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Cablegate: Aymara Heartland Prepared to Mobilize For

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DE RUEHLP #2718/01 2792125
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 062125Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0817
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6162
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3476
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7337
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 4599
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1853
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 1894
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 1805
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4063
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 4489
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 9064
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS LA PAZ 002718

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/AND
TREASURY FOR SGOOCH
ENERGY FOR CDAY AND SLADISLAW

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV PREL BL
SUBJECT: AYMARA HEARTLAND PREPARED TO MOBILIZE FOR
CONSTITUTION

REF: A. LA PAZ 2557

B. LA PAZ 2683

1. (SBU) Summary: On September 28, leaders from Omasuyos
Province in La Paz department, a majority Aymara area,
threatened to march to Sucre or Santa Cruz to pressure
Constituent Assembly members to agree to the MAS' agenda.
Leaders from the province told Emboff on October 4 that they
had not yet met with the local agrarian union to discuss the
march, which seems to be on hold in response to recent
agreements reached in Sucre (ref B). The Mayor of Achacachi,
the capital of the province, said that he did not support
violence and did not want a civil war. He said that his
constituents only wanted a guarantee of the Assembly's
success, without interference by outside influences,
including the MAS and PODEMOS parties. Leaders in the
province, who are mainly affiliated with the Pachakuti
Indigenous Movement (MIP) party, expressed disagreement with
the MAS on political details, articulated concern about the
MAS' undemocratic tendencies, and even complained about the
lack of economic support provided by the central government,
but said they would follow the MAS' lead for the moment. End
summary.

Background on Omasuyos Province
-------------------------------
2. (SBU) Omasuyos Province, in La Paz Department, a majority
Aymara area, is the birthplace of the indigenous leader
Felipe Quispe, also known as Mallku, and his radical
Pachakuti Indigenous Movement (MIP) party. Quispe, a
presidential candidate last December, founded the Tupac
Katari Indigenous Movement in 1978 and was jailed for his
participation in the Tupac Katari guerrilla army during the
1990s. Many of Omasuyos political leaders belong to the MIP
party and view Quispe as their teacher. Omasuyos is renowned
for its militancy and for being the place that began the
downfall of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 2003
through demonstrations and blockades. On September 20, Vice
President Alvaro Garcia Linera gave a speech in Omasuyos
encouraging campesinos to take up arms to promote the
president's agenda and "overthrow the Santa Cruz oligarchy"
(ref A). Regional leaders threatened to march to Sucre or
Santa Cruz to pressure the Constituent Assembly members.
Emboff met with leaders in three Omasuyos villages --
Huatajata, Huarina, and Achacachi -- on October 4 to review
political and economic issues.

3. (SBU) The villages of Omasuyos, although better off than
villages in the southern Altiplano because of tourism inflows
and a less arid climate, lack basic infrastructure, such as
sanitation systems, potable water, and irrigation systems.
Tourists passing through the region in route to Lake Titicaca
tend to not linger long due to the lack of basic amenities,
including restrooms. The residents of the area eke out a
living through fishing and traditional farming of potatoes,
fava beans, and quinoa. Due to the lack of economic
opportunities, the most recent generation of workers have
migrated in large numbers to El Alto or cities in the East.

Support for Constituent Assembly
--------------------------------
4. (SBU) The deputy mayor of Huarina explained that his
constituents want a constitution that is favorable to
indigenous interests, unlike the existing constitution into
which the indigenous had no input. For example, they want
recognition of community justice, which is quick and would
treat the poor more equitably than the current system, he
said. The deputy mayor said that regional government leaders
had not yet met with agrarian union members to discuss a
proposed march to Sucre, but were ready to defend the
Constituent Assembly, and the original nature of that
Assembly, if the need arose.


5. (SBU) The mayor of Achacachi, who was quoted in the press
on September 28 threatening an unarmed march on the
Constituent Assembly's opposition, responded to Emboff's
questions in a more measured fashion than his deputy. He
said that his relations with Felipe Quispe were somewhat
strained due to his openness with Europe and the U.S.,
including his friendly reception of Ambassador Greenlee and
USAID-donated computers. He said that the proposed march was
in response to the September 8 strike in Santa Cruz, Tarija,
Beni, and Pando against the Constituent Assembly, and would
proceed if the Assembly's success was threatened. However,
he said that he did not support violence and that the region
did not want a civil war.

6. (SBU) Although the mayor supports the Assembly being
original, meaning that it would trump the other branches of
government, he believes that the three existing branches
should retain their authority until after the new
constitution is approved. He said that Assembly members
should renounce their political parties and independently
carry out their roles as drafters of the new constitution,
without the manipulation of MAS or PODEMOS. He complained
that the Assembly did not genuinely represent the indigenous,
and expressed concern that the MAS and Evo Morales want to
undemocratically control the Assembly and Bolivian politics.
He did not agree with the MAS proposal to hold elections
again in 2008, but argued that the government should wait
until the 2010 scheduled elections. He also complained that
the process of convening the Constituent Assembly had
happened too fast, without time for the people to understand
the purpose of the Assembly, as shown by the 28 percent of
Achacachi voters who turned in blank ballots.

Giving Evo a Chance
-------------------
7. (SBU) The deputy mayor of Huarina and the mayor of
Achacachi agreed that it was still too early to evaluate the
performance of President Morales and the MAS administration.
They said that the people are hopeful about Morales and the
GOB's natural resource nationalization policies, and that
they would give the president a chance for two to three
years. Although they are MIP supporters, they said they
would support the MAS.

Migration Releases Economic Pressure
------------------------------------
8. (SBU) Leaders in Huatajata complained that they are
neglected by both the central government and the municipal
government in Achacachi, and thus, lack funds for important
local development projects, such as irrigation, basic
sanitation, and potable water systems. Emboff visited the
country's first indigenous school, founded in 1914, where the
school director was pleased to have received one computer
from the 47 donated to Achacachi by USAID and nine from the
central government, but lamented the school's inability to
fund Internet connections or to buy desks on which to place
the computers. Residents of the area rely on fishing,
farming, and some commerce with Peru for income. Leaders
from both Huatajata and Huarina said that there is not a
large unemployment problem because of mass migration to El
Alto and cities in the East.

9. (SBU) Comment: Although leaders from Bolivia's Aymara
heartland do not always agree with President Morales and the
MAS on political details and even criticize the GOB for lack
of economic support, they are unlikely to oppose the MAS
until it has had a two to three year opportunity to prove
itself. Progress in the Constituent Assembly has deterred
Omasuyos' mobilization for now, although we are sure to hear
more from this region in the future. End comment.
GOLDBERG

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