Inca jus­tice sys­tem eyed by Mo­rales in Bo­livia may in­volve whip­ping

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By An­ton Foek

THE HAGUE — Bo­li­vian Pres­i­dent Evo Mo­rales, on a state visit to the Nether­lands, said he is search­ing for a new model of democ­racy that could in­clude re­viv­ing the an­cient tra­di­tion of whip­ping petty crim­i­nals as an al­ter­na­tive to jail.

“WhenIwasakidIwaspun­ished sev­eral times, be­ing whipped and lashed,” the left­ist pres­i­dent said Nov. 27 in a speech to an au­di­ence of­busi­ness­me­nand­gov­ern­mentof­fi­cials from both Bo­livia and the Nether­lands.

“When­ever I did some­thing wrong, I re­ceived pun­ish­ment with a chicote [the loose end of a rope], and al­ways be­lieved that the sys­tem our an­ces­tors used was bet­ter than the sys­tem in the north­ern jus­tice sys­tem. It’s much more demo­cratic,” he said.

The Bo­li­vian Se­nate on Nov. 28 ap­proved a sweep­ing land-re­form bill af­ter some 5,000 In­di­ans from across Bo­livia con­verged on La Paz, the cap­i­tal, to de­mand that op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers ap­prove the bill pro­posed by Mr. Mo­rales.

Somedemon­stra­tor­shad­walked as far as 300 miles in marches be­gun sev­eral weeks ago from the An­dean moun­tains and plains of Bo­livia, cul­mi­nat­ing in the rally in the cap­i­tal.

The demon­stra­tors were seek­ing to put pres­sure on Mr. Mo­rales’ con­ser­va­tive op­po­nents in the Se­nate who had blocked his pro­posal to re­dis­tribute mil­lions of acres of un- pro­duc­tive land to the coun­try’s land­less poor.

Mr. Mo­rales, elected with strong back­ing from his An­dean na­tion’s In­dian com­mu­nity at the end of last year, promised dur­ing the cam­paign that he would look to tra­di­tional prac­tices to make the jus­tice sys­tem more eq­ui­table.

Sev­eral Bo­li­vians at­tend­ing his ad­dress at the In­sti­tute for So­cial Sci­ences in The Hague said in­dige­nous and tra­di­tional com­mu­nity jus­tice was not only sanc­tioned now in Bo­livia, but mak­ing a strong come­back.

One Mo­rales sup­porter said West­ern-trained­lawyer­sand­judges in Bo­livia put all crim­i­nals be­hind bars for 20 years or more, even if they com­mit­ted only mi­nor crimes. De­fen­dants who can af­ford good lawyers, how­ever, gen­er­ally avoid any pun­ish­ment at all.

The use of whip­ping to pun­ish petty crimes in Bo­livia dates back to the days of the In­cas, when men were known to have walked around car­ry­ing color­ful ropes in bas­kets.

“Dur­ing the Inca em­pire,” Mr. Mo­rales said with a broad smile, “a com­mu­nity-based­court­sys­tem­led by the vil­lage el­ders pun­ished van­dals and other crim­i­nals for their wrong­do­ings and de­ter­mined how and when they would be pun­ished.

“It mostly ended in a few lashes, like the one I re­ceived when I was a kid. They did it for my own good. Look where I am to­day.”


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