Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bolivia sets new global high mark for indigenous rights | csmonitor.com

Bolivia sets new global high mark for indigenous rights | csmonitor.com

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What happens when a previously disenfranchised marginalized group of the polity suddenly become energized and go to the polls?

No. Besides Obama.

I waited for several days to see if the mainstream press picked up this story, but I haven't seen it. One of my pet peeves is how mainstream media totally misses stories out of South and Central America. Bolivia's constitution just got overhauled, in ways that will make indigenous peoples every where think big.

The first indigenous Bolivian President, Evo Morales, backed a new constitution that decolonizes the country, giving indigenous peoples dedicated seats in the congress. A formidable block of 60% voted to adopt the new 400-article constitution, which also places native religions on par with the Roman Catholic church.

Morales' election in 2005 was as big a story as Obama's, in a country where indigenous' peoples right to vote was recognized a mere 60 years ago. News coverage here focused on his colorful traditional dress and imminent inevitable collapse of the country in the hands of such an amateur. Subsequent stories about Bolivia have focused on his colorful dress and on violence between corporate mining interests and indigenous peoples trying to hang onto their land and ways of life. I was please that the Christian Science Monitor did not comment on what Morales was wearing when he went to the polls.

I hope our government supports the deeply populist and democratic impulse that is pulsing through parts of South America. We have much to make up for in that part of the world. And we have much to gain in access to natural resources and allies.

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