Sunday, December 02, 2007

Constitutions

As Venezuelans go to vote, it is worth noting that the country’s constitutional debate is not the only one in the region, and not even the most conflictive. Ecuador’s constitutional assembly recently dissolved the legislature and took over its powers while it drafts a new constitution to be presented in a referendum within eight months. As in Venezuela and a number of other Latin American countries, the opposition is disorganized and fractured, offering no alternative vision.

In Bolivia the situation is worse than either Venezuela or Ecuador in terms of political conflict, as the constitutional assembly holed up in a military installation without the opposition (which boycotted) and approved an initial draft of a new constitution in the midst of very violent protest. This draft, however, has not officially been made public and as yet there is no timetable for considering each separate article. Miguel has an interesting post and subsequent debate in the comments.

The truth is that Venezuela has oil and a flamboyant president whose insults and tirades are Vesuvius-like, so it receives the vast majority of the attention (including, I should say, from me). Constitutional proposals in Ecuador and Bolivia do get a lot of attention from bloggers, but in the U.S. media are either ignored or vaguely lumped together as “leftists” or Chávez clones.

3 comments:

mcentellas 10:32 AM  

According to today's press reports, the Bolivian government has announced that it will vote on the new constitution (still not distributed publicly) "en bloque" any moment now. This violates the spirit (if not the letter) of the law (drafted by the government itself, more than a year ago) that it would vote on the draft article by article. Additionally, there are credible claims by man of the opposition that it was intimidation, not boycott, that explains their absence from the debate (the fact that the debate took place in a militarized installation guarded by MAS loyalist makes that claim credible).

Anonymous,  12:47 AM  

Well at least one didn't pass.

Tambopaxi 6:26 AM  

Ecuador's Constituent Assembly is just getting started. Its first act had nothing to do with the mechanics of a new Constitution at all. Acuerdo Pais, the government's controlling power bloc in the CA (80 out of 130 Asemblistas) fired several functionaries who'd crossed swords with Correa, as well as the sitting Congress, in clear contravention of CA's enabling statute which says that nothing the CA does is valid (ratified) until a plebscite is held subsequent to the CA's labors. Right at the outset, unfortunately, the leaders of the CA have shown themselves to be able and willing to exceed Constitutional drafting authorities granted them by the Ecuadorian people....

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