Friday, March 03, 2006

Bolivia: Santa Cruz Fires Warning Shots

Most of the main sectors of Santa Cruz leadership, including its new regional government, the Civic Committee, and the various business groups have stated that they will fight tooth and nail for autonomy, even if it involves shedding blood.

They warn Evo Morales' that they will continue, with the central government or not, for a referendum for regional autonomy.

Evo is pushing forward with his ideas for a Constitutional Assembly, which critics say is skewed towards MAS, and which would deprive Santa Cruz of the representation it is entitled to, proportionally.

What I think Santa Cruz is doing, is acting as a counterweight to Evo's electoral strength, by relying on its own elected bodies, and the pro-autonomy forces. Ironically, they are using the same tactics and language that Evo used to mess with elected governments in the past. But with the regional government, they do have some sort of popular legitimacy. Evo's cards are social movements in Santa Cruz that voted for him. But, there are signs that even MAS' Santa Cruz leadership can play the regional game as well, they feuded over local representatitves, claiming they had to be "born in Santa Cruz". If the pro-autonomy forces would try to exploit these differences, and try to incorporate highland migrants and local indigenous movements to their side, they could effectively end Evo's remaining stranglehold over them.