Monday, January 26, 2009

Bolivia's Referendum Results - What Next?

LA PAZ (digitalwarriormedia) – Coming off of the euphoric high of yesterday’s vote that passed a new constitution for Bolivia – today was another normal day in La Paz. Just as in the days before Sunday’s vote, used car workers maintained their vigilant lunchtime street march to reject a recent government ban on used car imports.

Accurate number results from the referendum remain a moving target as the National Electoral Court (CNE) continues to count ballots.

According to the latest information from the CNE – the constitution has passed 59.53% to 40.43% nation-wide with 90% voter participation rate.*

It is the first time in 183 years - and 15 different constitutions - that the Bolivian people had the opportunity to vote on the future structure of their country.

And while Bolivia’s vote made world-wide headlines, most media chose to focus on the same narrow descriptions of constitutional changes.
Journalists from around the globe descended upon Bolivia to cover the constitutional referendum and many had the same story to tell…that Bolivia will remain polarized because the new constitution grants more power to Bolivia’s indigenous people.

Few mention some of the progressive social pacts between the government and all Bolivians – namely entitlements for the elderly and school-aged children, universal healthcare, education, the right to water and basic services such as electricity.

While stories simply note that the government will have greater control of the Bolivian economy, those constitutional provisions are a necessity given the central government's promise of services in Latin America's second poorest country.

At a time when developed nations are throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at banks and investment houses - with few or little conditions - nationalizing certain sectors in the Bolivian economy may be wiser than following free market capitalism. Bolivia already has a mired relationship with the economic prescriptions of foreign nations and multinationals.

The pre-amble to the document addresses the plurality of Bolivian society but also recognizes the particularness of its indigenous people who have been discriminated against since the time of Spanish colonialism.
In a country where 60% of the population voted in favor of the constitution, calls for polarization -mostly from the descendants of the wealthy European elite -indicate their unwillingness to observe the democratic majority of Bolivia.

On Sunday night, while addressing a jubilant crowd of thousands at the Plaza Murillo, Morales said the new constitution would put an end to neoliberalism and re-found Bolivia. However the process could take up to 100 acts of Congress, according to reports from the Morales administration.

Tomorrow, Morales, his cabinet and deputy ministers begin the arduous job of bringing Bolivia’s legislature within the framework of the new political constitution of the state.

* The most up-to-date vote results are in real-time based upon ongoing count by Bolivia's National Electoral Count (CNE).

Photos: CNE and Digital Warrior Media











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