Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Opposition Protests Constitution by Fleeing to U.S.

La Paz (digitalwarriormedia): Bolivia’s departmental governors took their opposition to an unprecedented level by departing Santa Cruz’s Viru Viru airport this past Monday - en route to the United States - with plans to demand international intervention into Bolivia’s domestic affairs.

The Media Luna governors: Ruben Costas (Santa Cruz), Ernesto Suarez (Beni), Manfred Reyes Villa (Cochabamba) and Maro Cossio (Tarija), landed in Miami before heading to Washington D.C., with additional plans to seek an audience at the United Nations in New York City.

While at the Miami airport, the group held a press conference at which Cochabamba governor Manfred Reyes told reporters that Bolivia was heading towards dictatorship and "the government plans to adopt a totalitarian constitution."

They publicly demanded that the Morales administration accept a mediator for the ongoing constitutional crisis, indicating that mediation from an international organization was necessary to remove an alleged threat of civil war.

Upon their departure, Morales urged the governors to return and engage in dialogue instead of leaving the country to seek solutions to Bolivia’s problems.

"The problems are not in the United States, but in Bolivia," said Morales.

The next stop on their itinerary was the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C., where the four governors and representatives from an opposition political party in Chuquisaca, met with the Secretary General of OAS, José Miguel Insulza.

On Tuesday, while meeting with Inzulza, Tarija's governor Cossío, requested a mission of observers be sent to Bolivia in order to avoid a worsening of the crisis.

Insulza stated that the OAS was at the disposal of Bolivia to help solve their problems and not to act as an agitator. Insulza indicated that he will also consult with representatives from the Bolivian government and their views would be presented to the OAS Permanent Council to determine how the organization can best collaborate with Bolivia.

At issue, is the governors' claim that the drafted constitutional document is illegal because the assembly members needed a two-thirds majority rather than the simple majority represented by the 139 delegates gathered on November 24.

The prefects are also disgruntled by the passage of the “Bond Dignity” a new pension benefit that will provide income for all Bolivians older than 60 years of age, because the system will be partly financed from departmental budgets.

In a show of support for the opposition, protesters in Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando have gone on hunger strikes to oppose the new draft constitution.

Meanwhile, an integration and compatibility commission began operating Monday to outline the chapters of the future Constitution. The commission must still decide where the Assembly will continue to convene and finish out the detailed discussions of the document.

The new location could possibly be Oruro as its authorities, civic committees and organizations have offered guarantees for the safety of the Assembly members – a measure that the city of Sucre and its authorities were unable to deliver.

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