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Bolivia: Convincing Others to Vote “No” on New Constitution

Bolivians will head to the polls on January 25 to decide whether or not to approve the draft of the new Constitution. With ten days go, early polling indicates that the “Yes” side will emerge victorious, partly because it has the full weight of the national government led by President Evo Morales and his MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) party. However, the opposition, led by the governors of 4 states, as well as some other unlikely opponents, are doing everything they can to convince others to vote “No.”

One argument used is that supporters of the draft Constitution are doing so blindly, without knowing the full document in detail. Other opponents are resorting to the use of religion to appeal to a very religious country. Some ads have said, “Choose God, Vote No.” Ads by some Evangelical groups say that the new Constitution will legalize abortion, as well as allow for marriage between homosexuals. This angered some bloggers, like Erika Pinto of Alkolica [es] who writes:

Viendo el spot de estas iglesias evangelistas, se me paran los pelos, apelan a todos los temores y taras humanas para lograr su proposito.

My hairs stood on end, when I saw the ad. It plays to all of the fears and human flaws to achieve their aim.

Another blogger, Mario Durán of Palabras Libres [es] writes that these ads and this strategy is playing right into the hands of Morales:

La oposicion cómo una muestra de su enanismo intelectual sigue con la estrategia de usar la fe cristiana contra Evo y la nueva CPE . El resultado es previsible, para el pueblo de Bolivia no será difícil elegir entre Evo y la iglesia.

As a sign of their small-minded intellect, the opposition continues to use the strategy of the Christian faith against Evo and the new Constitution. The result is predictable, for the people of Bolivia it will not be difficult to choose between Evo and the church.

There is a misconception that all indigenous communities, laborers, and other groups typically allied with the government are fully behind the “Yes” campaign. Miguel Centellas of Pronto* focuses on some of these groups that are backing the “No” vote, including the landless movement (MST) because of their opinion that the new document does not do enough to end large landholdings, but also:

Somewhat less surprising, perhaps, is an indigenous “No” campaign headed by Savina Cuéllar, Chuquisaca’s indigenous female prefect. But her movement is joined by Alejo Véliz, Rufo Calle, Marcial Fabricano, and Víctor Hugo Cárdenas (Bolivia’s first indigenous vice president & founder of the katarista MRTKL). The inclusion of Véliz isn’t surprising, since he broke w/ Evo a long time ago (both co-founded the ASP-IPSP, the organization that went on to become MAS). But the inclusion of Fabricano (an important figure in the lowland indigenous movement) is. As is Calle, currently the executive secretary of the CSUTCB (the country’s largest indigenous organization). The group pretends to be organizing indigenous (and other “popular”) social movements not (or no longer) aligned w/ MAS. But the ideological differences between a “radical” like Véliz (a former member of Bolivia’s Communist Party) who thinks the draft CPE doesn’t go far enough & a “pluralist” like Cárdenas (Goni’s running mate in 1993) who thinks it goes too far. So it’s unclear how successful such a movement is likely to be. But it does show that Evo’s list of enemies extends well beyond the “elite.”

The new draft Constitution contains 411 articles, and Boris Miranda of Ventarrón [es] criticizes his fellow journalists that try to prove supporters of the “Yes” vote had not even read the full document.

Since the full Constitution is so lengthy, many in the country have not even read it to make up their own minds. Renzo Colanzi of Mientras Estás Aquí [es], a supporter of the “No” vote is frustrated and no longer has patience for convincing others. He writes about a friend, who said he was voting “Yes” because the opposition never bothered to tell him why he should vote against the document:

En primer lugar pensé que este amigo, era un reflejo de una gran parte de la población que está esperando que venga alguien y le diga que hacer respecto a la CPE, que no ha leído ni siquiera la carátula de ésta y no tiene ni la más miserable intención de hacerlo. Gente que espera que una propaganda de 30 segundos pasada en horario de mayor audiencia, durante el deportivo, el noticiero o la novela, con una canción le indiquen como decidir lo que gobernara por muchos años su destino.

En general los bolivianos actuamos de esa manera; no nos informamos, esperamos que venga alguien a resolvernos la vida (el vecino, otros países, el pata e lana). Y dada esta actitud de princesa en apuro, merecemos que el gobierno “ad eternum” del presidente Morales gane el 25. Yo por mi parte decidí no explicar nada más a nadie, si alguien tiene alguna duda sobre su voto lo máximo que hago es otorgar una copia digital por email, cada quien sabrá como mejor decide su voto.

In the first place, I thought this friend was a reflection of a large part of the population who is waiting for someone to tell them about the CPE (Constitution), who has not even read the cover and doesn't have the least intention of doing so. People who wait for a 30-second commercial aired at a time with a lot of viewers, during sports programming, news, or a soap opera, with a song will tell them how to decide how their future will be governed for the next years.

In general, Bolivianas act this way; we do not inform ourselves, we wait for someone to come to resolve our lives (the neighbor, other countries). And due to this diva-like attitude, we deserve that the “ad eternum” government of President Morales wins on the 25th. I decided not to explain anything to anyone anymore, if someone has questions about their vote the most that I will do is pass them a digital copy via email, each person knows best how to decide their vote.

Thumbnail Photo by Emi

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