Yesterday’s big news: Bolivia, the hemisphere’s third poorest country after Haiti and Guyana, approved a new Constitution
Approval of the constitution, which caps a two-year campaign by Morales, will give expanded discretionary powers to the president, such as the ability to dissolve Congress. He will also be eligible to run for a second five-year term late next year. The earlier constitution did not allow consecutive terms.
Observers expect him to dissolve Congress and call for new elections ahead of scheduled December 2009 balloting.
As expected, voters in the western highland states such as La Paz with large indigenous populations overwhelmingly approved the new charter, according to the preliminary results, while voters in the four eastern states that passed autonomy measures last year were resoundingly opposed.
For many voters interviewed Sunday in the city of La Paz, the nation’s capital, the most salient features of the new charter are the strengthened rights for Bolivia’s three dozen ethnic groups, which make up about a third of Bolivia’s 9.2 million population. The word “indigenous” appears 130 times in the new constitution.
According to clauses in the new document, those groups will now be able to eschew the traditional court system and resort to their own “community justice,” claim some nationalized lands as their own and receive a greater share of royalties on minerals and energy developed on or beneath those lands.
I’m writing a post on the referendum for Real Clear World Blog, and will link to it here later.
In today’s podcast:
The Bolivian referendum, other headlines from today’s Carnival, and a few words on Slumdog Millionaire from the context of third-world poverty. Chat’s open at 10:45AM and the call in number is 646 652-2639. Join the conversation!
You can listen to the podcast here, live, or archived.
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