'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Bolivian Congress Rejects Mesa's Resignation 

Here's Bloomberg:

Bolivia's Congress unanimously rejected President Carlos Mesa's offer to resign over protests against government energy policies, giving Mesa backing for new hydrocarbon legislation.

``The consensus is that the president should continue in his duties and assume his responsibilities while reviewing the conduct of government,'' Lower House president Mario Cossio told reporters.

Mesa also received backing from the majority of the 157- member Congress to call a constituent assembly to review the constitution, call a referendum on independence movements in southern Bolivia and hold regional governors' elections.

and here's Miguel of Ciao! who offers more informed commentary than I can provide:

Mesa, I'll admit, played a masterful hand. He bluffed his way into a strong vote of confidence (parliament rejected his resignation w/o a single "yes" vote), the multi-party coalition that goes w/ it, rallied around his agenda.

While this strengthens Mesa's hand temporarily, it also marks a dangerous fork in the road. Either the protests end on their own, and Mesa's able to govern. Or they don't. I suggest that Mesa's cult of personality can only go so far.

The El Alto FEJUVE protest continues. The Evo-led cocalero protest in Chapare picked up steam today. And w/ the new government coalition comprised of all parties minus MAS & MIP, we're basically back to the same position as before, except Mesa now has Goni's multi-party coalition behind him. Oh, and he burned (probably permanently) all his bridges w/ MAS & MIP (who now only have incentives to increase opposition tactics).

If things don't settle down, there's no other way out but a strong response. Mesa can't threaten to resign again. But now, he can easily say that it's the "people's will" if coercion must be used to restore order. I'm settling in for a bumpy next few weeks.

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