Friday, May 9, 2008

Dynamic Situation in Bolivia:  Senate Passes Resolution for Referendum to Recall President Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez Threatens Intervention


Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales

The Political Situation in Bolivia

Things are proceeding very quickly in Bolivia in the aftermath of Sunday's recall referendum in the Department of Santa Cruz, which voters approved by an overwhelming margin.  Yesterday the Bolivian Senate unanimously passed a referendum resolution which, if approved by more than the 53.7% of voters who elected Morales in 2005, would recall him along with the vice president and the sitting governors (prefects) of the nine departments of Bolivia.  The referendum would take place within 90 days if Morales signs the resolution, which he has promised he will do, according to press reports.

Here is a translation of a short article on the issue from Spain's 20minutos web site:

Translation:  Evo Morales Agrees to Submit to Referendum for the Ratification of his Mandate

  • The same measure was proposed a few months ago

  • Today the Senate, controlled by the opposition, surprisingly and unanimously adopted it

  • In addition to Morales's mandate, those of the Vice President and the Nine Governing Prefects Are to be Reviewed

  • The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, agreed to submit his mandate to a revocation referendum that he himself proposed a few months ago and which today the Senate, controlled by the opposition, approved in a surprising and unanimous manner.

    The political crisis in Bolivia has thus taken a new turn that guides the country toward a popular referendum to ratify or revoke the mandate of Morales, his vice president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, and the nine prefects (governors), mostly of the opposition.

    It was Morales who, in December, 2007, introduced the referendum bill before the National Congress when the country was living through a tense situation regarding the constitutional process.  That proposal, after being approved on the first vote in the Chamber of Deputies, remained blocked in the Senate for several months.

    Let the People Say Who Shall Serve

    "I want to reiterate my position of submitting ourselves to the people, let them tell us who shall serve and who is not to govern," the chief executive said today, for whom this popular consult "is a way of making democracy more profound" in the country and an expression of respect for the legal process, the rule of law and the National Congress.

    The president requested that the Congress send him the referendum convening bill as soon as possible to enact it immediately.

    According to Bolivian law, the vote should take place within ninety days following the chief executive's approval.


    There are complications to the process of convening this referendum vote that are not as apparent as one might think at first glance, as explained in an online article on the web site of the Bolivian newspaper El Mundo which offers additional information that may help to put these complex developments in perspective.  In the likely event that Morales approves the referendum call he then will have to involve the Constitutional Tribunal in the process, which at this moment is in limbo following the resignation of four of its five members during the constitutional crisis Morales and his MAS supporters provoked when they prevented the opposition Podemos party delegates to the constituent assembly from voting on the writing and approval of the new constitution, which has yet to be submitted to a popular referendum vote.  It is unclear how this matter will be addressed in the legal process of dealing with the referendum call resolution the Bolivian Senate has just passed.  MAS Senator Felix Rojas voiced his party's fear that the opposition would use this legal hurdle as a justification for avoiding the dialog Morales has demanded as an alternative to the movement for autonomy in the four departments of the so-called Media Luna region in the eastern part of the country, which includes Santa Cruz.  But the President of Bolivia's Senate, Oscar Ortiz (Podemos), stated in a press release today that the opposition is actually moving to face the regime with the illegality of its handling of the constitutional process which he stated "would lead the country into a scenario of confrontation and division."

    Hugo Chavez Threatens Intervention

    At the same time that Bolivian events appear to indicate that both Evo Morales and his opposition might be looking to the electoral process to settle their differences, the news out of Venezuela portends for the opposite result.

    The following is a translated excerpt from the original Spanish posted at Yahoo News:

    Translation:  Chavez Warns That He Will Act To Prevent Separation of Bolivia

    Caracas (AP) - President Hugo Chávez said on Thursday that his government "is not going to stand still with arms crossed" if a process of separation in Bolivia is carried out.

    "Venezuela is not going to stand still with its arms crossed with all this implies," said Chavez, in a meeting with South American energy ministers at the presidential palace, assuring that his government would intervene if any separation in Bolivia occurs.

    "There, yes, it is true, they accused me of interference once, they are accusing me of interference, I plead guilty from now on," he said.

    The president reiterated his criticism against the autonomy referendum that was held last weekend in the Bolivian locality of Santa Cruz, and argued that a vote such as that seeks the separation of Bolivia.

    "Up to now I am innocent of any interference anywhere, but if something comes to pass (in Bolivia) it simply breaks the rules of the game," he said.

    Chavez directly accused the United States of being behind Santa Cruz's autonomy vote.  "The plan against Bolivia is of U.S. origin," he added.

    . . .


    While it is always possible that El Primer Bolivariano is simply running his mouth, since he never said anything specific, this is a threat that must be taken seriously, given that the Bolivian opposition already has alleged that Chavez has been interfering in their country's affairs to support Morales.  This is not the type of talk one would expect to instill confidence among the opposition that the negotiation process Morales is asking them to join will produce a result that secures their safety in the future.

    From the Blogosphere

    There is not a lot to see on these two issues right now in English language sources, as for once I am somewhat ahead of the game in getting a post up quickly.  Gateway Pundit has an entry on Chavez's threatened intervention in Bolivia containing a few related links and interesting tidbits of related interest.  Bloggings by Boz has the recall referendum issue up in short form, raising the question of the risks Morales may be taking.

    And as is so frequently the case, if you read Spanish, Martha Colmenares has both issues covered in full; including Chavez's threatened intervention (contains a video of Chavez's statement), the Morales recall referendum announcement, and a third on the articles of the recall referendum text.


    1 comment:

    BrianFH said...

    Has Morales bit off more than Chavez can chew?