Elections Panorama (Draft Op Ed)
September 7th. is the death line established by Bolivian National Elections Court to present the list of candidates for the next elections on December 6th. Approved last January 25th, 2009 by a majority of votes a new State Political Constitution provides the norms that step by step are being applied. One of this is the first Plurinational Legislative Assembly whose members will be elected on December.
As never before, this document establishes equal opportunities for men and women to become deputies or senators of this Plurinational Assembly. During a discourse of the Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma, he pointed out that lists of candidates should include 50% for women and 50% for men. Taking into consideration the Constitution, the biggest indigenous female organization in Bolivia is preparing its participation. Known as Bartolinas, this organization called Bartolina Sisa, groups indigenous women in the nine cities of Bolivia.
This organization owes its name to the indigenous female leader, Bartolina Sisa, who together with her husband Tupak Katari, leaded the indigenous rebellions between 1781 and 1782 against the abuses of Spaniadars. She had been born around 1750 in Caracato, La Paz. Her courage, strenght and decision made her an example to follow. Indigenous women call her our grandmother because she had guided steps of indigenous women. We will always remember that she fought for a cause and gave her life for that cause, the indigenous cause.
On September 5th, 1782 by order of Spaniadars she was hanged on the main square called Plaza Mayor, in La Paz. In honor to her, each September 5th. is remembered the International Day of Indigenous women. Now, with the courage and strenght inherited Bartolina Sisa organization has an important role in the nomination of their representatives who will be participating as candidates for the Plurinational Assembly. According to one of its leaders Jimena Leonardo, “Now Constitution gives us the same level of participation as men and it is a pride that we can be taken into account”.
Other biggest indigenous organization of low lands, Cidob, considering the principles of alternancy and parity postulates for Santa Cruz to Bienvenido Sacu from Guarayu indigenous people and Teresa Nominé from the Ayoreo nation. For Tarija they postulate to an indigenous Weenayek man and a woman from Guaraní indigenous people. It also postulates to members from Yuracaré and Yuki nations. Indigenous peoples represent 63% of the country´s population and it is expected that this percentage could be reflected in the next Plurinational Assembly.
In the last national election in 2005 women had only a 30% participation quota, but now this percentage has increased. This week, Ana María Romero was invited as a candidate as the first Senator for La Paz of the official party. Romero is a well known journalist and an activist for human rights. The same happened with Ana Maria Flores who is candidate to President of Muspa political party.
According to artícle 144 “Citizens are all bolivians and will exercise their citizenship since 18 years old,no matter their education level, occupation or income.”. Until the 1950´s decade, women had neither the right to vote nor the right to be elected. The first Constitution from 1826 said that to be a citizen one needed “to be married or older than 20 years old, to know how to read and write, to have a job”. So, in those times an important part of the people were not even considered as citizen. Something similar happened with afrobolivians because the Constitution of 1880 just abolished slavery.
These days, the political panorama in Bolivia offers a lot of surprises. Last week a female candidate to President declined to continue on campaing. It was recently known that other candidate to President made the same. However, two options are opened, the ones who want to return to the old politicians model which was mainly based on getting profit for theirselves or the other one, in accordance with a process of change, which opens participation for all the citizens and offers opportunities for both, majorities and minorities.