Home > Americas, Latin America, Politics > Bolivia’s Constitutional Assembly Temporarily Suspended

Bolivia’s Constitutional Assembly Temporarily Suspended

Emily Becker and Kathryn Ledebur write in ZNet:

On Aug 6, 2006 Bolivia’s Constitutional Assembly began to write a new constitution to restructure the government, reform education, and decide on controversial themes such as coca policy and regional autonomy and natural resources. At the conclusion of its one year mandate, the Assembly has generated over 700 proposed articles, but has not yet approved any.

Since its inauguration, a rapid succession of conflicts has held up the Assembly’s process. A debate over voting methods prevented the Assembly from moving forward for the first seven months of its mandate and more recently, a call to extend the Assembly through December was hotly contested. With each new challenge, protests escalate before reaching an eventual compromise. Although this pattern temporarily allowed the process to continue, it failed to resolve the far deeper issues the Assembly is meant to address.

Almost immediately after reaching a congressional agreement to extend its mandate the Assembly has hit another brick wall. This time the issue is not wholly an East versus West regional debate, but is a rather more complex –and largely economic– argument over whether or not the capital of the nation should move from La Paz to Sucre. In this latest in a series of recurring conflicts, all sides involved seem less interested in compromise and more engaged in flexing muscle, forging alliances and aggravating friction. The clashes have led to the temporary suspension of the Assembly. Although rigorous national debate on many issues dispelled initial fears from the opposition and some U.S. officials that the MAS ruling party would use the assembly to impose its political agenda, it remains to be seen how the different sides of the conflict with deeply entrenched positions will be able to overcome their differences to move forward with this important process.

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