Friday, April 10, 2009

Hunger in the Andes

(LA PAZ) - Bolivian President Evo Morales is on a hunger strike demanding that the Senate pass an electoral law, paving the way for parliamentary elections this December 6.

On Thursday, Morales, the National Coordination for Change (CNC) and the Bolivian Workers’ Union (COB) declared a massive hunger strike from the Government Palace. They have refused to eat until the Electoral Regime law is approved by the Senate.

Bolivia's new Constitution approved on January 25 required Congress to pass an electoral law in 60 days, but the deadline has passed as the opposition-controlled Senate stalled the bill that will regulate December’s presidential and legislative elections.

The lower house, with the majority of seats held by the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, already approved the electoral law but the opposition-controlled Senate has refused.

Opposition senators reject the law on the basis that it will grant 14 special indigenous districts and allow citizens living abroad to vote in Bolivia’s elections. They claim that the current census is not reliable and are calling for a new electoral roll prior to holding the election. Bolivia’s National Electoral Court says it will take at least nine months to create such a register, likely forcing a postponement of December’s vote.

Bolivians from various social organizations throughout the country joined President Morales in solidarity. Pedro Montes, Executive Secretary of the Bolivian Workers’ Union (COB), said at least 3,000 union workers were also refusing to eat.

Internationally there is a growing underground network of people on various networking sites that have also joined the hunger strike in a show of support for the Bolivian people.

Photos: ABI



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