Politicization of the Census process

If the national government complied with the State policies according to the times established by the regulations, then the technical criteria would have determined the census process and it would take place in November 2022. But in reality it is the political criteria that have conditioned it to to take place in 2024.

In March – when November 16 was the date of the national survey and the INE said that everything was going from strength to strength – the rector of the Uagrn, Vicente Cuéllar, stated: “What we want to demand with this march is to have access to the information, we want to know the critical path of the census, which activities have been completed, which are in progress and which activities are scheduled, indicating the date of completion, because otherwise the INE is walking blindly and is not letting the Bolivian population with absolute clarity this basic information”. In response, Humberto Arandia, the director of the INE, “urged” that the process not be politicized because it was eminently technical, and “demanded” the Uagrm and the Cruceña Departmental Assembly to “stop lying.”

In the recent meeting of the president with the mayors of capital cities (July), the meager progress of the technical process was officially recognized -what the rector of the Uagrm had already denounced in March-. The mayor of La Paz, Iván Arias, highlighted the sincerity of the president regarding what the INE has not done. In his words: “We have learned things that were not said and that it is the first time that the president has opened up. They told us that 60% was advanced and we found out that the cartographies only in the cities of Oruro, Potosí and Tarija are 50% advanced. In cartography we are almost at zero and that the entire contracting process for equipment that is needed is at zero”.

The effect of that institutional meeting was the political agreement that a technical commission, led by the INE, will socialize technical aspects of the census in each department with the technical teams of the municipal governments of capital cities and public universities, with the purpose of “depoliticizing the process”.

In this new moment of the census process, the discursive strategy of the national government contains two key words: socialize and depoliticize. Socialize with the technical teams of the various regions and justify their rescheduling for 2024. Depoliticize to delegitimize any political or civic representative who is against the new official script (inter-institutional committee). What is politically significant about that meeting is that the mayors have adopted and adapted the government’s discursive strategy. The best example is the mayor of the Santa Cruz capital.

The politicization of the census process began with the lack of clear and truthful information. Why? Because the lie of the INE has been proven: that it was technically possible to carry it out in November 2022. That is, the rector of the UAGRM was always right when he said that he was uninformed about his critical path. Now, with the sincerity of the national government, albeit belatedly, everything is clarified.

In general, the census process will continue to be politicized as long as the national government does not seriously take into account the technical criteria of the Uagrm that proposes to execute it in 2023, and denies the importance of the political role of the opposition autonomous authorities under the argument of depoliticizing it, despite that the first to politicize it was Arandia with his big lie.

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