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Cablegate: Floods Bring Truce, and Delays Political Conflict

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLP #0302 0452332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 142332Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6440
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7582
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4951
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8856
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 6075
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 3291
RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN 0585
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 3506
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 5231
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5920
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0537
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0900
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS LA PAZ 000302

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL BL
SUBJECT: FLOODS BRING TRUCE, AND DELAYS POLITICAL CONFLICT

REF: LA PAZ 266

1. (U) The Bolivian government and opposition have called a
truce in their political conflict so that the country can
focus on disaster-relief for flood-stricken areas. Following
the suggestions of several political figures, President
Morales urged the opposition on February 12 to halt any
actions during the country's time of crisis. Bolivia's
National Democratic Council (CONALDE) -- consisting of the
autonomy-seeking eastern and lowland states -- responded by
announcing a postponement of any civic actions for up to 15
days. The opposition-led departments (states) had threatened
widespread demonstrations and road blockades if the Morales
government did not restore funding cuts by February 13.

2. (SBU) The opposition apparently realized that street
protests and road blocks would have appeared distasteful
during the national emergency. The Prefect of opposition led
Santa Cruz department Ruben Costas acknowledged this when he
stated the country must not be in the midst of a political
conflict, "while we are drowning." Senate President Oscar
Ortiz (PODEMOS, Santa Cruz) in describing his work to reach a
law declaring the current floods a national disaster stated,
"I believe this is not the time for political confrontations,
this a moment for unity, to reach agreement, and (it is) with
this spirit we will work . . ."

3. (SBU) Despite the so-called truce, both sides continue
to level charges against the other. Members of Morales'
ruling Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) have stated they will
begin impeachment proceedings against Ruben Costas and
members of the Santa Cruz Electoral Court, arguing they had
violated the constitution with their effort to organize a
referendum (scheduled May 4) on Santa Cruz's autonomy
statutes. While the opposition appears to agree with the MAS
argument that only Congress can authorize such a referendum,
opposition Senator Luis Vasquez (PODEMOS, La Paz) has stated
that Santa Cruz' action was necessary given the MAS' illegal
machinations in approving its new constitution within the
Constituent Assembly. Meanwhile the opposition claims the
government is using flood relief for its own political ends
)- alleging the government directs aid to certain
municipalities and not others based on political allegiances.


4. (SBU) Comment: The flooding appears to have delayed the
possibility for conflict for at least a few weeks, but both
the MAS and opposition are likely still actively plotting
their respective political strategies. Santa Cruz and other
opposition-led departments have not postponed their demands
for a referendum on their autonomy statutes; and the MAS is
equally unlikely to slow its push for a referendum on their
draft constitution. Both referenda movements are seen as
provocative, and neither side has fully discounted using
force to impose its vision. End Comment.
GOLDBERG

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