UPDATE: The Bolivian Legal Framework
By Gonzalo Dávila Maceda
Gonzalo Dávila Maceda is the director of a Legal Counselling Office based in La Paz, Plurinational State of Bolivia. Gonzalo is an independent and private legal practitioner with postgraduate studies in Business Administration, Oil & Gas Law, and Environmental Education & Sustainable Educational Projects. After completing a French High School in Bolivia, he obtained his law degree at the Bolivian Catholic University’s Law School in 1997 and his Diploma in Petroleum Law in 2000 as a Chevening scholar by the British Government at the Centre for Energy Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP) at the University of Dundee in Scotland. For over 25 years he has focused his experience in Civil Law, Commercial Law, Labor Law, Competition Law, Regulatory Law, Administrative Law, Environmental Law, Petroleum Law, Electricity Law, Telecommunications Law, and Mining Law, having acquired that experience working for almost 9 years as senior legal advisor for the Bolivian Hydrocarbons Regulator and from his later experience in the private counseling field for 16 years. He worked as intern at the Swiss Competition Commission in Bern-Switzerland in 2005. He has participated in the drafting of legislation in the oil and gas sector. He is member of the La Paz Bar Association since 1997. He is a lecturer of Petroleum Law, Competition Law, and Environmental Law at several universities in La Paz. He speaks Spanish, English and French.
Published September/October 2022
(Previously updated in November/December 2018)
Table of Contents
- 1. Introduction
- 2. The Constitutional Framework
- 2.1. Fundamental Basis of the State, Rights, Duties, and Guarantees
- 2.2. Functional Structure and Organization of the State
- 2.3. Territorial Structure and Organization of the State
- 2.4. Economic Structure and Organization of the State
- 2.5. Hierarchy of Norms and Constitutional Reform
- 2.6. Final Dispositions
- 3. The Bolivian Legal Situation — Period 2009-2021
- 3.1. Criminal Law
- 3.2. Administrative and Tax Law
- 3.3. Civil Law
- 3.4. Family and Children Law
- 3.5. Commercial Law
- 3.6. Labor and Social Security Law
- 3.7. Environmental Law
- 3.8. Telecom, Transport, Electricity, Nuclear Energy, Hydrocarbons and Mining
- 3.9. Health, Education, Sport and Social
- 3.10. Banking
- 3.11. Judicial
- 3.12. Immigration and Tourism
- 3.13. International
- 3.14. The Defense and Security of the State
- 4. Bolivian Primary and Secondary Legal Materials
With the enactment of a New Political Constitution on February 7, 2009, Bolivia has been reborn as a new country, with a totally new legal, political, and economic framework originated in the emergence of the popular power based in an indigenous and socialistic ideology that has been in the government since 2006. Therefore, the country has left in the past and for the history, its side as “Republic of Bolivia” with which it was structured since its independence by Simon Bolivar in 1825 and has left aside the liberal ideology implemented (with different shades) since 1967, giving the pace to the “Plurinational State of Bolivia” (Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia) that has by now 13 years of life.
2. The Constitutional Framework
Considering that since 2009 the Bolivian legal framework has been defined by the new Political Constitutional Text, it is of high importance to describe its structure and explain the different political guidelines defined by it in various key topics. In that sense, we should start saying that the 2009 Constitution has 411 articles organized into the following five parts (Each part being divided into titles and these into chapters, which some being also divided into sections):
- First Part: Fundamental basis of the State, Rights, Duties and Guarantees.
- Second Part: Functional Structure and Organization of the State.
- Third Part: Territorial Structure and Organization of the State.
- Fourth Part: Economic Structure and Organization of the State.
- Fifth Part: Legal Hierarchy and Constitutional Reform.
Pursuant to Article 1 of the Constitution, Bolivia is constituted as a Social Unitary State of Communitarian Plurinational Law, free, independent, sovereign, democratic, intercultural, and decentralized with municipal, regional, departmental, and indigenous autonomies. Bolivia is based on plurality and on a political, economic, legal, cultural, and linguistic pluralism, all being an integral part of the country make-up. Article 6 states that the country’s official capital is “Sucre” and approves as the Bolivian official symbols: its tricolor flag (red, yellow, and green); its national hymn, as well as its coat of arms, the indigenous flag named “wiphala” and the national flowers named “kantuta” and “Patuju”.
Following that conception of pluralism, Article 3 states that the Bolivian nation is integrated by the totality of masculine and feminine Bolivians, the indigenous nations, as well as the intercultural communities and Afro Bolivians. As a consequence of that, the recognized official languages apart from Spanish are: “Aymara, Araona, Baure, Bésiro, Canichana, Cavineño, Cavubaba, Chácobo, Chimán, Ese Ejja, Guaraní, Guarasu’we, Guarayu, Itonama, Leco, Machajuvaj-Kallawaya, Machineri, Maropa, Mojeño-Trinitario, Mojeño Ignaciano, Moré, Mosetén, Movina, Pacawara, Puquina, Quechua, Sirionó, Tacana, Tapiete, Toromona, Uruchipaya, Weenhayek, Yaminawa, Yuki, Yuracaré and Zamuco”, which are the native spoken languages in Bolivia. Being stated that the plurinational central government and the departmental ones must use at least two official languages, one of them being Spanish. The other autonomous governments must use their territory’s language.
2.1.3. Position On Religion
The new constitutional text guarantees the freedom of cult, emphasizing through its article 4, the State independence from religion.
2.1.4. Main Principles
Article 8 states from one side that for the plural society, the State assumes and promotes the following ethical principles inspired in the indigenous wisdom: “Don’t be lazy”; “Don’t be a liar”; “Don’t be a thief”; “The Well Living”; “Harmonious Life” and the “Noble Life.” From other side, the article says that the State sustains itself over the values of unity, equality, inclusion, dignity, liberty solidarity, reciprocity, respect, harmony, transparency, equilibrium, responsibility, common welfare, social justice, and the distribution and redistribution of products and social goods for the well living.
2.1.5. The Government System
With the objectives of a fair and harmonious society without discrimination nor exploitation, guaranteeing the responsible and planned utilization of natural resources through the sustainable development, Article 11 of the Constitution states that Bolivia adopts a democratic form of government, with equivalence of conditions between men and women. That democracy is to be exercised whether through the direct and participative form (by means of the referendum, the legislative citizen initiative, the revocation of mandate, the assembly, the city council meeting and the previous consultancy); the representative form (implying the election of representatives through the universal, direct and secret vote); or through the communitarian form (implying the election of indigenous representatives according to their own proceedings).
The State Public Power is composed (Article 12 of the Constitution) by the Legislative, the Executive, the Judicial and the Electoral powers. The city of “Sucre” being the seat of the judicial power, while the city of “La Paz” remains de facto the seat for the Legislative, Executive and Electoral powers.
2.1.6. Fundamental Rights
The new constitution puts lots of emphasis on fundamental rights (Articles 13 to 107), highlighting that the recognized rights are to be exercised by Bolivians or foreigners (while being in the Bolivian territory) without distinction or discrimination of any kind. However, (in the intention of highlighting the inclusions of relegated sectors of the Bolivian society), the wording along the constitutional text leads to confusion, because it highlights certain rights of women and indigenous people giving the impression of distinctions among Bolivians.
Amongst the several rights recognized, the State is given the obligation to guarantee alimentary security, the access to welfare and the access to housing. The Constitution also establishes the responsibility of the State to provide the facilities of water, a sewage system, electricity, domiciliary gas, a postal service, and telecommunications, although allowing the possibility for private companies to provide some of those facilities. In addition, the constitutional text gives the quality of human rights to the “water access” and to the “sewage system access” emphasizing that these facilities are not open to privatization or concession.
Among the other recognized rights, the Constitutional text develops in specific chapters, the civil and political ones, the indigenous ones, and the social and economic ones, recognizing among them the rights to the environment, to welfare, to social security, to work (giving special constitutional protection to workers as they are considered the principal productive force of society, establishing that labor rights are not attachable nor subject to prescription). Besides, the Constitution recognizes the right to private property (as long as it accomplishes a social function), the rights of youth as well as the family ones; the rights of the old people and the rights of people with different capacities; the rights of the people private of liberty and the users and consumers rights.
One important chapter belonging to the title of fundamental rights is the one referred to the right of education, giving to the State the financial responsibility for guarantying it and establishing as its objective, the integral formation of a person. The Constitution states that education should be oriented to the development of individual and collective skills as well as physical and intellectual competences, and to the preservation and protection of the environment, the biodiversity, and the territory for the “Well Living.” Education is mandatory until obtaining the high school diploma. Education is mainly public but the private one is accepted, giving to parents the right to choose the convenient education for their children. Finally, the Bolivian Constitution regulates the superior education, recognizing both, public and private universities.
The final rights recognized by the Constitution are the right of diversity of cultures (which constitute the essential basis of the State); the right to the development of science, technology, and investigation (giving the State the responsibility of assuring them); the right of practicing sports and exercising and the right of communication and of information (assuring the freedom of opinion).
2.1.7. Jurisdictional Guarantees
The chapter of Jurisdictional Guarantees is regulated from Article 109 to 124. Among other guarantees the Constitution assures to Bolivians the right of due process, as well as the right of defense and the right of a plural, prompt, free, opportune, and transparent justice while recognizing the presumption of innocence.
2.1.8. Mechanisms of Defense
To ensure the protection of all the rights recognized, constitutional mechanisms of defense are established (Articles 125 to 136). Thus the “Habeas Corpus Action” (for protecting the right of freedom); the “Action of Protection” (for the protection of most of the recognized rights when they cannot be adequately and promptly protected by other procedural means.); The “Habeas Data Action” for the protection of privacy; the “Action of Accomplishment” (in case of breach of legal dispositions by public officials); The “Popular Action” (for the protection of collective rights related with the patrimony, the space, the public security, the environment and others of same nature), and finally the “Unconstitutionality Action” for claiming against all legislation containing contradictory aspects to the constitutional guidelines in order to declare it without effect.
As said before, the Bolivian Public Power is composed by the Legislative, Executive, Judicial and Electoral branches. The organization of the State is based on the independence, separation, coordination, and cooperation of those powers.
2.2.1. The Legislative Branch
All the characteristics of the legislative power are regulated by Articles 145 to 164 of the Bolivian Constitution. Personified by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, the legislative branch is formed by two chambers: the Chamber of Deputies (the lower chamber) and the Chamber of Senators (the upper chamber). The Assembly is the unique body empowered to approve and to sanction the Bolivian State laws. The Chamber of Deputies is composed by 130 members, from whom in a circumscription basis, half are elected through direct vote and half when voting for the President, Vice-President, and Senators. The Chamber of Senators is composed by 36 members, at a reason of 4 senators for Department, being elected through direct vote at the time of Presidential elections. As stated in articles 153 and 155 of the Constitution, the head of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly is the Bolivian Vice-President. Sessions are opened every 6 of August. All congressmen are elected for a five-year period with the possibility of only one continuous re-election.
2.2.2.The Executive Branch
All the characteristics of the Executive power are regulated by Articles 165 to 177 of the Bolivian Constitution. This organ is composed by the President of the State, the Vice-President, and the Ministers, all forming the central government. The President and Vice-President are elected through direct vote. The candidates obtaining the 50% plus one vote from the valid votes or at least 40% with a difference of 10% over the second ones are to be proclaimed President and Vice-President for a five-year period with the possibility of only one subsequent re-election. Ministers (the Presidential Cabinet), are appointed directly by the President and are responsible of serving the Political Constitution in their respective cabinets, being responsible of their administrative decisions and acts.
2.2.3. The Judicial Branch and Jurisdiction
This organ is formed by the Ordinary Jurisdiction, the Agro-Environmental Jurisdiction, and the ordinary Indigenous Jurisdiction (Articles 178 to 204). All three have equal hierarchy. However, the Constitution recognizes the military jurisdiction as an especial one, entitled to acknowledge and decide over the military crimes.
The Ordinary Jurisdiction: The ordinary jurisdiction is composed by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (highest instance), the District Tribunals of Justice, the Courts of Decision, and the lower judges. The Supreme Tribunal of Justice as the maximum ordinary Court of Justice of Bolivia, is organized into specialized halls and is composed by Magistrates of Justice who are elected (for a period of 6 years) by universal vote (simple majority) from a group of candidates selected by the legislative power. This position is to be executed in an exclusive way. The head office of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice remains in Sucre.
The Agro-Environmental Jurisdiction: The agro-environmental jurisdiction is formed by the Agro-environmental Tribunal (highest instance) and the Agro-environmental judges. Magistrates of Justice must have a specialization in the agrarian and environmental areas. They are elected for the same period and in the same way that the ones of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice. The Agro-environmental Tribunal has the task to organize the Agro-environmental lower courts and to appoint the judges from lists given by the Council of the Magistracy.
The Indigenous Jurisdiction: The indigenous jurisdictionis applied to juridical relations or facts executed or which effects are produced within the area of an indigenous village. Justice is applied by the indigenous people own authorities. The Indigenous Jurisdiction must be regulated by a jurisdictional demarcation law that will as well regulate the mechanisms of cooperation and coordination with the other recognized jurisdictions.
The Constitutional Justice: The constitutional justice is administered by the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal, which has the responsibility to assure that all the acts, resolutions and decisions of the governed people and governors are subordinated to the Bolivian Political Constitution. That judicial organ controls the respect for constitutional rights and guarantees. In its interpretative function, it must apply the constituent will according with its documents, acts and resolutions. The Tribunal is composed of Magistrates of Justice elected under the same characteristics than the members of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.
The Council of the Magistracy: The Council of the Magistracy, as part of the Judicial Organ, is the responsible body of the disciplinary regime of all recognized jurisdictions. At the same time, it is responsible of the administrative and financial management. Their members are to be elected for a six-year period, by universal vote from a group of candidates selected by the Legislative Power. The electoral process is organized by the Electoral Power.
All the characteristics of the Electoral power are regulated by Articles 205 to 212 of the Bolivian Constitution. According to Article 205 of the Constitution, the Plurinational Electoral Organ is composed of: The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (highest instance composed of seven members, six of them elected by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly and one elected by the President of the State); The District Electoral Tribunals; The Electoral Courts; The Suffrage Jury and The Electoral Notaries. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal is responsible for the organization, administration, and execution of all electoral processes. It manages the Civil Registry and the Electoral Census.
The administrative control of public institutions and the institutions in which the State has participation or economic interests, is performed by the General Comptroller Office of the State (the specific regulations are among Articles 213 to 217). According to Article 213 of the Constitution, this office is empowered with determining presumptions of administrative, executive, civil or criminal responsibility. The head of this office is elected by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly for a six-year period.
Within the functional structure of the State, the defense of the Society is delegated both, to the Ombudsman Office and to the Prosecutors Office (specific regulations are in articles 218 to 224 and articles 225 to 228 respectively). From one side, the Ombudsman is charged to veil for the promotion, diffusion and accomplishment of the Human Rights established in the Constitutional text and other legal instruments. This office has functional, administrative, and financial autonomy. The Ombudsman is totally independent from the four powers of the State; however, it is appointed by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly for a six-year period. From the other side, the Prosecutors Office will defend the general interests of the society and will exert the public criminal action. This office has as well functional, administrative, and financial autonomy. The head of this office is the General Prosecutor, who has district prosecutors and subject prosecutors under his direction.
The defense of the Bolivian State is delegated to the State General Attorney Office (specific regulations found in Articles 219 to 240). Its head is the Attorney General of the State, who is appointed by the Bolivian President. His principal duty is to defend judicially or extra judicially the State interests.
Constitutional regulations of the Bolivian Army and Police are found in its articles 243 to 254.
The armed forces are constituted by three forces (infantry; aviation and navy). According to Article 244 of the Constitution, the army has the fundamental mission of the defense and preservation of the State independence, security and stability, its honor and the country’s sovereignty. The army does not deliberate and is subject to the military laws and regulations. The armed forces depend upon the President of the State and receives their orders through the Minister of Defense and through the Army Chief Commander
The Bolivian Police has the mission of the society’s defense and the preservation of the public order within the Bolivian territory. The Police Forces depend upon the President of the State and receives their orders through the Minister of Government.
The Constitution (Articles 269 to 305), establishes that Bolivia is territorially organized into four levels of administration: departments, provinces, municipalities, and indigenous territories, leaving to the “Autonomies and Decentralization Law” the regulation of the procedure to elaborate the autonomic statutes and organic charts as well as the coordination between the different levels of autonomies (The autonomy involves, direct election of the authorities, the right to manage economic resources and the legislative, and executive management.)
The Departmental Autonomy is made up of a Department Assembly, with deliberative, administrative, and legislative powers. The Departmental Executive Power is managed by the Governor, who is elected by universal vote.
The Regional Autonomy is formed of various municipal territories or provinces with geographical continuity, sharing culture, language, history economy and ecosystems. It is made up of a Regional Assembly.
The Municipal Autonomy is made up of a Municipal Council, with deliberative, administrative, and legislative powers within a municipality. The Municipal Executive Power is managed by the mayor, who is elected by universal vote.
The Indigenous Autonomy consists in the self-government as the expression of the freedom of determination of Indigenous People. The self-government is to be performed with its own rules, authorities and proceedings but respecting the Political Constitution.
The relation between the four autonomies must consider the following four kinds of competences:
- The privative ones, (reserved only for the central level of the State.)
- The exclusive ones, (one level of the government has the legislative, regulatory, and executive faculties but can delegate or transfer the last two.)
- The concurrent ones (the legislative faculty corresponds to the central level of the State and the other levels exert simultaneously the regulatory and the executive ones)
- The shared ones (subject to a basic legislation issued by the Plurinational legislative Assembly but the regulation and the execution correspond to the autonomous territorial entities.)
General Constitutional regulations on Bolivian economics are found in Articles 306 to 315).
Article 306 of the Constitution establishes that the Bolivian economic model is plural and is oriented to improve the quality of life and the “Well Living” of all Bolivians. The “Plural Economy” is constituted by the communitarian, public, private, and social-cooperative forms of economic organization
According to the constitutional text, the maximum value of the State is the human being; therefore, the State has to ensure its development through the equitable redistribution of the economic surplus in social, health, educational and cultural policies and through the reinvestment in the economic productive development.
Whilst private initiative is recognized for the benefit of the economic and social development, and freedom of business is guaranteed through the State regulation, according to Article 311, the plural economy lies in the following aspects:
- The State exerts the integral direction of the economic development.
- Natural resources are owned by Bolivian people and are to be managed by the State.
- The Industrialization of natural resources is important to avoid the dependency of the export of raw material.
- The State intervention in all the productive chain of strategic sectors, looking for guarantying its supply to all Bolivians.
- The respect to the private initiative and the legal certainty.
In that context, article 312 states for one side that any economic activity shall contribute to strengthen the economic sovereignty of the country. From the other side it forbids the private accumulation of economic power that menaces the economic sovereignty of the State. Finally, it establishes that all forms of economic organization are obliged to generate labor, to contribute to the reduction of discrimination and poverty and to protect the environment.
Therefore, to eliminate poverty and social and economic exclusion for the achievement of the “Well Living”, Article 313 says that the economic organization must aim to:
- The generation of the social product respecting individual and indigenous rights.
- The production, distribution, and fair redistribution of wealth.
- The reduction of inequalities of access to productive resources.
- The reduction of regional inequalities.
- The industrial productive development of natural resources.
Finally, the constitutional text forbids private monopoly and oligopoly as well as other forms of association that pretend the control and the exclusivity of production and commercialization of goods and services.
Within its economic part, the constitutional text inserts the important issue of the environment (Articles 342 to 347), establishing that the State and population have the duty of preserving, protecting, and profiting off natural resources and biodiversity in a sustainable manner. It states as well that people have the right to be consulted and informed over the decisions that could affect the environmental quality.
According to Article 345, environmental policies are based on:
- The planned and participative administration.
- The application of systems for evaluating the environmental impact and for controlling the environmental quality in all the productive activities of goods and services using or affecting natural resources and the environment.
- The responsibility (criminal, civil and administrative) for the performance of any activity producing environment damages caused by the breach of environmental regulations. In that order, the constitutional text declares the responsibility for all historical environmental damages and the imprescriptibility of environmental crimes.
Constitutional regulations on Natural Resources are found in Articles 348 to 392).
After declaring that all natural resources are strategic and of public interest for the development of the country, Article 349 states that natural resources are of the property of the Bolivian people and correspond to the State their administration with a collective interest perspective.
The State will recognize, respect and grant individual and collective property rights over the land, as well as the rights of use and development for the other natural resources. However Article 351 states that the State (through public, cooperative or communitarian entities) will assume the control and direction over the activities of exploration, production, industrialization, transport and commerce of all strategic natural resources, allowing the possibility to hire (for those purposes) private companies and to constitute mixed companies (through association agreements for the development of natural resources), ensuring not only the reinvestment of the economic profits in the country but the payment of taxes and royalties when intervening in the development of natural resources.
Hydrocarbons: Regarding hydrocarbons, Article 359 states that hydrocarbons, in any form or state in which they occur, are inalienable and imprescriptible property of Bolivians. The government, on behalf of Bolivians, exercises the property rights over all hydrocarbon production in the country and it is the unique authorized body to carry out its marketing. The total income generated by the sale of hydrocarbons will be property of the Government.
Mining: Regarding mining, Article 369 states that the State will be responsible for all the mineralogical wealth located on the soil and subsoil and its application will be regulated by law. The State, the private and the cooperative industries are recognized as productive actors.
Water: According to Article 373, water (considered a non-renewable resource) constitutes a fundamental right for life and the State must give priority to its social use, denying the possibility of being subject to private property, being only subject to a regime of licenses and authorizations.
Energy: According to Article 378, the different forms of energy constitute strategic resources. Its access is a fundamental right for the integral and social country development. Article 379 states that the development of the productive chain (generation, transport, and distribution) is privative competence of the State through public, cooperative or communitarian entities, mixed or private ones with social participation and control.
Biodiversity, coca leaves and protected areas: At the time of guarantying the protection of the renewable natural resources and the Bolivian biodiversity, the Constitution declares as natural patrimony the animal and vegetal native species as well as the protected natural areas, and introduces an entire article dedicated to the coca leaf, regulating its protection by the State as a cultural patrimony, a renewable natural resource of Bolivia’s biodiversity, and a factor of social unity. Additionally, Article 384 states that in its natural state the coca leaf is not a narcotic, delegating to a specific law the control over its production, marketing, and processing.
- Political Constitution
- International Treaties
- National Laws; Autonomic Statutes; District, Municipal and Indigenous Legislation
- Decrees, Regulations, and Other Resolutions Issued by Institutions of the Executive Organs.
Regarding this issue, Article 411 states that any total reform of the Constitution must be implemented through a Constituent Assembly, activated by the popular will, manifested through a referendum; whilst the partial reform of it can be initiated by means of popular initiative with the signatures of at least 20% of the electorate or by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly through a law of constitutional reform approved by 2/3 of the total present congressmen. The partial reform will also need a referendum approval.
Finally, the Constitution expressly abolishes the former Constitution approved in 1967 as well as its modifications. With that, the Bolivian legal framework acquired a particular characteristic: from February 2009 the new Plurinational State of Bolivia had to start its legal life with a new constitutional regime but without legal dispositions derived from it and therefore, even though the former constitutional regime was abolished, the Plurinational State had to apply (in a long transition period which until this year  has not finished yet) the laws approved while the former Constitution was into effect (in all the aspects that not contravene the new Constitution) in order to fulfill the imminent lack of legislation, until the approval of new legislation derived from the new constitutional text, task that since that year it has being accomplished progressively in all the legal subjects and still continues to the present as will be shown in the next part of this article.
From the enactment in 2009 of the described New Political Constitution, and progressively since, new legislation has been approved in many subjects to adjust the legal framework to the guidelines of the constitutional text and therefore replacing the legislation derived from the 1967 Constitution. However, the principal legal subjects are still regulated by antique codes that do not derive from the 2009 Constitution.
That legislative situation has been lately affected by three aspects that have to be born in mind at the time of studying the Bolivian legal system. Those aspects being:
- The first one being the socio-political crisis occurred in October/November 2019, historic moment in which, the first indigenous president that governed Bolivia since 2006 and in whose socialistic regime was enacted the Political Constitution, Mr. Evo Morales, abandoned the presidential post, that was assumed by the second vice-president of the senators chamber Ms. Jeanine Añez, belonging to the opposition political parties, as a consequence of the consecutive resignations/abstentions of the people that constitutionally had the obligation to assume in case of absence of the elected president. Ms. Añez period of government lasted from November 12, 2019 until November 8, 2020, government that aimed to pacify the country and to organize new democratic elections, and that was characterized by big difficulties at the time to legislate due to the fact that even though Mr. Morales left the country, the composition of the congress remained the same: i.e., with the socialist party being majority, what represented more difficulty for the government of Ms. Añez.
- The second aspect being the pandemic situation caused by Covid-19 that in the early 2020 obliged the Añez government to focus on that problem, therefore declaring sanitary emergency and quarantine since March 2020. That sanitary emergency that has been very hard on 2020, implied the enactment of a bunch of legislation in all aspects of life (banking, contracting, shopping, business, labor, accomplishment of obligations, education, commerce, health, tourism etc) to enable to accommodate ordinary life aspects to the situation Bolivians were living. Everything had to be adequate to the impossibility of moving, of socializing, of meeting, and new behavior and order had to be implemented by means of new and varied legislation most of it transitorily applied and other that came up to remain, specially the one linked to the application of virtual solutions on many aspects of the daily life.
- The third aspect being the fact that, as the result of the new elections called in Bolivia by Ms. Añez, and against many forecasts, the socialist party of Mr. Evo Morales won, and, on November 8, 2020, the socialist candidate Mr. Luis Arce Catacora assumed as president of Bolivia and once more the legislative power remained with the majority from the socialist wining party. From the legislative side, this new constitutional government had to deal with the economic crisis left by the pandemic situation, therefore had the mission to enact legislation that enables Bolivia to face the crisis. But as well, the new government entered to govern with the purpose of abolishing the legislation enacted by the government of Ms. Añez considering it as a non-constitutional government.
Consequently, from alegislative perspective, the year 2020 has been a gap in Bolivia. That is why in this article we are going to just concentrate in the legislation enacted in that period that lasted in time and is still into force.
Therefore, after the approval of the new Constitutional text; the political crisis occurred at the end of 2019; the assumption of a transitory government in 2019/2020; the sanitary emergency and quarantine declared due to the presence of COVID-19; and the return of the socialist party to the government, the Bolivian legal situation in the principal subjects is as follows.
3.1. Criminal Law and Human Rights
This subject is still regulated by the Criminal Code of 1972 with its various reforms approved that had the objective to strengthen the rule of law, the protection of individual guarantees, to reinforce legal and citizen security and the anti-corruption fight, incorporating new criminal categories for fighting impunity, money laundering, drug trafficking, civil service corruption and criminal organizations, judicial corruption, redefinition of fraud and fault and criminal responsibility for members of corporations.
In this area, an attempt of abolishment of the said Criminal Code occurred on 15-12-2017 with the enactment of Law No.1005 that approved the new Code of the Penal System. However, that new code was rejected and questioned by various sectors of the country with mobilizations and a strike by opposition legislators that, 40 days later, forced the government to enact Law No. 1027 of 25-01-2018 abolishing Law No. 1005 and therefore returning to the application of the Criminal Code of 1972.
In 2010, through the Supreme Decree No. 667 of October 8, an Ordered Text of the Penal Code has been approved, with the purpose of inserting in one sole text all the criminal conducts described in the laws that regulate other subjects and that were not in the Penal Code.
However, after the approval of the 2009 Constitution other laws related with criminal law and Human Rights have been approved. That is the case of the following:
- Law No. 04 of 31-03-2010 for the fight against corruption, illegal enrichment, and fortunes investigation.
- Law No 44 of 8-10-2010 for prosecuting of the President, Vice-President, and Head Authorities of High Tribunals.
- Law No. 45 of 8-10-2010 against racism and all forms of discrimination.
- Law No. 54 of 8-11-2010 for the legal protection of children and adolescents.
- Law No. 243 of 28-05-2012 against the harassment and political violence towards women.
- Law No. 263 of 31-07-2012 against people slave trade.
- Law No. 348 of 9-3-2013 named “Integral Law for assuring women a life without violence”, regulated by Supreme Decree No. 2145 of 14-10-2014.
- Law No. 463 of 19-12-2013 named “Law of the Plurinational Service of Public Defense”, that regulates the public criminal defense of accused and prosecuted persons to guaranty the right of defense and the access to justice to people without economic resources.
- Law No. 464 of 19-12-2013 named “Law of the Plurinational Service of the Victims Assistance” enacted to guaranty the right of defense and the access to justice to people being victim of a crime and without economic resources.
- Law No. 586 of 30-10-2014 of “Decongestion of the Criminal Procedure System”, aiming to expedite the processing of criminal cases and reduce the delay of justice.
- Law No. 870 of 13-12-2016 referred to the “Ombudsman”, leaving without effect the former Law enacted in 1997. This has been modified by Law No. 1397 of 29-9-2021 to appoint the Ombudsman's Office as the “National Mechanism Prevention of Torture of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.", in compliance with the provisions of the “Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”, ratified by Law No. 3298 of December 12, 2005. Therefore, faculties to act on that field have been given to the Bolivian Ombudsman by that law.
- Law No. 879 of 23-12-2016 that creates the “Truth Commission” to clarify murders and people disappearances within the dictatorships period occurred between 1964 and 1982.
- Law No. 913 of 16-5-2017, named “Law of Fight against the Illicit Traffic of Controlled Substances”.
- Law No. 1390 of 27-8-2021 that aims to strengthen the mechanisms and procedures established by the Law N°004 of March 31, 2010, on the Fight Against Corruption, Illicit Enrichment, and Investigation of Fortunes and by the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, intended to investigate, prosecute and punish acts of corruption committed by public servants in the exercise of their functions, as well as other persons that compromise or affect resources of the State. More than 25 articles of the penal code have been modified to introduce among other aspects, the penal responsibility of juridical persons.
In the administrative area two big issues have been regulated as follows:
- From one side the issue of the autonomies which has been regulated by means of the “Law Frame of Autonomies and Decentralization” of 31-7-2010, giving the regulations for the four types of autonomies described in part 2.3 of this paper referred to the structure and organization of the State. That aspect however has been complemented firstly in its municipal side by the Law No. 482 of 9-1-2014, named the “Law of Municipal Autonomous Governments” and secondly it has been complemented by the Law No. 492 of 25-1-2014 that regulates the “Intergovernmental Agreements” referring the subscription between the different types of autonomous governments and between them and the central government to enable them to coordinate common activities.
- From other side the issue of organizational planning: indeed, the government approved the Law No. 777 of 21-1-2016 named “Law of the State Planning System”, establishing the guidelines to achieve an integral planning of the public sector for an optimum allocation of resources. In that trend, by means of Law No. 786 of 9-3-2016, the Bolivian “Economic and social Development Plan 2016-2020 within the Frame of the Integral Development for the Well Living” has been approved. And by means of Law 1407 of 9-11-2021 the government of President Arce approved the “Economic and Social Development Plan 2021-2025” called "Rebuilding the Economy to Live Well, towards Industrialization with Imports Substitution". That document is a continuity of its predecessor plan 2016-2020 and contains the Bolivian planning in all the important areas until 2025.
Besides, it is important to mention the enactment of the Law No. 974 of 4-9-2017, named “Law of the Creation of Units of Transparency and Fight against Corruption,” with the purpose of eliminating corruption in the public sector.
From other part, in order to modernize the public administration with the introduction of technology in administrative procedures, by means of the Supreme Decree No. 3251 of 12-7-2017 the government approved the “Electronic Government Implementation Plan” and the “Free Software Implementation Plan”, aiming to guarantee the technological sovereignty as well as the national security, modernizing the Administrative System in public repartitions, and reinforcing the creation in 2015 of the State Agency of Electronic Government and Information Technology – “AGETIC”. In that trend, to promote the speed of administrative procedures, by means of Supreme Decree No. 3525 of 4-4-2018 the government approved the establishment of the Citizen Service Policy: “Bolivia at your Service” and the State Procedures Portal and the rules aiming to regulate the digital file, interoperability, and digital processing. The domain "gob.bo" was implemented. That was complemented by the enactment of Law No. 1080 of 11-7-2018 named “Law of Digital Citizenship”, that aims to establish the conditions and characteristics of digital access for citizens in the State, so that they can exercise their rights and duties through the use of “information and communication technologies”, in the interaction of people with public and private entities providing public services, in order to dispense with the physical presence of the interested parties and the presentation of physical documentation for substantiation of the procedure or request.
Finally, one last important aspect that aims to facilitate the acquisition of goods and services by the State with the use of technology, is the enactment of Supreme Decree No. 4285 of 15-7-2020 which purpose is to incorporate the use of electronic means for the execution of contracting processes ruled by Supreme Decree No. 0181, of June 28, 2009 that approved the "Basic Standards of the Goods and Services Administration System", due to the restrictions caused by COVID-19.
Other important aspect in the administrative field is the enactment of Law No. 1257 of 24-10-2019 aimed to encourage and promote national production, establishing as a policy of the State the acquisition of nationally produced goods in the State contracting. That law was regulated by the Supreme Decree No. 4505 of 6-5-2021.
Now, after winning national elections, and five days after his possession, President Arce, issued the Supreme Decree No. 4393 of 13-11-2020, that aims to adjust Supreme Decree No. 29894 and its modifications issued by the former president Evo Morales, in order to adapt the structure of the Executive Body of the central level of the State, to achieve efficient management of public administration, and restore the powers related to culture and decolonization in charge of a Ministry of State, in favor of the peoples, original indigenous peasants. Indeed, one of those adjustments is the creation of the Ministry of Cultures, Decolonization and Depatriarchalization. Therefore, with that inclusion, the Executive power is formed by 17 Ministries that are the followings: a) Foreign Affairs; b) of the Presidency; c) government; d) Defense; e) Development Planning; f) Economy and Public Finance; g) Hydrocarbons and Energies; h) Productive Development and Plural Economy; i) Public Works, Services and Housing; j) Mining and Metallurgy; k) Justice and Institutional Transparency; l) Labor, Employment and Social Welfare; m) Health and Sports; n) Environment and Water; o) Education; p) Rural Development and Lands; q) of Cultures, Decolonization and Depatroarchalization.
To strengthen the administrative career, the government enacted the Supreme Decree No. 4469 of 3-3-2021 aiming to establish as additional criteria for the access to the administrative career, to comply with the “Decolonizing and Depatriarchalizing Community Social Service” and to have successfully completed the “Public Service Induction Course” taught by the School of Plurinational Public Management. That was followed by the emission of the Supreme Decree No. 4566 of 11-8-2021 that aims to implement the “Single Certificate of Official Languages of the Plurinational State of Bolivia” which is the document that certifies the use of the languages or official languages recognized by the Political Constitution of the State, being the only valid document for the exercise of functions in the public administration and private public service entities. All public servants, and workers of State entities are obliged to speak one original language and must periodically update their knowledge in that domain.
Finally, as in 2022 the execution of the population census is scheduled, by means of Law No. 1405 of 1-11-2021, the government of President Arce approved the “Official Statistics Law of the Plurinational State Of Bolivia” establishing the competences of the National Statistics Institute and ruling guidelines for statistics. One important aspect is that the National Statistics Institute has the power to ask information to anybody in the country.
In the taxation area, the following three aspects are of consideration:
- Administrative Resolution RND No. 10-0021-16 of 1-7-2016 issued by the National Tax Office, which regulated the procedure of the Virtual Billing System.
- Administrative Resolution RND No. 102100000011 of 11-8-2021 issued by the National Tax Office through which they aim to regulate the Billing System in the Plurinational State of Bolivia with the implementation of the new billing modalities.
Law No. 1357 of 28-12-2020 regulated by the Supreme Decree No. 4436 of 30-12-2020 that aims to create and establish the Tax on Large Fortunes - IGF, of national tax domain. The law applies to natural persons residing or not in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, with fortune located or placed in the national territory and/or abroad, when the accumulated net fortune as of December 31 of each year is greater than Bs30,000,000. - (Thirty Million 00/100 Bolivianos) or its equivalent in foreign currency. The tax varies from 1.4% to 2.4% depending on the amount of the fortune.
In this area, the Bolivian Civil Code promulgated in 1975 during the “de facto” Government of General Hugo Banzer Suarez is still regulating the civil relations in Bolivia. This code addresses the regulation of personal rights and status, goods and property, obligations and contracts, successions, inheritance, classes of succession and division of the inheritance, and the practice, protection, and extinction of rights. Civil proceedings were regulated by the Civil Procedural Code promulgated in 1976 as well during the Government of General Banzer Suarez. However, through Law No. 439 of 19-11-2013, a new Procedural Civil Code was approved introducing modernity, dynamism, and efficiency to judicial civil proceedings. Among the new characteristics of the new law are process succession; celerity; oral proceeding; introduction of principles of Administrative Law such as material truth. However, the Code total effects entered into force on February 6, 2016, by virtue of Law No. 719 of 6-8-2015.
From the other part, through Law No. 483 of 25-01-2014, regulated by Supreme Decree No. 2189 of 19-11-2014, the “Notary Law” and its regulations were approved, giving to the Bolivian Public Notaries a most important role in the civil area, relieving the workload of civil judges, giving the first ones, functions of knowing for instance, cases of divorce or of heir declaration when there are not disputes between the involved parties.
In 2014 the government addressed two important topics to adapt them to the Constitutional frame. From one side, children’s rights have been adapted through the enactment of the new “Boys, Girls, and Adolescents Code” by means of Law No. 548 of 17-7—2014, regulated by the Supreme Decree No. 2337 of 21-9-2015. That Law aims to guarantee the exercise of children’s rights and to protect their superior interest. However, in occasion of the Bolivian children day, on April 12, 2019, by means of Law No. 1168 the Government approved the “Procedural Abbreviation Law to Guarantee the Restitution of Human Rights to the Family of Children and Adolescents”. The said Law modifies the “Boys, Girls, and Adolescents Code” in order to facilitate and speed up the procedures of circumstantial reception, judicial affiliation, extinction of maternal or paternal authority, national and international adoption, so as to guarantee the restitution of the human right to the family of children and adolescents without parental care, and who are under extraordinary guardianship of the State. However lately, that Law has been modified in certain articles by Law No. 1371 of 29-4-2021 to facilitate adoptions without neglecting their control by the State.
From other side, the family rights as well as the rights of their members and the relations between them have been treated in the new “Families Code” enacted by Law No. 603 of 19-11-2014.
Commercial activities in Bolivia are still regulated by the Commercial Code which is also a legal disposition belonging to the Banzer legislation. The Code addresses the regulation of commercial obligations, the Registry of Commerce; the assistants in commerce; commercial companies in general; mercantile goods; the sale of securities and other things; and the distinct types of securities titles, such as the letter of exchange, promissory notes, the check, vouchers or debentures, the stock market and other intermediaries, commercial contracts, special procedures, mediation and arbitration, antitrust law and bankruptcy.
However, to fasten, debureaucratize and modernize commercial procedures, through Law No. 779 of 21-01-2016, the Government modified the Commercial Code, introducing digital technology in procedures through the implementation of both, the “Electronic Gazette” and the “Yuriña” virtual system of digital information that has the purpose of managing, storing and centralizing commercial users’ information for the creation and operation of economic units.
Notwithstanding, and according to the social conception of the economy introduced by the Constitutional text of 2009, many national companies (almost 80) have been created between that year and 2017 by means of legal dispositions. That is the case among others of “EMAPA” (the Food Production Support Company), “INBOL” (The state company charged of buying inputs for the production of productive units in the country), “CARTONBOL” (the State Carton Company), “LACTEOSBOL” (the State Dairy company), “PAPELBOL” (The State Paper Company), “ECEBOL” (The State Cement Company), “EBA” (The State Almond Company) “AZUCARBOL” and “EASBA” (The State Sugar Companies) and “EBO” (the Bolivian Gold Company” created between 2007 and 2010; “ENATEX” (The State Textiles Company), The Construction Company of the Army (which closed in 2015), “PROMIEL” (the Beekeeping Productive Public Company), The Strategic Company for the Production of Fertilizersand, and The Strategic Company for the Production of Seeds created between 2011 and 2012; the Karachipampa Metallurgical Company and the Quipus Public Company whose purpose is the production, assembly and marketing of products that are part of the Technological Productive Complex in 2013; “Mi Teleferico” a Public Cable Transport Company; “YACANA State Company” which main activity is the supply of raw materials, production, industrialization and marketing of products that are part of the Textile Productive Complex - Camelids Sector . and the “Bolivian Tourism Public Company” in 2014; The “Glass Containers Productive Public Company”, and “AGETIC” which is the State Agency of Electronic Government and Information Technology in 2015; The “Strategic National Public Company of Bolivian Lithium Deposits”, The “Public State Publishing Company”, “ESAB” (the Bolivian Air Services Company) and the State Publisher Company in 2017; The Bolivian Post Agency in 2018; and the Bolivian Agricultural Production Company; The implementation of those companies was delegated to the Service for the Development of Productive Public Companies created through the Supreme Decree No. 590 of 4-8-2010.
From other side, between 2009 and 2013 the State has nationalized companies in charge of strategic sectors such as the electricity one, with the nationalization of companies in charge of the production, transmission and distribution of electricity; other nationalized sectors are the cement, mining, hydrocarbons, and the airports management and the airplanes fuel supply, which are managed by the state companies, created before the enactment of the Constitution that remained reduced during the liberal governments.
All public companies are governed in their management aspect by Law No. 466 of December 26, 2013, named "Law of the Public Company" that aims to establish the regime for public companies at the central level of the State, which includes state companies, mixed state companies, mixed companies, and intergovernmental state companies. That Law creates the Higher Strategic Council of Public Companies as well – “COSEEP” as the highest body for defining policies, strategies, and general guidelines for public business management.
In that trend, particular importance represents the enactment of Law No. 1398 of October 1st, 2021 that states that the Bolivian Commerce Registry will be under the custody of the Ministry of Productive Development and Plural Economy and under the management of SEPREC (the “Plurinational Trade Registry Service”), created by means of Supreme Decree No. 4596 of October 6, 2021, as the public institution that is taking control of the management of the Registry of Commerce whose management was granted by means of concession to a Private Foundation "FUNDEMPRESA" being in force for the last 20 years, being its last operation day, the 31 of march 2022.
Finally, in this area, some specific legal dispositions are important to be mentioned:
- Law No. 395 of 26-3-2013, whose regulations have been approved by Supreme Decree No. 1927 of 12-3-2014 and refers to the implementation of the “Quinoa International Center” with the objective of promoting the production and industrialization of quinoa.
- Law No. 356 of 11-04-2013 named “General Law for Cooperatives” regulating the constitution, the organization, the development, the supervision, the control, the incentives, and the protection of the cooperatives system of the State, aimed to the promotion of productive activities and administration of services that contribute to the economic and social development of the country. According to the law, a cooperative is understood as an association without profit purposes, founded in the joint work executed to satisfy in an autonomous manner the productive and service’s needs. This Law has been regulated through Supreme Decree No. 1995 of 13-05-2014.
- Supreme Decree No.1754 of 7-10-2013 for the constitution of social companies of private purpose. This law gives to workers of a private company the possibility in certain cases (like in case of bankruptcy or in case of inactivity of a company) to take charge of it.
- Law No. 448 of 4-12-2013 whose regulations were enacted by Supreme Decree No. 1939 of 19-3-2014, aims to approve the “National Program of Fruits and Vegetables within the frame of Knowing How to Eat for the Well Living”
- Law No. 453 of 04-12-2013 that approves the “General Law for Users and Consumers” which has been regulated through Supreme Decree No. 2130 of 24-09-2014 and that aims to protect users and consumers against the production and commerce of products in inappropriate conditions that threaten the health of Bolivian habitants.
- Law No. 509 of 17-3-2014 that declares of National Priority the industrialization, commercialization, and consumption of the “Coca Leave”.
- Law No. 516 of 4-4-2014 named “Law of Investments Promotion”, that recognizes the Public, the Private and the Social/cooperative/communitarian forms of investment, establishing the conditions to be fulfilled both by national and international investments in Bolivia.
- Law No. 708 of 25-06-2015 named “Law of Conciliation and Arbitration” that replaces and leaves without effect the former law issued in 1997.
- Law No. 947 of 11-5-2017 “Law of the Micro and Small Companies” that aims to encourage the associative work and to improve the population quality of life.
- Supreme Decree No. 3357 of 11-10-2017 that creates the Country Brand “made in Bolivia” that aims to project the Bolivian image and identity.
- Law No. 1055 of 1-5-2018 regulated by Supreme Decree No. 3771 of 1-9-2019 which purpose is to establish the legal framework for the constitution of social companies understanding “Social Company” as the one constituted by the active workers of a private company being in the process of insolvency proceedings, bankruptcy or liquidation, closed or abandoned in an unjustified manner; whose purpose is to reactivate and reorganize the company, in defense of their sources of work and, in safeguarding the social interest.
- Ministerial Resolution No. 146/2020 of 20-7-2020 issued by the Ministry of Productive Development and Plural Economy allowing Commercial companies to celebrate their corporate meetings (Partners Assemblies, General shareholders Meetings, Board Meetings and any other type of meeting that corresponds to instances of deliberation of company matters in a face to face, Virtual or Mixed modalities.
In this period, this sector has been one of the most favored. Although the General Labor Law of 1939 with its various amendments made through the time is still regulating labor relations in Bolivia, since 2009, many legal dispositions have been enacted in favor of workers. That is the case of:
- The Supreme Decree No. 12 of 19-02-2009 which states the immobility of workers becoming parents.
- The Supreme Decree No. 107 of 01-05-2009 which protects the labor relationship in the main activities of a company.
- The Supreme Decree No. 108 of 01-05-2009 which obliges employers to supply workers with the adequate working clothes and personal protection equipment.
- The Supreme Decree No. 110 of 01-05-2009 which protects the payment of the indemnification for time of services to people working more than 90 days.
- The Supreme Decree No. 228 of 9-9-2009 that creates the Mandatory Employers Registry.
- The Supreme Decree No. 495 of 01-05-2010 by which workers are given the faculty of defining whether accepting his dismissal whether asking for his reincorporation.
- The Supreme Decree No. 521 of 26-05-2010 that forbids evading labor relations in the main activities of the employer.
- The Supreme Decree No. 522 of 26-05-2010 that gives workers the possibility of asking for the benefits without the necessity of finishing the labor relationship.
- Law No. 977 of 26-9-2017 named “Law for the labor insertion and economic help of people with different capacities”, which has been regulated through Supreme Decree No. 3437 of 20-12-2017 and that aims to treat people with different capacities without discrimination, giving them labor opportunities.
- Supreme Decree No. 3462 of 18-1-2018 which purpose is to grant the benefit of special leave for mothers, fathers, guardians, guardians, tutors or tutors of girls, boys and adolescents who are in a critical condition or state of health, with the enjoyment of one hundred percent of remuneration.
- Supreme Decree No. 3546 of 1-5-2018 that aims to define the amount for the Family Allowances Regime to be paid, at the expense and cost of the employers:
a) Prenatal Subsidy, (monthly payment, in money or kind, equivalent to Bs2,000. - during the last five months of pregnancy)
b) Birth allowance, single payment to the mother, equivalent to Bs2,000. -
c) Breastfeeding Subsidy delivery to the mother of products dairy products or others equivalent to Bs2,000. for each child, during their first twelve months of life.
- Supreme Decree No. 3770 of 9-1-2019 that prohibits employers, from applying indirect dismissal due to a reduction in wages or salaries as a modality of termination of the employment relationship.
- Supreme Decree No. 4401 of 26-11-2020 that aims to promote measures for equal opportunities in access to employment, remuneration and equal treatment at work between women and men, to contribute to the elimination of the wage gap between women and men.
- Supreme Decree No. 4570 of 18-8-2021 (replaces previous Supreme Decree No. 4218 of 14-4-2020) that aims to regulate Telework as a special service provision modality characterized using Information and Communication Technologies - ICT in the public and private sectors.
- Ministerial Resolution No. 1411 of 27-12-2018 whose purpose is to establish the procedure for the presentation and approval of the Occupational Health and Safety Programs (PSST), through the Institutional Web Platform in charge of the Ministry of Labor.
- Ministerial Resolution No. 186 of 04-03-2021, that aims to approve the Regulation for the Preparation and Presentation of Biosafety Protocols for companies, establishing the obligation to prepare and present Specific Biosafety Protocols according to their own characteristics of each company.
- Ministerial Resolution No. 196 of 08-03-2021 which purpose is to regulate the "Procedure for Attending Complaints about Workplace Harassment and Sexual Harassment of Women in the Workplace.
- Ministerial Resolution No. 431 of 30-04-2021 which purpose is to ratify the right of workers subject to the General Labor Law, to job continuity and stability and prohibits workers from being fired from their source of work, unless there is prior legal cause and duly justified according to the grounds for dismissal established in the General Labor Law
From other part, Law No. 65 of 10-12-2010 named “Law of Pensions” has been enacted e, establishing rules for the integral administration of pensions for workers. The law replaced the Private Pension Funds that were charged of managing the workers contributions for retirement by the Public Organ of Long-Term Social Security.
Finally, two aspects must be mentioned. The first one being that between 2009 and 2021, in occasion of the “Labor Day”, the government has issued every year Supreme Decrees that aim to increase the amount of the Bolivian minimum wage. As an effect of that, the amount of the minimum salary has increased from 647 Bolivianos to 2250 Bolivianos (from aprox. 100 US$ to. 323 US$). The second aspect being that by means of the Supreme Decree No. 1802 of 20-11-2013, the government gave to workers a second annual gift called “the second bonus” (the first one being the “Christmas bonus”), applied when the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), exceeds 4.5% of a period of 12 months prior to September of each year, whose information will be communicated by the National Statistics Institute in the month of October of each management. Yet, that benefit occurred only in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018.
This subject is still regulated by the Bolivian Environmental Law No. 1333 of 27-04-1992 and its subsequent regulations approved between 1995 and 2006. Notwithstanding the year of its approval, the law is in general congruent with the guidelines over the environment protection established in the new Constitution. However, as the new constitutional text grants big importance to the environment, many law-related dispositions have been enacted since 2009. The most important are:
- The Supreme Decree No. 443 of 10-03-2010 which creates the “Forestation and Re-Forestation National Program” with the purpose of preserving Bolivian biodiversity and minimizing the effects of climate change.
- The Supreme Decree No. 71 of 21-12-2010 that recognizes the rights of the “Mother Earth”, which in its juridical person quality, is conceived as a dynamic and alive system formed by the indivisible community of all life systems and alive beings that are interrelated, interdependent and complemented, that share a common destiny.
- The Law No. 300 of 15-10-2012 named “The Framework Law of Mother Earth and Integral Development for the Well Living” enacted with the objective of establishing the vision and fundamentals of the integral development in harmony and equilibrium with Mother Earth for the “Well Living”, ensuring the resilience capacity of its components and life systems, recovering and strengthening the local and ancient knowledge. According to the Law No. 300, the integral development lies over the following basis: a) The knowledge of feeding; b) The promotion of sustainable consuming habits; c) The non-contaminating production process and d) A preservation Policy.
- The Law No. 576 of 3-10-2014 that creates the “Scientific Investigations Institute of the Bolivian Amazons for the Sustained Development”, aiming to generate knowledge about biodiversity and natural resources for the development of that area.
- The Law No. 602 of 14-11-2014 referred to “Risks Management” with the purpose of strengthening the State intervention in the disaster’s attention.
- The Supreme Decree No. 2366 of 20-5-2015, that gives the conditions to develop hydrocarbon activities in protected areas to benefit the habitants of those areas.
- The Supreme Decree No. 2453 of 15-7-2015, that regulates the recovery of agricultural degraded soil to improve its production capacity and ensure the alimentary security.
- The Law No. 700 of 01-6-2015 for the “Defense of Domestic Animals against Acts of Cruelty and Abuse”.
- The Law No. 755 of 28-10-2015 that approves the “Regulation of Integral Management of Waste” aiming to protect health through the reduction and management of waste, and the adequate final disposition of garbage. This Law is regulated through the Supreme Decree No. 2954 of 19-10-2016.
- The Law No. 821 of 16-8-2016, that approves the accomplishment of the “Atmospheric Emissions Norm Euro II” for the import of cars and the “Atmospheric Emissions Norm Euro IV” once the improvement of fuels has taken place.
- The Supreme Decree No. 2887 of 31-8-2016, that promotes the recycling of PET bottles at the production and packing stages.
- The Law No. 830 of 2-9-2016 of “Agricultural Health and Safety” to guarantee food security.
- The Law No. 835 of 17-9-2016, that ratifies the “Paris Agreement” approved by the United Nations Convention over Climate Change.
- The Supreme Decree No. 2914 of 27-9-2016, that creates the “Monitoring and Control Program of Deforestation and Degradation of Forests”.
- The Law No.865 of 12-12-2016, that ratifies the UNESCO Agreement over the Protection of the Sub Aquatic Cultural Patrimony.
- The Supreme Decree No. 3048 of 11-1-2017, that aims to regulate the “Protection of Wild Animals and Plants within the International Agreement of Wild Menaced Species”.
- The Supreme Decree No. 3129 of 29-3-2017, that approves the “Environmental Regulations for the Telecom Sector”
- The Law No. 938 of 3-5-2017 “Law on Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture”
- The Supreme Decree No. 3549 of 2-5-2018 that aims to modify, complement and incorporate new provisions to the Environmental Prevention and Control Regulation approved by Supreme Decree No. 24176, of December 8, 1995 and Supreme Decree No. 28592, of January 17, 2006, in order to optimize the environmental management, adjusting the Regulation Instruments of Particular Scope and the Technical-Administrative Procedures, prioritizing the functions of Environmental Control and Supervision, within the framework of current environmental regulations.
- The Supreme Decree No. 3856 of 3-4-2019 that aims to modify, complement and incorporate new provisions to the Environmental Prevention and Control Regulation approved by Supreme Decree No. 24176, of December 8, 1995, with respect to the identification of the level of Categorization for the Environmental Impact Assessment of economic activities.
- The Supreme Decree No. 4341 of 23-9-2020 by means of which after five years the government approved the regulations to Law No. 700, of June 1, 2015, for the defense of animals against acts of cruelty and mistreatment.
- The Supreme Decree No. 4378 of 10-10-2020 that establishes technical-administrative provisions for the presentation of the Environmental Categorization Level Form in Activities Category 3 from the Telecommunications Sector.The Supreme Decree No. 4489 of 21-4-2021 that aims to protect wildlife, within the framework of the Law No. 300, of October 15, 2012named "Framework Law of Mother Earth and Integral Development for the Well Living" and the Law No. 1333, of April 27, 1992named "Environmental Law".
3.8. Telecom, Transport, Electricity, Nuclear Energy, Hydrocarbons and Mining
In this period these sectors received important regulations.
In the Telecom sector the “General Law of Telecommunications, Technologies of Information and Communication” was enacted through Law No. 164 of 8-8-2011, with the constitutional objective of ensuring the equitable distribution and the efficient use of the radio electric spectrum. Other important aspects in this sector are:
- The creation through the Supreme Decree No. 78 of 15-04-2009, of the “State Television Company” named “Bolivia TV”, which is the official public network.
- The creation through the Supreme Decree No. 423 of 10-02-2010, of the “Space Bolivian Agency” in charge of implementing the Tupak Katari Satellite to give to Bolivians telecom sovereignty.
- The approval by means of Supreme Decree No. 2617 of 2-12-2015, of the “Regulations of the telecommunications Law No. 164 for the Bolivian Postal Service”.
- The approval, by means of Supreme Decree No. 3404 of 29-11-2017, of mechanisms to allow “number portability in telecom services” to guarantee to users their right of service election. That mechanism has entered operation on October 1, 2018, instead of in December 2017 as previously established by Supreme Decree 3004 of 30-11-2016.
- The approval by means of the Supreme Decree No. 4326 of 7-9-2020 of the “Regulation of Infractions and Sanctions for the Telecommunications, Information and Communication Technologies sector” to enable a better compliance with the provisions of Law No. 164 and its general regulations.
In the transport sector, the “General Transport Law” was enacted by means of Law No. 165 of 16-8 2011, with the objective of regulating the technical, economic, social, and organic aspects of the air, land, rail, and water transport based in an integral transport system.
The important related legislation in this sector is the enactment of the “Technical Regulation to the General Transports Law No. 165, of August 16, 2011, in the form of water transport, for the provision of general technical, social and organizational services.” Which has been approved by means of Supreme Decree No. 3073 of 1-2-2017.
In the Electricity and Nuclear Energy Sectors, besides the nationalization of all the productive electricity chain, through Law No. 290 of 20-09-2012, the national necessity and priority for the installation and supply of electricity for the use and profit of countryside communities was declared, to give them access to electricity services. As well, through the Supreme Decree No. 1948 of 31-3-2014, a “Dignity Tariff” (a 25% discount on the payment of use of electricity for domestic consumers consuming 70kWh) was created. Finally, through the Supreme Decree No. 2399 of 10-6-2015, the government approved the conditions and guidelines for the international exchange of electricity.
Other important issued legislation in this sector is:
- The Supreme Decree No. 4539 of 7-7-2021 that aims to establish tax and financial incentives for the import of electric and hybrid vehicles and the assembly of electric and hybrid agricultural machinery to promote energy efficiency. This Supreme Decree has been accompanied by tree procedures issued in coordination between the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energies and the Electricity and Nuclear Bolivian regulator: The first regulation establishes transitory rates for users who install public service charging stations and the maximum prices for the sale of electricity used by these cars. The second regulation stipulates technical and safety requirements that these pumps must meet to avoid accidents; and the third regulation defines the technical requirements to install a public electric charging station, as well as the rights and obligations for its operation, and the sanctions in case of operating irregularly.
- The Supreme Decree No. 4477 of 24-3-2021 that aims to establish general conditions to regulate the activity of Distributed Generation in the electric power distribution systems; (e.i. electrical generation with renewable sources, connected to the Distribution Network to inject its generation surpluses), so as to promote the use of renewable energy.
From other part, the development of Nuclear Energy has also been one of the government’s objectives. That is why through the Supreme Decree No. 2654 of 20-1-2016, the Bolivian Government declared the strategic character of the execution of the “Nuclear Bolivian Program”, and by means of the Supreme Decree No. 2697 of 9-3-2016 it creates the “Nuclear Energy Bolivian Agency,” charged with the task of developing nuclear energy in Bolivia.
As well by means of Law No. 1003 of 12-12-2017 the Government defined the competence of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes for the central level of the State and established the conditions for the construction of infrastructure and implementation of the Center for Research and Development in Nuclear Technology, declaring said construction as a priority and national interest. That was followed by the Supreme Decree No. 3429 of 12-13-2017, by which the government promoted the granting of scholarships for undergraduate and/or postgraduate studies in the nuclear area, in favor of Bolivian high school graduates or professionals of excellence, who at the end of their studies have the obligation to provide their professional services in the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency.
In that trend, through Supreme Decree No. 3892 of 5-1-2019, the government extended the regulatory powers of the Electricity Authority to the field of Nuclear Energy, calling it the "Electricity and Nuclear Technology Supervision Authority-AETN " with the task of auditing, controlling, supervising and regulating both, the Electricity and the Nuclear Technology sectors, defining the closure of the Bolivian Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology – IBTEN created by Supreme Decree No. 19583, of June 3, 1983, establishing that their powers, competencies, rights and obligations would be assumed by the AETN and the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency.
Finally, by means of Law No. 1205 of 2021, the government established the legal framework for:
- The peaceful applications of nuclear technology to contribute to scientific, economic, and social development for the benefit of all Bolivians, establishing the institutional structure of the nuclear sector within the framework of the international commitments assumed by the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
- The regulation and control of all facilities and activities that involve the peaceful applications of nuclear technology, within the framework of technological and physical security, to ensure the protection of present and future generations, as well as the environment, against to the risks inherent in ionizing radiation.
In the hydrocarbon domain, the government objective was to change the internal matrix of energy to natural gas. That is why the Supreme Decree No. 1996 of 31-3-2014 approved the “Regulations for the Distribution of Natural Gas by Networks.” It is also important to mention the enactment of the Law No. 767 of 11-12-2015, named “Law for the Promotion of Investments in Exploration and Exploitation of Hydrocarbons,” that aims to attract investments for the development of unexplored areas. Finally, but not less important, are the specific regulations for the “Defense of Hydrocarbons and Electricity Users and Consumers” approved by the Supreme Decree No. 2337 of 22-4-2015.
Other important legislation lately approved is:
- The Supreme Decree No. 3269 of 2-8-2017 that approves the new “Regulations for the Design, Construction, Operation, Maintenance and Abandonment of Storage Plants for Liquid Hydrocarbons”, instead of the “Regulations for the Construction and Operation of Liquid Fuel Storage Terminals”, approved by Supreme Decree No. 25048, of May 22, 1998in the intent of adapt old legislation to the 2009 Political Constitution.
- The Law No. 1098 of 15-9-2018 that aims to establish the regulatory framework that allows the production, storage, transport, marketing and mixing of Additives of Plant Origin, with the purpose of gradually replacing the importation of Inputs and Additives, and Diesel Oil.Therefore, the production of Ethanol or Biodiesel among others.
Finally, in the Mining sector, it is important to know that between 1967 and 2014 (almost 50 Years) mining in Bolivia had a liberal system of concessions. There were many ways of acquiring mining rights over an area. However, with the new Constitutional framework that governs Bolivia since 7-2-2009 in which natural resources belong not longer to the State but to the Bolivian people, the system of concessions for natural resources was left without effect. Therefore, the Constitution establishes that there are no more concessions but only contracts and that all the "mining concessions" granted to national and foreign companies will have to be adapted to the new provisions of the Constitution. That is why since 2010, by means of Supreme Decree No. 726 of 6-12- 2010, the “Special Transitory Authorizations” (ATE as called in Spanish) were in force instead of the proprietary rights over mining areas. Those ATE´s must then be adapted to the new legislation through the signature of “Mining Administrative Contracts.”
In 2014, the “Law of Mining and Metallurgy” was approved by means of Law No. 535 of 28-5-2014, replacing the former Mining Code that was in force since 1997. That new Law regulates the mining sector in accordance with the new Constitution, giving more details about the adaptation from mining concessions to "Administrative Mining Contracts", aspect that has been regulated by Administrative Resolution N°0294/2016 of December 5th, 2016, that establishes the rules, terms, and procedure for the adequacy of ATE´s into “Mining Administrative Contracts”. The approvals of the Mining Administrative Contracts have started on 26-11-2018 with Law 1124 that approved the first 3 contracts of this kind.
After, by means of the Law No. 845 of 24-10-2016, the government approved the reversion to the State of the mining areas that were developed by means of a joint venture agreement signed between cooperatives and private companies. Therefore, by means of the Supreme Decree No. 2994 of 23-11-2016, the government approved the procedure for the subscription of “Mining Production Contracts” in the areas destined to the State Mining Company “COMIBOL.” However, with the purpose of regulating relations between the State and mining cooperatives, the government issued the Law No. 1140 of 26-12-2018 by means of which decided that Mining Production Contracts will no longer be applicable to mining cooperatives, establishing as a new mining contractual form the “Mining Cooperative Contract” to be signed between the Mining State Company and the mining cooperatives for the development of activities of the productive chain in COMIBOL areas. That Law has been regulated by the Supreme Decree 3853 of 3-4-2019.
In that trend, by means of Supreme Decree No. 3405 of November 29, 2017, the government created the “Single Mining Registry”, and implemented the “Metallurgical Mining Information System” to streamline and facilitate the management of various procedures that are carried out in the state metallurgical mining sector.
The Bolivian Political Constitution states that all people have the right to health, and that the State guarantees inclusion and access to health for all people, without exclusion or discrimination. The State recognizes, guarantees, and controls the public health service and the private health service.
The following legal dispositions have been issued between 2009 and 2021:
- The Law No. 475 of 30-12-2013 that enacted the Rendering of Integral Health Services with the purpose of regulating the integral attention as well as the financial protection in health of people without health insurance and having less than 5 years old or more than 60; pregnant women and persons with different capacities, to ensure equal access to health to people of scarce economic resources. This law has been regulated by means of the Supreme Decree No. 1984 of 30-4-2014, enabling the access to this health services to the destined people. However, five years later the Law No. 475 has been modified subsequently by Law No. 1069 of 28-5-2018 and by Law No. 1152 of 20-2-2019 regulated by Supreme Decree No. 3813 of 27-2-2019, with the intention of expanding the beneficiary population that is not covered by the Short-Term Social Security, with free health care, advancing towards a Single, Universal and Free Health System.
- The Law No. 573 of 11-9-2014 by which the government approved the reduction of age for the access to retirement of people working in unhealthy jobs.
- The Law No. 738 of 21-9-2015 of “4th Level Health Institutes” with the objective of offering high specialized services and investigation.
- The Law No. 775 of 8-1-2016 for the “Promotion of Healthy Nutrition” aiming to prevent diseases related to diet.
- The Supreme Decree No. 2905 of 21-9-2016, that creates the “State Agency for Medicines and Health Technology”, with the purpose of regulating the production, import, export, distribution, marketing, and use of medicines in Bolivia.
- The Supreme Decree No. 3091 of 15-2-2017, that creates the “National Health System Regulator”.
- The Supreme Decree No. 3092 of 15-2-2017 that authorizes the “Free Affiliation, Disaffiliation and Re-affiliation of the Compulsory Social Insurance”.
The Supreme Decree No. 3293 of 24-8-2017 that creates the “Health and Equipment Infrastructure Agency”, aiming to run projects of 4th level Hospitals and Institutes in Bolivia.
In 2020 health care had a particular importance due to the presence of COVID 19 in the country. Therefore, through the enactment of the Supreme Decree No. 4179 of 12-3-2020 and of the Supreme Decree No. 4196 of 17-3-2020 the Bolivian government subsequently declared National Emergency and Sanitary Emergency establishing since that moment a series of regulations against contagion and spread of the virus to prevent and control the difficult sanitary situation. Rigid quarantine was declared on 21-3-202 by means of Supreme Decree No. 4199. Dynamic quarantine was declared on 29-4-2020 by Supreme Decree 4229 and by means of the Supreme Decree No. 4314 of 27-8-2020 the government established the transition from quarantine to the post-confinement phase, establishing measures with active community surveillance of cases of COVID-19 that continue to date.
The Law of Education No. 70 of 20-12-2010 was approved, regulating the Bolivian education as a constitutional right and as the primary function of the State that must be integral, non-colonialist, anti-imperialist, transformer of economic and social structures, communitarian, democratic, universal, plural, laic, intra-cultural, inter-cultural, plurilingual and scientific. The Law recognizes the educational system composed by public, private institutions, and international agreement ones. It states that education in Bolivia is mandatory through high school and that public education is free until the superior level.
Due to the presence of COVID 19 in Bolivia, and after the rigid quarantine faced in March and April 2020, by means of Supreme Decree No. 4245, of 28-5-2020, the government defined the suspension of face-to-face classes at all levels and educational modalities until June 30, 2020.
However, even though the enactment of Supreme Decree 4260 of 6-6-2020 by which the government aimed to regulate the complementarity of face-to-face, distance, virtual and blended care modalities in the Subsystems of Regular Education, Alternative and Special Education and Higher Education of Vocational Training of the Plurinational Educational System, on August 1st, 2020, the Ministry of Education communicated the closing of the educational year for the Regular Subsystem. In January by virtue of Ministerial Resolution 001/2021, the Ministry of Education defined the return to classes for the 2021 administration, establishing that schoolwork be carried out under the modalities: face-to-face, semi-face-to-face and distance.
In this sector, The Government has enacted “the National Sport Law” regulated by means of the Supreme Decree No. 3116 of 15-3-2017 aiming to regulate the constitutional right to sport and to promote the physical culture as well as the sports practice in Bolivia.
Various legal dispositions have been approved. That is the case of:
- Law No. 144 of 26-06-2011 for the “Agro Communitarian Productive Revolution” to achieve the sovereignty in the food supply, for the “Well Living”
- Law No. 223 of 02-03-2012, named the “General Law for I People with Different Capacities”, that has been regulated by means of the Supreme Decree No. 1893 of 12-2-2014 incorporating the implementation of Multisectoral Integral Centers.
- Law No. 247 of 05-06-2012 for regularizing proprietary rights over urban real state destined to habitation.
- Law No. 251 of 20-06-2012 for the “Protection of Refugees”.
- Law. No. 264 of 31-07-2012 approving the “Citizen Security National System Law”.
- Law No. 269 of 02-08-2012 approving the “General Law of Linguistic Rights and Policies”.
- Law no. 306 of 08-11-2012 approving the “Law of Artisan Promotion and Development”.
- Law No. 338 of 26-01-2013 “Law of Indigenous Economic Organizations for the Integration of the Sustainable Familiar Agriculture”.
- Law No. 341 of 05-02-2013 of “Participation and Social Control”, aiming to strengthen the democracy in the Public Management.
- Law No. 342 of 05-02-2013 named the “Youth Law” with the objective of assuring to youth the exercise of their civil, politic, economic, social, and cultural rights so they could achieve an integral development in equitable, inclusive, and fair conditions for the well living.
- Law No. 369 of 01-05-2013 for the “Elder Adults” aiming to regulate the rights, guaranties, and duties of persons older than 60 so they could have a worthy old age.
- Law No. 530 of 23-5-2014 that regulates and establishes the conditions of the “Bolivian Cultural Patrimony”, to value and protect the cultural identity, its expressions and legacy.
- Supreme Decree No. 2495 of 26-8-2015 that creates the “Development Indigenous Fund” for strengthen the indigenous sector through the execution of productive programs and projects.
In the banking sector, through Law No. 331 of 27-12-2012, the “Banco Union S.A.” was appointed as the Public Banking Entity with the purpose of centralizing the financial operations and services of all the public administration.
As well through Law No. 393 of 21-08-2013 was enacted the Law of Financial Services with the objective of regulating: a) the financial intermediation activities; b) the financial services supply; c) the organization of financial entities; d) the protection of financial consumers and e) the participation of the State as the guide of the financial system surveying the universality of the financial services and orienting its performance to the development of the social and economic policies of the State.
This is the sector who mostly felt the transition period originated after the enactment of the Constitution.
Indeed, Law No. 3 of 13-2-2010 declared the temporality of work for all judicial institutions belonging to the “Republic”. Those were supposed to last until the 1-1-2011 to be replaced by the new ones created by the new Constitution. However, the former judicial institutions last effectively until the 2-1-2012 according to Law No. 212 of 23-12-2011. And it is from the 3-1-2012 that the new judicial institutions started working under the new legal framework.
In that trend, through Laws No. 25 and No. 27 of 24-06-2010 and 6-7-2010 respectively, were approved the “Law of the Judicial Organ” and the “Law of the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal” regulating their structure and competences.
As well the “Law of Jurisdictional Demarcation” has been approved through Law No. 73 of 29-12-2010, aiming to regulate the limits of the indigenous jurisdiction, establishing the coordination mechanisms between it and the ordinary jurisdiction.
From other part it is important to say that Law No. 212 of 23-12-2011 established the free access to justice eliminating the payment of all forms and securities.
Besides, it is important to mention the enactment of the “Code of Constitutional Proceedings” by means of Law No. 254 of 5-7-2012, aiming to regulate constitutional processes before the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal and the constitutional defense actions before the judicature.
Finally it is important to make reference to the enactment of Law No. 929 of 27-4-2017 that makes modifications and additions to Laws No. 025 of June 24, 2010, of the Judicial Branch; No. 027 of July 6, 2010, of the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal, and No. 026 of 30 of June 2010, of the Electoral Regime; in order to speed up and make transparent the electoral processes of high authorities of the Judicial Branch and the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal.
In this sector, Law No. 370 of 08-05-2013 approved the “Immigration Law,” aiming to regulate the entrance, the transit, the stay, and the exit of persons within the State territory, assuring them their rights according to the Constitution and to the international human rights treaties. This Law has been regulated by means of the Supreme Decree No. 1923 of 12-3-2014 that establishes new regulations over visas, permanence, naturalization, as well as obligations for transport operators and lodging. Notwithstanding, Law No. 370 has been modified by Law No. 997 of 13-11-2017 by means of which the government adjusted some definitions like the ones of “visa”, “permanence”, “Passport”, “Entry authorization” among other aspects. At its turn, the Supreme Decree No. 1923 of 12-3-2014 has been as well modified by means of Supreme Decree No. 4574 of 25-8-2021 in order to regulate for one side the information on the purpose, and place where foreigners make use of tourist, hotel and transportation services, as well as the establishment of sanctions for those who change their place of residence without making this aspect known to the General Directorate of Immigration, and from the other side has the purpose of regulating actions that alter public order, carried out by foreigners.
From other side, the Law No. 292 of 25-09-2012 called the “General Law for Tourism ‘Bolivia awaits You’” was enacted, aiming to promote both internal tourism (to reaffirm the Bolivian identity) and the receptive one (to show the country and to revalue the natural and cultural Bolivian patrimony).This law has been regulated by means of the Supreme Decree No. 2609 of 25-11-2015. Complementing those legal instruments, Law No. 867 of 12-12-2016 created the “Fund for the Promotion of Tourism,” formed by a special contribution to impulse the Bolivian destiny to the international market.
Finally, it is important to refer to the Supreme Decree No. 4492 of 21-4-2021 that aims to modify Supreme Decree No. 29681 of 20-8-2008, establishing new limits for the inflow and outflow of foreign currency from the national territory. Basically it states that the physical entry and exit of foreign currency to and from the national territory, for amounts between US$10,000.- and US$20,000.- or its equivalent in another currency, will require registration informing about the origin and destination of the funds, and that the entry and exit of foreign currency to and from the national territory, for amounts greater than US$20,000.- or its equivalent in another currency, must be carried out through Financial Intermediation Entities regulated by the Supervisory Authority of the Financial System
In this sector the government enacted the Law No.401 of 18-09-2013 named “Law for Treaties Celebration” Regulated two years later by Supreme Decree No. 2476 of 5-8-2015. The law aims to establish the proceeding for the celebration of international treaties. Two kinds of treaties are recognized:
- The formal ones which need to be ratified by the Legislative Organ before entering into force. This kind of treaties can be celebrated in the subjects of communitarian Law; Human Rights; Territory Limits; Monetary Integration; Economic Integration; transfer of competences to International Organs.
- The abbreviated ones that are related to the exclusive competences of the Executive Branch and therefore they do not need to be ratified by the Legislative Organ to enter into force.
Finally, this law establishes that the “dispute resolution” cases involving Bolivia must be subject to the Bolivian laws and jurisdiction.
From other part we must mention the following enacted legislation:
- Law No. 699 of 1-6-2015 that establishes the “Guidelines for the International Relationship of the Autonomous Territorial Entities”.
- Law No. 967 of 2-8-2017 that ratifies the “Hague Apostille Convention” making more efficient the legalization of documents with international purposes.
- Law No. 1002 of 7-12-2017 that ratifies the “Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights related to Trade”.
- Law No. 1011 of 26-12-2017 that ratifies the “Protocol to the Human Rights American Convention related to the Abolition of the Death Penalty”.
In this specific area, we must mention the following legislation:
- Law No. 64 of 5-12-2010 by means of which the government created the “State Attorney General Office” as the institution that has the mission of defending the interests of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. The Attorney General is appointed by the President for a period of 6 years.
- Law No. 400 of 18-9-2013 regulated by Supreme Decree No. 2175 of 5-11-2014 that approves the “Regulations for the Control of Firearms, Ammunitions and Explosives” with the purpose of controlling their possession, use and employment.
- Law No. 521 of 22-4-2014 that treats the “Defense of the Air Space” regulating the measures, actions, procedures for the control, surveillance, and defense of the Bolivian air space in order to guarantee its sovereignty and security.
The Bolivian legal system has as its principal sources:
- The laws, understood as the mandatory rules of conduct created by the public authority of a general character (Plurinational Legislative Assembly), and whose fulfillment is susceptible of imposition by coercive means.
- Custom, defined as the permanent daily and uniform repetition of acts and forms of conduct, which arise in social usage, and which are transmitted from generation to generation.
- Jurisprudence defined as the collection of uniformed decisions issued by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal.
- Doctrine defined as all the studies and knowledge made by jurists or legal scholars organized in systematic form concerning some legal questions.
In Bolivia primary legal materials are composed of laws and decrees that may be found at the following official web pages:
- The Official Gazette of the Plurinational State of Bolivia is the official editorial organ of the state. It is in charge of the publication of laws, supreme decrees, supreme resolutions and other public legal documents. Consultation of the web page is free.
- Vice-Presidency of the Plurinational State of Bolivia: As the head of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly. Its webpage contains links to the Historic Newspaper Library and to the Library and Historical Archive.
- The Legal Information System of the State (SILEP for its name in Spanish) created under the initiative of the Vice-Presidency with the support of the German Cooperation constitutes an important database were more than 13,000 legal dispositions can be found. Consultation of the web page is free.
- Chamber of Deputies: Its web page has a link to laws where we can find the already enacted laws; the sanctioned Laws; the approved Laws and the Laws that are in treatment. Other useful official link is the Chamber of Senators. Consultation of the web page is free.
Secondary legal materials such as decisions issued by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal may be found at the following web pages:
- Judicial Bolivian Organ: This is the official web page of the Bolivian judicial branch. This page will lead the visitor to the web pages of the different judicial bodies like the Agro environmental Supreme Tribunal or the Council of the Magistracy.
- Supreme Tribunal of Justice: The web page of the Supreme Tribunal has a search engine which allows sentences issued by this organ of justice to be found concerning civil, penal, and social matters. The jurisprudence is systematized in what is called the “tree of jurisprudence”, useful tool which organizes the jurisprudence, by specific topics and subtopics.
- Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal: The web page of the Constitutional Tribunal shows a systematized jurisprudence easy to find either by number of decision or by content. As well we can find the list of the declared unconstitutional legal dispositions.
Portal of Procedures of the Plurinational State of Bolivia: It is the official site of the Plurinational State of Bolivia that allows to locate any procedure offered by the state with an updated list of requirements, steps, cost, and other essential information. The Consultation of the web page is highly recommended and is free.