Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Vote to Refound Bolivia

LA PAZ (digitalwarriormedia) Jan. 25 - Pachamama smiled on the city this Sunday as people headed to the polls to vote for Bolivia's new constitution.

It was a beautiful day in La Paz and in several voting stations, Bolivians expressed their desire to see the passage of the constitution in today's vote. For many, this is a grand expression of democracy and the best opportunity for a hopeful future in Bolivia.

Throughout the city and in neighboring El Alto, the polls were filled with families who brought their children, elderly parents and even their pets to enjoy Bolivia's historic day.

A ban on cars and buses left the streets empty of traffic, but children and adults alike took advantage of the slow rhthym of the day by playing impromptu games of soccer, skateboarding or riding their bicycles in the city streets.

International observers from the Organization of American States and the European Union were readily seen about the city. More than 300 international observers arrived in Bolivia to ensure the transperancy and authenticity of today's referendum.

At one polling station in El Alto a confrontation erupted between supporters of the constitution and the MNR party. The confrontation was only verbal as MNR party members, sporting hats and armbands, tried to denounce the administration of the vote - calling it a fraud.

Those in support of the constitution demanded that MNR members respect the process and that they were violating polling station rules by wearing their party paraphenalia. In response, the opposition said today's constitution was from Venezuela and Cuba before leaving the polling station under the watchful eye of the National Police.

Reports from throughout the country indicate that this was a peaceful process despite the opposition's strong rejection of the constitutional referendum.

The polling stations close at 5:00 pm and most of the results are expected to be in by late evening.

*Referendum Update (6:30 pm local time): Unofficial results indicate the constitution passed with 60% approval nation-wide. The "Yes" vote was overwhelming in La Paz, Oruro, Potosi, and Cochabamba. As expected the departments of Santa Cruz, Pando, Beni and Tarija voted "No" and the vote in Chuquisaca is still too close to call.

Photos: Digital Warrior Media



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