Bolivia’s Constituent Assembly shattered by the opposition

The Supreme Court of Justice overturned a decision backed by President Morales to declare the Assembly original and vested with powers to transform the country, as civic committees in the wealthy lowlands threatened not to obey the new Constitution

The Constituent Assembly proposed by President Evo Morales to refound Bolivia has turned into a nightmare for the revolutionary aspirations of the leftist leader of the South America’s poorest nation. This week, the Assembly suffered a serious setback as the Supreme Court of Justice overturned a resolution supported by Morales’ allies to declare it original and plenipotentiary. At the same time, the conservative opposition – powerful in the oil-rich lowlands- said it won’t obey the new Magna Carta if it does not accept its demands.

The powerful civic committees of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando confirmed that they plan to decide via referendum whether to join the new state designed by the Constituent Assembly, if it finally declares itself original and plenipotentiary. According to the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina, Carlos Guasase, senator of the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), condemned the committees wish to bound the Assembly to introducing reforms by limiting decision making to two thirds majority, instead of the simple majority backed by MAS members.

Since installed in August this year, the Constituent Assembly has failed to even approve an internal document to regulate its functioning. While MAS members want the Assembly to be declared original, the opposition says it has to adequate itself to the existing Constitution and the present republican institutions.

Morales’ deputies said the committees are behind a plan to divide Bolivia into two separate states by frustrating the Constituent Assembly. On the contrary, their opponents believe that Morales is trying lead a “self-coup” to turn Bolivia into a dictatorship.

Morales’s supporters believe that the committees favor foreign control of natural resources in suspicious liaison with foreign oil corporations, the US government and ex President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. Observers consider that such irreducible positions may extend the stalemate at the risk of radicalizing stances in both sides operating outside the Assembly.

Deputies of the opposition group Podemos asserted that the Constituent Assembly’s original nature could result in an escalation of violence and threatened with consequences for the territorial integrity of the country. Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera rejected those comments. He said the Assembly’s original, or native nature does not affect the current powers. “The native nature of the forum answers the demand of the people s 16-year struggle, claiming the Constituent Assembly as the way to deeply change the country, on different bases from those of neoliberalism”, he told reporters.

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov