Rosa Rojas – La Jornada
Electoral authorities in 14 Latin American and Caribbean countries, Mexico among them, expressed their support for the resolutions of the Bolivian National Electoral Court, “aimed at preserving the electoral institution and maintaining respect for domestic legal and constitutional norms as a fundamental principle in the strengthening of democracy in Bolivia.”
In recent days, the Court rejected the holding of a referendum over the autonomy statutes of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando, a decision that was ignored by the departmental electoral courts, which continued their work toward holding said referendums.
The regional declaration was signed by Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Santa Lucia, Belize, and Trinidad and Tobago, all present at the fifth inter-American reunion of Electoral Authorities of the Organization of American States (OAS) which ended the previous day in Quito.
Additionally, the text was backed by the Andean Electoral Council and the entity Electoral Experts of Latin America.
In parallel, Bolivia reported that it had denounced the illegality of the four regions autonomy statutes before the OAS. Santa Cruz is pushing for the first referendum to be held on May 4th, something that has kept the country in crisis as it fears an onset of violence.
The councilor David Choquehuanca explained La Paz’s position to the Permanent Council, where he pointed out that these processes are happening in a manner that is outside the country’s constitution and risks generating legal uncertainty. The OAS will examine the report.
For his part, President Evo Morales said that it is not an issue of autonomy or statute, but that in essence it is he who is considered “the problem” because those pushing the statutes “do not accept that an indigenous campesino could be president of the republic,” according to statements he made this week to the BBC in its digital edition.
Morales said that it is not a referendum, but a non-binding “poll, an opinion survey,” since the supposed autonomy referendum is anti-constitutional, not just unconstitutional, because autonomy is not a part of the present Constitution, and should a new Magna Carta be put forward, autonomy will belong to the people, not to the oligarchy.
Antonio Peredo, Senator of the governing Movement toward Socialism (MAS) described the statement of the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Thomas Shannon, as “insolent.” Shannon called the Bolivian government’s denunciation of the U.S. Ambassador, Philip Goldberg, for supporting the separatists, “stupid.”
Shannon, according to today’s La Prensa, declared that his country was “strongly committed to Bolivia’s territorial integrity and to the success of democratic government in Bolivia,” and that the “serious disputes” between “Bolivia’s federal government (Bolivia is a unitary state, not a federal one) and the states need to be resolved by political mechanisms and dialogue.”
Amid complaints by Santa Cruz workers of being pressured to vote on May 4th in the referendum or face losing their jobs, Bolivian social sectors repudiated a statement from the U.S. embassy, accusing it of abetting the illegal acts of the prefects in the four rebellious regions.
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