Thursday, December 13, 2007

BOLIVIA: AN ANTI-LIBERAL CONSTITUTION - Fernando Molina

Fernando Molina is a well known Bolivian intellectual. Prof. James Dunkerely, an academic authority on Bolivia, cites Molina in a recent essay, describes him as "a leading a leading liberal critic of both Evo Morales and the traditional political class that he has displaced from office." Molina is basically independent.

Molina just wrote in Revista Pulso, on the MAS text that was steamrolled through as Bolivias new constitution. It is a very incisive article that in my opinion should be read by Bolivian's and translated into English. The text itself is so muddled and contradictory that Molina does a service just by breaking it down in several categories.

He sees three Western fundamental rights the right to life, to liberty, and the right to property, and concludes that the Constitution protects the first one, less so the second, and much less the third.

Summary of Some Arguments I will flesh this out more later, and add some of my own comments.

Powers of Central Government - It centralizes a lot of power to the central government - including administrative functions, power of the purse.

Property rights
- recognized so long as they serve the "collective interest" as well "contributing to the development of the nation", on top of the existing qualification of "social purpose". which as Molina reminds us, has been around since the Busch Constitution of 1938. (Ironically Chavez 1999 Constitution offered more protections to private property) Foreign investment - heavily restricted. Contracting with other

Monopoly and Private Investment - The State gets a monopoly on energy - might not even subcontract privately. It dissuades ANY future government from ever signing any sort of deal with any foreign corporation.

Autonomy-The document pretty much indicates that only indigenous tribes will get any form of real "autonomy" if we think of autonomy as being able to assert sovereign rights over a territory with your own law.

Judicial Branch-It does re-designs the judiciary, as it exists now. Creates a new judicial branch, based on 'communal law'. (While tribal laws co-existing with traditional justice is nothing new, this scheme here appears to give it co-equal value countrywide)

Overall - He concludes that underneath all the inconsistencies there is a political program at its core, that while not socialist, it is nonetheless "illiberal" and has implications for the country.

10 comments:

Kevin said...

The new Estatuto del Departmento de Santa Cruz has been posted on El Deber... in my reading 'en diagonal', this is a 'State Constitution' in line with a Federal Republic of States (USA, Brasil, Mexico etc). It sets the base for going beyond autonomy and most likely is not considered under the current constitution of Bolivia (not the exercise in futility the MAS has recently put forward). Under existing law, to make this 'official' wil require a societal referundum which will take some time to organize and complete.
In the meantime - the current occupant(s) of the Presidency of Bolivia will send in troops and the place will explode.
Too bad - Pres. Morales had a chance and surprisingly a lot of support a few years ago - now it seems all lost through overreaching ethnic demands, mis-calucualted political moves and no-consensus.

Boli-Nica said...

Kevin, my read on Statutes is that they are written in a language similar to the current constitution. In some ways it does go way out (some clauses on the need to ratify national laws locally). When it comes down to it, it looks like the first draft of a contract, something to bargain and haggle over. A classic case of what powers are exclusive to the center, which are reserved to the departments.

Norman said...

Kevin,

Do you have a link to the Estatuto en El Deber? I've been looking in vain to download a copy. thanks.

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