Yesterday, January 22nd, was a very special day for the people of Bolivia. It marks the anniversary of their constitution. Over ten years old, it's a young constitution. To my understanding, this new constitution was written and ratified in the hopes of creating a nation that cherishes diversity and respects the needs of all of its people. With the new constitution came the addition of another flag full of colors to symbolize the people of the country.
Normally, there would be a great celebration throughout Bolivia, including parades and fireworks. As you may guess, these were canceled this year due to the pandemic. I considered how, in my isolation, I could honor the day. Yesterday I enjoyed some wonderful Bolivian music filled with guitars and flutes. For me, the music is full of emotion, hope and energy. I really like it.
Today, I felt called to delve more deeply into the constitution. I wondered how a constitution could possibly address all that might entail such big ideas like equity, interculturality and the environment. The best way to find out, I decided, was to read it! I found an copy of the constitution in English. I was a bit intimidated when I saw it was 131 pages. After starting to read however, I realized that there is a lot of instructional detail in the Bolivian Constitution. It’s kind of a one-stop shop for all the ideals and expectations of the Bolivian people.
The document started with: In ancient times mountains arose, rivers moved, and lakes were formed. Our Amazonia, our swamps, our highlands, and our plains and valleys were covered with greenery and flowers. As you can imagine, I was hooked and wanted to keep reading. I am on page 36 now, and am impressed by how it handles so many things. The term “Communitarian Democracy” was used to express both the diversity and the community form the country strives to include in their democratic nation. Sentiments regarding decolonization and environmental sustainability and protection were contained throughout.
Below, I highlighted a few of the areas and language I found particularly interesting that relate to some of the social issues I have worked with.
In Article 24
Anyone who has been granted asylum or refuge in Bolivia shall not be expelled or deported to a country where his life, bodily integrity, security or liberty is endangered. The State shall attend in a positive, humanitarian and efficient manner to requests for family reunification presented by parents or children who are given asylum or refuge.
In Article 33
Everyone has the right to a healthy, protected, and balanced environment. The exercise of this right must be granted to individuals and collectives of present and future generations, as well as to other living things, so they may develop in a normal and permanent way.
In article 48
The State shall promote the incorporation of women into the workforce and shall guarantee them the same remuneration as men for work of equal value, both in the public and private arena.
In Article 98
Cultural diversity constitutes the essential basis of the Pluri-National Communitarian State (Estado Unitario Social de Derecho Plurinacional Comunitario). The inter-cultural character is the means for cohesion and for harmonic and balanced existence among all the peoples and nations. The intercultural character shall exist with respect for differences and in conditions of equality.
If you are interested, I invite you to read the constitution to get a better idea of the ideals expressed. It is really easy in this polarized world to immediately begin to compare one nation/culture with another, or even to be cynical because of our differences. In the spirit of this very special Bolivian day, I invite you to put away that desire and enjoy!