03 May Is There an International Law Right to “Autonomy”?
I doubt there is any international law relevant to this emerging crisis in Bolivia, where certain regions are seeking “autonomy” (but not independence) from the central government. Still, it is serious enough to spur international action (the OAS is on the case). And perhaps it is a prelude to secession, and autonomy is laying the groundwork. I don’t know enough about this area to say that this typically happens in secession situations.
This divided country faces a constitutional crisis Sunday when its richest and second most-populous province votes whether to declare itself autonomous from President Evo Morales’s national government, a referendum the president has called illegal.
If the referendum passes, as polls show it overwhelmingly will, leaders of Santa Cruz province say they’ll elect a state legislature, organize local police and otherwise set up a government equivalent to that of a U.S. state.
Morales has called the referendum a move to split up this nation of 9.1 million and to thwart his government’s efforts to rewrite Bolivia’s constitution so that its indigenous majority wins more political power. Bolivia has a centralized government, where police, taxation and other government functions are controlled by federal officials.
“This referendum violates the current constitution, because there’s no mechanism to convoke it,” said Leonida Zurita , a close Morales ally and a substitute senator with the president’s Movement to Socialism party. “They want to found a second Bolivian state, and we won’t let the fatherland be divided.”