovereign country.”

Republished from Periodico 26

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