January 22, Day of the Plurinational State of Bolivia

The Day of the Plurinational State of Bolivia is celebrated on Jan. 22. Eleven years have passed since 2009, when the country’s “re-foundation” was carried out, led by the first Indigenous president, Evo Morales.  The New Constitution states: “We left the colonial, republican and neoliberal state in the past. We assumed the historical challenge to collectively build a Social Unitary State of Plurinational Communitarian Law, which integrates and articulates the purposes of advancing toward a Bolivia that is democratic, productive, and an inspirer of peace, committed to integral development and with the free determination of its people.”  In a counterpoint with the other countries of the American continent, Bolivia does not erase indigenous peoples but celebrates its plurality and culture. Nathália Urban reports.

Tomorrow, January 22, Bolivia commemorates the Day of the Plurinational State. The celebration represents the consolidation of the birth of the Democratic and Cultural Revolution of the country, a movement established by the central socialist indigenous government of Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS).

It was in 2010, due to an official change in the name of the territory made by then President Evo Morales, when Bolivia began to be called the Plurinational State of Bolivia, an alteration collected and supported in the 2009 Constitution in order to recognize the various ethnic groups that make up the Bolivian population. The country ceased to be a republic to become a new nation format, capable of including its 36 indigenous peoples with whom 41% of the population is related, according to the 2012 census .

The Plurinational State principle is based on respect and equality among all, with principles of sovereignty, dignity, complementarity, solidarity, harmony and equity in the distribution and redistribution of the social product, where the search for living well prevails, with respect for the economic, social, legal, political and cultural plurality of the inhabitants of this land; in collective coexistence with access to water, work, education, health and housing for all.

The constitution guarantees the pre-colonial existence of indigenous, native and peasant nations and its people, and their ancestral dominion over their territories. Their self-determination is guaranteed within the framework of the unity of the State, their right to autonomy, self-government, culture, recognition of their institutions and the consolidation of their territorial entities. Another recognized right is that all the languages of the thirty-six nations and indigenous peoples are official languages of the country.

The efforts MAS has done it to minimise the imperialist wound that all countries still have in America is impressive. In 2009 the country launched the Ministry of Cultures, Decolonization and Depatriarchalization, making an effort to decolonize and de-patriarchalize, also to reverse this inequality between nationalities, as well as between men and women.

After Coup

Bolivia has been doing an important work mitigating the damages left by the Dictatorship of Jeanine Àñez and her government. Since MAS returned to power, the social and political situation has changed completely, bringing an end to the year-long crisis which followed the coup. In addition to the economy, the new President Luis Arce government is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The Bolivian president has placed emphasis on mass testing and vaccination, something that had been completely neglected by his predecessor.

Wiphalas Across the World

Here in the U.K. there’s an incredible group of Bolivians whose work is mainly to bring visibility to the issues of their homeland and celebrate their traditions, they are the Wiphalas Across the World or Wiphalas por el Mundo, (the 2009 Bolivian constitution establishes the Wiphala as the dual flag of Bolivia, along with the red-yellow-green tricolor.)

One of the members of its leading team Claudia Turbet-Delof, said that the Plurinational State Day “Is a day which Bolivia gives a message to the world showing that diversity, multinationalism, pluriculturalism can coexist peacefully”.

Twitter @WiphalasW FB@wiphalasacrosstheworld

IG @wiphalasporelmundo


Image credit: Aizar Raldes

Comments (22)

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  1. L. Carey Rowland says:

    God bless Bolivia!

  2. Robbie says:

    Yes may God bless them In their efforts to bring equality to the people and their country.

  3. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    The Plurinational State of Bolivia is a fine example of the decolonisation of the republic, and one that Scotland could emulate in changing its political, social, economic and cultural course.

    Colonisation is the hegemony of a ruling class, be that class social, racial, or cultural in its demarcation. It fosters patterns of exclusion, subordination, and erasure of difference. According to the theorist, Ernest Gellner, the nation-state is the instrument through which these patterns are established and maintained.

    Decolonisation is a rupturing of the Gellerian nation-state, the function of which is to homogenise the social fabric and thereby secure the basis for legal monism and other national institutions, such as a single official language, a single valid ‘right’ way of understanding reality.

    Plurality is the material condition on which Bolivia’s plurinational state is built. The 2009 Constitution breaks with the Gellnerian conception of the nation-state and recognises the heterogeneity of its ‘indigenous’ citizens. This is no ‘blood-and-soil’ indigeneity, however; it is the indigeneity of the whole social fabric, the entire citizenry that is indigenous to the civic life of the republic, rather than this-or-that bloodline or ethnic group. The plurinational state is in this sense ‘classless’.

    Today, Bolivia is at the crossroads of two projects: the return to a traditional nation-state or the resumption of a plurinational state that, after violent repression throughout 2020, is beginning to reaffirm its founding sense. It will be an interesting year for Bolivia.

    1. MacNaughton says:

      “Evo Morales supports a movement to teach indigenous languages such as Aymara, Quechua, and Guaraní which are spoken mainly in the rural areas of Bolivia. His government estimates that only 37% of the population speaks a native language that predates the introduction of Spanish in the 16th century. Morales’s Education Ministry has declared the drive to increase this percentage as part of a broad effort “to decolonize the mindset and the Bolivian state.”[6] The program is seen as “emblematic of his government’s indigenous-based social agenda”.[6] In 2006 Morales’s Minister of Education and Culture, Felix Patzi, announced that he would be requiring all government employees to take indigenous language training. The Morales government’s proposal to require all state schools to teach the languages has angered many urban Bolivians who see it as a move to replace Spanish. This is denied by the Morales government…”


      The parallels between Scottish Gaelic and the indigenous languages of Bolivia are crystal clear and highly pertinent…

      1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        Indeed! Bolivia has not been privileging any one of its languages for reasons of ethnicity, as some would have Scotland do. And the plurinationalists use ‘indigenous’ in a deliberately civic, non-ethnic sense, as I pointed out.

        As I said, Scotland going forward could learn a lot from Bolivia.

        1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

          Here’s a copy of the 2009 Bolivian constitution.


          Note especially Article 5.

          1. MacNaughton says:

            Bolivia is about ten times bigger than Scotland in terms of land mass and has….38 indigenous languages….!!!


            All of them have official status….

            We have just two indigenous languages, and neither Gaelic nor Scots have any real status at all…ok, they do on paper, but not in practice…

          2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            In the sense in which ‘indigenous’ is used in the Bolivian constitution, Scotland has (according to the 2011 census returns) 150 indigenous languages; that is, languages used by people who were born here.

          3. MacNaughton says:

            Fog, without wanting to get into another endless discussion, you’re missing the point. Morales is one of the key international figures in backing indigenous language revival, not the languages of immigrants who might live in La Paz and whose States already look after their language, which is the case of most European languages.

            In the case of Scotland, Gaelic, Scots and English are indigenous languages. You might want to make a case for including Welsh too, because something like it was certainly once spoken in what is roughly Strathclyde many centuries ago…

          4. MacNaughton says:

            Sorry, we’d have to add Norn to the list of Scottish indigenous languages. Robert Allan Jaimeson writes in it, as does Christine De Luca and a few others….

          5. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            No, I’m not missing the point. The point is that, in Scotland going forward, we have a choice; we can privilege Gaelic for reasons of ethnicity (i.e. because it’s a ‘native’ language) or we can establish it as one of the 150 official languages of Scotland as a plurinational state like the one Bolivia aspires to be.

            We’re fundamentally at odds here. You clearly think that Gaelic should be privileged in a multilingual Scotland as a ‘native’ language, ostensibly on the grounds that (as they say in the Borders) ‘it’s ay bin’. I don’t, on the grounds that such privileging is undemocratic and marginalising.

            But, as you say, we’ve butted heads over this on other threads. We’re never going to agree.

            And, in any case, Nathália’s article is about the celebration of Bolivian plurinationalism and its ‘message to the world… that diversity, multinationalism, pluriculturalism can coexist peacefully’, and not about Adam Dahmer’s exclusive Gaelic nationalism.

        2. MacNaughton says:

          Anyway, if you recall when we were talking on another thread about George Steiner and his central assertion about the “catastrophe at Babel” which is that the language drive is inward towards the clan or the local community and is meant to be opaque to outsiders, not outward in communication with the world. …

          The 38 indigenous languages of Bolivia suggest he is on to something there….

          1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            And as I said back then: even if we accept uncritically this reading of Steiner, which has him assert that language-communities are ‘naturally’ opaque and exclusive, so what? What does this tell us about the political arrangement that would best enable these mutually opaque and exclusive language-communities to productively coexist in res publica?

            I suggest that Bolivia shows us a way that’s worth considering for the constitution of Scotland going forward.

            But you disagree, obviously.

        3. MacNaughton says:

          Look at the names of the official languages of Bolivia. Why are there no European languages (except Spanish) or Asian languages included? Why are they all languages of the Americas? I mean, La Paz is a cosmopolitan city with people from all over the world who speak all kinds of different languages, but only the ones spoken in the Americas are considered indigenous, Fog, sorry, mo charaidh…

          As you can see on the same wiki entry posted above, the Bolivian State is instructing its teachers to learn indigenous languages so they can teach them or use them in affairs of State, dependant on which region of Bolivia they live and work in…no one can speak all 38….

          If we were to copy this model in Scotland, of which there is no chance at all, Gaelic and English would be the official languages of the Highlands, Scots and England of the Lowlands, Norn in the Shetland Isles, with Welsh being available according to demand….

          That sounds very interesting to my ears….

          1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Yes, I know. Bolivia’s plurinationalism isn’t perfect. Scotland could do better, be even more inclusive.

            But you’re right: it’ll never happen. Scotland is far too parochial and ethnically-minded to constitute a plurinational state. We’ll always have ‘natives’ and ‘incomers’, new Scots and true Scots.

          2. MacNaughton says:

            Scotland is one of the four or five countries where capitalism was born… Britain is a very capitalist country…. it is almost impossible to escape the capitalist system and its inevitable accomplice, the modern State… through its hegemony, British capitalism imposes a very narrow and rigid worldview on the people, such as that only a life devoted to chasing wealth and material comfort makes sense… everything is utilitarian… languages other than English are of no value to capitalism, save in very specific cases. Why bother learning them? Not so long ago, they started undermining and destroying learning the Humanities too. Why read about Ancient Rome or the French Revolution or Moorish Spain? Capitalism has no interest in that…

            In Spain, there are still small pockets in society, especially outside the big cities, where some find an escape. In Cadiz, for example, there is a guy who stands outside the food market with a box of oysters which he has picked that morning from the beach, and he sells them for one euro a piece. Maybe he sells 40 or 50 oysters and that’s him, he can get by with that… there are no spaces that I can see in Scotland…maybe if you go and live in the Highlands there is still a way of getting by outside the system…

            Looked at in a certain way, it’s a kind of akin to a totalitarian society, Britain….

          3. MacNaughton says:

            Ultimately, Fog, I’m not so much interested in Gaelic (though I am also) as smashing the English monoglot hegemony in the UK.
            That only English is spoken in Britain is an essential part of the capitalist hegemony in these isles.
            It all forms part of Maggie Thatcher’s TINA (There Is No Alternative).
            Only neo-liberalism is right, only English is spoken, only “hard working families” are acceptable citizens…

            It has to be said that Scotland, despite all its huffing and puffing, is a very conservative country. Everyone on the intellectual scene is a “Republican Socialist”, but mysteriously this doesn’t manifest itself in any way it seems to me.

            Think about our academics and universities. We have some very brilliant people working in Scottish universities. But the number of them who will contribute to Scottish public life and take a stand against the brutal iniquities of Tory Britain can be counted on one hand…There is no Scottish Chomsky…

            And the universities, funded by the public purse, do not make their research public… and then they charge prohibitive prices for their books and journals…

            The whole system is corrupt, and the bottom 20% live on the edge all the time… the next 20% are not much better… the next 40% are itching to climb the ladder that bit more…. It’s a rotten, iniquitous system in which the basic needs and wants of human beings are overlooked…

          4. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Yes, as Gellner argued, ethnic nationalism served a homogenising function in the service of capitalism. Civic nationalism is an antidote to this, insofar as it accommodates greater heterogeneity within the state.

            Bolivia has been pushing the envelope as far as civic nationalism is concerned, though last year’s coup did interrupt this progress. I think Scotland could and should aspire to push this envelope still further.

            But I doubt that it will. We’re a timid, conservative lot. We prefer traditions to precedents.

          5. MacNaughton says:

            I see little or no chance of the SNP changing anything Fog, that’s the truth.
            If we all vote for independence, then we are voting for a chance to change things, but change is by no means guaranteed.
            Here we have an article about the (American university educated) Evo Morales.
            A guy who has had everything thrown at him.
            They have tried to take him down again and again and again…
            He’s an absolutely inspirational figure for anyone on the Left these days surely?
            Evo Morales is what someone on the Left looks like.
            There is no one in the SNP hierarchy remotely like Evo Morales in any shape or form.
            If there were, maybe support for independence wouldn’t be stuck in the 50-60% range…

          6. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            ‘He’s an absolutely inspirational figure for anyone on the Left these days surely?’

            Hardly! He’s come in for a lot of criticism from the Left. Quite a divisive figure, in fact.

  4. Blair says:

    Interesting article interesting comment: A message to the world?

    “One of the members of its leading team Claudia Turbet-Delof, said that the Plurinational State Day “Is a day which Bolivia gives a message to the world showing that diversity, multinationalism, pluriculturalism can coexist peacefully”.”

    Here is a link for further enlightenment.


    A common connection: Who?

    ” The Organization of American States, which had harshly criticized the 2019 vote, called this year’s election “exemplary.””

    Here is a a link to their website,


    An organization that is dealing with Cyber Crime, are they impartial? Do any of the political class know exactly what they are capable of doing?

    Copied tweet from their website:

    ” @Almagro_OEA2015
    We support the call from @POTUS on #InaugurationDay: unity to move forward.

    We welcome his message and look forward to moving forward with President @JoeBiden in favor of the most vulnerable in the region and to advance the common values of @OAS_official and the United States https://twitter.com/POTUS/status/1351946842838347776

    How many of Bella’s readers believe that this organization is the key player, responsible for shaping democracy and ensuring peace and unity – even if it means cheating! It certainly holds a substantial portfolio, levers of power and the resources to oversee that things work out their way.

    Now God’s way is different: 1 Peter 2:9


    Scotland, true power lies within your people, an holy nation, come out of the darkness for you should not be deceived. Just realize the truth is as writen in Holy Scriptures. The Lord of Hosts is Head of our IT.

    God bless indeed.

    1. Blair says:

      It’s quite amazing who is involved:


      Our overlords will soon find out The Times will soon catch up with their shenanigans!

      RI Systems Live.

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