Bolivian President Evo Morales Wins Critical Referendum on His Presidency
More than 63 percent voted to back Morales' government - nearly ten points more than the 54 percent that elected him in December 2005. The recall pitted Morales against governors who have pushed for autonomy for their resource-rich provinces.
AMY GOODMAN: Bolivian President Evo Morales says he plans to pursue major constitutional changes after winning a critical referendum on the fate of his presidency. More than 63 percent voted to back Morales's government, nearly ten points more than the 54 percent that elected him in December 2005. The recall pitted Morales against governors who have pushed for autonomy for their resource-rich provinces.
Addressing supporters, Morales said he plans to proceed now with his agenda of nationalizing
PRESIDENT EVO MORALES: [translated] What the Bolivian people have expressed today is the consolidation of change. We're here to move forward with the recovery of our natural resources, the consolidation of nationalization.
AMY GOODMAN: Morales will continue to face challenges from the wealthy provinces. Four governors vocally opposed to Morales also handily won their states' recall votes. Two Morales critics lost their states, including the governor of
Jim Shultz is executive director of the
Jim, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain the significance of Morales winning the vote and Reyes refusing to leave.
JIM SHULTZ: Good morning, Amy. Thanks for having me on the program.
What this vote Sunday was, it was a taking the temperature again of where Morales's support is in the midst of a year of unbelievable conflict between he and his opponent. And as you just said to your listeners, that temperature says that Evo's support is not only what it was when he was elected, but much stronger, ten points stronger. And it's all over the country. I mean, even in
In terms of
AMY GOODMAN: But what about who would replace Reyes? I mean, he was recalled, but wouldn't there have to be an election to vote for a new governor?
JIM SHULTZ: Constitutionally, the President of the Republic, who's Evo Morales, would be able to appoint a successor. There might be interim elections, or that successor might serve until 2010, in which the next national elections are scheduled.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain who was behind the recall. You say Reyes was one of the governors, but can you talk about the area of
JIM SHULTZ: Well, first of all, the recall really wasn't - in the end, the recall wasn't a tool of the opposition. It was basically a poker bet, in which the opposition challenged Evo to a recall, and Evo said, "OK, let's do it." And I don't think they really anticipated he would do that.
So, who's behind the opposition in places like
AMY GOODMAN: What exactly is the president, is Evo Morales, going to do right now? What is he talking about when he talks about nationalizing resources?
JIM SHULTZ: Well, I mean, nationalization in
The real question here is what he does with the constitution. That's really the battle ahead. There's this constitution that is basically a MAS - Evo Morales's political party - MAS-written constitution that opponents vehemently object to. And he now has an option, and I think he'll probably exercise it, to bring that constitution forward to a public vote in 2009, because if he keeps the same vote he got on Sunday, he could probably win ratification of that. That would make the opposition go absolutely bananas. And the issue I think they object to more than anything else in the constitution is it would allow for the president to be reelected. Under current law, the current constitution, Evo can't run for reelection in 2010. The new constitution would allow him to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Jim Shultz, I want to thank you very much for being with us, executive director of the