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Bolivia: Conflicts in Sucre Over New Constitution

In the city of Sucre, confrontations between citizens and police claimed the lives of four Bolivians, including one police officer. Many were protesting the issue of the national capital, which according to the Constitutional belongs in Sucre. However, La Paz currently contains the seat of government.

The Constituent Assembly, which has been tasked to write a new Magna Carta has also been unable to reach a consensus. In a surprise turn of events, the delegates from the government party re-convened in a heavily guarded military base where they approved the final text of the proposed Constitution without the presence of opposition delegates. Bolivian bloggers based in Sucre and across the country commented on the violence and the tactics used by the majority party.

The blogger Ermapelo of Ciudad de Patas [es], from Sucre narrates (and continues to do so) about what is happening in Sucre, when the plenary session convened:

3:15 PM Se instala la Asamblea Constituyente en la guarnición MILITAR Tte. Edmundo Andrade.

3:45 PM Despues de la llamada en lista se evidencia que existen 144 asambleístas de 256.

4:21 PM Se anuncia en la Asamblea que pasaran por bancadas el proyecto de Constitución del MAS

4:25 PM Ciudadanos Sucrenses estan a 1 KM de donde se encuentran los campesinos y ciudadanos del Alto los mismo que estan en custodia del Cuartel Militar Tte. Edmundo Andrade

SE modifica el orden del día como era de preveerse estamos a MINUTOS de parir una Constitución que no es el sentir de todos l@s Bolivian@s y SOBRE TODO ILEGAL

DESACATO A CUALQUIER DETERMINACIÓN DE LA ASAMBLEA.

3:15 PM The Constituent Assembly convenes in the MILITARY base Tte. Edmundo Andrade

3:45 PM After roll call, it appears that 144 of the 256 delegates are present.

4:21 PM It is announced that the Constitutional proposal from MAS will be distributed according to party grouping

4:25 PM Citizens from Sucre are located 1 KM from where the peasants and citizens from El Alto are located, and are the same that are guarding the Military Base Tte. Edmundo Andrade.

The order of the day was modified and we are MINUTES from receiving a Constitution that was not the will of all Bolivians and ABOVE ALL ILLEGAL.

I DO NOT AGREE WITH THE DECISION OF THE ASSEMBLY.

Hours after the confrontations between police and the Sucre population began, the blog Sucre Resiste [es] wrote about the death of the lawyer, Gonzalo Duran Carranzani:

Alrededor de las 17 horas del día sábado 24 de noviembre se dio el reporte del primer muerto por la confrontación entre policías y la población sucrense en la zona de la “Calancha”, lugar cercano al Liceo Militar “Teniente Edmundo Andrade”, donde sesiona la Asamblea Constituyente. En el hospital Santa Bárbara se oficializó el deceso de Gonzalo Duran Carazani de profesión abogado de 29 años de edad quien falleció por impacto de bala en la región del pectoral izquierdo. La noticia consternó a la ciudadanía sucrense en general, y los ánimos se exasperaron más y los conflictos prosiguieron en la zona de la Calancha. La sesión de la Asamblea Constituyente prosigue tras un cuarto intermedio breve en el interior del Liceo Militar.

Around 5 pm on Saturday, November 24 the first death from the confrontation between the police and the population was announced in the area of “Calancaha” which is close to the Military base “Teniente Edmundo Andrade”, where the Constituent Assembly is meeting. In the Santa Bárbara hospital, the death of Gonzalo Duran Caranzani, a 29-year-old lawyer was announced. His death was caused by a bullet that struck his left chest. The news affected the population of Sucre and spirits became even more desperate, and the conflicts continued in the Calancha neighborhood. The Constituent Assembly session continued after a brief break inside the Military Base.

Photo by Poeta Fantasma

Another blogger based in Sucre, Poemas de un Fantasma [es] provides eye-witness photographs of the scenery and writes in response to a comment:

Aquí en sucre la mayoría de la gente que salió a protestar eran personas de escasos recursos, campesinos que creyeron que no era necesario sesionar en un cuartel y aprobar una constitución hecha entre fusiles como se hacía en las dictaduras que tanto golpearon y dañaron a Bolivia, estudiantes que apenas tienen para comer.

Here in Sucre, the majority of people that went out into the streets to protest were people with very little money, students with very little to eat, and peasants that thought that it was not necessary convene the assembly in a military base and approve a Constitution created guarded by rifles, which was done during a hurtful time of dictatorships.

As the hours passed, bloggers continued to pay close to attention to what was happening in Sucre. From Santa Cruz, Joup [es]listened to the online radio station from Sucre and placed the blame on the politicians.

Claro como ellos estarán sentados cómodos en sus sillas junto a la tele y teléfonos, como no serán los que tengan que llora a los muertos! que les importa! son unos malditos políticos de mierda incapaces!!!

Since they are sitting comfortably in their chairs watching television and next to their telephones, as they are not the ones that have to mourn the dead! What do they care? They are some incapable pieces of shit politicians!!!

The blog Aeromental [es] provides a summary, which includes a video of what happened in Sucre:

La nueva Constitución Política del Estado fue aprobada a las 20:30 de anoche con 136 votos de los 138 constituyentes presentes en la sesión, pues sólo dos se abstuvieron de aceptarla. Esta decisión fue asumida pese a que horas antes, constituyentes oficialistas confirmaron que no tenían planificada esta aprobación debido a que debían terminar de considerar los informes presentados por las 21 comisiones. Después, la Comisión de Integración y Compatibilización de Informes debía analizar el texto global y ponerlo en consideración del plenario, para poder recién en esa instancia aprobar el informe en grande.

The new Constitution was approved last at 10:30 p.m. with 136 votes out of the 138 delegates present during the session. Only two abstained from accepting the text. This decision was made even though only hour before, the delegates from the government party, stated that they did not plan to approve because they still had to consider the reports presented by the 21 commissions. This would have been followed by the Integration and Compatibility Commission to analyze the overall text and put the text in consideration of the larger assembly so that they can approve the report in full session.

From Oruro, Hugo Miranda of Angel Caido [es] provides the opinion that the draft should be put before a pre-Constitutent Assembly.

La aprobacion en Detalle de este texto Constitucional lo cual no sera facil y poco menos que imposible en la actual situacion. Otro tal vez ir a Referendum y que el pueblo boliviano decida…., la opcion mas inteligente seria que El Gobierno reconozca que se equivoco y se llame a un proceso Preconstitucional, lo que significaria que Evo no seria reelecto inmediatamente y a mi parecer descolocaria a los actuales opositores, pero siendo sincero el Gobierno no es tan inteligente para hacerlo.

The approval in detail of this Constitutional text will not be easy, or next to impossible under these current circumstances. Another option might be to send the Constitution to a referendum so the Bolivian people decide….the smartest option would be for the government to acknowledge that it made a mistake and call for a pre-Constitutional Assembly process, which would mean that Evo would not be reelected immediately and would get rid of the current opposition, but to be honest, the government is not smart enough to do that.

From Santa Cruz, Carlos Orias provides a description of what happened in Sucre and reflects on the state of things. He was also onhand to witness protests in Santa Cruz.

A lo largo de este último periodo de inestabilidad política no había visto ninguna de las dos cosas y ambas me parecen indefendibles. Empezar a matar, aunque se trate de perros, y usar botellas con gasolina en una manifestación son dos mensajes políticos preocupantes. Las campanas de la Catedral siguen sonando, son casi las 5am. Donde están los medios? Les ganaron los extremos?

During this last period of political instability, neither of the two things have been seen and to me, both seem non-defendible. To begin to kill, even though tehy are dogs, and to use bottles with gasoline during a protest are two worrisome political messages. The bells of the Cathedral continue to ring, and it is almost 5 am. Where is the media? Did the extremists win?

From El Alto, Mario and Jaime Duran record a podcast about what happened in Sucre and provides perspectives regarding the actions of Evo Morales and the opposition:

Al final,la aprobacion en grande del texto de la nueva Constitucion Politica del Estado fue una victoria del MAS y nos muestra la incapacidad de la oposicion para debatir.

In the end, the overall approval of the text of the new country's Constitution was a victory for MAS and it shows the incapacity of the opposition to debate.

Meyly, another blogger in Sucre responds to the government that wants to celebrate the new Constitution:

Ahora pide que el pueblo boliviano festeje por SU Nueva Constitución, entonces, nosotros no somos y no pertenecemos a ese pueblo boliviano al que usted cree gobernar porque tenemos LUTO EN LA CIUDAD DE SUCRE.

Now (the government) is asking the Bolivian people to celebrate ITS new Constitution, we are not and do not belong to that Bolivian people that you think you are governing, because we ARE IN MOURNING IN THE CITY OF SUCRE.

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