Tau MY Relatives
This weekend the South American continent will witness more of the same phenomenon that is sweeping this hemisphere since the early 1990's. This new installment on what appears to be a region-wide movement comes fast on the heels of the miracle that took place this past November in the U.S., the miracle that saw one of the last true Apartheid nations of the world actually elect a black man to the highest office of government. In doing so The United States simply began heading down the path to redemption that had already been trailbazed by Bolivia when the citizens of that country elected an Indigenous man to the presidency of their land. These two remarkable events are by no means isolated. They are beginning to represent the current trend, an unstoppable movement away from the terrible past. This movement was foreseen by Indigenous prophets.thousands of years ago. A New Era of Reconciliation and progress that no one can stop. This new era has been heralded by many, including our own leaders in the Caney Indigenous Spiritual Circle for almost twenty years. We have been predicting the resolution of intractable differences, the unbelievable change in attitudes in the minds and hearts of thousands, millions!
This is the transition of human beings on this planet toward a condition of real understanding and co-operation accross the harsh boundaries of race, religion and ideology. We never promised that these changes would come smoothly. We always predicted severe backlash and struggle from forces unfriendly to this process.We akways predicted prodigious conflict for which we still feel we must arm and prepare courageously. We still see lots of struggle ahead and the goal is not, by any means securely in our grasp. What we do know is that this era that we are living now although clearly unprecedented, was predicted long ago as an era of fundamental change, the end of one protocol and the birth of a new one. It is still a toss-up whether the transition will be completed sucessfully or if we are going to go down in flames as a result of the conflict that awaits us. But what is clear is that we can never never return to what has been. That time is over. a new time is here.
In the Caney Circle we have oft-used the metaphor of a South American-style suspension bridge to define the character of these times of change. We have talked about a bridge accross which the human species must walk over a perilous chasm to reach that place which was promised to us by phophecy. This weekend the Andean people who taught the world the value of that bridge technology is poised to teach the world how to clean house. Bolivia, still led by its charismatic Indigenous president, Evo Morales, prepares to use the democratic process denied to the majority of its citizens for so long, to institute a new and much fairer constitution. The following article by Benjamin Dangl of Truthout website http://www.truthout.org/012209C gives us the details of this weekend's referendum vote:
La Paz -
In the morning on Sunday, January 18, after a heavy rain fell on La Paz, Bolivia, the sun came out, drying the umbrellas of thousands of marchers winding through the city streets. The mobilization was in support of a new constitution to be voted on this January 25. Eddie Mamani, a resident of La Paz with an indigenous wiphala flag draped around his neck, spoke loudly to be heard over the brass band playing behind him. "For too many years we have been exploited by right-wing politicians who do not govern for all Bolivians. We are marching today for our children and our grandchildren."The march, which stretched for some five blocks, was filled with the white, blue and black flags of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), the party of President Evo Morales. The sound of fireworks mixed with honking horns from cars and buses waiting for the march to pass. While posters of Morales bobbed up and down in the crowd and copies of the new constitution were handed out to onlookers, marchers yelled "Sí, Sí, Sí! Vamos por el S ," urging voters to cast a "Yes" ballot in the upcoming vote. Polls indicate that the constitution will be approved.Along with the nationalization of Bolivia's gas reserves, rewriting the constitution was a major promise of Morales during his 2005 presidential campaign. The road to this new constitution has been a long, complicated and often violent one. One key event in this process was the July 2, 2006, election of assembly members to the constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution. Later, in December 2007, the new constitution was passed in an assembly meeting in Oruro that was boycotted by opposition members. After months of street battles and political meetings, the Bolivian Congress ratified a new draft of the constitution last October 21. In many ways, these various steps will culminate in the January 25 vote.Among other significant changes, the new constitution allows for a broader involvement of the state in the Bolivian economy, including the state's participation in the gas and oil industry. It establishes the Bolivian state as plurinacional to reflect the diversity of indigenous and Afro-Bolivian groups in the country. It formally promotes the official use of the country's 36 indigenous languages. The new constitution also grants au tonomy to indigenous groups across the nation, enabling them to govern their own communities. This autonomy for indigenous communities may undermine the power of right-wing prefects in opposition-led departments. The current constitution also expands the number of seats in the recently opposition-controlled Senate, and other seats are reserved specifically for senators elected from indigenous communities.Like many of the constitution's critics, Rolando, a thirty-something resident of La Paz, was not enthusiastic about the extended rights granted to indigenous people. Rolando, sporting a beard and baseball cap, said he wouldn't be voting in support of the new constitution because "it was not written for all Bolivians. It just takes into account the rights of rural and indigenous communities." This is an often-heard critique of the constitution. Yet it doesn't fully take into account that 62 percent of the population self-identify as indigenous, and about the same percentage live under the poverty line. Many who support the new constitution are doing so because the document grants long overdue rights to the "originarios," indigenous Bolivians who have been marginalized for centuries.Another point of contention is the way the constitution deals with religion. The current constitution says, "The State recognizes and upholds the apostolic Roman Catholic religion. [It] guarantees the exercise of every other cult." The new constitution says, "The State respects and guarantees the liberty20of religion and spiritual beliefs, in accord with one's cosmovisiones. The State is independent of religion." Many critics, besides fearing the separation of church and state, say this change opens the window for the government to allow gay marriage and legalize abortion. Unfortunately, nothing indicates that pushing for such much-needed policy changes is on the current government's agenda.Under the new constitution, land deemed productive will not be broken up by the government, but unproductive land will be redistributed, and a cap on new land purchases - set either at 5,000 or 10,000 hectares - will be voted on separately. Land reform is an area of the constitution which has been highly criticized from the Bolivian left. Critics say the constitution should go further in addressing the fact that most of Bolivia's land is in the hands of just a few wealthy families. These weak land reforms are considered a major concession to the right wing; much of Bolivia's fertile land is in the eastern departments, currently controlled by opposition prefects.In what appears to have been another concession to the opposition, the draft constitution was also changed to prevent Morales from running for two additional terms, as an earlier draft of the constitution allowed. If the new constitution is approved, Morales will run for his last consecutive term in general elections in December 2009.The coming days will be full of marches20across the country for and against the new constitution. Sunday's mobilization was a preview of things to come. Max, a participant in the march waving a MAS flag, and who described himself as "just another Bolivian citizen," said he is supporting the new constitution because, of the many constitutions which Bolivia has had throughout its history, "this is the best one." He also approved of the way the constitution was developed in the constituent assembly and believed it was "written for all Bolivians" and will "help keep our leaders honest."One section of this march ended up in a park with a giant blown-up balloon figure of Evo Morales in the middle of it, and dozens of people handing out pamphlets on the new constitution and MAS calendars for the new year. While one group of people slapped "Sí" bumper stickers on cars in the area, another woman methodically peeled the same stickers off the guard rail of a nearby bridge.Lourdes Calla, a brown-haired activist in the MAS, wove a wiphala flag and jumped to the rhythm of a nearby chant. "I am voting in support of the constitution for the equality of all Bolivians - there should be no upper and lower economic class, we're all Bolivians," she said. "This new constitution has been created through a historically democratic process, and defends the rights of indigenous and rural communities. Now is the time to put these rights into practice."»
Benjamin Dangl is currently based in Bolivia, and is the author of "The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia" (AK Press). He is the editor of TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world eventsd UpsideDownWorld.org, a web site on activism and politics in Latin America. Email: Bendangl@gmail.com
-_http://www.truthout.org/012209Cby Benjamin Dangl of TRUTHOUT,_._,___