Vaca Díez Passes Hydrocarbons Law in Bolivia

“I have no choice but to sign the document and pass this law, faced with President Carlos Mesa’s negative response. Now, all I ask is for unity in the country,” said Hormando Vaca Díez, president of the Bolivian National Congress, assuming, before all the members of Congress, the responsibility that President Mesa had tossed onto him. “Supported by the Constitution,” Díez passed the new Hydrocarbons Law just over two hours ago. Saying he was tired of the uncertainty, Díez signed his name during the Congressional session this afternoon. After that, the senator explained that the administration had avoided its responsibility, and that, in times like these, this is impossible: “We have passed the law, under conditions very complicated for the country, where a very high level of uncertainty has been generated for the Bolivian people.”

No one had to wait for the first reactions. Two of the multinational oil companies, which completely oppose any changes in their current contracts, such as those stipulated in the new law, have announced the possibility of filing international lawsuits against Bolivia…

Evo Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) has not changed its position much either, and presented a series of proposed modifications just minutes after the law’s passage. Morales and his people have made it clear that they do not intend to destabilize President Mesa or carry out any other such actions. The march which left from Caracollo yesterday remains on its nonviolent course, demanding changes in the law that would make it, according to the MAS, as always, more just for the people, and, at the same time, leave no room for conflicts with the oil companies.

“Coward and Traitor”

In any case, the people of El Alto remain on the scene, ready to implement their agenda. At the moment they are in an assembly and there seem to be no changes in their position. But the Aymara farmers, the other major radical group in this battle, have already changed their discourse: they have declared that President Carlos Mesa and the members of congress from every political party to be traitors, cowards, and enemies of the people.

Under these conditions, the rural Aymara have decided to organize more mobilizations. Road blockades will begin in the next few days, and a hunger strike being carried out in the offices of Tupaj Katari  Single Peasant Farmer Federation of the Department of La Paz will continue. That is to say, kind readers, this wave could grow into a tsunami, wiping out the Bolivian political class…

At the moment, there is not much more information… but with this, the situation seems much clearer to everyone. Stay on line with us until the next dispatch.

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Mesa Accepts Law, El Alto Prepares Actions

In a speech just broadcast across Bolivia, President Carlos accepted the passage of the new law as a fact and said he would “turn the page” on the issue. With the discussion ended, the president spent more than an hour summarizing his term in office and presented a new economic and social plan – in response, according to him, to the new prevailing reality – which he called “Bolivia productiva y solidaria”: “a productive Bolivia of solidarity.”

However, there wasn’t much that was new about it. In fact, many of the proposals he made to “create a new State” according to the 21st century Bolivian reality are actions that were already part of his administration’s program (and some are being carried out with international funding), such as building an airport and ironworks. The interesting thing about his speech is that he promised to back his program with a package of proposed laws and other measures, which he said would be announced in the coming days.

Over in the social movements’ trenches, a few minutes ago, the Federation of Neighborhood Committees of El Alto defined its actions. Considering the positions of Carlos Mesa and other sectors unimportant, the Alteños decided the following:

  1. Tomorrow, beginning at 8 am, a new march will depart, again with the intention of reaching the center of La Paz and closing the Congress, obtaining Mesa’s resignation, and the nationalization of Bolivia’s hydrocarbons.
  2. On Friday, the neighborhood committees will carry out a 24-hour civic strike. And if that doesn’t work:
  3. Beginning next Monday, May 23, there will be an indefinite general strike to force respect for the so-called “October agenda,” which was born in the October 2003 insurrection against then-President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada.
For his part, Evo Morales rejected Mesa’s proposal because, he said, it “does not demonstrate a change in attitude” from the president.

So, kind readers, President Mesa’s speech did not change the social movements’ perspective. Now, more than ever, pay attention, kind readers… Bolivia could give us a new lesson in democracy from below. Expect more news tomorrow…

A translation of the above article by Luis Gomez

Novos Protestos em Bolivia: Um Breve Olhar no Palco e nos Atores Principais

16 de Maio de 2005: Era apenas uma questão de tempo. Participantes dos movimentos sociais da Bolivia estão agora em marcha pelas ruas e estradas do país. A nova Lei de Hidrocarbonos – embora ainda não oficializada – e a propriedade dos recursos de energia natural formam mais uma vez o eixo das mobilizações.

As mobilizações começaram em dois lugares chave na Bolívia: na estrada que divide horizontalmente o país em dois (e une as principais cidades), milhares de camponeses, plantadores de coca e outros grupos sob a liderança do fazendeiro de coca e congressita Evo Morales; e em El Alto, uma cidade outra unida como se fosse uma única pessoa, que desceu a montanha hoje ao meio-dia para combater as forças repressivas do estado Boliviano. Junto com eles vêm uma greve de professores públicos, mineiros e fazendeiros de Aymara, todos presentes na passeata de hoje em El Alto.

E embora tudo pareça agora estar em suspense, enquanto a passeata de Evo Morales cresce e se move em direção à capital do país, enquanto o povo de El Alto decide quais as próximas ações a tomar, nós paramos um momento para apresentar um mapa simplificado da situação corrente e dos principais atores em movimento.

O papel principal, por conta do seu tamanho e força, é do exército de seguidores de Evo Morales, apoiados em grande parte pelo Pacto de Unidade forjado durante a crise política de dois meses atrás. Esse grupo, que planeja seguir em passeata durante uma semana inteira, exige que as companhias multinacionais de petróleo paguem um imposto de pelo menos cinquenta por cento sobre seus rendimentos para que possam continuar a explorar as riquezas naturais da Bolívia. Dado sua localização atual, vai demorar ainda vários dias até que eles possam se fazer sentir pelas ruas de La Paz.

Por outro lado, bem no epicentro do conflito estão residentes, comerciantes e vários outros grupos da cidade de El Alto, que se mobilizaram para a batalha. Hoje, numa passeata de pouco mais de 100.000 pessoas, eles desceram até La Paz para tentar passar suas três demandas principais:

1.    Nacionalização dos Hidrocarbonos
2.    Renúncia do Presidente Carlos Mesa
3.    Encerramento do Congresso Nacional

A caminho do congresso, seu objetivo inicial, eles confrontaram a polícia, que disparou dezenas de granadas de gás lacrimogêneo em direção à multidão. Veja algumas fotos dessa manifestação, aqui:

Os “Alteños” não puderam fechar o prédio do legislativo, porém montaram uma grande assembléia e anunciaram o início das preparações para uma greve cívica por tempo indeterminado que deverá interromper todas as entradas a La Paz vindas de El Alto, assim como o transporte de alimentos, fechar o aeroporto internacional e interromper os transportes rodoviário para o interior do país.

Segundo anunciado pela agência de imprensa de El Alto:


“Os líderes da Federação Regional de Trabalhadores (COR) e a Federação de Comitês de Vizinhanças de El Alto (FEJUVE) anunciaram que até que a greve cívica/trabalhista por tempo indeterminado aconteca, o aeroporto internacional de El Alto será bloqueado e a fábrica Senkata, da companhia estatal de petróleo (YPFB) será fisicamente ocupada.”

Além disso, enquanto os Alteños tentavam chegar ao famoso prédio do Congresso, lá bem no coração do poder Boliviano dois congressistas do partido de direita Nova Força Republicana iniciaram uma greve de fome... exigindo a renúncia de Mesa e a nacionalização total dos hidrocarbonos no país!

Finalmente, do outro lado desse cabo de guerra está o enfraquecido Presidente Mesa, contra quem o povo se manifestou nas ruas de La Paz alguns dias atrás. Mesa tem se recusado a aprovar a nova Lei de Hidrocarbonos (uma lei a qual os movimentos sociais não aprovam e que é também oposta pelas companhias de petróleo, que a vêem como um ataque aos seus negócios)... e o prazo legal para que ele possa formalizar o veto à lei expira em algumas horas. Se nenhuma ação de sua parte for tomada até amanhã o presidente do Congresso (Senador Hormando Vaca Diez) será obrigado, pela constituição, a aprovar a lei.

Noutras palavras, o cenário está longe de parecer simples... e o último abalo só está começando.
Fiquem conosco; teremos mais noticias desde Bolívia assim que elas saírem do forno.

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