The Commune has published many reports from Bolivia, mostly translations of articles by the trade union news website Econoticias. We have also established contact with Socialismo o Barbarie, a group who have comrades in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and Paraguay as well as Bolivia, and so are pleased to publish this translation of a recent SoB report on the social crisis there.
Bolivia on the brink of partition
By José Luis Rojo and Martín Camacho
From Socialismo o Barbarie in La Paz, 17th September
“The fascists shall not pass: the people will crush them”.
La Paz – Once again, events are moving rapidly in Bolivia. After two years of relative “calm” in the class struggle (2006-2007) in recent months the social and political convulsions traversing the country have again become red-hot.
The sign of the onset of the most dramatic events since October 2003 and May-June 2005 (albeit, this time with the opposite meaning) was the unquestionable electoral success of president Evo Morales and vice-president Álvaro García Linera in the 10th August recall referendum.
So things aren’t happening as the right-wingers and parliamentary opposition had hoped. Having put the MAS government on the defensive and having won five elections on the trot (the autonomy referendums in Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija and the election of a new governor for Chuquisaca), above all thanks to the parliamentary base of the oppositionist Podemos party, they imagined that they were more or less on the brink of revoking Morales’ mandate and being able to call a fresh general election.
But it backfired. Moreover, the reactionary opposition ended up with divisions amongst themselves, with the “politicos” sat in the National Congress (mostly from Podemos, the party of the former president Tuto Quiroga, who was sympathetic to Banzer) and the ‘civic’ leaders opposed to the governors, who were not so convinced of the recall referendum “manoeuvre”.
Apart from this, it was very much an open secret that the government was going to win the referendum (it was a huge miscalculation of Podemos to finally call a referendum after the successful Santa Cruz autonomy vote of 4th May), but none of the opposition groups expected such a mandate for Morales.
With 67% of the national vote, including significant support in the provinces of the Media Luna, and the recall of the opposition governors in the La Paz and Cochabamba provinces, the government unquestionably had a political triumph, showing that very wide layers of the peasant and indigenous masses and urban poor continue to consider it as their government: “‘fondness for Evo’ consists of a mix of ethnic identity and social politics”, commented the MAS-supporting analyst Pablo Stefanoni.
At the same time, although the mandates of the governors of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija were also ratified (there was no referendum in Chuquisaca because the oppositionist governor had only recently been elected), they were clearly exposed as a minority in the national scheme of things.
After several days of doubts, the government ended up calling a new referendum, this time to ratify its bill for a new Constitution. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, pushing the right-wingers to direct action in the knowledge that on the national electoral plane they are for the time being a clear minority.
A generalised offensive for secession
Almost immediately after the announcement of the Constitutional referendum, the CONALDE (the chiefs of staff of the reactionary oligarchy in the east), at the head of the oligarchy’s most determined elements, the oppositionist governors, called for a regional “plan for struggle”.
Their explicit demand: the devolution of a given percentage of the IDH (hydro-carbons taxes). However, the real undercurrent was nothing other than refusal to allow a constitutional referendum which – without misquoting them – they believed they could not win.
“The key issue is the MAS’s Constitutional bill. We cannot consider this document or any product of an illegal [process]”, said Carlos Klinsky, president of the Asamblea Preautonómica de Santa Cruz.
The aforementioned “plan for struggle” in fact means a genuine and generalised secessionist and putschist offensive characterised (for twenty days in a row now) by blockades of national highways, occupations of public buildings belonging to the national state, racist attacks on the indigenous people and peasants and indeed the explicit rejection of the nation’s president’s right even to enter the territory of the five provinces involved in the secessionist process. In truth, this very serious situation was already in place beforehand.
But the high point of the escalation was the fascist massacre which took place in El Porvenir, Pando province, on 11th September, where 16 peasants and primary school children are now reported dead, 50 or more “disappeared” and dozens and dozens were wounded.
This was a real human hunting trip. A hunt organised (no doubt about it) by the provincial and municipal authorities themselves, headed up by one of the four principal right-wing leaders, the Pando governor Leopoldo Fernández (who is now in prison).
“Governor Leopoldo Fernández was the intellectual author of the peasant massacre. Those directly responsible were former peasant leaders, employees of the provincial authorities, right-wing activists from Cobija [capital of Pando], ranchers and members of the right-wing alliance Podemos. “We went along as always, accompanied by our wives and children, but unfortunately we met with an ambush in El Porvenir”, recalled Rodrigo Medina, a peasant leader. The provincial authorities used all their vehicles in the operation, including tractors; in each truck were more than thirty people armed with guns, rifles, sub-machine guns and revolvers”.
This monstrous massacre (including finishing off in cold blood many of the wounded) was the high point of the right-wing bourgeoisie’s secessionist uprising. What stopped it was the wave of profound hatred, shock and repudiation which swept across the people the length and breadth of the country, and among all layers of the oppressed and exploited, the just rage of the people which left Bolivia on the brink of civil war.
This was because it was precisely the situation where the mass movement threatened to cast aside the MAS government with a process of rising calls for mobilisation, pronuncamientos, initiatives to march on Santa Cruz, signs of the masses arming themselves and demands for the lynching of the imprisoned Pando governor, that the “institutions” of the region began desperate moves to stop the escalation in progress.
For this reason the “progressive” governments of the region, led by Lula (in his growing role as the new regional fireman) pressured for round-table discussions with the government on the political condition that this would call for and immediately arrange a “national dialogue”. The dialogue was called in order to calm the choppy waters which forewarned what could have come had the crisis continued a few days longer: the explosion of a real revolution in response to the traitors’ provocation!
The real truth is that this remained very close: on the brink of civil war; a process now mediated by the umpteenth attempt at dialogue.
But this is in circumstances where everything gives the impression that things have gone too far. Therefore, the most likely outcome is that in spite of all the “show” of the round-table of national dialogue, for sure we will see more phases of confrontation during this new “truce”.
In the footsteps of Salvador Allende?
After the El Porvenir massacre and faced with a wave of indignation nationwide – ever more active – that started to be expressed, the right-wingers were on the defensive and losing breathing space. The nationwide hatred and shock could have unleashed a nationwide mass mobilisation which would have stopped the traitors, weapons in hand.
But rather than doing this the Morales-Linera government has limited itself to seeking the backing of governments in the region, declaring an initally very timid state of siege in Pando, and arresting (by force of circumstance) Leopoldo Fernández. All this was topped off with the call for “national dialogue” with those same people who had just before been embarking, with their wealth and their weapons, on a secessionist movement.
Shamefully, what Evo Morales did not do at any moment throughout the twenty days of crisis, was to call for what should have been the most decisive tool for breaking the back of the putschists: the mobilisation of the masses. A mass movement ready to come out [into the streets] (in fact, this did start to happen) before the first call for them to do so. But look at the MAS leaders in La Paz telling the social movements “don’t mobilise”…!
But now: Morales and Linera have again chosen – in these extreme circumstances – to call for the umpteenth “national dialogue” with some governors who all (not only the Pando governor) have hands drenched in blood and racism!
As the last of last straws, this call was made with a signed official document where again predominated the umpteenth appeals and concessions to the right-wing, with the aim of “a great National Accord” with these fascists.
This is taking place under the “mediation” of “trustworthy” and “impartial” institutions like the Catholic Church, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the European Union, its sessions beginning in Cochabamba last Thursday, 18th September.
So the actual text of the agreed document (material which is public knowledge) already includes promises by the national government like “recognising the provinces’ rights to the IDH [hydro-carbons tax revenue]; “respect for the current distribution of royalties to the gas-producing provinces”; “fully re-establishing a state of peaceful co-existence”; and the cherry on the cake: “suspending (the national congress’s) consideration of the call for a constitutional referendum until the dialogue concludes”.
A true disgrace: there is nothing else we can call this document. It ends up making incredible concessions to those who have on their shoulders the responsibility for the deaths and disappearances of almost a hundred peasants, when it should have been breaking their backbone.
Even more serious: this is a suicidal kind of policy which, continuing like this, will only serve to demoralise the mass movement: because if the fascists do not learn their lesson, sooner rather than later they will raise their heads again.
This is not the “sectarian” judgment of people “outside of the process of change” as so many renegade ex-leftists are accustomed to claiming in their search for some niche “in the sun”.
It is the self-same world and regional experience that we have been through so many times before in similar circumstances. Without having to go any further away, it brings to mind the case of Salvador Allende, whose downfall was exactly 35 years before Monday 11th when in Santiago de Chile the presidents of UNASUR pretended to be like concerned firefighters for the Bolivian and regional situation.
Allende was murdered at the same time as he preached to the four winds his “confidence” in the “Armed Forces’ loyalty to institutions of government” and at the same time as he pressured to disarm any hint of the independent action and self-defence that the working-class and peasant masses were starting to organise.
It is a lesson that has been repeated one and a thousand times: he who demobilises and disarms the mass movement in defence of the “institutional” path when reaction is raising its head – and reaction does not really believe in “institutions” but only in the force of events and of weapons – is preparing historic defeats.
The Media Luna as a racist enclave
“On your knees, Indian shits“, “shout: long live [Sucre’s] status as capital!“, “Sucre will be respected, damn it!“, “Out of here, shits from the Altiplano“.
One issue which needs to be stressed in any analysis of Bolivia is how the de facto partition of the country has moved forward. The truth is that this process appears to have covered quite some ground already. This has happened irrespective of fresh calls for “dialogue”, “truces” and “compromise”.
Once such a process as this is on the march, expressing all the grievances of various sections of the upper and middle classes and the déclassé masses (the social base of the right-wing) it seems that realistically there can be no return.
With this umpteenth set of negotiations, the right wing simply want to buy time and get themselves out of a situation in which they do not come across well.
That is why they have stopped short of crossing “the Rubicon”: perhaps the scales fell from the eyes of the governors on August 10th given the magnitude of the support for Evo Morales. But the reality is, this path was abandoned long before.
To qualify what we are saying, there is a very serious process taking place, of a more “social” than purely “political” character, which to us seems to express the real dynamic of the secessionist process we are describing in a much sharper and more profound fashion than any “statutes of autonomy” can. This is the process of near-ethnic cleansing they have put into action (more or less openly so in each province). Ethnic cleansing which is making more common events like those which happened a few months ago in Sucre, capital of Chuquisaca province.
That is to say, the massacre in Pando, based on race (and class: the comrades were peasants) could not have “fallen from the sky”: the increasingly common events which have made it commonplace for peasants and indigenous people to be beaten, spat at and vilified paved the way for this.
This is typical of a racist enclave: the “white” population of Santa Cruz will continue to be – in the medium term – in the minority given the population “tidal wave” coming from the west of the country in search for work opportunities in the region, given its greater economic dynamism.
“Since the 1950s Santa Cruz has grown thanks to state investment, foreign loans (from the USA), oil royalties, an agricultural boom and narco-trafficking profits. This growth, like state plans for settlement, have in the last four decades stimulated the immigration of Quechua and Aymara people arriving from the poorest regions of the Andes. Currently, the population of the province (2 million) is more than 25% composed of people of Andean origin. The reaction towards this flow of kollas (Bolivians from the Andes) is reflected in the intensification of regionalist sentiment, which defends Santa Cruz’s people, “cambas” (an old-fashioned pejorative term for “indigenous labourers” which is now used as a positive expression of regional identity)”.
This is the same thing that is happening in all of the provinces of the Media Luna. A type of redoubt where not only the capitalist character of the Bolivian state but also racial oppression has been sharpened in the extreme. This has, for obvious reasons, symbolically speaking been attenuated at the national-state-level, but as if in a mirror-image it has been infinitely exacerbated in the east of the country.
“Even when they dress up like indigenous people [for festivals – JLR and MC], the Santa Cruz élites continue to stress their urban-cosmopolitan whiteness as an expression of their ambition to participate in an idealised ‘global’ upper-middle class consumerist society”.
Finally, the situation has a growing “counter-weight” – not only the fact that the Integrated North region of the Santa Cruz province has a majority indigenous-peasant population from the Altiplano. But also the immense urban population concentration represented by the Plan 3000 barrio [neighbourhood], an enormous working-class and poor citadel of “kolla” immigrants in the very heart of Santa Cruz. Pay attention to this: these immense reserves for the mass movement in the country are showing ever greater signs of organisation.
The fascist shock troops
“In El Porvenir, the hit-men boasted of having killed more than a hundred indigenous people and began a pursuit of the mayors of the municipalities where [most people voted yes to Morales] in the 10th August recall referendum”.
Along with the above, a new factor in regional politics we have to understand the importance of is the emergence of significant fascist shock-troop formations in the east of the country.
Not every day do irregular counter-revolutionary formations emerge, recruited from sections of the upper class student population in the east combined with a déclassé mass base and whose method of “political action” is violence against the exploited and oppressed, pure and simple.
The situation is very serious and the classic warning of revolutionary Marxism (and Leon Trotsky himself in his brilliant writings on fascism) is that we must not let them raise their heads.
That is to say, we have to confront the violence on its own terms: you don’t discuss with fascists, you fight them. That is the most classic of teachings, proven by the history of the class struggle in this field.
The very existence of these irregular right-wing groups dedicated to habitual beatings of men, women and children for being indigenous is another expression of how far the situation of latent civil war the country is experiencing has come.
It is also a clear indication of the ever more openly counter-revolutionary course of the ‘civic’ oligarchy in the east. It is clear that the existence of these irregular formations and their ability to sustain themselves over time is due to someone funding them! And the people funding them are none other than the Media Luna bourgeoisie.
But furthermore: to tell the truth, formations like the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista have existed for years. They are a real “institution”, dependent on the regional Civic Committee. Many of the Civic Committee’s current leaders were in “the Unión” when they were young.
A clear indication of this “institutional status” is the fact that the Unión Juvenil has its own group nickname “Kerembas” (Guaraní for “warriors”) and their motto is “our identity shall endure if the youth fight for their people…”
Faced with the emergence of these formations, the fact that peasants are beginning to organise self-defence in the region, and in Santa Cruz in particular, is of enormous value. In various media we have seen photos of several peasants armed with guns. This is very good news: now each workers’ and peasants’ trade union must form armed self-defence committees!
This step is necessary for two reasons: first, no-one can defeat the exploited and oppressed classes if they are organised. Second, the best “prescription” faced with irregular fascist formations has always been to teach them a lesson before they grow. That means that the movement of the masses has to “bind together” like them too.
If this does not take place, serious demoralisation can start to set in.
The acts we are talking about will worsen if they go unpunished: this was the tendency leading to the last massacre in Pando, when the popular uproar was so strong that the government had no choice but to imprison the governor of the province: this was nonetheless a popular conquest (but only if they do not free him in a few days’ time…).
The detention of Fernández showed up the government’s manner of operating: not in any way calling on the masses to crush the traitors. On the contrary, it has a continuing policy of telling them to stay at home and let “the institutions do their work”.
One last reason for the existence of formations like the UJC and others has to bee the situation whereby the various fractions of the bourgeoisie are still unable (or have not managed to) openly appeal to the Armed Forces against the civil population. In these circumstances, then, they call on these fascist groups to do their dirty work.
In any case, this is also a lesson and an experience which must be taken into account in other countries of Latin America, where even if the situation is not as polarised, reactionary plans are in the works.
The role of the Armed Forces
As we have just commented, one of the “enigmas” of the current political situation in Bolivia is what will happen with the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces are characterised by the contradiction that a majority of them are still conscripts from indigenous backgrounds, but this does not stop them from having a brutally anti-worker and anti-popular historic tradition.
With the limited “exception” of the experience of nationalist episodes under the presidencies of Busch, Toro, Ovando and Torres, the Bolivian popular memory associates the army with repression in the service of the exploiters – and justly so. This has been expressed in a series of brutal massacres of mineworkers and peasants, massacres which peppered the history of the country practically throughout the last century. On many occasions they also gave significant political support to attacks on the peasantry and mineworkers (for example in the case of the 1960s dictator Barrientos).
The 21st century began with the precedent of deaths in the February and October 2003 strikes and in June 2005, not to mention the two miners killed (on the orders of the current national government…) just a month ago.
This does not take away the fact that there are real contradictions, which explains the alignment it has shown “with the constitutional government” up until now. It is not clear what would be the “deal-breaker” for the Armed Forces (a national and centralised institution par excellence) to accept the partition of the country. Besides, the ignominious results experienced with military dictatorships in the past (like in the rest of the region – at least up until know) are still regretted.
And if the above is not enough for them, the fact remains that the Morales-Linera government is not even grazing the basis of Bolivian capitalism, and moreover it recently achieved a clear electoral majority…
However, herein there is another typically suicidal problem with the policies of the MAS government: trusting in the Armed Forces’ attachment to “the sanctity of institutions”.
In an interview with Evo Morales a few months ago, when faced with the question of the role of the Armed Forces in the country’s political process he replied: “[The Armed Forces] have always been very much identified with it. This made an impression on me despite the fact that all the people at the very top are older than me. I, Evo, as an ex-soldier, respect them and respect myself. The military respect the sanctity of institutions”.
However, as if to display their independence, a few days ago the Commander-in-Chief Raúl Trigo gave a warning sign when he warned “against Chávez’s interference in the country’s internal affairs”.
But there is a basic problem besides: the Armed Forces are the institution par excellence of the bourgeois state and in any turn of events may come to the conclusion that the right-wingers would be better guardians of the system than the Morales government and then make an about-turn.
Indeed, a few months ago the sociologist Eduardo Paz Rada of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés warned of the grave risk which might come from the state security forces, commenting that “the bodies who have the power to stave off any separatist excesses are the Armed Forces and the Police. I have the impression that within these bodies divisionist tendencies are beginning to emerge, which could bring about a much more chaotic and unstable situation in Bolivia”.
In any case, no-one can help but notice the Armed Forces’ reticence towards intervening in the recent crisis and the kid-gloves with which it acted when the state of siege in Pando was finally announced; to the extent that rumours were going round that Evo Morales was “angry” by the shameful behaviour of soldiers at the time of the occupation of the national state’s buildings in Santa Cruz.
To summarise: at any moment and at any fresh turn in the crisis, the Armed Forces may make an about-turn, and therefore, Morales’ suggestion when he called for confidence in them, would be shown up in all its suicidal character.
It is this very reality which makes necessary the organisation of workers’, peasants’, students’ and people’s self-defence to stop the fascist shock-troops like the UJC, and at the same time political work among the conscripts is necessary, with the aim of stopping them shooting on the exploited and oppressed.
Between restraint and radicalisation – the MAS, the COB, the peasantry and the working class
The third suicidal aspect of Morales’ government’s policies is his “restraint” of the movement of the masses. It may well be that this ends with the conclusion that “they always fall on our side, not on theirs” and the realisation that the government always offers “the other cheek”… ending in demoralisation.
It was not by chance that a product of the national uproar at the massacre in Pando forced the government to imprison Leopoldo Fernández. But the government’s overall policy has not been like this: but rather always to let attacks and brutal insults go unpunished at the same time as restraining the indigenous, peasant, people’s and workers’ mobilisations as much as possible.
On the other hand – to cap it all – the government did not think twice about repressing the miners struggling for pensions reform, claiming two lives in Caihuasi, Oruro province.
However, in these weeks of traitorous coup-plotting, and above all after the Pando massacre, criticisms of the government from the left have started being raised. To clarify: is its clearly the case that among the majority of the peasantry, the indigenous people and the poor (but not so much among the working class) there is still support for, and confidence in, the Morales government.
Besides, the mechanism of polarisation is this: the country is divided between the government and the fascist and racist government in the east. This being the case it is very difficult in these circumstances (albeit absolutely essential) to swim against the current and proclaim oneself for a course independent of the reformist government.
However, despite this, in the most acute days of the crisis, you only had to listen to the radio to find a resounding example of a very wide section of the masses showing themselves to be to the left of the government.
This was not only expressed in the demands they voiced. Also in that – as we have already shown – they made the first steps in taking self-defence as part of organised social movements; armed in some cases (above all, with peasants in the east); and the plan they outlined (and continue to do so today) of mobilising in Santa Cruz to crush the traitiors. This could happen again in the case of a new break-down in negotiations and/or an escalation of clashes.
In this situation it was necessary to call for the creation of independent organisations of struggle and the independence of the masses’ organisations with respect to the Morales government, as well as self-defence and people arming themselves.
In the first instance this is necessary within the COB itself, although, unfortunately, its executive has recently made a step in precisely the opposite direction, sealing an “alliance” with the Morales government which can only serve to deny it independence.
Indeed, the role of the working class in the process which has unfolded since 2003 has always been a complex one. The working-class miners were in the forefront for the exploited and oppressed throughout the last half-century.
However, unfortunately, with the tin crisis and the pro-privatisation Law 21060 (which shut down the main mining centres) it suffered a physical and political defeat from which – until now – it has only been very barely able to recover. Given this fact, the principal organising centre of the working class miners which Huanuni now represents is of strategic importance.
But it is also true, as our current has argued, that the huge centres of mass radicalisation like El Alto (the same could be said of Plan 3000, a suburb of Santa Cruz) are a terrain for coming together and the emergence of a new working class, with new sectors of wage-earning and/or casual workers who can play a certain “relief” role for the miners. Indeed, we know of the increasing strength of trade unions like the manufacturing workers’ union (unfortunately it is in the hands of MAS) in El Alto.
However, herein lies another problem to overcome, which is not “structural” or “material” but rather political and ideological: the new generations of workers seem to come with almost zero prior experience. And, besides, given the retreats of the working-class miners, what serves as the identity for the exploited and oppressed majority is a justified, but too-narrow, “indigenous” identity.
In these circumstances, the working class is still unable to play a central role, except for groups like the Huanuni miners or the urban teachers’ unions of La Paz (which also has good density and a tradition of struggle).
We must add reference to the evident weakening of the COB as such to what we are describing. A weakening which successive leaderships – from adaptation to the MAS government to “ultra left” detours, raising loud slogans which have not been able to build bridges with the indigenous and peasant populations – have not managed to resolve.
This challenge is no simple matter. We are also burdened with the history of the narrow “demand-mongering” of [long-time COB leader] Lechín’s tradition (although he always made use of “ultra-revolutionary” slogans) which is still a commonplace in the COB leadership.
Part of this is the extreme blindness shown when moving towards working-class political independence with the establishment of a Workers’ Political Instrument. At the least, they ought to be able to learn from the Chapare coca-growers, who did set up a political instrument, the ancestor of today’s MAS… To all the above is added the MAS government’s policy of disdain for the working class. This is two-sided: an ideological loincloth which is meant, purely and simply, to “erase” the very existence of the working class as such with a more or less “indigenous” discourse, as embodied in the ideas of important intellectuals in the country like vice-president Álvaro García Linera.
But, besides, we must not for one moment forget that Morales and Linera stand for a “model” of “Andean-Amazonian” state capitalism. That is to say, their strategy is constrained by the limits of the system, challenging only certain aspects of the “neo-liberalism” of the 1990s: a challenge which is in many ways more symbolic than it is concrete. Never, never do they question private property as such!
Similarly, we must never forget that – as a social sector – the peasantry defends private property, meaning that it does not put capitalism into question. In the heads of Morales and Linera, in the last instance, “people have to work and pay rent”, which they supposedly want to “redistribute”.
Therefore the government’s policies for the working class have not ceased to be extremely conservative, to say the least. The current government appears to have no embarrassment about recognising that this is “the unresolved agenda of the MAS government”. As the news agency Bolpress commented a few months ago “the manufacturing workers’ protests in Cochabamba are of great political significance at this time of transition. Workers and middle-class employees have grown distanced from the Morales government, because their living standards have not improved, unlike other social sectors like the peasantry and indigenous people who have benefited from state bonds and assistance programmes. At a recent national meeting, the rural teachers, one of the most important parts of MAS’s social base, explosively argued that Morales had fulfilled none of his promises and had categorically denied any prospect of increasing salaries in line with inflation [any similarity with other countries in the region is pure “coincidence” – JLR and MC]. In Bolivia’s political transition this is an unresolved problem, which vice-president García Linera described as “an unresolved government debt” when referring to the “group of employees with fixed salaries””.
The Morales-Linera government is a popular front reformist government whereby mass organisations manage the bourgeois state. However, it has the peculiarity that it is not a reformist working-class leadership which is heading up the state, but rather the indigenous peasantry and representatives of the middle-class intelligentsia.
In these circumstances the working class must forge its own path to be able to carry out an independent role in the national crisis, casting aside and overcoming the reformist (and ever more suicidal) limitations of MAS.
With this in mind, as a centre around which to secure its hegemony in an alliance of workers, indigenous people, peasants and the poor it must make steps to establish an “institutional framework” alternative to the bourgeois state: a Workers’, Indigenous People’s and Peasants’ National Popular Assembly like that which began to be created in El Alto during the May-June 2005 uprising.
Revolution or counter-revolution
What is the political dynamic in which the country has been immersed? This is a good question which entails a contradiction. Given how far events have moved, it is hardly realistic to believe that, in spite of everything, the process will end with the imposition of MAS’s reformist perspectives.
What is the contradiction? That the demands and the programme of the right-wing leaders have now come so far: not only are they “simply” reactionary, but their course is now touching on an openly counter-revolutionary dynamic.
Clearly, this still has its limits. The majority of Latin American governments are not as yet in favour of a success for the secessionists: we must not forget that many of them are of a “post-neo-liberal” background.
Besides, we have to look at the dynamics of the international situation (including the American elections) where although there are no substantial differences between McCain and Obama there are important differences of tone.
Nonetheless, we insist: we believe that now things have come too far. It is not everyday that an almost open secessionist coup is ordered and people are given free reign to carry out a mounting ethnic cleansing. When this happens, there is no way forward for more “dialogue” like that which has been called for.
The dynamic of the current state of affairs puts on the political agenda the choices of revolution or counter-revolution. A few days ago a sharp analyst wrote the following: “Bolivia is on the brink of civil war. Although the government and opposition leaders have agreed to sit down to negotiations, rebellions are very difficult to hold back once they have broken out, and their own dynamics lead to radicalisation. No political resolution is possible when the law, the legitimately elected authorities and the rules of democracy are ignored. When disputes are resolved by the use of force, the people with most fire-power win”.
It is for this very reason that the Morales-Linera strategy (a middle-way and Andean-Amazonian state capitalism) is not only suicidal but completely unreal. There is nothing “realistic” about continuing to raise expectations in a negotiated way out of the crisis.
On this issue, the government’s policies have shown all their “credentials”: How can it give credence to the “willingness to engage in dialogue” and “respect for institutions” of the eastern bourgeoisie and its ever more openly counter-revolutionary course?
This is impossible: it is necessary to go for social revolution or it will be the secessionist counter-revolution which will shape events in the heroic land of the Altiplano.