The Week That Was – Bolivian Blogs

For the most part, blogs in Bolivia have been used by students, journalists, musicians, private citizens and by those who simply want a platform to write. Governmental institutions have been slow to warm up to the use of technology to respond to the needs of the general public. Most departments do maintain their own website, which includes email and telephone contact information for the concerned citizen. However, one unlikely institution that has embraced blogging technology has been the Constitutional Tribunal, which launched a blog in September 2005 for its official communication. Interesting enough, it accepts comments from the general public, even though the court strives to maintain objectivity regardless of the pressures and demands from the populace.

From its website's FAQ:

“(This body) exercises constitutional control, guarantees the supremacy of the Constitution, respect and validity of individual rights, as well as guarantees the constitutionality of agreements.”

Comprised of 5 chief magistrates that are designated by 2/3 of the Congress, each serves a term of 10 years. Their rulings are not always popular. Many of the entries on its blog serves as press releases announcing decisions reached by simple majority. For example, in March of 2006, it ruled that the government’s administrative intervention of the failing Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (LAB) airline was unconstitutional. The entry regarding the ruling produced 46 comments and generated back-and-forth dialogue between various individuals concerned that the airline was placed back in the hands of the company’s president, who was blamed for much of the mismanagement.

It is unclear who actually posts the blog entries and it may seem to be only a service for public record, but the author felt that it was necessary to clarify the controversial ruling.

“Even though it does not form part of institutional policy to provide clarification regarding the decisions reached, the Constitutional Tribunal feels that it is necessary to make some clarifications regarding the case of Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (LAB), due to the continued questioning and grievances from those who feel wronged”

The entry goes on to clarify the process to which it arrived at the decision. The entry also rejects any of the accusations and rumors that the court may have been illegally influenced to reach the unpopular decision. One frequent commentor, Luis Antonio Peñaranda Valverde, who states that he serves as board president of the Institutional Front of Lawyers (FIA for its initials in Spanish) laments why the blog needed to clarify its decision in the first place. He faults those commentors who know nothing about the law, yet still choose to comment based solely on their opinion and emotional relationship with the airline and not based on legal reasoning. He likens these opinions to opinions from “those who know nothing about structural calculations, but still want to question the construction of a building or a bridge.”


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