Through The Static

May 5, 2008

Bolivia province votes for autonomy

Filed under: Government,Politics,World News — disciplepete @ 2:58 pm

Al Jazeera:

Exit polls in Bolivia indicate people in the country’s wealthiest region have voted heavily in favour of political and economic autonomy from the central government.

Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, is a socialist who favors measures intended to redistribute wealth in a country with an impoverished indigenous majority and a minority of better off Whites and mestizos. Thus, the wealthy province of Santa Cruz is trying to gain independence from the national government.

Local authorities say 86 per cent of voters backed autonomy, an unsurprising figure since the president, Evo Morales, had declared the referendum “illegal” and urged citizens not to vote so as to deny it legitimacy.

Leaders in Santa Cruz want greater autonomy in order to keep more of the province’s natural gas revenues and to protect their large plantations and ranches from Morales’s plan for land redistribution…

Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, has not followed through with a threat to bring troops into the region, but has said that he will ignore the result of the vote, calling the move unconstitutional and separatist…

If this autonomy were to really happen, what might it look like?

The statutes up for approval on Sunday would create local powers common in many countries, including a state legislature and police force.

Morales particularly objects to ambitious clauses that bear the distinct ring of nationhood: control of the state’s land distribution and the right to sign international treaties, among others…

 …Three others provinces are to hold their own votes on autonomy next month, while two more are considering holding a referendum…

…The situation has exposed the divide between the indigenous Indians, who make up 60 per cent of the population and largely live in the Andean mountains, and the better-off inhabitants of the lowlands, many of whom have European ancestors.


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