Bolivia: If we want to survive


If the autonomists and indigenists could agree on the responsibilities the national State should not renounce in order to carry on existing as such, the risk of Bolivia falling apart would largely disappear. Those responsibilities are foreign policy, the national police and armed forces, the currency, economic planning for natural resources, social economic land use (subject to agreement), the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Tribunal and the design of overall education policies.

The basic requirement for that framework lies in the viability of a National Development Strategy which reflects the aspirations of autonomous  regions and the original peoples, for which reason it has to be worked out with their direct participation. All of this would make possible coordinated management of natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, in whose implementation both the departments and original peoples would be participants and supervisors.

In this way, the absurd confrontation in Tarija, for example, between Yacimientos Petroliferas de Bolivia, the Tarija prefecture and people of the the Tarija Chaco area would give way to the setting up of a development pole driven by common agreement, including installations for liquidising gas, fertilizer plants, refineries, gas pipelines and thermo-electric generating stations. The aggravated conflict over the Direct Hydrocarbons Tax (IDH)  would give way to the construction of public works for the common good.

If State capitalism has control of strategic resources via participative planning, plenty of space remains for developing community and private initiatives. A common interest in strengthening the country would likewise promote planning of railways and waterways, national highways and airports.

The presence of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Constitutional Tribunal are no obstacle to the viability of community customs and usages in the municipalities or the commonwealth of indigenous municipalities  where the application of community justice practices would be subject to national appeal procedures.

It is self-evident that for State administration, indigenous citizens should have the right to use their mother tongue such that, via a time-limited system of positive discrimination, the original peoples would have a participatory quota in the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Tribunal, the Armed Forces and the National Police so as to achieve equal balance in a multilingual and multicultural country like ours.

Respect for regions and cultures ought not to interfere with the use of national symbols (the national shield, flag and national anthem) showing the strength of a variegated country like ours seeking day by day to structure its national viability, rooted in what is most accesible in its history, something that no single regional or indigenous group interest can impose on the others.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has vetoed attempts to demand community property rights in oil areas by indigenous fundamentalists encouraged from the outside by the International Labour Organziation, and the United Nations, that is, imperialism in its latest guise, the New World Order.

He has preferred instead to seek an intercultural construction of the national State, defending society from multinational corporations and NGOs, from narcotics and arms traffickers, all avid for ripping off what they can from our countries. We need to defeat those enemies so as to build our own national and Latin American project.

Andreés Solis Rada is a former Minister of Hydrocarbons in the Evo Morales government – http://www.patriagrande.org.bo/

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