Monday, May 5, 2008

Update from Bolivia: Santa Cruz Approves Autonomy Referendum


From El Deber: Cruceños Approve Autonomy Referendum 85.4% to 14.6%

The early returns from the eastern Bolivian Department (state) of Santa Cruz have been released and they show that the Cruceños have overwhelmingly approved a referendum to establish their permanent autonomy from the national government, now headed by President Evo Morales of the MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) Party.

According to the non-official results taken from the summary reports of the on-site counts of individual voting boxes (casillas), which will be followed by a second counting at a centralized location whose results will be official, voters in the Department of Santa Cruz approved the autonomy referendum by a margin of 85.4% in favor to 14.6% opposed. The result was not a surprise to informed observers, though the margin of victory does exceed pre-election polls that predicted a 70+ percent vote to approve the measure. Turnout was high, as 74.5% of eligible voters cast ballots.

Santa Cruz will be followed by the three other departments of Beni, Tarija, and Pando; who have scheduled their own votes on similar autonomy referenda over the next seven weeks, a process that will be concluded by June 22.

Reports also indicated that the voting went without incident in 96% of all precints (mesas), or 415 out of 440. Some 25 precincts in four rural sections of the department did report confrontations, though no details were available at the time of the posting of this blog entry.

From the Twilight Zone

And in a very unusual turn of events, Evo Morales held a press conference to express his pleasure that the voters in Santa Cruz had defeated the referendum. Reporters present immediately began to question him on the differences between his figures and the reports from the CDE (Departmental Electoral Court) in Santa Cruz, but they received no response as Morales simply left the room.

Cruceños Celebrate Victory Sunday Night


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