Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08LAPAZ1634
2008-07-30 12:53:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy La Paz
Cable title:  

EVO: THE "LAW" WILL NOT HOLD BACK "CHANGE"

Tags:  PGOV KDEM BL 
pdf how-to read a cable
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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLP #1634/01 2121253
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301253Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8099
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 8188
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 5544
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 9483
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 6703
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 3805
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 4089
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 5641
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6424
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 1148
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 001634 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/29/2018
TAGS: PGOV KDEM BL
SUBJECT: EVO: THE "LAW" WILL NOT HOLD BACK "CHANGE"

REF: LA PAZ 1632

Classified By: Classified by A/ECOP Chief Brian Quigley for reasons 1.4
(b)(d)

-------
SUMMARY
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L LA PAZ 001634

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/29/2018
TAGS: PGOV KDEM BL
SUBJECT: EVO: THE "LAW" WILL NOT HOLD BACK "CHANGE"

REF: LA PAZ 1632

Classified By: Classified by A/ECOP Chief Brian Quigley for reasons 1.4
(b)(d)

--------------
SUMMARY
--------------


1. (SBU) In recent public statements, President Morales
admitted to knowingly taking illegal steps to enact his
reforms, as he sees current laws slowing down his "change"
process. This declaration comes at the same time departmental
courts are criticizing the National Electoral Court (CNE) for
not abiding by the law in convoking the August 10 recall
elections. END SUMMARY.

--------------
The Purpose of Law School...
--------------


2. (SBU) In an atmosphere of national debate over the
legality of the recall referendum, President Morales publicly
announced that his administration's national "process of
change" will not be constrained by the law. He affirmed that
even when he receives juridical counsel that his actions are
illegal, he "does it anyway," later telling his lawyers, "If
it's illegal, make it legal, for what (purpose) have you
studied (law)?" Evo rationalized this position with the
logic that it is important to start the process, even with
errors, and to "improve and legalize" it along the way.
Morales has long complained that current laws impede
advancing with reforms, previously stating that "being
subjected to the law is damaging us." The President has now
made his stance explicitly clear- "before the legal, comes
the political," he said.


3. (C) When asked about Evo's remarks, Senate President
Oscar Ortiz (Podemos - Santa Cruz) told EmbOff on July 29,
"many things this president and government does are illegal,
and they even say it publicly, they feel like prisoners of
the current constitution and laws." MAS deputies have echoed
Morales' logic, admitting to EmbOffs on many occasions that
the current draft constitution is riddled with legal flaws
and contradictions, but insisting that these "details" will
be worked out in future implementing of legislation.

--------------
Illegality Not For All
--------------


4. (C) Despite the fact Morales does not see legality as
hindering political decisions he views as important, in his
mind, the opposition is still law-bound. The same day he
proclaimed his politics-above-law attitude, Evo criticized
electoral entities of "illegal opinions on autonomous
statuses (of departments)," complaining that not even the
Constitutional Tribunal commented on the supposed illegality
of the four autonomy votes held in May and June. In reaction
to departmental electoral courts' recent rejection of the
recall election, Evo publicly implored these courts to
"respect the law" approved by Congress and proclaimed by the
Executive.

--------------
A Return to Dictatorship?
--------------


5. (C) Morales likened the departmental courts' rejection
of the national recall election to a desire to return to
dictatorship and "a blow to democracy, the people, and the
National Congress," warning that the people could rise up
against the courts for not respecting democracy. Ironically,
the President sees nothing undemocratic about using
presidential decrees to bypass the same congress and push
through changes, instead of waiting for laws or amendments to
be passed (a view he expressed last August),or in using his
supporters to surround Congress and block opposition
legislators from key votes, as he did most recently February

28. Morales has historically justified illegal actions by
citing the "will of the people," telling his ministers in
2007 that instead of waiting for laws, they should "continue
to work with political decisions," and if lawsuits are filled
against unconstitutional decrees, "it will be the people who
will judge." However, Senator Fernando Romero (MNR - Beni)
does not see the President's policies as so consensual,
saying no one knows what to think any more: "it's turned into
the law of the jungle where the strongman imposes his will on
others."

--------------
COMMENT
--------------


6. (C) Although Evo's public admission he takes illegal
actions is bound to draw some criticism, Morales justifies
such a stance by arguing that current laws were made by the
corrupt past ruling classes and are not conducive to building
the new inclusive society his reforms aim for. A strong
showing in the August recall election will grant him even
more ammunition to say that his decisions represent the will
of the people, allowing him super-legal status, and ignoring
the importance of institutional democracy. END COMMENT.
GOLDBERG