By Carlos A. Quiroga
The process of building a state of autonomies in Bolivia stumbled on Sunday with a massive citizen opposition to autonomy statutes in five departments.
According to preliminary results, more than 70 percent of the valid votes were for the No to the statutes or constitutions of the Andean departments of La Paz, Oruro, Potosi, Cochabamba and Chuquisaca.
This was not a rejection of autonomy itself, which is already part of the national constitution, but the draft statutes drawn up by the regional assemblies, widely dominated by the Movement toward Socialism of President Evo Morales.
The process of autonomy will probably resume in the coming months, with the development of new draft statutes, and then it will be confirmed if what happened on Sunday was just a hiccup, as the government says.
The Government also intends to mark distances between Sunday and another referendum announced for early 2016, which will decide on a constitutional amendment to enable a second re-election of Morales. So, what happened last Sunday can be considered a preliminary skirmish before the main political battle.
Maybe that’s why the opposition leaders, who timidly asked not to vote for the statute, welcomed the outcome of Sunday and tried to give it character of a plebiscite on the government and on the proposed re-election.