Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Battle for the Constituent Assembly Begins

Today, President Evo Morales will send his Call for Constituent Assembly Law to the parliament. As stated in a previous post, the law proposes the election of three Constituent Members for every zone. Two of them would go for the winner and the third one for the second place, unless the winner gets more than 50% of the vote, in which case all three members from that zone would come from the winner.

Evo is clearly hoping to repeat his December success with this vote, as MAS won 44 of 70 electoral zones in the general elections. Without taking into account zones where he may win with more than 50%, this law would translate in at least 88 (of 210) members going for MAS. Some estimates, taking the 50% rule into account, give Morales 108 members.

Moreover, yesterday Evo warned to the heads of social movements about the risk of movilizations taking place if this law is not approved by the end of the month, while Garcia Linera called them to protect the president and change (read it here).

In fact, Evo has already started rallying his supporters by talking publicly about alleged conspiracies from the energy sector. According to Los Tiempos, Morales talked with a peasants' association about the transnationals conspiring against him and the association's protection being paramount for the government's well-being. Garcia Linera, using the twisted logic of authoritarian governments, linked the US with the transnational conspiracy and the constituent assembly: "[This time], the movilizations will not go against the president, but to protect him, to defend nationalization, to defend us from the Gringos, to defend the Constituent Assembly."

With this speech, Evo and Garcia Linera have set their charge against Bolivian democracy in motion. But still more worrying is the fact that after that inflamatory speech, Morales went to the Military and asked them directly to protect the Constituent Assembly and hidrocarbon nationalization, for which tasks he promised to revitalize the institution. "A country is strong when their Armed Forces are strong", he added. It is important to remember that Evo skipped three generations of officers when he appointed the military's high command. This probably served the purpose of winning loyalties among the armed forces, and here is why. Perhaps Evo learned how to act democraticly from his democratic friend Fidel Castro (read it here).

It seems that Evo is not leaving anything to chance. The pressure to accept his Law will come from all sides and I wonder how long the opposition MPs can hold against it with their "one voter, one vote" discourse. Does not look good, though.

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