Late Night: A New Constitution

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution

Take a bow for the new revolution

Bolivia's new constitution that strengthens the rights and power of indigenous people, went into effect today. It was passed by the voters in January.

President Evo Morales and thousands of supporters celebrated Bolivia's new constitution as it took effect on Saturday, saying the new document will enshrine indigenous rights and end centuries of oppression.

The constitution, the first approved in Bolivia by popular vote, promises more power for the poor, Indan majority; recognizes communal justice; grants some regional autonomy; and declares coca a part of the nation's heritage.

President Morales told the DEA recently to take a hike. (link fixed)[More...]

He also isn't giving into the U.N., which a year ago had one of its panels dealing with drug issues calling for Bolivia and Peru to criminalize all use of the coca leaf, including drinking tea. This is change that didn't happen overnight. But coca has been a part of Bolivia's indigenous culture for centuries.

The constitution also provides greater access to health care and educational benefits and highlights community justice. Note, that's not vigilantism as the LA Times article linked above suggests, but a policy that stresses reconciliation and rehabilitation.

Community justice “in its traditional form in indigenous Andean villages...emphasizes reconciliation and rehabilitation," explains Daniel Goldstein, Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Rutgers University, who has researched the topic extensively in Bolivia over a decade. "Rather than violent torture and execution, community justice promotes the 'reeducation' of community members who violate collective norms and rules, and the reincorporation of these offenders back into the community.”

In the eyes of its supporters, it is a move toward using dialog, community service work, and the restoration of harmony as a basis for dealing with conflicts. In other words, if you steal your neighbor's cow you might be required to help lay bricks for a school as opposed to being turned over to police and prosecutors many miles away.

Here is the Bolivian Presidency website. The only text I could find of the new Constitution is here (pdf), in Spanish.
As to what it says about coca:

El Estado protege a la coca originaria y ancestral como patrimonio cultural, recurso natural renovable de la biodiversidad de Bolivia, y como factor de cohesión social; en su estado natural no es estupefaciente. La revalorización, producción, comercialización e industrialización se regirá mediante la ley.

Via a free language translation service:

The State protects the ancient and native coca as cultural patrimony, renewable natural resource of the biodiversity of Bolivia, and
like factor of social cohesion; in its natural state is not narcotic. The revaluation, production, commercialization and
industrialization will be governed by means of the law.

Shorter version: Coca is an issue of cultural patrimony, not a narcotic and therefore okay.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Respectfully disagree (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 07:26:05 AM EST
    This constitution is a bad joke. Morales is a terrible President for Bolivia.

    The drug stuff is nothing but show.

    With Bolivia's history... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dadler on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 08:50:46 AM EST
    ...how on earth do you expect anything different?  Do you have a better electoral reaction to their history that Bolivians should adopt?  

    Something bad is better than nothing (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 10:12:58 AM EST
    seems to be your argument here.

    Nice (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 01:34:33 AM EST
    Good for them.  

    Link for "take a hike" is broken (none / 0) (#2)
    by cymro on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 02:06:43 AM EST

    I fixed the link (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 10:03:35 AM EST

    i fear this (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 05:05:33 AM EST
    President Morales told the DEA recently to take a hike.

    this will merely result in the DEA going clandestine ops on the Bolivian gov't.

    Perhaps those who advocate non-criminalization of (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 05:16:29 AM EST
    marijuana and other substances just need to find a better hook.  Worked for the Native American inmates re peyote.  I did not marijuana dispensing clinics in India, but didn't inquire into the protocol.

    Interestingly, Bolivia could be major player (none / 0) (#7)
    by DFLer on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 08:59:48 AM EST
    for electric car technology and lithium batteries.

    UYUNI, BOLIVIA - In the rush to build the next generation of hybrid or electric cars, a sobering fact confronts automakers and governments seeking to lower their reliance on foreign oil: Almost half of the world's lithium -- the mineral needed to power the vehicles by battery -- is found in Bolivia. And the country may not be willing to surrender it easily.

    Japanese and European companies are busily trying to strike deals to tap the resource, but a nationalist sentiment about lithium is building in the government of President Evo Morales, an ardent critic of the United States who has already nationalized Bolivia's oil and natural gas industries.

    For now, the government talks of closely controlling the lithium and keeping foreigners at bay. Adding to the pressure, indigenous groups here in the remote salt desert where the mineral lies are pushing for a share in the eventual bounty.


    It's all covered (none / 0) (#8)
    by SOS on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 09:40:08 AM EST
    as good as Chavez (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 06:02:54 PM EST
    If he runs Bolivia as cleanly and efficiently as Hugo Chavez runs Venezuela, we have nothing to worry about.

    Very Funny (none / 0) (#12)
    by kaleidescope on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 09:18:36 PM EST
    All the yuppie stock brokers and corporate lawyers in suits and ties cheering madly while the Who sing, "Meet the new boss; same as the old boss!"