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Jean-Paul Guevara is Bolivia’s Director General of Bilateral Relations. He was interviewed at the Bolivian embassy in Washington.
VOICE OF PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: The Bolivian government has put forward constitutional reforms that will greatly shift where the revenue from the natural resources goes and distribute it much more to the ordinary people of Bolivia and far less to the elites. These are fighting words and fighting policies. They’re responding with their own kind of constitutional amendment that will try to block the enforcement of this constitution in their states. So you are headed for a collision. You said earlier that the elites are not used to fighting democratically, and if your government is committed to a democratic process, a democratic process includes enforcing laws, and sometimes with force—democracy doesn’t negate the use of force—where is this headed? Do you think this can be settled in a constitutional, democratic way? Or at some point does the Bolivian army have to go in and enforce the law? And then, if so, where does that lead?
JEAN PAUL GUEVARA AVILA, BOLIVIAN DIRECTOR GENERAL OF BILATERAL RELATIONS (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): As you said, democracy permits the legitimate use of force by the state, and by the law. As a precedent, a reform in Bolivia that was principally an economic reform of Bolivia, that happened in 1985, the reform which was the implementation of the neo-liberal model in Bolivia, it needed 3 states of emergency called in 3 years. [ENGLISH] This time it’s much more different, the change, and we didn’t use not one time the martial law, because the purpose the [will] of the president, Morales, is to reach all these changes in a pacific and democratic way. The problem of the opposition is not only a problem of sabotaging all the changes, make an obstruction of all these processes; the problem is that they don’t have an answer for Bolivia today. They don’t have a proposal. I believe that they don’t even know what Bolivia is today. They never imagined an indigenous Bolivia. If they could even see a bit of this reality, they could have made the changes before, long before. But they didn’t even notice this. They didn’t want to see it.
JAY: Do they have the support of the population in the lowlands? How does the popular opinion play out in their own areas?
AVILA: In the lowlands, there are also indigenous people, a lot of indigenous people, also. In Bolivia, most of the people, most of the population, they recognize themselves as indigenous people. In the last census, it was a question about to ask if you recognize you are part of some culture of indigenous people, the 62 percent, they answered that they feel they are part. The census, it was in 2001, in a moment where the indigenous identity, it was a negative identity. To call someone “indio,” it was to say “you’re an animal.” Today, if you make the question today with an indigenous president, most of the people, more than 80 percent, I am sure of that, will recognize as indigenous, as being part of an indigenous culture. And that is in the lowlands, in the highlands. After the elections of December 2005, in the election for [SUBTITLED TRANSLATION] for the assemblyists, the MAS won in Santa Cruz also, the representatives for the constituent assembly. [ENGLISH] It was two goals at the same time. It was, one, the referendum, if the state wanted to be autonomous, at the same time, the election for assembly constituent, but at the same time, [SUBTITLED TRANSLATION] the will for autonomy won in the department (state). [ENGLISH] The people didn’t think that it was a contradiction to choose the people that were pushing the change and to be autonomous. This is very important, because that shows you that it’s not a product of all the regimes, it’s not an opposition to the change; it was just they wanted change also in their department.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.