The government breaks the deadlock in Bolivia conflict: the “pacted” exit wins out

Pablo Stefanoni

Clouds announcing worse storms to come, that seem to hypnotise analysts inside and outside a Bolivia (almost) always convulsed, began to disipate yesterday following a laborious worked political agreement that repositioned a Congress until now marginalised by the regional fight between Evo Morales and the autonomist governors. It operated with a similar sensation to that which invaded the signatories of the Pacto de Olivos in Argentina: the opposition understood that with the support of more than 67% in the August 10 recall referendum – and a exception minimum support of 40% in rebellious Santa Cruz – Morales would end up imposing “his” constitution. And conformed itself with a few palliatives.

The indigenous head of state – who wants to avoid new incidents of violence during his term – achieved more than a few returns: his detractors ended up recognising a text “approved by a Constituent Assembly stained in blood” – as they liked to define it – that until now they rejected like the plague. Moreover, he was able to win the possibility reelection, his most precious trophy.

The right won an autonomy that it almost had to win, a moderation of land policies and that Evo remain – if he wins – until 2014 rather than 2019. Just as in Olivos, the government seems to have won more than the opposition. The “pacted” exit won out over the “revolutionary”, which the intrasigency of the autonomist governors was favouring: the arrest of the leader of Pando, Leopoldo Fernandez, was a message that, as the “hardline” Minister of the Presidency Juan Ramon Quintana said “our patiences is running out.” The sum of opposition errors – including a chaotic take over of institutions – squandered their political capital, won through the autonomy referendums. And it was left clear that Bolivia is governed from La Paz: that is where the tap from which funds that sustain the provincial budgets is controlled. A hard blow was also dealt to the idea of the “new left” that change would come through a Constituent Assembly populated by social movements that would “refound” the country. The assembly was consumed by its incapacity to come to agreements, corporative interests and conservative boycott. Yesterday, more traditional actors returned to the scenario: parliamentarians that appealled to realpolitic to lift the country out of the polarisation. Just in case, the social movements were “waiting” from them outside.

Translated from Clarin

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