Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bolivia: Morales And His Justice Minister - Who Isn't A Lawyer

Washington Post profiles one of Morales most stupid cabinet picks.

Actually this goes beyond stupid, it is retarded. It makes Bush picking the lottery lady look like an act of genius.

Ok.. we have Justice Ministry, that presides over a legal system that has major systemic weaknesses, and where some reforms have been implemented. The criminal side is a mess -- people still languish in jail for long times, on the civil side cases can go on forever.

So Morales then goes and picks a non-lawyer to run it. Who cares if she is an ex-maid or activist. Point is, she is not a lawyer, much less a practicing attorney with experience before the major Courts.

She is an activist who suffered injustice in a Bolivian Court. Fine, there are tons of aggrieved hausfraus with "some college" in the United States, who got screwed in small claims, divorce court, or in domestic violence Court, but that does not make them qualified to be Attorney General.

She allegedly is "studying anthropology". She says silly things too. The blather about communal justice is one, people get lynched. Any serious efforts to incorporate that kind of justice into the judiciary system, requires having someone with some legal training.

This is a joke. It is like a caricature of post-Colonial Africa.

For one, a jury system introduced in the last decade isn't working very well.

It doesn't help that Bolivia spends a meager 1 percent of its national budget on the judiciary _ one of the lowest allocations in Latin America, according to the Organization of American States.

"The vast majority of (legal) conflicts don't reach the system," said Cristian Riego, academic director of the OAS's Justice Center of the Americas. Those who suffer most are indigenous people and workers in the informal economy.

Rodriguez says she'll fight to boost spending for the judiciary and make it work for the poor, who account for more than 60 percent of Bolivians.

She also wants greater respect for traditional Indian justice systems, still used in much of the country, where community elders hear cases and decide on sentences that can include corporal punishment.

"Community justice is so different from the ordinary justice system," said Rodriguez, "because you don't spend money and even though it's not legally recognized, it resolves cases in hours, or at the most in a week and doesn't add to the quarrel, it's more fraternal."