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Indigenous Woman Attorney is Bolivia’s First President of its New Magistrates Council

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Bolivia’s new president of the Magistrates' Council, the judicial body that provides administrative and disciplinary supervision of the judges and magistrates in the country, is indigenous attorney Cristina Mamani, the first person to hold this high office.

Mamani, 46, won the elected position on January 4 after receiving more than 461,000 votes in the October polls. She was one of five candidates and received more than 26 percent of all votes cast.

The members of the Magistrates' Council are elected to the positions by the general population from a slate of candidates that are selected and proposed by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly.

“I will serve the most humble people,” Mamani stated in a press conference in October. “I studied law because many people, especially the country people, suffer abuses and need to be defended.”

“We ask the population at large to let us know the facts of which judges are bad in the administration of justice, which ones are corrupt or cause justice to be delayed,” Mamani stated in a press conference the day before the final tallies were announced.

“You are the people that know this,” asserted the new president who is bilingual in Spanish and Aymara, and is also the first indigenous person in Bolivia’s history to hold such a high judicial post.

Mamani studied law at the University of San Andres and while she did work as a general practice attorney she was an official in charge of judicial procedures for the judiciary in La Paz as well.

The Magistrate’s Council replaces the Judiciary Council as part of the new Plurinational Judicial Organization, one of the changes created by the country’s Constituent Assembly that included focus on bringing more indigenous and rural people into government. This new council began operating in the second week of January in Sucre, the new capital of the country.

The Council is the governmental entity in charge of discipline, fiscal oversight and general administration of Bolivia’s judicial system. It will control the use of economic resources, as well as select candidates for various departmental posts and designate certain judges. The Magistrates Council is part of the Judicial Branch of the government along with entities such as the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and the Agro-environmental Tribunal.

“The changes will be gradual,” Mamani stated in regards to the new council. “They won’t happen overnight, we don’t have a magic wand.”