Bolivia: Opposition hardens its discourse against the government following referendum

The president had his mandate ratified in the referendum with more support than in 2005, but the opposition governors also came out strengthened. The consultation confirms the division of the country.

Jorge Marirrodriga, La Paz,

All the predictions were confirmed and the first results of the recall referendum celebrated this Sunday in Bolivia confirm the deep division that the country is passing through. The president, Evo Morales, and his vice president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, have been confirmed in their posts with percentages that oscillate between 60% and 56%, an increase in support from the 53.7% achieved in the 2005 elections. Nevertheless, his grand rivals, the governors of the regions that oppose his indigenist and socialist project, have all come out very strengthened in their respective territories.

After hearing about his victory in at the ballot box, the president issued a call for the unity of Bolivians which, according to him, will be achieved by “brigning together the new Political Constitution of the State with the autonomy statutes” but with respect for legality. “We are here to advance in the recuperation of natural resources, in the consolidation of the nationalisations and the recuperation of state companies”, said Morales in front of thousands of followers in the central plaza of La Paz.

The negative news for the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) government was the revocation of the governor of Oruro, a department faithful until now to the president and where the defeat supposes a hard blow in the territorial fight that is unfolding in Bolivia. In any case, there is a general consensus of the necessity for an urgent dialogue to overcome the situation of political deadlock that the Andean country has been passing through for more than a year.

The governors opposed to Morales that had their positions at stake in the referendum were those of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija, Cochabamba y La Paz,along with another two government aligned prefects, from Potosí and Oruro.

The polls give as certain the continuity of the pro-autonomy prefects of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija, who after hearing about their victory have harden their discourse against the president, warning that they would not allow the new constitution to be imposed on them.

“Liberty has defeated totalitarianism” said Costas, governor of Santa Cruz, who announced that he would continue to deepen the autonomy project in his region. For his part, Mario Cossio, from the resource rich region of Tarija, announced that he would immediately convoke elections to form a departmental “parliament” that legislates regional autonomy that he aims to apply. And Ernesto Suarez, prefect of Beni, said that the vote that ratified his position this Sunday is a defeat for the “empire of the Chavez-cheque”, alluding to the aid that the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has given to Morales for his projects.

The polls agree that two opposition prefects have been revoked: Jose Luis Paredes from La Paz, with 55-60% against him, and Manfred Reyes Villa in Cochabamba, with a negative vote of 56.7-60%.

Abridged and translated from El Pais

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