Sliding down a slippery slope12.16.2006
I'm still reluctant to write much about the situation in Bolivia. It's volatile, it's changing, and at times confusing. And since I've still one course's worth of take-home finals to grade, I'm taking my time.
But things in Bolivia are pretty bad. That's clear. The pro-autonomy demands from Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, and Pando are as serious as they've ever been. Seems they'll declare de facto autonomy — whether Evo's government agrees or not — by the end of the weekend. In response, MAS supporters have begun mobilizing as well. The result was predictable: Numerous clashes across the country (principally around Santa Cruz), leaving nearly 100 injured. It's clear that Evo's government has virtually lost all authority.
The military has threatened to intervene to maintain the "national unity" of the country. Never a good sign. Clearly, if there's outright secession, chances are the military will crush it quickly & bloodily. But might they also intervene to remove Evo? In Bolivia, that's always a possibility.
I think Evo has made too many missteps. He could've diffused the situation months ago by agreeing to the "two-thirds" proposal. One of the central demands of the opposition was that the constitution be decided by two-thirds supermajorities — rather than simple majorities — in the constituent assembly. Determined to push a majoritarian solution, Evo's missed the opportunity to draft a constitution that represents a broad consensus. A constitution that leaves roughly 30-40% of the population unhappy is a bad constitution.
We'll see what happens in the next few days, I guess. But it doesn't look good. Too much time has passed. And I think Evo's grossly misunderstood the camba sentiment — or their ability to hold a grudge.
Posted by Miguel at 10:00 AM