Bolivian constitutionalism: institutions of territorial autonomy and community justice

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Author: Igor Irkhin

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2018-5-65-86

Keywords: Bolivia; community justice; constitution; legal pluralism; multiculturalism; territorial autonomy


This article emphasizes that Bolivia has embarked on a new stage in the development of constitutionalism, due to the need to overcome the previously existing deficit of democratic elements in the organization of state and society, as characterized by social inequality and cultural homogenization. The national Constitution establishes a radical concept in the approach of power to the people. At the same time, the most important ideological component of the Bolivian constitution is an attempt to break ties with neoliberalism. The goal of the new constitutional order is the formation of a state where pluralism is the cornerstone of a new social, political, and legal framework within which collective and individual rights are protected by the state. Attention also is focused on the main features of the Bolivian constitutional-legal identity. On the basis of normative and doctrinal materials, this article examines the forms of institutionalization of national and cultural diversity (multiculturalism), the specifics of the organization of the state-territorial structure, and the configuration of the delimitation of competence between the central authorities and autonomous units. Special attention is paid to indigenous Indian rural communities. The article indicates that it is at this level that the most developed model of territorial autonomy in Bolivia is formed. The Bolivian experience of institutionalizing the jurisdiction of indigenous rural communities, equal in status to other types of jurisdiction, is unique for modern constitutional-legal practice throughout the world. The article indicates the differences between courts of indigenous rural communities and lynching, which are preserved as a manifestation of the arbitrariness in some remote areas in the form of atavism of the pre-colonial era. At the end of the article, topical problems with implementing constitutional provisions (socio-economic, natural resource, and urban components) are analyzed. In view of the domination of the MAS, the declared constitutionalism in Bolivia is in practice filled with authoritarian elements resulting from a one-party government regime. With such trends, it is impossible to completely exclude variants of restoration in the foreseeable future of hybrid versions of caudillismo.

About the author: Igor Irkhin – Candidate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Postdoctoral Student, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don; Associate Professor, Kuban State University, Krasnodar, Russia.

Citation: Irkhin I. (2018) Boliviyskiy konstitutsionalizm: instituty territorial'noy avtonomii i obshchinnoy yustitsii [Bolivian constitutionalism: institutions of territorial autonomy and community justice]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 27, no. 5, p. 65–86. (In Russian).


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