PASSWORD RESET

Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Bolivia: Morales' fight with the Judicial Branch

The fight between Evo Morales and the Bolivian Judicial Branch began when the country’s Constitutional Court dismissed from the Supreme Court four judges who Morales had named by decree to temporary positions on December 30, 2006.
By Cunche Campos, Cochabamba, Bolivia

But what are the roots of the problem? These four judges were preparing to bring ex-president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to justice for his role in the killing of 18 people during the mass movements in 2003 which eventual forced him to resign. They had also put two corrupt officials from ex-president Hugo Banzer’s administration behind bars.

In response to the dismissal of these four Supreme Court justices, Evo Morales has issued a formal complaint against four members of the constitutional court for incompetence and obstruction of justice. Hearings will take place before both chambers of the Bolivian Parliament.

As a result, right-wing reactionaries in Bolivia are seething with anger and have strongly attacked Morales and his government. Jorge Tuto Quiroga, the leader of Podemos, the largest neoliberal party in Bolivia, has publicly asked that Morales free himself from the tutelage of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and respect Bolivian sovereignty and democracy. As some would say, those with the soul of a lackey, think all are lackeys. The right-wing in Bolivia doesn’t take one step without consulting Yankee imperialism. In Bolivia the American ambassador even gives his opinion on who he thinks the Bolivian people should vote for.

The Bolivian right has characterized as “terrible” Morales’ intentions to indict four members of the Constitutional Court and say it is just one more example of how Morales is trampling on Bolivian democracy, disrespecting its institutions, and on top of that is attacking both the press and the church. What a horror! According to the right-wing, Morales and his MAS government is trying carry out some form of “judicial coup” that involves the hanging of the Judicial Branch as one more link in the chain on the way towards taking absolute power and establishing a totalitarian government.

The independence of governmental powers

The Bolivian right continues to complain about and demand respect for the independence of judicial powers which they assert is the basis of democracy. But is the Judicial Branch really independent? And who is it independent from? Historically speaking, it’s obvious that only the very elite are given positions in the judiciary provided they have the necessary political influence (from the right-wing of course) and can prove to the elite class they will conform to their wishes, are reactionaries, and will represent their interests.

Each one of the Justices on the Supreme Court was named by one of the previous right-wing governments which never truly had popular support in the first place, much less represented the peasant, worker, and indigenous majority of Bolivia. Why then should Evo Morales, who heads the first government to really have been elected with the majority support of the population not have the right to name members of the Supreme Court?

In reality, it is all nothing more than one of those farces oftentimes seen in capitalist “democracy”. The independence of governmental powers has never existed. The elites have always controlled all the powers of the state, giving it just enough make-up to give the people the impression that there is transparency and impartiality. But this farce gets spoiled when the elites loose power of one of the branches, as is the case with the presidency in Bolivia (and above all by electing an indigenous present). The elite has lost its composure and is now using the other branches of the government to openly attack the president in a decidedly undemocratic manner, forcing the make-up to wash away and revealing the true face of capitalist democracy.

The Judicial Branch in Bolivia is one of the world’s most corrupt.

The majority in Bolivia don’t feel that this monstrous justice system is theirs and the majority know that there is no greater tragedy for a Bolivian citizen than to fall into the hands of the judges and lawyers. Each year, there are 1500 corruption complaints against the members of this branch of the government, yet barely 5% are investigated and tried. According to various polls, nearly 80% of the Bolivian population considers the most corrupt branch of the government to be the judicial branch. This is not a coincidence given that every day people fall victim to the judiciary, which must be the most corrupt in the world. There are international studies which indicate that each year the judicial branch robs more than $300 million USD.

So why does the right-wing so strongly defend the judicial branch? Precisely because they are corrupt and they can always be counted on to proceed with whatever barbarity the right-wing wants whether it be for conviction or simply because they stand to make a pile of money.

Judges in Bolivia should be elected

We cannot continue to accept things as they are now, where judges are handpicked. Enough with CUOTEOS ! We should demand that the members of the judicial branch are elected bases on a free and democratic vote in which the people participate instead of only the dominant elite class.

Everybody is affected by the judicial branch and the time has come for it to be democratized so that we can end this farce once and for all.

MAS reformism once again clashes with reality

“The path to hell is paved with good intentions”. The reformists truly believe that they can make reforms and changes using the same institutions that for years (even centuries) have served the bourgeoisie and helped business owners to exploit and crush the workers and oppressed.

But reality reveals something else altogether; the dominant elites will not respect democracy and are right now moving to make the country ungovernable to have an excuse to carry out a violent coup against Evo Morales and his MAS government. For this reason, for the right-wing it is key to not lose control of the judicial branch because this branch will be needed later on to give a democratic façade to their anti-democratic actions.