On Sunday, Dec. 9, Bolivia's Constituent Assembly approved in Oruro, by two thirds of the deputies in attendance (about 160), 410 of the 411 articles in the nation's new Constitution, whose process of drafting and ratification was systematically boycotted by the opposition, led by the oligarchy. Only one, the article on land holding, did not earn the necessary votes.
The new Constitution contains many of the historic vindications of the Bolivian people, one of the ignored and exploited in the region. Among them is the autonomy of the indigenous peoples, approved recently by the United Nations General Assembly, which restores the rights denied by colonialism to the native peoples of the world.
It also establishes legal precepts to maintain the State's ownership of natural resources; it imposes social security, which exists only in certain sectors of the Bolivian economy; allows for free medical care and education, and grants the level of autonomy required by the nine departments and ethnic groups that compose the country.
It is obvious that such constitutional principles are not to the liking of the local oligarchy, the oligarchies of other countries, and the transnational corporations. In fact, it is a bad example for the rest of the people of
If anything has characterized the Bolivian oligarchy ever since the country's independence, it has been its profound reactionary nature, its racism and its conviction that it can do whatever it wishes in
Since its independence from
Nevertheless, the possibility of a coup cannot be ruled out. Many of the high-ranking officers in the Army have family ties to the oligarchy, and share interests with it. As in other countries of Latin America, there is a military caste in
To some observers, the government and the opposition are at an impasse. The oligarchy is unable to overthrow Morales without the help of the Army, because of the president's rate of popular support (62 percent), and the government is in no condition to neutralize the opposition without the use of force. Besides, the latter option has never been the policy of the president or his administration.
Therefore, the Army can act as a counterweight that can tilt the balance to one side or the other of
And this is a situation that is repeated everywhere in the planet. The oligarchies, the Empire and its allies can reach an accord with relative ease when their interests are in danger, despite the competition and contradictions among them.
Not so with the left, where ideological differences, sectarianism and (worse yet) individual egocentrism become obstacles impossible to clear. That's one of the principal dangers faced by the process of changes in Latin America at a time when the reaction -- represented by the government of the
Returning to the topic of
The Senate has not yet given a green light to the referendum, which would be held in the first half of 2008, but it is evident that it will hard pressed not to approve it, since it would be assailed by the nation's public opinion. The call to a recall referendum further reduces the range of movement of the oligarchy and its allies.
All that remains for the opposition is violence, which it has utilized to keep the Constituent Assembly from meeting in Sucre (it had to move to Oruro) and to threaten the sectors of the population that support the process of changes advocated by Evo Morales.
That explains the new calls to a coup d'état and the trip to the United States of four prefects (Santa Cruz, Pando, Tarija and Cochabamba) right after President Morales asked them to join a dialogue. In the
They also contacted José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, and asked him to intervene in
Insulza said he would send an OAS delegation to
Approval of the new Constitution by the people seems inevitable. If it is approved,
These actions might involve the secession of the Half Moon (the departments of
The arrogance of the leaders of the Half Moon is such that they have said that, in the event of military intervention to prevent secession, the Army would be defeated. In that sense, we should remember that the oligarchy in those four departments has created paramilitary groups trained by mercenaries from
The photograph of U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg with a well-known Colombian paramilitary is not a coincidence but an expression of the White House' policy toward
A period of important definitions now begins in
If the people mobilize and support the new Constitution, the oligarchy and its allies can do little to stop it -- except to provoke a blood bath whose consequences for all of
Republished from Progreso Weekly