Saturday, February 14, 2009

New Things are Old Again

Feb 14 (digitalwarriormedia) - One week ago today, President Evo Morales stood before a crowd of 500,000 supporters in the city of El Alto to enact Bolivia's new Constitution.

Joined by Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza and Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, Morales announced that Bolivia had started a “second independence”.

But regional opposition is already resisting implementation of the new state charter as four departmental governors refused to attend a meeting at the Governmental Palace on Friday.

President Morales called the dialogue meeting in order to begin the creation of the National Council of Autonomies for implementing the greater political and economic autonomy guarantees in the new Constitution for departments, regions, municipalities and indigenous territories.

The governors from Santa Cruz, Beni, Tarija, and Chuquisaca declined to attend, stating that the central government should honor autonomy statutes passed in their departments last May and June. Meanwhile, the government maintains that these departmental referendums of last year were held illegally and remain unsanctioned.

Officials from Santa Cruz, Beni and Tarija also claim that the new national constitution failed to pass in their respective departments.

Savina Cuellar, governor of Chuquisaca, whose department passed the constitution by a 3-point margin, said Morales does not respect those regions where the majority of the people rejected the constitution. "Each Department that rejected the New Constitution has to decide. We can’t easily go to the meeting, we don’t want dialogue," said Cuellar according to ABI.

Mario Cossio, governor of Tarija, said the regional autonomy dialogue should be held separate from the other autonomy measures and proposed a discussion in March. “Until we have a position as a department, we cannot discuss the issue of autonomy with the government,” said Cossio.

In response to these assertions, Morales said the time would have been better spent to lay “the foundations for progress in the implementation of autonomy” and then leadership could return to their regions and improve upon the proposals. “Dialogue is the best way to solve problems, understand each other and thus work for the departments,” said Morales.

The act of boycotting dialogue meetings is a familiar tactic used by the opposition. In 2008, following approval of the first version of the constitution by the Constituent Assembly, the opposition governors boycotted several calls for dialogue on a national pact that were led by Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera.

But the Morales administration says the constitutional agenda will not be deterred by the action of the departmental opposition. "The implementation of the Constitution will continue,” said Saul Avalos Deputy Minister of Autonomies, “with or without the participation of the prefects (governors)”.

Another meeting has been called for Tuesday at the Governmental Palace with all nine departmental governors, mayors and indigenous representatives.

Sources: ABI, Telesur, Los Tiempos, La Prensa



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