This was drafted in a large kitchen, while we peeled potatoes and the children helped us prepare the peas. We employed models of rotating discussion and consensus to achieve approval of this document. No one spoke for another woman, which led, in time, to even the most silent women sharing their thoughts.
The existence of this political, feminist constitution is not a campaign for a No or a Yes to the project of the official constitution. We only want to make clear that there are other ways of conceiving of the voice of women and the transformations that are urgent in our society. We make clear that the voices of women in the official constitution were mediated, brokered, censored, and measured by the political parties that legitimated only the liberal NGOs and the conservative voices of indigenous women who spoke for their men, for their sons, and for their churches and their dogmas of faith. Other women’s voices have been left out, left out of the constitutional text, expelled from history once more, along with all of the political and social problems, pending and deferred, that our eyes see, that stretch out into a remote and uncertain future.
Let it be known that we write this constitution not from a generality of the voice of women, but instead from three concrete voices: indigenous women, whores, and lesbians. We recuperate these three places of oppression, where we have constructed important knowledge—indigenous women know colonialism and its relationship to culture; whores know the extreme that is the condition of objects in society, and the double morality that judges a man with one measure and a woman with another; and lesbians, expelled from the condition of womanhood, explore the pleasure of the infinite reading of our bodies and break the most ancient law of obligatory heterosexuality. We do not assume these three places as passive victims to whom must be granted rights. These places signify important perspectives from which we observe society in its totality. They are also mirrors, or metaphors, for society ladies and strivers to look through, for single mothers and grandmothers raising children, for secretaries, for hysterics and prudes, the unemployed and others, for all those who are looking for the breaking point in society, the place of rupture and rebellion rather than the conciliation of silence and the comfortable complicity of our own subjection.
Upon being approved in January through a referendum, the official constitution will stand as the result of a pact among men regarding their gazes, their parceling out of power. Therefore, the constitution’s transformational power is disfigured in advance by the calculating ambition that accompanies it through the process of redaction and conciliation.
Bolivia’s constitutional process remains frustrated by the current text, which will be submitted to a referendum that is more of a plebiscite than a questioning of its substance.
The constitutional process has not ended, rather it has been doubly asphyxiated; first, through the legitimization of a system of parties that does not represent the politics of the society in its election of representatives and, secondly, with the compromises in its substance between right, left, indigenism and regionalism that frustrate its potential for change.
So, we write this feminist constitution so that it is clear that we have words with which to formulate proposals and concrete visions and, although they are not inscribed into law, they have always been the words that remain powerfully inscribed in our daily practices.
Finally, let it be clear that our intention is not to achieve a body of rights for women; we have never worked within such a simplistic logic. What we are doing is formulating a national vision for all women and for all men.
Eve will not emerge from Evo’s rib
Bolivia is here declared a free, independent, sovereign, and pluricultural country in all senses and directions possible without limit in the formation, comprehension, and expansion of its cultural visions.
Concurrently, Bolivia is here declared a country free of nationalism, which has served as a platform on which to build hatred, resentment, and power plays among elites. From national socialism to ethnic nationalisms, they base their politics in the exaltation of their own values, the disdain of difference, and the concepts of purity and origin as bases for the construction of relations between countries and human beings.
No government shall exist. Rather, there will be an administrative body in place to serve all others, beginning with children and the elderly.
Sovereignty resides with the people, which is the sum of all people by all possible definitions that the people claim for their individual and collective expression, with which ethnic, generational, vocational or any other condition has the same value in the exercise of rights and obligations.
nor political party
The peaceable and respectful coexistence between members of Bolivian society is based on the repudiation and abolition of any type of privilege among persons, whether they are based on age, sex, experience, physical appearance, native language, behavior, social class, sexual orientation, cultural origin, or for any other reason.
be happy, renounce your privileges
We abandon the concept of official language in favor of one of universal languages that do not recognize borders. Therefore, the universal languages of this country, Bolivia, are the spoken and written word, music, painting, sculpture, dance and laughter. These languages may be freely chosen in accordance with the concrete need to communicate with each other and to express ourselves.
in Aymará, English or Spanish, woman wants to speak the word dignity
Bolivian society is declared a secular society without any religion.
As such, the respect for freedom to worship is guaranteed, as is respect for the practice of any type of religion and for the freedom to practice no religion at all.
All religious practices are restricted to their spiritual functions. In this way, no church may involve itself in educational, economic, political or social matters of public life. All of the accords that permit the Catholic Church to enjoy special privileges, exemption from taxation and all other advantages, are hereby annulled. Professors of religion may change their subject matter to ethics, or whatever else they prefer, and maintain their positions.
Ave María, you are replete with rebellion
The Armed Forces of Bolivia are hereby dissolved by an act of society in its collective repudiation of all military discourse and of all military training and education. With this act, Bolivian society declares itself an anti-militaristic society—pacifist, unarmed, non-aggressive, and of festive vocation. This act implies finding the solution to all conflict through dialogue and negotiation, without fear of death or any other threat.
At the same time, this stands as an act of justice for the victims of state violence undertaken by the Bolivian army against its people; under the command of civilians, as in the case of Sánchez de Lozada, and under military command, as in the case of Banzer.
the blood of murdered women cannot be negotiated, Sánchez de Lozada to trial
Obligatory military service is hereby considered the gravest violation of human rights in a society. The Bolivian State recognizes the refusal to bare arms as a fundamental right.
Military service has never been a way to serve the homeland. To the contrary, obligatory military service has been a school for violence and machismo for young men.
military service does not make you a man, it makes you a macho
The National Police are hereby dissolved due to the administrative government’s renunciation of all forms of violence and control against the inhabitants of its country. This commitment is in accord with society’s collective renunciation of all forms of violence in the coexistence of its inhabitants.
Furthermore, we want to transfer police officers into social and agricultural work in order to remedy the habits of violence and abuse acquired on the police force.
All those who wish to belong to this country may do so, being especially welcome all those who are persecuted in this world because they struggle for justice. In this way, the warm welcoming of those who arrive from great distances is one of the most important social values of Bolivian society.
The originality of the individual is an asset that the society respects, protects, and encourages.
The person is the fundamental unit of the society. A person’s fundamental right is freedom, and her most important obligation is the respect for all others in their ways of thinking, of dressing, of behaving, and of expressing themselves.
I am not originary, I am original
The state grants the same importance to the protection of animals as it does to all other rights consecrated by the constitution, whichever they may be.
Human need for animals will be carefully monitored to ensure the ethical treatment in life and a dignified death, in case that becomes necessary.
The free decision to choose to die with dignity is considered a fundamental right.
Traditions and customs do not express a people nor their liberty in many cases, such as the chicote and others; they are forms for assuming the colonizer’s practices of domination. Traditions and customs often express the introjection of forms of colonization rather than forms of decolonization.
The indigenous condition, its community and organizing structures, are built on principles of hierarchy in the relations male-female, elderly-youth, strong-weak. Therefore, traditions and customs are among the instruments that oppress and control rebellion in the community. To convert the traditions and customs into law is to give power to the superiors of the community and to establish the indigenous condition as a conservative and conservationist obligation that punishes and expels those who hope to create change.
Traditions and customs cannot become law.
Culture is in a permanent state of change and transformation: all of us are constructing culture all the time. It is not only peoples in the sense of ethnic groups who are producing culture; we produce culture and cultures from every human condition imaginable.
the greatest sadness of a people are their traditions and customs
To territorialize a culture is to convert it into an object of patriarchal power that only forms barriers and divisions, halting and impeding free circulation and the reinvention of belongings and customs that neither begin nor end with the Spanish conquest. There are no indigenous territories because we, the indigenous, do not need borders nor reserves. The entire country is a free space for the coexistence of multiple forms of understanding life, death, and happiness. We do not want territories because we do not want internal borders within the country.
We understand foreign exchange as an important value for our communities that have decided to live open to the new, to the unknown, and to change, permanently abandoning all sense of purity.
To territorialize culture would only be to construct more hegemonies between one culture and another, again creating hierarchies between supposedly weak cultures and supposedly strong cultures. This is the Andino-centric case in which we live today across the Bolivian territory. The territorialization of culture is an asphyxiating form of self-seclusion.
the land is not the property of masters
the land is not individual property;
nor collective property;
the land is mother to all living creatures
There is much evidence and proof that have shown us that within indigenous cultures, as in all patriarchal cultures, women have been traded as objects. In some instances, this trade has happened through the institution of marriage; other times, through selection of women for the Inca as offering for sacrifice, etc. Since the Spanish Conquest, women have again been delivered as offerings to the conquistadores alongside other gifts.
In the case of indigenous women, their value as objects of exchange exists within our cultures and social organizations to the present day; the proclaimed chacha-warmi establishes an obligatory hierarchical relationship between man and woman.
We reject the concept of the chacha-warmi as model of the relationship between man and woman, and we declare a right of cultural disobedience and desecration of traditional mandates for all indigenous women. (We refer to the chacha-warmi because we write this text from La Paz, understanding that this concept and model is present under other names in other regions of the country, and other, non-Andian cultural variants.
i like rebellious imillas
and outspoken cholas
Within indigenous communities, there is vigilance, criticism, and censorship of change in dress among women, relating dress with cultural belonging and obedience. Into this context, we impose the right to freedom of expression, both within the indigenous communities, as well as in the country as a whole.
The right to not belong is the right to mix oneself with that which is different and to reinvent oneself by mixing cultural identities, rejecting rigidity and all forms of xenophobia.
All people, therefore, enjoy the right to desecrate customs and the right to not belong. Following from this, it may not be obligatory to assume any custom in the case that one does not wish to, according to one’s free will.
Neither the Aymara chicote
Nor the Muslim whip
Nor the Yankee dressed as Superman
Legislative power is hereby dissolved. The privileges of representatives and senators to speak in name of the society are hereby ended. The substitution of this grotesque institution that has only meant the usurping of the word and the will of those below guarantees the democratic life of the society through the modality of direct representation in forums with decision making power. In these forums, all those who are concerned with the theme being addressed and have related proposals have the right to participate, whether they be organizations or individuals.
The most important social dilemmas will be resolved through the mechanism of referendum, following a period of deep, wide-ranging discussion about each matter as it concerns all levels of society.
A vote will be free and secret in all instances in which it is undertaken.
Political parties are hereby dissolved for having usurped the right to politics and for having distorted its contents and meaning. Instead, direct, citizen representation in all non-partisan forms will have a space and place for the exercise of politics in relation to all issues that have occurred and will.
This allows for the refounding of politics toward their transformation from being a struggle for power to being a way to transform society.
Society’s political organization does not require political parties; it is the political parties that have required social organizations to make them functional, useful, and legitimate.
«every political party is a weapon loaded with blood, machismo, and corruption»
The distribution of the wealth generated by society will be egalitarian, maintaining as its priority the health and education of all those persons who make up the society.
These benefits may be public, in the sense of belonging to all those who make up the society, and private, in the sense of belonging to the people, fruit of their labor.
Bolivia hereby introduces an ethical, nonprofit bank, creating three types of credit-granting institutions:
This institution will channel all of the funds from incoming international efforts to fight poverty, directing them to productive, interest-free loans.
Ururious micro credit loans are to be replaced by interest-free, social loans.
The remittances that arrive from our exiles of neoliberalism—the men and women who work in other places around the globe—will be channeled through a state entity that will allow one to receive credit for education without interest, to receive remittances without paying a transaction fee, and to put money in savings directly in Bolivia, rather than having to use an international bank.
Large municipalities will create non-profit banks to provide interest-free housing credits to the inhabitants of their cities. The title of the housing credits may be held exclusively by the mother of the household, if she so desires. No benefits that are generated by the mother may become, obligatorily, property of the father of the household.
Public goods should be cared for by everyone; they constitute the greatest richness of the society.
Private resources will not exceed that which a person or a community group needs in order to live and realize its activities.
All forms of exploitation and servitude as regards the work of another person are hereby abolished. Those who cannot or do not wish to pay a dignified wage for the work of another person, equal to that which he or she earns, will not be able to contract the services of another.
Domestic work is rotational between all those, men and women, who make up the core of a household. It is, therefore, obligatory for the men to take on half of all domestic work, whether they are sons, fathers, or grandfathers. By the same token, domestic work constitutes one of the greatest riches of the society because it engenders the well-being that comes with eating well, having a cleanly home, clean clothes, and well-cared for children.
the woman who’s organizing
won’t be kept at ironing
Manual work, creative work, domestic work, and intellectual work will be considered equally valid and as part of the same process of work. As such, they will be seen as a unity that has been unjustly broken.
Public daycare will be created in all workplaces to stimulate paternal responsibility. All male workers will cover 50% of the child care hours in the public daycare centers.
Public officials have an exclusively administrative character. They complete a social labor for the community and do not exercise any power whatsoever, under any circumstances, over other people.
Their positions are rotational; they will not enjoy any special privileges.
The public positions that require some degree of specialization will be applied for through competition and public exam, conducted before tribunals of citizens, and the positions will be, likewise, transitory. One cannot occupy the same position more than once in one’s life.
Private education is hereby abolished, replaced by an egalitarian system of public education for all members of society, whether at the primary, secondary, or university level.
The entire society dedicates itself to education as its most important function, but this time, a promise is made for real and not simply written on paper.
Therefore, Bolivian universities will become the best in the world and Bolivian high schools will be filled with happy children and young people, finding there all they need to come to know and to understand the world, to take care of and respect nature, and to build relationships of respect between people.
Manual work, creative work, domestic work, and intellectual work will be considered equal to each other and will be the basis for the pedagogy of this society.
Sex education is obligatory for all age groups, and all have the right to know their bodies without the interference of taboos or humiliations. Condoms will be distributed in high schools, where they will speak about sex, pleasure, and sexuality, as much as the curiosity of the girls and boys demands it.
This refers to an education that is not biologist, not religious, not reproductive, in which the mechanisms of sexual pleasure and knowledge of one’s own body are understood.
I lost my shame
and I don’t want to find it again
The patriarchal nuclear family ceases to be the principle nucleus of the society, ceases to be a asset in itself or an entity to be protected as having absolute value.
All patriarchal societies around the world are based on a sexual contract that implies that women belong to men. This belonging is institutionalized through marriage, paternity, and obligatory heterosexuality. This sexual contract is hereby dissolved, abolishing marriage, recovering the meaning and value of maternity and liberating human beings, men and women, from reproductive demands and the obligation to be heterosexual.
Marriage is abolished for being an institution of the oppression of women, in which, furthermore, Church and State are mediated. As a substitute stands the sirivinacuy, a form of union that is chosen freely by a couple.
«Rice and milk, I want to wed
but if I’m wrong, divorce instead.»
Although no one has wanted to recognize it, just as military service has been obligatory for men, women have been obliged to bear children, to live for them and forget themselves. Maternity as self-abnegation and as imprisonment is abolished to give way to a freer maternity. That is, a woman may become a mother when she herself wants and decides to and may decide the number of children that she wants to have.
A woman shall not be valued for being a mother.
A woman who decides not to be a mother shall not cease to be respected in her community.
«if Evo could give birth, abortion would be decriminalized, nationalized, and constitutional»
Children will carry their mother’s last name as the primary last name with the father’s last name coming second, with the latter being an optional addition.
In this way, we recuperate the value of the mother in society, and we appeal to forms of paternal responsibility not tied to providing materially for the family but more directly involved in rearing their sons and daughters.
Free unions may exist between man and woman, woman and woman, or man and man, abolishing heterosexuality as the only recognized form of love, affection and the union of a couple. This signifies the recognition of the right to adoption of children, and all other rights, for same-sex couples.
In the three cases of heterosexuals, lesbians, and gay men, free unions imply the liberty of each person to enter into this contract without feeling any form of pressure to do so from anyone involved and ensuring that it is an agreement between adults.
you have to be brave
to be a faggot
We understand transsexuality as a fundamental human liberty that implies the right to change the sex one has been born with in every sense. At the same time, it implies the right to call into question the presumptions about masculinity and femininity that are part of a given religion, culture, social class, or philosophical posture. In the fullest sense, individual liberty is here declared.
there is no political freedom
without sexual freedom
Bolivian justice has historically had three problems:-it is corrupt-it is scarce-it is patriarchal and colonialist
To solve these three problems, we propose the following bases:
1.- All judicial systems are to be dismantled, calling the society to enact a total and complete renovation of the judicial system, while prohibiting the candidacy of any the operators who formed part of the old system during the last twenty years.
The method for seeking office is through a public exam with citizen tribunals to determine the selection of candidates based on academic merit.
2.- The courts will be multiplied such that each judge or prosecutor will not have to attend to more than five cases daily, cases in which the participation of lawyers are dispensed with, replaced with the right to direct defense and exposition of one’s own case.
3.- The decolonization of justice becomes its depatriarchalization by virtue of the liberties laid out in this constitution regarding the respect for the body, sexuality and reproduction as the basis upon which justice operates in every case.
you cannot decolonize
if you do not depatriarchalize
We understand autonomy as a fundamental principle of feminist politics. It is a concept of self-governance that makes sense at the level of the person. To apply it to religion, indigenous territory or governing department is to subordinate the person to conflicting interests, and to submit territories to control of regional, departmental, or indigenous elites. These entities invent and construct understanding of civic belonging and of purity that result, most nefariously, in the construction of internal borders within the country. Another of the most grave consequences of autonomy based on ethnic or regional identification is the creation of hatred and egotism among those who are different from each other.
Furthermore, the official text proposes a hierarchies of autonomies, opening the doors to an conflicted, ruptured, interminable and inexhaustible control of funds, populations, and territories.
Sovereignty in my country
and sovereignty in my body
This constitution will not be approved, promulgated, or put to a universal vote. We do not claim the status of law because the contents of this document are greater than the law; they are written into the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of people in this country. Therefore, this constitution exists as an expression of the impossible country that thousands of women create each day.
This constitution is a fabric that weaves the daily with the historic, the utopian with the immediate, forming a rainbow of struggles and dreams that we will continue building without sacrificing a single one of them.
Translation by Abigail Levine.
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