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The Collective
Monday, May 5, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Morales dismisses autonomy vote

Bolivian President Evo Morales has rejected an autonomy vote by the resource-rich Santa Cruz region, saying the unofficial referendum was illegal.


The poll pitted the region’s mixed-race elite against the president’s indigenous supporters.

An official count of 22% of the ballots showed 82% had voted to give the region more control over its resources, the AFP news agency reported.

And, it should be noted, there are long-standing, deep-seeded tensions (to put it kindly) between the elites and the indigenous majority. Indeed, Morales is the first president to come from that majority. This is also about regional wealth in different sections of the country.

Boz provides us with Five points on Bolivia’s autonomy referendum which all strike me as fair. The only thing I am curious about are the turnout numbers and the issue of whether there was an effective boycott by the opposition or not. Boz has the unofficial turnout at 60%, meaning if there was a boycott, it wasn’t an especially successful one-although I am not certain what would constitute “normal” turnout for a local referendum in Bolivia. Still, even if it is lower than whatever that normal is, it is hard to call 60% a discreditingly low number.

El Mundo has the following:
La votación demostró que Santa Cruz es el crisol de la bolivianidad and Morales desconoce victoria del Estatuto Autonómico.

The NYT plays up the conflict angle: Clashes in Bolivia on Vote Over More Autonomy.

While the vote is non-binding (indeed, not even official in any legal sense), it will spark negotiations between the regional and central governments and is really part of a longer-term evolution of politics and governance in Bolivia.

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1 Comment »

  1. As part of their effort to discredit the referendum, the government is saying that there was 83% turnout in a similar 2006 referendum. They are using the turnout drop as a measurement of their success.

    I think 60% turnout is still a pretty strong showing and the government is grasping for anything to hang on to. They’d be better off acknowledging the win and moving forward.

    Comment by boz — Monday, May 5, 2008 @ 8:10 am

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