February 9, 2009
Well, that didn't take long! Barely two weeks after voters in Bolivia approved a new constitution, President Evo Morales has signed the legal instruments that officially put it into place. It aims for nothing less than a complete reshaping of the political balance of power in the Andean country, favoring the indigenous majority who predominate in the western highland regions. The mostly-European minority which lives in the wealthier lowlands of the east and north wants nothing to do with the new constitution, and civil disobedience is expected. As reported by the BBC, Morales said that there have been further attempts to assassinate him, but declared triumphantly,
Now I want to tell you that they can drag me from the palace. They can kill me. Mission accomplished for the re-founding of the new united Bolivia.
So much for promoting national unity and reconciliation. It seems that Morales is intoxicated by power and remains hell-bent on using government coercive means to defeat those who oppose him, whatever the consequences for the country's greater good.
I found a PDF version of the new Bolivian national charter (in Spanish) at Agencia Boliviana de Informacion. It runs exactly 100 pages altogether, so I can't pretend to have absorbed the whole thing, but my first impression was that the enumeration of rights is so exhaustive, so vague, and so utopian as to be almost meaningless. It is chock full of adjectives that could be interpreted in various ways. If those who drafted the new constitution wanted to create a new political system that would guarantee incessant arguing about the meaning of words, then they have succeeded brilliantly.
In Peru, the mayor of the district of Surquillo, which is part of the Lima metropolitan area, has urged that drugs be legalized. See CNN.com.