The Bolivian government has mobilised indigenous people and peasants to achieve an alliance with the separatist oligarchy. The “dialogue of the deaf” continues on Thursday. An Econoticias Bolivia editorial, translated from the Spanish.
La Paz, September 22nd 2008 – The oligarchy, the fascist governors and the 100 clans, who own the land and big business and control four of Bolivia’s nine provinces, continue to make a mockery of the indigenous-peasant government’s persisted efforts to seal a national accord which will make the country governable, make viable a new State Political Constitution and open the way for the re-election of president Evo Morales.
Although they have signed an initial pre-agreement and have sat down at the negotiating table with Morales and his ministers, the oligarchy and the fascist governors who have been moving the “dialogue of the deaf” forward since last Thursday at heart have not the slightest interest in making a far-reaching pact with Morales and only want to “clean up” their image, which was seriously damaged by the savage massacre of peasants in Pando (15 shot dead and 30 wounded). They want to consolidate the gains they have made in the east and in the valleys of Bolivia, after three weeks of virtual rebellion against the central government based in La Paz.
This Sunday, after four days of talks, President Morales himself lamented the fact that the “negotiations” appeared to be going nowhere and asked for a new effort to achieve a basic agreement when he returns from the United Nations on Thursday. Indeed, one of his main negotiators, Vice-minister for De-centralisation Fabián Yaksic, accused the opposition governors of Santa Cruz, Beni, Tarija and Chuquisaca of putting the dialogue process at risk and making the work done in the last four days of meetings worthless.
Morales wants a deal, the fascists don’t
As everyone except the functionaries of Morales’ government could have predicted beforehand, the fascist governors do not want to help along the referendum on the new State Political Constitution, which would make it possible for Morales to be re-elected for the next ten years and which would allow the central government to decide on the use and management of the land and natural resources.
“Without doubt this puts at risk the dialogue we have been building in the last eight days, and the blame will lie with those who rather than seeking co-operation are putting forward suggestions which represent a backwards step in the dialogue”, Yaksic said as he expressed regret at the governors’ decision to block a referendum on the new Constitution.
“Despite this, the government continues to persist with the “dialogue of the deaf”. “We have made great progress, we are not going to chuck away what we have worked to achieve”, he commented.
For their part, the fascists, joined with the ‘civic’, bosses’ and popular town organisations of the east and the valleys via the Consejo Nacional Democrático (Conalde) once again demanded full provincial autonomy before they would make way for the ratification of the new constitutional text.
In fact, the oligarchy do not want to reach an agreement with Morales, and for that reason they are putting forward a list of demands which could only be achieved if Morales caved in completely. Therefore they are demanding that the government ‘devolves’ to them the tax money from hydro-carbons (around 200 million dollars a year) abandons pushing forward the new Constitution and recognises their statutes of autonomy (which would allow them to set up their own Parliament, dictate laws parallel to the central government’s, collect taxes and establish their own Police force).
In defence of capitalism
Essentially, Morales wants an alliance with the oligarchy and the 100 clans, who own the land and the economy, to preserve representative democracy and strengthen the functioning of Andean capitalism: a political and economic model based on private property as regards foreign investment, the strengthening of the ‘national bourgeoisie’ and small private producers, with state support and intervention.
He also wants to achieve the ratification of a new Political Constitution which will grant – at least in formal terms – more rights for the indigenous peoples, will push along the capitalist development of Bolivia and open the way for his re-election up to 2020.
The fascist right, in contrast, conscious that holding the indigenous president hostage has allowed it to recover its power in half the country, now does not want any deal with Morales, still less his new Constitution and possible re-election, and is counting on wearing him down and stopping him staying in power beyond 2010, when his five-year term in office will officially end.
Its strategy for the next two years is to maintain its control over half of Bolivia, where not even Morales himself can go without meeting with threats and attacks by fascist bands.
Pressure for dialogue
Faced with this, president Morales has begun to mobilise his peasant and trade union support to build pressure for an agreement with the fascists, in which the signatories will have to cede ground, moderating not only provincial autonomy but also the reforms in the new Constitution (rights for indigenous people and curbs on the latifundios [large agricultural estates]).
This is why the president of the pro-government Coordinadora Nacional por el Cambio (Conalcam), Fidel Surco, has argued that starting from Monday the social movements need to step up the pressure “given the stubbornness of the opposition, which is endangering the negotiations by demanding full provincial autonomy in order to maintain its regional economic and political control at the expense of marginalised sectors of society”.
“No longer shall we allow abuses by the media luna [i.e. the opposition governors], who do not want to sign a deal and are looking to ruin the dialogue. Faced with this we have decided to step up road blockades in Santa Cruz until they sign a deal”, warned Surco.
Trade unions fighting for a deal
For his part the pro-government leader of the Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia (CSUTCB), Isaac Ávalos, said that the right-wingers and governors of the so-called “media luna” did not want dialogue but confrontation, not asking for autonomy but rather the total abandonment of the proposed State Political Constitution.
“They (the right-wingers and opposition governors) are responsible for the radicalisation of mobilisations and the harm suffered by our people, since they have violently taken over institutions and gas pipes, set up blockades and now double-talk about dialogue. That is why we support the stepping up of road blockades”, he commented.
The leader of the Federación Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas Indígenas Originarias de Bolivia “Bartolina Sisa”, Leonilda Zurita, called on the women of the nation to take part in the road blockades in Santa Cruz.
“The right-wingers and the governors of the media luna do not want equality but rather to go on a hunting trip, like the ambushes used to massacre our peasant brothers in Bando. We trusted that the governors could take this dialogue forward, but we have seen that they have no desire to see a united, democratic Bolivia: that is why we are going to set up blockades”, declared Zurita.
All of them want to make a deal between Morales and the fascists viable.
The Central Obrera Boliviana and the agreement
On the other hand, other unions affiliated to the Central Obrera do not think that anything good can come from the negotiations between the indigenous-peasant government and the separatist oligarchy, for which reason they believe that it is necessary to confront and defeat the agricultural-financial bourgeoisie of the east.
The miners’ union leader Guido Mitma argued that the negotiations and concessions to the oligarchy could bring no benefit to workers and the country. The miners’ leader warned that the politics of conciliation with the bourgeoisie would not help the people of the country nor the process of change. On the contrary he urged the entrenchment of the so-called ‘October agenda’, i.e. the true nationalisation of un-renewable natural resources which are still in the hands of multinationals, the expropriation of the immense latifundios in the east and in the valleys, the re-distribution of land to the poor indigenous people and peasantry, and improvements in working conditions and living standards for workers.
In another declaration, the manufacturing workers’ union said that “the revolutionary process our country is going through has no time to lose: the revolution must continue progressing towards its main objectives, going beyond the narrow perspectives of the nationalists’ democratic revolution”.
“The fascist and racist bourgeoisie in the east shall not succeed. The negotiations opened by the government with those politically responsible for the Porvenir massacre in order to bring this grave political and state crisis to an end are only a hiatus before we will have to decide Bolivia’s fate once and for all. We call on manufacturing workers to organise militantly and strike a resounding blow against these small neo-fascist groups: because there is no middle course between social revolution and fascism”, it added.