FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bolivia Rejects Neoliberalism

by BENJAMIN DANGL

After months of street battles and political meetings, a new draft of the Bolivian constitution was ratified by Congress on October 21. A national referendum on whether or not to make the document official is scheduled for January 25, 2009.

“Now we have made history,” President Evo Morales told supporters in La Paz. “This process of change cannot be turned back…neoliberalism will never return to Bolivia.”

If the constitution is approved in the January referendum, a new general election will take place in December of 2009.

Leading up to Congress’s approval, Morales participated in sections of a march from Caracollo in Oruro to La Paz, a distance of over 100 miles and involving an estimated 100,000 union members, activists, students, farmers and miners.

The march took place to pressure opposition members in Congress into backing the constitution and referendum. When marchers arrived in La Paz they packed the center of the city to historic levels. Some media outlets said the march, which stretched 15 kilometers, was the longest one ever in the capital.

“Those who have been kicked out to the chicken coop, those who have been hidden in the basement, are jailed no more,” Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said of the approval of the constitution, according to the Associated Press.

The road to this new constitution has been a long, complicated and often violent one. One key event in this process was the July 2, 2006 election of assembly members to the constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. Later, in December of 2007, the new constitution was passed in an assembly meeting in Oruro which was boycotted by opposition members.

Given Morales’ support across the country, this new constitution is expected to pass in the January 2009 referendum. “The public support expressed for [Morales] Monday, coming on top of the 67 percent vote of confidence he was given in the Aug. 10 recall referendum, make it clear that he is the most popular president in the last 26 years of democracy in Bolivia,” Franz Chavez reported in IPS News.

The draft constitution includes, among other things, changes to allow the redistribution of land and gas wealth to benefit the majority of the country, and give increased rights to indigenous people. Questions still exist regarding what was fully changed in this version of the constitution which led to opposition politicians supporting it. For example, it’s still unclear to what extent eastern provinces will be granted autonomy.

However, in what was perhaps Morales’ biggest concession to the opposition, a change was made to the constitution which prevents him from running for two additional terms, as an earlier draft of the constitution allowed. Under the new changes – if the constitution is approved in the referendum – Morales will run for his last consecutive term in general elections in December of 2009.

This move indicates that the opposition got at least some of what they wanted in negotiations, and that the Movement Toward Socialism, Morales’ political party, may have plans to diversify its central leadership.

Morales commented on these changes in a speech in La Paz, “Here we have new leaders who are rising up, new men and women leaders who are coming up like mushrooms to continue this process of change.”

BENJAMIN DANGL is the author of “The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia,” (AK Press). He is an editor at UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Email bendangl(at)gmail.com

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America, covering social movements and politics in the region for over a decade. He is the author of the books Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, and The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia. Dangl is currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American History at McGill University, and edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Twitter: https://twitter.com/bendangl Email: BenDangl(at)gmail(dot)com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail