COLECTIVO BOLIVIANO CANADIENSE


Cable sobre el referéndum constitutional de Bolivia

Posted in Internacional,Política par colectivoboliviano sur 30 novembre, 2010

Los documentos publicados por Wikileaks ponen al descubierto los pornemores de la información recopilada y transmitida por los servicios diplomáticos estadounidenses a través de sus diferentes embajadas. Los 250 000 documentos publicados el domingo 28 de noviembre muestran las informaciones que los serviciós de información estadounidenses poseen sobre sus aliados y « enemigos ». Los documentos se publicaron en El País de España, The Guardian de Inglaterra, Le Monde de Francia, Der Spiegel de Alemania y The York Times de Estados Unidos. Muchos consideran que se trata de un 11 de septiembre de la diplomacia puesto que a partir del domingo pasado las relaciones entre países podrían modificarse.

El cable que copiamos de El País muestra la información enviada en relación al referéndum boliviano y sobre la salud del presidente Evo Morales. Como podrán constatarlo, la versión en inglés muestra varios nombres tachados.

En enero de 2009 la embajada en la Paz hace un análisis político del país e informa del tumor del presidente boliviano

30/11/2010

ID: 188540
Date: 2009-01-23 13:26:00
Origin: 09LAPAZ96
Source: Embassy La Paz
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno: 09LAPAZ11 09LAPAZ6 09LAPAZ62 09LAPAZ90
Destination: VZCZCXYZ0000 

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C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 000096

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/21/2019

TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, PREL, PHUM, PINR, ENVR, BL

SUBJECT: BOLIVIA’S REFERENDUM: MARGIN OF VICTORY MATTERS

REF: A. 08 LAPAZ 2606

B. LA PAZ 6

C. LA PAZ 11

D. LA PAZ 62

E. LA PAZ 90

Classified By: A/EcoPol Chief Joe Relk for reasons 1.4 (b, d)

1. (C) Summary: With the January 25 constitutional

referendum rapidly approaching, all signs point to victory

for President Morales and his ruling Movement Toward

Socialism (MAS) party. Although the opposition has made

inroads into the MAS lead, most national polls point to

between 54 and 60 percent support for the proposed

constitution (with one government poll showing 66 percent),

and the MAS appears set to leverage its considerable rural

base to victory. After a series of national news articles

raised questions about significant fraud in the August 2008

recall referendum, the National Electoral Court has taken

pains to advertise the electoral rolls as secure. However, a

recent poll shows less than half of the public shares the

court’s confidence, and the opposition believes significant

electoral fraud is likely. While cheating seems unnecessary

to secure victory for the MAS, padding their lead would give

the party leverage in congressional negotiations regarding

legislation implementing hundreds of vague constitutional

clauses. Opposition leaders continue to fear the MAS will

use any stalemate in these negotiations to close congress and

institute rule by decree. At both the national and regional

levels, the margin of victory matters. A landslide for the

MAS nationally, or large victories for the opposition in the

eastern departments, could spark more conflict. End summary.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

MAS Victory Seems Assured

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

2. (C) With the January 25 constitutional referendum rapidly

approaching, all signs point to victory for President Morales

and his ruling Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party.

Although the opposition has made inroads into their lead,

causing the MAS to tone down its rhetoric, national polls

point to between 54 and 60 percent support for the proposed

constitution. (One government poll shows the « yes » vote

winning by 66 percent.) However, many polls downplay or

ignore the MAS’ rural base. Almost as importantly, the MAS

seems prepared to take at least five of the nine departments,

including La Paz, Potosi, Oruro, Cochabamba, and Pando, with

Beni a distinct possibility. If the MAS can win at levels

similar to their August 2008 referendum victory (i.e. 67

percent or more) and can make inroads into the « Media Luna »

or eastern half of the country, they will have much more

leverage in upcoming congressional negotiations over

implementing legislation.

– – – – – –

Polling Data

– – – – – –

3. (C) Polling data has varied widely over the past two

weeks, due to a combination of a tightening race and polling

methodologies (i.e. city vs. rural). Recent national polls

by Gallup and Apoyo within the last week show approval for

the constitution with a much slimmer lead than many expected,

ahead only 48 to 42 percent and 49 to 43 percent,

respectively. Ipsos and Mori both conducted polls of capital

cities and both found the « yes » vote ahead, with Ipsos

showing a 59 to 35 percent lead and Mori reporting 60 to 40

percent. However, our contacts tell us all these polls

partially or totally ignored the rural vote, where the MAS

has much of its base. A poll by Observatorio de Gestion

Publica, publicized by government-friendly Radio Patria

Nueva, marked the constitution’s lead at 66 percent, versus

31 percent against. Some estimate a six percent « bump » when

the rural vote is included.

4. (U) Polls showing a breakdown

by city or region indicate

the constitution will easily win in at least four

departments: La Paz, Potosi, Oruro, and Cochabamba, likely

with at least 70 percent support in each. The MAS has a

distinct chance to capture both Pando and Beni as well. In

Pando, the Observatorio poll shows Pando department split

evenly, and the Ipsos poll shows the capital city of Cobija

supporting the constitution by a ratio of 64 to 36. Polling

data for Beni has been more scattershot, but although its

capital city of Trinidad is firmly against the constitution,

by as much as 88 percent, the larger city of Riberalta is

leaning for approval of the constitution. The Observatorio

poll shows Beni evenly split as a department.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Rural and Indigenous Role

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

5. (SBU) Although the opposition is making a mighty effort

across the country to rally against the constitution, the

forces of inertia seem to be conspiring against them,

particularly in the form of a largely uneducated rural base

in the Altiplano. Leading daily La Razon interviewed several

community leaders from the Altiplano, and their supporters,

and reported on January 18 that neither the leaders nor the

supporters had read the Constitution. Instead, the repeated

message was that rural communities would take their marching

orders from the MAS, and vote for the constitution. According

to the Ipso poll of capital cities, only four percent of

respondents said they had read much or all of the

constitution, 45 percent of respondents said they have read

some, and 50 percent said they had read none of the draft

text. In the countryside, the number of those reading the

constitution is much lower. Post suspects disinterest, blind

faith in Evo Morales’ political project, and illiteracy,

despite the Cuban literacy program, all play a role. In

addition, the sheer volume of the 411-article constitution

probably scares some potential readership away.

6. (C) However, despite the overall level of MAS dominance

among campesinos and indigenous voters, some opposition does

exist, albeit for a variety of reasons. The xxxxxxxxxxxx, has tried to rally

support against the MAS and the proposed constitution (Reftel

A). In a meeting with PolOffs, they lamented the way the MAS

had « cheated » and « fooled » campesinos into believing Morales

was himself truly indigenous or cared about indigenous

issues. Although they held a national meeting on January 17

and tried to reach out to the press, they sounded defeated

when they acknowledged that the MAS, through a combination of

funding and pressure on local social and business leaders,

held a « vertical control » in the countryside that would be

difficult to break. They also noted rural communities tended

to vote in blocks, supporting one political party until they

discarded it to vote en masse for another.

7. (C) Going in a completely different direction, some rural

social groups and far-left leaders, such as Achacachi Mayor

Eugenio Rojas and El Alto City Councilor Roberto de La Cruz

also publicly recommended voting against it because it was

seen as not revolutionary enough. They criticized the

government for making too many concessions to the opposition

during the constitutional compromise reached on October 21,

including the agreement to not make land reform retroactive.

However, they have a relatively small following, and some,

like de La Cruz, eventually reversed course as the projected

MAS margin of victory shrunk in January. Edgar Patana,

leader of the regional workers union (COR), other El Alto

union leaders, and the majority of social groups have

recommended voting for the constitution.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Opposition Feisty, But Realistic

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

8. (C) The opposition has not given up, but seems to be

battling

more to limit the margin of defeat than to win. In

Santa Cruz,xxxxxxxxxxxx

told EmbOff that polls show an overwhelming victory for the

« No » vote in Santa Cruz, but that he is worried about the

opposition’s goal of winning in five of Bolivia’s nine

departments (Reftel E). Although a current

privately-commissioned opposition poll showed the

constitution ahead by a margin of only five points, 39 to 34

percent (with 20 percent undecided), opposition alternate

xxxxxxxxxxxx doubted the opposition would be able to

win the referendum outright even under the most optimistic

scenario. He predicted that Morales would succeed in

personalizing the constitution as « Evo’s constitution » and

leverage his cult of personality. Ultimately xxxxxxxxxxxx was more

concerned with the margin of the opposition’s defeat and

discrediting the results of « any election that uses this

voter roll » (Reftel C).

9. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx has been

criss-crossing the country with opposition xxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxx, campaigning against the proposed constitution, but

also building a foundation for a likely run for the

presidency. xxxxxxxxxxxx claimed opposition leaders put aside

jockeying to be the 2009 opposition unity presidential

candidate in the final days of the « no » campaign to « attack

the government from three sides: » the prefects (governors)

who been traveling around the Media Luna to show &they are

not afraid » of government threats to arrest them and

galvanize support in opposition departments, a group of three

presidential contenders to show opposition unity and

xxxxxxxxxxxx, who is used for more cerebral attacks on the CPE

and to &dismiss the governments mythology that they

exclusively represent the indigenous.8 xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that

opposition parties Podemos and MNR are playing a deliberately

muted role, recognizing that their unpopular association with

the &old regimes8 would play into MAS strategy. « Political

parties are bad words in Bolivia, » xxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxx La

Paz-based group of mostly young professionals who focus on

issues and distance themselves from the party moniker. « We

need parties, but we need to start from scratch, without the

old leaders. This will take time. »

10. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx told

PolOff the opposition is chipping away at the MAS referendum

lead despite the government’s leviathan advantage in

resources by de-personalizing the constitution and

« convincing people on the street that is not in their best

interests. » Although he conceded the « no » campaign would

ultimately be a losing effort, he cited the emerging feud

between Morales and Church, corruption charges against

government officials, and the increasingly precarious economy

as emerging factors in December and January that created an

opposition « surge » after « we were so depressed » in the fall.

xxxxxxxxxxxx said that the government’s newfound mobilization of

congressmen and deputies to challenge the opposition view on

television and radio shows is proof of government panic.

« Before they just thought they could ignore us (and win), »

said xxxxxxxxxxxx. « They said there was no opposition. » xxxxxxxxxxxx

agreed, and added that this is playing into the opposition’s

hands, because they « are forced to defend a constitution they

often know little about. » According to xxxxxxxxxxxx has

been challenging MAS supporters to debate him during his

speaking tours and embarrassed Vice Minister of Social Groups

Sacha Llorenti in a January 20 debate when he started talking

in fluent Aymara. He asked the dumbstruck Llorenti what he

planned to do if the constitution passed, since all public

officials will be required to speak one of Bolivia’s

indigenous languages. Later he challenged President Morales

to debate him in Aymara, which the president allegedly speaks

poorly.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Fraud, Doubts, and Questions

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

11. (C) The National Electoral Court (CNE), which will

oversee and ratify the results of the referendum, has

undertaken a public relations campaign to assure the public

of the security of the election rolls, which came under

scrutiny after leading daily La Razon published a series of

articles questioning the validity of the August 10, 2008

recall referendum. Several contacts, including xxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxx, told us the MAS padded their

August referendum victory by five to seven points through

fraud at several levels (reftel C). While many international

observers groups are expected to view the January 25

constitutional referendum — including the European Union,

the OAS, the Carter Center, the UN, the CAN, the

South-American and Andean parliaments, and UNASUR (septel) —

the depth of the earlier fraud has muted the opposition’s

confidence in observers’ ability to ensure the results are

fair. Members of the Santa Cruz civic committee told EmbOff

that they have no faith in international observers. The

committee has met with the OAS team already and « told our

side of the story », describing the discoveries of tens of

thousands of false voter cards and the statistical signs of

fraud in areas that managed to vote 100 percent for President

Morales in the August 2008 referendum. However, the civic

committee said that the fact that international observers

blessed the August referendum means they do not expect an

honest review of the constitutional referendum. Civic

committee members also noted that small numbers of observers,

generally based in the city, will not be able to stop

widespread fraud in the countryside, which is where they

believe most of the August 10 fraud took place.

12. (C) In a press conference designed to bolster confidence

in the security of the electoral rolls, National Electoral

Court (CNE) President Jose Luis Exeni presented a PowerPoint

describing the bill of clean health given by the OAS. As

part of the presentation, he showed the number of voters

dropped from the rolls for not participating in prior

elections and the number added during this cycle. While all

departments projected to vote against the constitution had a

net reduction in the voter rolls, including 85,000 Crucenos

and 17,000 Benianos, MAS strongholds including La Paz

(38,000) and Potosi (16,000) saw substantial gains — a

curious reckoning, considering population and migration

trends to the contrary.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Pando At Center of Storm, Again

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

13. (C) While it is possible the constitution could pass in

Beni, most opposition leaders tell us the MAS has set its

sights on lightly-populated Pando department as its best

chance to win in five departments. By winning the popular

vote and a majority of the departments, the MAS could more

credibly claim to have support throughout the country. Pando

has also traditionally aligned with the opposition, so a

breakthrough win there would send a strong signal that the

strength of the MAS continues to rise. And with fewer than

32,000 registered voters, or less than one percent of the

country’s voting population, Pando is the most vulnerable

department to even small amounts of fraud or voter

registration changes.

14. (C) In a conversation with PolOff, xxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxx alleged the MAS deliberately fomented unrest in Pando

in September to justify a military siege, depose Prefect

Leopoldo Fernandez, and arrest opposition-aligned leaders to

swing the balance of power to the MAS in the Senate. Besides

disabling the opposition’s ability to campaign by arresting

many of its leaders,xxxxxxxxxxxx alleged the government crackdown

changed Pando’s electoral map by causing hundreds of

opposition voters to flee to Brazil while importing 2,000 new

security forces, which xxxxxxxxxxxx claimed were likely MAS voters

from the Altiplano (Reftel B). xxxxxxxxxxxx added

that in the run-up to the August 2008 referendum, Government

Minister Alfredo Rada facilitated the establishment of fake

identities via the police role in issuing national identity

cards (which can then be used to vote). (Reftel C).

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

January 26: What Happens Next?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

15. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx told PolOff December 31 that

a general election prompted by passage of the new

constitution requires a plethora of enabling legislation that

the opposition-controlled Senate will block, at least in the

forms likely to be proposed by the MAS (Reftel B). xxxxxxxxxxxx

said the new draft constitution is deliberately vague, which

grants MAS legislators wide discretion to « fill in the

blanks » with new implementing legislation. He also said the

Senate would clash with the government on assigning new

borders for electoral districts, needed for the general

election. xxxxxxxxxxxx added that Morales’ MAS party is

already injecting « ridiculous » interpretations of the

constitution into a wide gamut of implementing legislation

that « the Senate cannot in good conscious agree to. » He said

Senate rejection of MAS proposals provides a ready excuse for

Morales to dismiss congress for « rejecting the will of the

people » and then have President Morales rule by decree

(Reftel D).

16. (C) Despite the official government position that

President Morales will undergo treatment to correct a

deviated septum immediately following the referendum, several

contacts confirm that the problem is actually a tumor in the

pituitary near the sella turcica and that Morales will travel

to Spain for the operation. xxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxx told us Morales’ first choice, Cuba, could not

perform the surgery. Article 238 is also of consequence to

the post-January 25 political landscape. It would establish

that all other government officials must stand down three

months before general elections expected in 2009, with the

notable exception of the president and vice president.

Besides providing the MAS the advantage of ruling during the

campaign, it also ensures leadership cannot pass to the

opposition-controlled Senate. It is unclear why the

opposition waited until the final week before the referendum

to complain about the article or why they accepted it during

marathon sessions in October to arrive at a « compromise

text, » which, it should be noted, the opposition agreed to

under duress, with thousands of MAS-aligned protesters

surrounding the congress and threatening violence.

– – – –

Comment

– – – –

17. (C) It is likely there will be some amount of fraud in a

referendum the MAS seems likely to win legitimately anyway.

While it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction, the

Morales administration has a reputation of doing exactly what

they announce they will do. In this case, 66 percent seems

to be the target number, and the MAS is likely to pull out

all the stops to reach that level. With at least two-thirds

support across the country and a minimum of five of the nine

departments under his belt, President Morales would be able

to claim a political mandate to implement the constitution

quickly. Practically speaking, this will put great pressure

on the Congress, especially the opposition-controlled Senate,

to acquiesce in negotiations and accept MAS versions of

implementation legislation. If they do not, Morales and

others in the MAS have spoken of rule by decree. Using

similar logic, Morales could call for early elections to more

quickly advance the « democratic revolution » in Bolivia.

Early elections would also help the MAS avoid dealing with

the quickly-crumbling economy, which would likely be more of

an issue in December.

18. (C) Both sides seem to be angling over the margin of the

MAS victory, not the victory itself. While Morales continues

to predict a victory of up to 80 percent, Vice President

Garcia

Linera tried to manage expectations with a 66 percent

estimate on January 21. The margin matters. If the

constitution gets less than two-thirds support, many

observers feel this would represent a relative defeat,

especially when Morales himself has set such high

expectations. On the other hand, we are equally concerned

that large-margin victories in media luna departments could

lead opposition leaders to ignore the national results and

resume a course for autonomy on their own terms — putting

them on a collision course with the national government. A

solid but not overwhelming MAS victory, perhaps around 56 to

60 percent, might be the best outcome to keep both sides from

claiming a strong mandate for extreme measures.

URS



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