Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Community Justice: Patzi must make 1000 bricks, Refuses to Resign for Drunk Driving Despite Evo Insistence

Indigenous and Farm leaders have validated Aymará sociologist and ex-education minister Félix Patzi as their choice for governor of La Paz despite his recent arrest and confession to charges of drunk driving and fleeing arrest.

Leaders in the indigenous town of Patacamaya have given an ultimatum of 24 hours to Evo Morales to re-instate the disgraced ex-minister to his position in Evo's Movement to Socialism party or they will initiate road blocks. Both the indigenous La Paz state  Túpac Kataru Federation and Bartolina Sisa Federation confirmed that Patzi was still their chosen candidate despite being thrown out of the Movement to Socialism candidacy by Evo Morales as a repercussion for his drunk driving. The indigenous leaders deliberated for much of the day in Patacamaya before announcing their support for Patzi in defiance of the government's strict new law against drunk driving.  This is not Patzi's first drunk driving arrest, he was arrested last July on the La Paz-Oruro road with a blood alcohol level of 1.5

In a meeting closed to the press, the leaders from the Aroma, Los Andes, and Omasuyos municipalities decided that they would give President Morales 24 hours to reverse his decision to disqualify Patzi before they began road blocks. In the same closed meeting the indigenous leaders meted out a "community justice" punishment for Patzi's drunk driving of being forced to make one thousand abode bricks and publically apologizing to the President. Community justice is supported under Bolivia's Constitution but its relationship with the formal legal system is not well defined.

As the meeting broke up Patzi was taken on the shoulders of those present and proclaimed the future governor of La Paz. Patzi spoke with the press after the meeting saying, "Brothers and sisters, first of all I want you to forgive me for the mistake I've made. Brother President, I know that I've failed you, but I can't resist the pressure from the social organizations. If I resign it would be like betraying all 20 provinces and all the organizations of La Paz. Brother President, you are very wise, very disciplined, a great example; that’s why you’ve cast me out and you have every right to do so, but please pardon me, and may La Paz, El Alto and all the provinces pardon me.” 

Patzi had announced his resignation publically but did not renounce to the Electoral Court where he is still a candidate for the governorship of La Paz as a large group of indigenous leaders blocked Patzi from entering to resign last Friday. Patzi spoke to the crowd about articles 190, 191, and 192 of the new constitution that validate “community justice”. Patzi said, “You have applied this community justice to me and I will obey. President, you are the chief, it’s true that you can decide, but also take into account these social organizations. For unity pardon me. Humans make mistakes but I haven’t committee a crime that can’t be solved.”

Despite Patzi’s declaration and apology for drunk driving, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera clarified to the press on Bolivia TV that every single social organization except for the Túpac Katari Federation approved of Patzi’s resignation and added that the President had asked for Patzi’s resignation because it could lead to the Movement to Socialism party losing the governorship in the April elections. Linera said, “The decision was not taken just by the president but by all the social organizations of La Paz which evaluated this political error as a huge problem that could lead us to electoral defeat.”

The spokesperson for the Movement to Socialism party Jorje Silva said that Morales will shortly convene all the social organizations of La Paz to decide who will replace Patzi as the candidate for governor by concensus. Silva said, “This decision won’t be made by pointing a finger. What you can be sure of is that it will be an Aymará candidate. The leader of the Bartolina Sisa Federation accued President Morales of “pistol-whipping the traditions and customs” of the La Paz state and to be wary.

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