Monday, October 20, 2008


Today is a historic day in Bolivia. More than 100,000 campesinos, labor leaders, miners, coca growers are converging on the city of La Paz to urge the Congress to approve a new Constitution. How not to get caught up in thousands of marchers who demand a new country!

In this new Bolivia -- the State guarantees food, education, public health, housing, and basic infrastructure -- water and sewage are basic human rights – limits ownership of private property unless approved by the State and guarantees self- determination for its 36 Indian Nations. This is definitely moving towards the socialist/communist spectrum and it will definitely change the country. Change is imminent – whatever form it takes.

The preamble to this new Bolivian constitution begins: “In time immemorial mountains rose, rivers ran, lakes were formed, our Amazonia, our chaco…our altiplano…valleys were covered in green and flowered. We populated this Sacred Mother Earth with different faces and we understood since then the plural nature of our being, our diversity of being and culture. That is how we founded our communities. We did not know racism until the fateful colonial times. Let us leave this colonial, republican, and neoliberal State in the past. We now assume the historic challenge to construct a new Social Unitarian State made up of a Plurinational Community that integrates and promotes a democratic Bolivia which will promote peace, development, and free determination of it’s people…..We complying with the mandate of our people, with the fortitude of the Pachamama and thanks to God reestablish Bolivia.”

It is a cry from the indigenous population that demands that the society adopt its cultural precepts: “The State assumes and promotes as moral-ethical principles of this plural society: ama quilla, ama llulla, ama suwa (don’t be lazy, don’t lie, don’t be a thief), suma qamaña (live well), ñandereko (harmonious life), teko kavi (good life), ivi maraei (earth without evil) y qhapaj ñan (noble path).”

The opposition, who believes they need to have more autonomy in their regions and wants less of what will be STATE intrusion came to the Congress over the weekend with their sleeping bags – try to picture your congressman sleeping at his seat in Congress. They came ahead of the marchers in case they were not allowed entry by these protestors. This had happened before during the last attempt to approve this New Constitution. Because the march is led by the President Evo Morales and they plan to circle congress and stage a hunger strike if the Constitution is not approved. The opposition actually is quite brave to do this.  Currently Evo does not have a 2/3 majority and he needs some of this opposition to accept his Constitution. Therefore the opposition may face some violence but appears to be making progress towards a concession that will benefit everyone.  

So far the marchers seem very peaceful. Opposition forces say the marchers are paid, but unlikely that so many people could be paid off to stage a march of this magnitude.

The cry for now is for a people who are not on their knees – “El Alto de Pie – Nunca de Rodillas.”

I watch with amazement as these marchers who have been walking for 5 days arrive and in the old fashioned way sacrifice a small white llama to help their cause.  I pray she brings rational informed democracy and peaceful transition.

No comments: