Bolivia Investigations: The New Constitution

Re-Founding Bolivia: A Nation’s Struggle Over Constitutional Reform

In 2007 Bolivia was in the midst of a period of deep historic change. The 2006 inauguration of its first indigenous President, Evo Morales, has always been a source of great pride and inspiration for some, and great anxiety and concern for others.

Morales was elected with a mandate to undertake major changes in the way that the nation carries out its economic and political life. Two initiatives by the government have come to symbolize that movement for change in the most dramatic ways. The first was the 2006 Presidential decree nationalizing the nation’s gas and oil, a topic that The Center has written abut extensively (read here).The second was the convening of a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the nation’s Constitution, eventually passed by referendum in 2009.

For more than a year that Assembly and the events swirling around it dominated Bolivian politics and political conflict. To help our readers more fully understand what the Constituent Assembly and the process of constitutional reform means for Bolivia, The Democracy Center assigned a special team (a mix of Bolivians and people from the U.S.) to assemble the story. This 2007 briefing paper is the product of their work.

Part One of ‘Re-Founding Bolivia’ looks at the mechanism of a Constituent Assembly and its recent history in Latin America as a whole and Bolivia in particular. Part Two looks at the major issues before the Bolivian Assembly, from indigenous rights, to government structure, to land reform. Part Three tells the narrative of a difficult process in action, including the various conflicts that threatened to sideline the Assembly.

The debate in Sucre was not just over the mechanics of democracy, but also over how Bolivia will define democracy and whether a nation made up of many nations can find the political glue to stay together.

Read the full paper in pdf format here.

The Democracy Center’s Blog Posts from Bolivia’s Constituent Assembly:

  1. Bolivia Writes a New Constitution (August 06, 2007)
  2. The Constituent Assembly Comes Home (August 8, 2007)
  3. Report from Sucre (August 16, 2007)
  4. Bolivia’s Indigenous Peoples Bring their Demands to the Constituent Assembly (August 23, 2007)
  5. Conflicts Over Constitutional Reform: A Tentative Truce (September 23, 2007)

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