On Sunday July 2, Bolivians went to the polls to elect representatives to a Constituent Assembly which will meet to rewrite the Boilvian constitution. MABB has collected reactions of the world press. There is a suspicion that the assembly will used by Evo Morales to strengthen his grip on power following Hugo Chavez. According to the Washington Post,
Morales’ supporters won only 132 of the 255 seats in the Assembly, much
less than the 170 seats needed to secure a dominant two-thirds majority.
Bolivians also voted on a Referendum to grant each Departnment, the equivalent of a US State, Autonomy. From speaking with my aunt who is visiting us from Bolivia, Autonomy would essentially make each Department live off of its own tax revenues, instead of sending all taxes to the federal government to be redistributed among the 9 departments. Four departments voted in favor of autonomy. The wealthier eastern half of the country endorsed autonomy, based on the perception that more taxes are taken out than what they receive back in government services. We’ll have to see how the central government now approaches the revenues associated with nationalized industries, primarily the natural gas fields recently siezed.
On Sunday, each state voted on whether they wanted more
self-government, but how regional autonomy actually works won’t be
sorted until the constituent assembly convenes on Aug. 6. Still to be
decided is whether autonomy will apply only to those four states that
approved it or to all nine — and exactly what form it will take.