Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Victory for Evo

Damn, I missed a hell of a party last night! Otto's got the story about Morales' triumphant party in Plaza Murillo in La Paz--with 300,000 of his supporters!!! Sometimes timing is everything, and I seem to have totally missed it. Damn, damn, damn.

Anyway, congratulations, Evo.

(It does look like I could be back for the next stage of the Bolivian political drama, in January, and maybe even next December, when Evo might be re-elected.)

I'm just going to past in the whole AP article that gives a little background to what just happened in La Paz. This is a pretty significant development. I'm happy and proud to have witnessed the run-up to this triumphant moment in Bolivian and indigenous-American history. Too bad I missed the climax, but, hey, that's life.
Bolivia's Congress ratifies draft constitution
By DAN KEANE – 1 hour ago

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivia's Congress ratified President Evo Morales' draft constitution on Tuesday and sent it to a nationwide vote on Jan. 25, granting the leftist leader a hard-fought victory in his push to remake South America's poorest country.

Morales wiped away tears as he waded into a crowd of tens of thousands of supporters packed into the narrow streets of the capital to celebrate passage of the proposal that is designed to empower Bolivia's long-oppressed indigenous majority.

The popular Morales agreed on Monday to seek only one more five-year term in exchange for opposition lawmakers' support of the framework, expected to easily pass a referendum.

The proposed constitution has been embraced by the president's poorer, largely Indian supporters but has met fierce resistance from the middle and upper classes in the lowland east who say it expands Morales' powers and ignored their demands for greater provincial autonomy.

However, last-minute negotiations brought a compromise on the issue of provincial autonomy.

"This baby isn't perfect, as many have said," said Alejandro Colanzi, congressman from the centrist opposition party National Unity. "But it's our baby, and we can't deny it. Maybe life, as it unfolds, will perfect it."

The proposed constitution would let Morales serve two consecutive five-year terms, while the current charter says terms cannot be consecutive.

Morales had alarmed critics with initial plans to start counting the terms only after a victory in general elections, which would be held on Dec. 6, 2009, if voters approve the constitution.

But Morales' concession meets conservative opposition demands that his current term, begun in 2006, should count against the total, limiting his possible rule to 2014 instead of 2019.

The new constitution's lengthy bill of rights includes a long section dedicated to indigenous groups, and would grant them autonomy over their traditional lands and a "priority" share of the country's natural resources wealth.

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