Narconews: Elections Postponed in Bolivia
Elections Postponed in Bolivia
October 28, 2005
Please Distribute Widely
For about the last month this country has lived under the threat of an electoral postponement; the December 4 general elections were up in the air. Today, barely an hour ago, the Bolivian political parties represented in the National Congress were unable to reach an agreement in order to authorize elections as they had been expected to do. The pressures coming from the right (based in the department of Santa Cruz) to obtain more seats in the new session of congress have achieved their main goal: a climate of general uncertainty. Here's the story:
When the department of Santa Cruz requested that four new electoral districts be drawn in order for them to get four more deputies (members of the lower house) in the next Congress, the Bolivian political class cried up to high heaven (everyone from Evo Morales to neoliberal former president Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga): the redrawing of the electoral map in this country could hold up elections. Late last month, the Santa Cruz leaders insisted nonetheless on pressing for their demands, making a claim before the Constitutional Tribunal (Supreme Court) that turned out very well for them.
After that event, Congress was obligated to meet to discuss the various proposals for redistributing Bolivia's nine departments' representation. But a month later, after debates, threats, and exchanges of accusations, there was no agreement. In fact, today the deadline ran out for making decisions, modifying the necessary laws, and authorizing the National Electoral Court... and it was a bust; no one did anything in order to reach an accord. For the entire week, congressmen from all different regions were walking out of the sessions...
Yesterday, while the representatives of Cochabamba and Santa Cruz entrenched themselves in their respective regions, there was no session in Congress. There was not one today, either, of course; not even the Movement Toward Socialism's (MAS) representatives were in La Paz. All congressional activity was limited to a long meeting between party and regional leaders and a few representatives from President Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé... but they didn't get anything done.
And so, although Evo Morales accuses Tuto Quiroga and former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada of plotting against democracy; although Quiroga has been defending himself; although Deputy Williams Paniagua (a friend and fellow ideologue of Sánchez de Lozada) says that he and all his fellow Cruceños (people from Santa Cruz) are hoping for elections to go forward as planed; although everyone complains and says that they had always warned that "the wolf was on his way," none of them applied any pressure... Evo spoke today from the Chapare, Quiroga declined to pressure the congressmen that he controls (which are no small number), and the right wing representatives from Santa Cruz and those from Cochabamba, who seem to have made some kind of deal, are far away. No one was in his or her seat to defend democracy.
President Rodríguez, who spent weeks guaranteeing that elections would proceed, is doing nothing but analyzing the situation, and has yet to show his face. His representatives, especially Presidential Delegate Jorge Lazarte, could barely sum up the events and don't know if it will be possible to find a way out of this.
For now, the leaders of the political classthat work in Congress are still in meetings, trying to find a solution, which could take the form of a decree to redistribute seats (if the president is up to it). Rodríguez Veltzé will speak shortly to clarify his position...
This is a scenario full of Judases and Pilates that we will continue to report on, because the people, in the streets and in the communities, are already beginning to show their discontent (don't forget, kind readers, that the people did not ask for these elections during last May and June's mobilizations, but they accepted a truce in order to wait for them)... stay with us, as the air around here is heating up...
Follow tour coverage of this new crisis here:
From somewhere in a country called América,
The Narco News Bulletin