Bolivia: indigenous peoples move towards autonomy

The Bolivian government has started implementing provisions outlined in the new constitution that give indigenous people the right to govern themselves. On Aug. 2, President Evo Morales enacted a decree setting out the conditions for indigenous communities to hold votes on autonomy. These referenda will take place in December, along with presidential and congressional elections. The provisions allowing for votes on indigenous autonomy were presented in a ceremony in Camiri, the eastern region of Santa Cruz. Morales called it “a historic day for the peasant and indigenous movement.”

“Your president, your companion, your brother Evo Morales might make mistakes but will never betray the fight started by our ancestors and the fight of the Bolivian people,” he said. (El País, Spain, Aug. 4; BBC News, Aug. 3)

See our last post on Bolivia and the world indigenous struggle.

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  1. Evo Morales named “World Hero of Mother Earth”
    Bolivian president Evo Morales has been declared “World Hero of Mother Earth” by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The first indigenous head of state in the Americas was presented with a medal and scroll in a ceremony in La Paz on Aug. 29. General Assembly president Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann described Morales as the leading exponent and model of love for Pachamamma, the Quechua term for Mother Earth. Morales, he said, had shown clearly that the environmental crisis is caused by the “anti-values” of individualism, greed, selfishness and social and environmental irresponsibility—and that it can only be overcome by the spirit and practice of human solidarity.

    Morales said that the award was not for him, but for “our ancestors, the native peoples who defended Mother Earth before colonialism, during the colonial period and during the republic.” Morales said Bolivia’s experience in raising “living in harmony with the defense of Mother Earth” has international repercussions. He gave Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca credit for proposing the policy of “Buen Vivir” —living in harmony with Mother Earth.

    Morales is one of three world leaders to be given “World Hero” awards. The others are Cuban president Fidel Castro, named World Hero of Solidarity, and the late president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, named World Hero of Social Justice. (La Jornada, Aug. 30, via Climate and Capitalism)