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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06LAPAZ2017
2006-07-26 18:47:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy La Paz
Cable title:  

STATE CRITICIZES CHURCH

Tags:   ASCH  APER  AMGT  PGOV  PREL  SOCI  BL 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0012
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLP #2017 2071847
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261847Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0062
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6015
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3333
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7184
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 4447
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1722
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 1737
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 3936
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 4353
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 8915
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 002017 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/AND

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2016
TAGS: ASCH APER AMGT PGOV PREL SOCI BL
SUBJECT: STATE CRITICIZES CHURCH

REF: LA PAZ 1956

Classified By: Ambassador David N. Greenlee for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).




1. (C) Summary: A growing confrontation between church and
state, which began as a debate about religious education, has
broadened into a larger discussion of religion in general.
Religion and religious education will be discussed in
Congress in relation to a pending education bill as well as
in the upcoming Constituent Assembly. Minister of Education
Felix Patzi and President Morales have publicly attacked the
Catholic Church, with Morales stating that the Church was
behaving as it did during the Inquisition. Senate President
Santos Ramirez articulated a more reasoned GOB position which
would permit religious freedom and not unduly favor
Catholicism, but as with many issues, the public rantings of
the Morales' government overshadow reason. End summary.



2. (SBU) A discredited National Education Congress, deserted
by universities, urban teachers, religious leaders, and
private schools, approved the MAS proposal for secular
education on July 14 (reftel). The church viewed the
congress' results as a threat to religious education, which
is currently funded by the state in public schools. The MAS
proposal was based on a bill to be debated in Congress,
which, among other things, would secularize education, create
indigenous universities, and impose "social control" over
teachers and universities. Following the educational
congress, the church sought to open debate with President Evo
Morales on religious education; Morales passed the buck to
the Constituent Assembly.



3. (SBU) On July 24, Education Minister Felix Patzi accused
the Catholic church of siding with the rich "oligarchy" for
514 years and asked church leaders to stop lying to the
public about the GOB's intentions regarding religion.
Morales heated up the rhetoric the following day, stating
that leaders of the Catholic Church were behaving as they did
during the Inquisition. Morales added that religion would be
debated during the Constituent Assembly, including the
behavior of priests dating back to the colonial era. (NOTE:
On a separate issue, Minister of Government Alicia Munoz
accused the Catholic Church of hiding two Paraguayans
suspected in the death of Cecilia Cubas, the daughter of
former Paraguayan President Raul Cubas. END NOTE). In
response to the GOB's various attacks, the church requested a
respectful, tolerant dialogue with the state on religion and
religious education; citizens of Santa Cruz responded by
marching in favor of religious education July 25.



4. (C) Senate President Santos Ramirez articulated a more
reasoned GOB position on religion to the DCM July 26. Ramirez
noted the diversity of Bolivia's population, stating that all
religious traditions must be respected, not just Catholicism.
He said it would be "ridiculous" to think that the GOB
wanted to eliminate the Catholic Church, but that it would
not impose a Catholic education on its citizens. Ramirez
said the GOB, including President Morales, has made clear its
respect for the church, but said "some people" want to use
this issue to attack them. Ramirez said the GOB does not
want confrontation with the church, and implied that Minister
of Education Patzi had crossed that line.



5. (C) Comment: While the GOB's bottom-line position on
religion is reasonable -- respecting diversity and moving
toward state-church separation -- its public rantings
overshadow this reason. Continuing with its theme of
anti-colonization, the MAS administration has picked a
dangerous fight with the church in a majority-Catholic
country. While the administration's actions seem aimed at
constraining the power (and the public financing) of the
church rather than restricting religious freedom, the GOB has
touched some nerves and will have to engage the Catholic
Church in order to move forward. End comment.
GREENLEE