In September 2008 lowland elites led sustained protests against the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, demanding autonomy for their departments. Yet, Morales’ MAS government never opposed grassroots autonomy initiatives. In fact, the administration held a 2006 referendum allowing lowland departments to opt for autonomy to be defined in the new Constitution. Ironically, opposition efforts to block the approval of the new constitution postponed efforts to legally implement autonomy. In retrospect, it became clear that this elite manipulation of the autonomy issue was more a tool for lowland elites to oppose Morales than a broad-based popular demand. The new Bolivian constitution, approved in January 2009 has since established different levels of autonomy.