The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
Rights of Nature
Legislative Assembly of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Mark Goodale, 2018. "Rights of Nature", The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics, Sinclair Thomson, Rossana Barragán, Xavier Albó, Seemin Qayum, Mark Goodale
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Going into the Constituent Assembly, some members of the indigenous and peasant movements sought to introduce radical new ecological values. Although the Bolivian National Constitution of 2009 came up short of their aspirations, it did, controversially, recognize the Pachamama, or Mother Earth, before any other force as the giver of all life and the source of strength for a refounded nation. The following year, when Bolivia hosted the World People’s Conference on Climate Change, the indigenous movements were given another chance to push the Movement to Socialism (mas) government to go beyond the provisions in the constitution and formally codify the principles of indigenous cosmology. These had become very much a part of political discourse, from the frequent invocation of the Pachamama in political ceremonies to the use of the doctrine of “living well” (suma qamaña) as an organizing principle for the steady stream of new social programs and economic policies. In December 2010, the first and shorter version of the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth (Law 071) was presented to the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, portions of which are excerpted here. In October 2012, a much-altered and longer version of the law was passed, adding an emphasis on national development that evidently reflected the perspectives of other “modernizing” elements within the mas. The later Law 300 resembles more classic approaches to development and makes it more diffcult to apply the novel principles articulated in Law 071. Nevertheless, the two versions of the law contain a highly innovative view of the relationship between humans and nature and suggest the ways in which the MAS government of Evo Morales took at least formal legal steps to incorporate indigenous and peasant worldviews as it sought to rewrite the terms of Bolivia’s social contract and contract with nature.
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