April 12 2008
Defend Real Democracy In Bolivia
The Bolivian people will soon vote in a referendum to approve or reject their new Constitution. The proposed Constitution will protect human rights and deepen real democracy, decentralizing power by giving regions and communities more autonomy and decision-making power than before. It is a Constitution that recognises, in its multi-nationality, the many indigenous peoples who have been discriminated against and exploited for centuries. Without eliminating private property, the Const itution includes the right of communities to a collective economy and to recover the sovereignty of the Nation over natural resources. It is an advanced Constitution that also rejects War as a method of conflict resolution. In short, it is a humanist Constitution.
With intelligence and courage, President Evo Morales is leading Bolivia through a historical process of transformation, confronting the violence of entrenched economic power with the methodology of non-violence.
Nevertheless, powerful economic interests in the resource-rich “Crescent” region of the country - actively supported by US funding through agencies like USAID - are now provoking a division of the country. They are ignoring the Consitutional Referendum altogether and instead organizing a Referendum for secession to be held May 4, 2008, creating the conditions for widespread violence.
Rather than accepting the 2005 election results that gave Morales an overwhelming mandate to re-draft the Bolivian Constitution, rather than working to have this proposed Constitution rejected by the ballot-box as is their right, rather than sitting down to dialogue, they are shamelessly circumventing democracy and all legal process, stirring up violence and endangering the lives of their fellow citizens. Their objective is to maintain sole control over the resources that should benefit all Bolivians. They call “Autonomy” what in reality is secession, a separation of the Nation that will of course leave them with control over the riches, and the general population abandoned.
In spite of President Morales having called for dialogue and asking the Church to facilitate, civic leaders in the Crescent region refuse to allow this to happen, preferring instead to organize their own paramilitary organizations to defend their “interests”.
The response that populations and governments around the world give now to Bolivia is very important. The Bolivian people need to see that their democracy is respected and that any manipulated fragmentation of the State will not be recognized. Those who are instigating the conflict must be told that democracy cannot simply be sidelined when it is no longer convenient to the interests of the powerful. More than just an internal matter of State, the crisis in Bolivia should be of concern to all who believe in democracy, social justice, and the right of the people to choose a new future through non-violent means. What happens in Bolivia will surely affect the stability of other countries around the world.
Humanists of the world, in solidarity with the Bolivian people, call on the international community to support the true democratic process in Bolivia and refuse to recognize this seditious “referendum” that puts Bolivian unity in danger.