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Cablegate: Sucre Social Summit - More Bombast Than Turnout

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P 112333Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4965
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7063
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4431
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8328
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UNCLAS LA PAZ 002501

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON BL
SUBJECT: SUCRE SOCIAL SUMMIT - MORE BOMBAST THAN TURNOUT

REF: LA PAZ 2488

- - - -
Summary
- - - -

1. (SBU) Pro-government groups held their planned "Social
Summit" on September 10 in Sucre to rally support for the
embattled Constituent Assembly, but the gathering was a
failure given that only twelve percent of the expected
100,000 people attended. Despite fiery speeches where
participants swore to defend the Constituent Assembly to the
death, very little violence ensued. There was much
rhetorical trashing of the groups, traditional opponents,
but the media also received a lot of criticism; one speaker
called for the media's "nationalization." The ruling
Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) and main opposition party
PODEMOS continue to call for national dialogue regarding the
new constitution, but neither appears to want to listen to
other. If the discourse from the Social Summit is an
indicator of what the MAS leadership is thinking, there will
almost certainly be violence in the next few months between
pro- and anti-government forces. End Summary.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Big Summit that Wasn't
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. (SBU) Starting at 9:30 AM, the Social Summit consisted
of five hours of fiery speeches. Pro-government (indigenous,
labor, and coca grower) estimated at approximately 12,000
people attended the rally. Summit organizers had stated that
the rally would draw 100,000 people. The event was generally
peaceful with no serious injuries or gross acts of violence,
although the radical indigenous group the "Ponchos Rojos"
(Red Ponchos) did throw firecrackers at Sucre Mayor Aydee
Navaa's house.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Media in the Cross-Hairs
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3. (SBU) While the "media luna" (the lowland eastern
departments who largely oppose the government), the Santa
Cruz Civic Committee and the so called "oligarchs" received
their expected bashing, the media was also a frequent target
of rhetorical attack. Constituent Assembly President Silvia
Lazarte stated that the media purposefully misinforms the
people. Adolfo Chavez, of the indigenous group CIDOB, stated
"When are they (the media) going to tell us the truth?" The
most radical anti-press statement came from Roberto Quispe,
leader of the Red Ponchos, who called for the
"nationalization" of the media.

- - - - - - - -
The Declaration
- - - - - - - -

4. (SBU) Summit organizers issued a ten part declaration at
the rally's conclusion. Below is a paraphrased summary of
the resolutions.

Participants resolved to:

1 ) Defend the Constituent Assembly with their lives.

2 ) Push for moving the Constituent Assembly's working
sessions to another site if Sucre cannot assure the safety of
assembly delegates.

3 ) Support for Constituent Assembly President Silvia
Lazarte.

4 - Reject the court's decision to overturn the MAS-led
resolution to exclude debate over restoring Sucre as the
country's full capital.

5 ) Demand that assembly members not receive their salaries
and per diem during the assembly's one month recess.

6 ) Defend President Evo Morales' "process of change."

7 ) Demand that the opening of congress and the president's
annual report occur in a different department each year on a
rotating basis.

8 ) Denounce before the international community and human
rights groups the aggressions and insults they have received
(by opposition groups).

9 ) Warn the "small groups of fascists" (code for the media)
to stop misinforming the public.

10 ) Declare themselves in a state of emergency to defend
the Constituent Assembly.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Opposition Opposes Extension
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (SBU) While Constituent Assembly President Silvia
Lazarte called for a one-month recess on September 7 to
reduce tensions and avoid conflict, the prospects for a new
constitution increasingly look bleak. With the Constituent
Assembly's one-month recess to last until October 8, the
assembly will have little more than two months to finish
drafting a new constitution. PODEMOS and National Unity
(UN), the main opposition parties in the assembly and
congress, have stated they will not approve another extension
of the Constituent Assembly, yet all parties agree the
December 14 deadline will almost certainly not be met. MAS
Senator Antonio Peredo also indicated that the his party may
not favor an extension, stating that "this is the final
phase" of the Constituent Assembly.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Government Opposes Sucre
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

6. (SBU) While President Morales' government continues to
state it remains impartial on the issue of restoring Sucre to
full capital status and that it does not interfere in the
workings of the Constituent Assembly, declarations by senior
government officials indicate otherwise. Government
spokesperson Alex Contreras stated on September 10, "The
issue of the capital cannot be touched in the Constituent
Assembly." The government has also encouraged Silvia Lazarte
and other MAS delegates to disregard the courts. Contreras
stated, "We think that the Constituent Assembly should not
obey this resolution . . ." Contreras was referring to the
Chuquisaca Superior Court's decision stating that Sucre's
status should not be excluded as an item of debate before the
Constituent Assembly.

- - - -
Comment
- - - -

7. (SBU) Beyond rallying it's already pro-MAS base, the
summit organizers must be disappointed by the poor turnout.
They have correctly identified that their new constitution,
which would enshrine their political vision, is in peril.
The opposition now sees the very real possibility of the
Constituent Assembly failing. Both sides will exploit the
one-month recess to strengthen their bases. While MAS and
PODEMOS still call for national dialogue regarding the new
constitution, the discourse from the Social Summit indicates
that MAS supporters are looking for confrontation more than
negotiation. End Comment.
GOLDBERG

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