On 25 January, Bolivians will go to vote in a referendum to approve or reject a new constitution. Revolutionary Socialist Alternative (ASR), the CWI in Bolivia, is campaigning in favor of the new constitution. The following is a slightly edited translation of the text of a leaflet being distributed by ASR supporters.
The new Constitution: Vote ‘YES’ and prepare for mass struggle!
On 25 January 2009, we should vote “YES”, in favour of the new constitution, because it “guarantees” numerous changes that respond to the demands of workers, peasants, indigenous, and poor people. In the new constitution, “Every person has the right to”:
- “water and food” (Article 16)
- “universal…free…education” (Art. 17)
- “universal, free…health care” (Art. 18)
- “adequate housing and habitat” (Art. 19)
- “healthy, protected environment” (Art. 33)
- “social security…retirement…secure maternity” (Art. 45)
- “a dignified job, with security…just wage or salary” (Art. 46)
- “basic services such as running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, in-home gas, postal and telecommunications.” (Art. 20)
The new constitution also establishes important principles:
- “Nations and native indigenous peasant peoples…are guaranteed free determination…autonomy…self-government” (Art. 2)
- “The State bases itself upon the values of…equality, solidarity…the common good…social justice” (Art. 8)
- “The form of economic organisation…guarantees participation and social control over its organisation and implementation.” (Art. 309)
Although it respects the right to private property, the new constitution places some restrictions:
- “Each person has the right to dedicate him/herself to doing business…on the condition that it is not harmful to the collective wellbeing.” (Art. 46)
- “The state recognizes, protects, and guarantees individual, communal, or collective ownership of the land as long as it fulfills a social function.” (Art. 393)
We have to struggle to realise the changes.
In spite of the progressive character of the new constitution, nothing will change just because we approve it. We need to get organised and struggle to realise the changes because the opposition will do everything in its power to stop them being implemented.
So far, the leaders of the Movement towards Socialism (MAS) government and the main organisations of the social movements have not fulfilled their responsibility in preparing the masses for this struggle. The modifications to the new constitution, barely one month after the massacre in Pando (when 20-30 indigenous peasants were shot dead by officials and hit-men hired by the right-wing departmental prefect), show this lack of direction. Revolutionary Socialist Alternative (ASR) rejects the modifications, in particular on the land (Art. 399). This makes land limits non-retroactive, so that land limits only apply after the new constitution is passed. This means that the land of the 100 families that control 25 million hectares of land, while 5 million indigenous peasants toil on just 2 million hectares, will not immediately be nationalised because of the modification.
We need a socialist revolution!
We can only eradicate poverty if the land, our natural resources, the factories and major productive forces and the distribution of the wealth are democratically controlled by the people and nationalised under democratic workers’ control and management.
The real struggle begins after we approve the new constitution. Workers, peasants, and indigenous people need to fight to carry out the guarantees in the new constitution and ensure that it is only the first step towards a socialist revolution.