Sucre, the home of Bolivia’s constituent assembly, has been subjected to right-wing attacks campesinos (peasants) were violently attacked when they arrived to defend the besieged assembly.
The campesinos were violently expelled from their sleeping quarters at the Pedagogical Institute by right-wing students. Evo Morales, the democratically elected indigenous president, moved the assembly meeting site to military barracks on the outskirts of
Rosalio Tinta is an indigenous activist involved with the Coalition in Defence of Life and Water, which lead a successful uprising against water privatisation in 2000, spoke to Green Left Weekly about the situation with the assembly. “I believe that first one must state that the oligarchy never wanted to touch the issue of the constitution.”
Tinta explained that
Conflict between largely indigenous supporters of the constituent assembly process and forces backed by the oligarchy continued to grow in September over the issue of the location of the country’s capital. Currently
Tensions in the assembly between the majority based on Morales’ party the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) and its allies, and right-wing forces have at times led to violence, including an assault on MAS’s Silvia Lazarte, an indigenous woman elected the assembly’s president.
Tinta said “The constitution is important and must stand for inclusion. You should not forget that before Evo Morales, who is indigenous, we did not have anyone to represent us. Morales was first a leader of the coca growers, defending the right to grow coca, then defending water [from privatisation]. He is a leader of the social movements, and is therefore a comrade.”
Tinta noted, “The issue is that the opposition never wanted changes to the constitution. Since the start of the independence until today, they opposed modifying the constitution, because indigenous people are saying that the indigenous, poor and popular sectors should receive greater economic distribution from the state.”
Although MAS, and it allies, control a majority of seats in the assembly, to slow the process down right-wing parties, led by Podemos, insisted that a two-thirds vote was needed for committees to approve the different sections of the new constitution. Consequently advances were stalled for 16 months.
In an article posted on the
Burbach explained that “Vargas — in a swipe at one of the regional political leaders allied with the Half Moon who claimed that Cuban and Venezuelan military units were in the country, declared: ‘No information exists of such units. And if it were the case, they are military units of the State and as part of the State they represent the Bolivian people’.”
Delegates from the right-wing parties, led by Podemos, responded to the move by boycotting the assembly, declaring it “illegal”. On
Burbach pointed out “Before that process could begin, the opposition in Sucre, led mainly by students and young people, violently took over all the major public buildings using dynamite and Molotov cocktails, demanding the resignation of ’the shitty Indian Morales’.”
In a November 25 article in Bolivian newspaper Ukhampacha, Luis Gomez wrote that since November 24 “television networks such as Unitel and ATB (both owned by the Spanish media group PRISA), are blaming the government for
Gomez explained: “In between repetitive images of
Gomez says that, “Some of Bolivia’s independent media outlets are having transmission problems. The internet signal of Radio Erbol (owned by the Catholic Church) is unavailable in certain parts of the country where there is normally a signal. Many journalists — employees of Erbol and its affiliate station in
Morales addressed the nation on November 25 defending the constituent assembly and his government. Gomez wrote that “Evo Morales explained the minutia of the recently approved Constitution in painstaking detail. He asserted that his government would convene a full investigation into the weekend’s incidents and reiterated that the government had not instructed the police to use lethal weapons against the population.”
Morales’s address attacked the oligarchy. “They can’t accept that we the poor people can govern ourselves”, after explaining the long list of obstacles the constituent assembly has confronted over the past 16 months.
Morales also pleaded with the Bolivian people to remain calm, warning that the new constitution must now be approved by national referendum, as legally stipulated. Gomez pointed out that “Morales had spoken for almost 30 minutes yet practically no major television channel broadcast his words. Almost all were carrying their normally scheduled programs.”
Tinto told GLW that he believed “the opposition has called for civil disobedience. Before they defended legality, now they try pressure. Do not forget that we in previous years have been the last one of the poor countries and the leaders in corruption.”
Manuel Urisote, a political analyst and director of the Land Foundation, an independent research centre in
First published in Green Left Weekly