New Bolivia constitution takes effect News
New Bolivia constitution takes effect

[JURIST] Bolivia's new constitution [PDF text, in Spanish], which gives more power to the country's indigenous majority, went into effect on Saturday. Announcing the event, President Evo Morales [official website, BBC profile] said it represented a new beginning [press release, in Spanish] for the country, and an earlier release [text, in Spanish] by his office compared it to the Magna Carta [backgrounder]. The new charter provides for redistribution of land and natural resource revenues [JURIST report], the creation of congressional seats reserved for indigenous representatives, and the institution of special courts for some indigenous communities. It also prohibits the posting of foreign military bases within the country and eliminates an existing one-term limit on Bolivian presidents.

The new constitution had been strongly opposed in regions where more voters own land or are of European descent, but was nevertheless approved in a national referendum [JURIST reports] in January. In October 2008, the Bolivian National Congress ratified [JURIST report] the proposed reforms [JURIST news archive] after Morales agreed not to run for re-election in 2014. In August 2008, Morales won a confidence referendum, which he personally proposed [JURIST reports] in a bid to legitimize his campaign for the constitutional changes.