.- The Secretary General of the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Jesus Juarez of El Alto, said elections should be called early and a new constitution should be drafted with the input of “historically marginalized and forgotten sectors” of society. Speaking while on a visit to Murcia, Spain, the bishop said a “Constituent Assembly that would allow for a re-founding of Bolivia” should be convened. He said a new constitution should give greater influence to all sectors of society in the election of local officials and in determining local autonomy.
The archbishop noted that the issue of autonomy, which has been demanded by wealthy regions of the country such as Santa Cruz de la Sierra, requires “prolonged reflection” before going forward. He called for solidarity among the rich and poor regions of the country in considering such a decision.
Bishop Juarez also addressed the issue of the nationalization of the natural gas industry, which has provoked widespread protests in El Alto and in other regions of the country, and resulted in a blockade of the capital, La Paz.
He said nationalization should be understood as returning the industry to ownership by the people, according to the country’s Constitution. Therefore, he called on multinational companies that operate in Bolivia to “share this existing wealth with the people, without getting rich at their expense.”
Likewise the bishop called on Bolivia’s new president, Eduardo Rodriguez, “to convene elections as soon as possible so that the Bolivian people can regain trust.” He said senate and congressional elections should also be held, and he criticized lawmakers for taking “little vacations” when the situation of the country requires their presence.