The people of Bolivia adopted a new Constitution by a vote of 59% to 41% under which the indigenous population of the country secured new rights. President Evo Morales strongly supported the new document despite encountering strong opposition in five of the nine states where the more numerous mestizo and European descended inhabitants rejected his call for equality. “Here begins the new Bolivia,” he said. “Here we begin to achieve true equality.” Even as he spoke leaders of the five states which rejected the Constitution are prepared to oppose the proposed changes which include limits on land ownership and creation of 36 indigenous “nations.” People of indigenous backgrounds will also secure a fixed number of seats in the legislature.
The creation of a nation which contains divergent views can either lead to a new sense of citizenship or a divided land in which violence may well result. Morales is echoing the rhetoric of his friend, Hugo Chavez, which is nice when running for office, but could prove disastrous in governing a nation.
It is time for Morales to achieve his dream of equality, but it must proceed in stages that incorporate divergent views. The United States just elected an African American president as a result of laws, education, and recognition a nation can be diverse, but also united. Can Morales reach out to the opposition and avoid bloodshed?