The Bolivian Secession (Update)

It seems that Hugo Chavez is not the only one having trouble instituting his Bolivarian dream state. Evo Morales is facing troubles in Bolivia as well:

Since the election of avowed socialist Evo Morales to the presidency of Bolivia, some have not been particularly happy with the direction he is trying to take the country. Yesterday, four of Bolivia’s states have announced they are autonomous and separated from the central government. As can be imagined, this has not been well received by the Morales government

From the Financial Times (HT: Fausta):

Four Bolivian departments are on collision course with the leftwing government of President Evo Morales after declaring radical autonomy statutes at the weekend.

The legislation, declared illegal by Mr Morales, would insulate the wealthier and mainly mixed-race eastern part of the country from parts of a controversial new constitution that grants greater powers to the country’s majority indigenous groups.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people took part in rallies in Santa Cruz and departmental capitals to celebrate the autonomy measures, while similarly large numbers of pro-government supporters demonstrated in favour of the new constitution in La Paz.

All the legislation - as well as a separate and especially contentious constitutional provision limiting the size of landholdings - has to be submitted to referendums that are expected to take place early next year….

Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando departments, which all announced autonomy on Saturday, form a half-moon shape around the solidly pro-government capital and heavily indigenous departments of La Paz, Potosi and Oruro. Two other departments - Cochabamba and Chuquisaca - are unhappy with the new constitution, railroaded through by an emergency session of a constituent assembly eight days ago by pro-government supporters. “The country has taken two different directions,” said an editorial in El Deber, a daily newspaper published in Santa Cruz

Each side in the matter is talking tough. Here’s Evo talking trash:

“They must give back the money they took from us,” he told a cheering crowd, which included members of the Quechua and Aymara tribes. “We will retroactively investigate all the big fortunes, and the corrupt are now trembling with fear.”

Morales also cautioned those who he said want a “a division, a coup d’etat,” the AP reported.

“We won’t permit Bolivia to be divided,” he warned.

And this from one of the seceding governors:

“I am convinced that we will not retreat a millimetre nor move one step to the side,” Ruben Costas, the governor of Santa Cruz, told tens of thousands of jubilant supporters waving the department’s green and white flags. Mr Costas warned the central government not to send in troops or police. “This is a warning. Do not dare to invade us or militarise us.”

IIRC, these provinces have been threatening to secede for some time now. It’s hard to tell how this will all play out.

Fausta has much more on this and other happenings in her Carnival of Latin America and the Carribean, which also includes a link to our post about Hugo Chavez losing the Venezuelan referendum (thanks for the link, Fausta!).

UPDATE: It’s not a secession, but a declaration of autonomy. Apparently the media screwed up … yet again:

Contrary to what the MSM is publishing the autonomic statute in first article states:

“Santa Cruz se convierte en Departamento Autónomo, como expresión de la identidad histórica, la vocación democrática y autonómica del pueblo cruceño, y en ejercicio de su derecho a la autonomía departamental, reforzando la unidad de la República de Bolivia, y los lazos de hermandad entre todos los bolivianos”.

That is to say they are not proposing secession, what they are proposing is self rule in economic, education, tax and resource management issues.

Some of you may think that such a thing amounts to independence from Bolivia, however the prefectos have been very clear in that respect, their proposal is similar to the current system of autonomic regions in Spain.

Third, the issue of autonomic rule was presented to popular vote through referendum. In 4 out of the 9 departments (Santa cruz, Beni Pando and Tarija) the SI option, that is the one supporting autonomy, won. Ergo, said proposal is as democratic as Morales’-driven national constituent assembly from a strictly legal point of view, for if what Morales needed to rewrite the constitution was the approval of “the people” said approval was granted by “the people” to provincial statutes of self rule in those regions.

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