December 15, 2007

Bolivians rebel against Indians

Bolivians Now Hear Ominous Tones in the Calls to Arms[Eastern Bolivia’s] leaders here have long chafed at the influence of the capital, La Paz, but recent moves by Mr. Morales, who has received substantial financial and political support from President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, have added to concerns over power consolidation.

The sudden moves this week to seek greater autonomy came after the president’s supporters rushed last weekend to approve a new Constitution, despite an opposition boycott of their assembly. They had abruptly switched the vote to the city of Oruro, a Morales stronghold, from Sucre, which had been racked by street protests.

Even Mr. Morales’s critics acknowledge that the new charter, which must be approved in a public referendum, has positive aspects—it would, for example, abolish child labor. But they are also alarmed by efforts to increase indigenous power, like items to guarantee representation of Indians in Congress or to allow Indians to mete out justice outside the judicial system.

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