el alto, bastion of social struggles in bolivia

by Bruno Miranda

Even if in the context of the 1952 revolution the centrality of mining workers was indisputable, today the shape of the working class has changed. It is true that manufacturing workers remain an important part of the Bolivian working class, but the casualisation of labour relations and informal economy have created a large majority of the working class facing unfavourable conditions for organising.

In Bolivia there have been at least seven important uprisings in the last decade, based on the struggle over the control of natural resources [1]. Among these it is worth mentioning the battle normally called the “Gas War” of September-October 2003, and the “Second Water War” in May-June 2005, both of them in the city of El Alto. Continue reading “el alto, bastion of social struggles in bolivia”

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state capitalism and communism-from-below in latin america

David Broder’s talk to The Commune’s recent Manchester forum

The class struggle in Latin America is one that has always roused great interest and a certain romanticism among the western left. The continent has seen a number of heroic struggles against often savage exploitation and state repression, whether by the industrial working class, landless peasants or indigenous peoples. But the politics of the Latin American left are complex and often mischaracterised.

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I’m going to talk about the recent history of Latin America and the relationship of US imperialism to national ruling classes; in what ways this has shaped the major left trends and the workers’ movement on the continent; and the different types of movement that exist today.  Continue reading “state capitalism and communism-from-below in latin america”

manchester public meeting: populism and class struggle in latin america

The Commune’s first Manchester forum, Saturday 26th September

The last decade has seen a wave of class struggle shaking neo-liberalism in Latin America, with trade unions, social movements and indigenous people across the continent stirred to action.

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Many also think that leaders like Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia are ‘building socialism’, and the radical right and US imperialism have mobilised to try and crush them. July saw the most outrageous action yet as the Honduran military overthrew the centre-left president Manuel Zelaya.

Where is the class struggle in Latin America headed? What does the Obama administration mean for US relations with the continent? Are systems like Venezuela and Cuba a model for communists to follow? Come and join the debate at The Commune’s forum. Continue reading “manchester public meeting: populism and class struggle in latin america”

bolivia: the working class and the morales government

Bolivia’s trade unions are increasingly being incorporated into the state, but some sections of the labour movement are arguing for the re-affirmation of the historic goals of the working class and reclaiming the political indepedence of the unions faced with Evo Morales’ MAS government and the right.

by Enrique Ormachea

Since its foundation, the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB – Bolivia’s main trade union federation) has incorporated into its political principles the central points of the Pulacayo Thesis, including the political independence of trade union organizations. Today, the MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) government of Evo Morales is trying to take absolute control of the union leaderships, with the objective of converting them into feeble bodies which cover for his ever more blatantly anti-working class and anti-peasant policies.

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Much of the trade union leadership has been developing policies openly contrary to the principles of political independence upheld by Bolivian trade unionism, acting against even the resolutions of the last COB Congress. Continue reading “bolivia: the working class and the morales government”

bolivia: the struggle for control of the unions

an Econoticias Bolivia editorial

La Paz, 30th April 2009 – the combative Bolivian working class has begun its May Day celebrations in the midst of a hard-fought struggle among the leadership of the Central Obrera Boliviana [the main union federation – COB], which has begun to fight actively as part of the ranks of the pro-indigenous government of president Evo Morales, whilst the radical miners’ and teachers’ unions are fighting to defend an independent class-struggle position and initiate a struggle over workers’ demands.

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Some believe that the unions should forget, at least for the moment, the poverty and exploitation workers suffer, putting their economic and social demands on hold in order to back the indigenous government which is working to humanise capitalism and make it fairer, and which is also confronted by the oligarchy and the fascists. Others argue in reply that workers must win back their independence, putting the brakes on mounting exploitation and taking back the agenda of October [2003’s general strike], smashing the power of the oligarchy by taking over the mines, factories and agricultural estates.
Continue reading “bolivia: the struggle for control of the unions”

evo morales and the constitutional referendum in bolivia

In September 2008 we carried extensive coverage of the coup attempt by white right-wing oligarchs in the east of Bolivia, who wanted to split the country, overthrow Evo Morales’ soft-left MAS government and crush the mighty workers’ movement. There were numerous racist attacks on indigenous people, with dozens massacred by fascist militias. As Morales vacillated and called on the mass movement triggered by the coup attempts to keep ‘calm’, it was up to the urban poor, indigenous peasants and workers to defend themselves. Eventually the failure of the coup resulted in Morales sitting down to talks with the oligarchy, and after making concessions over his planned State Political Constitution, the document will go to a country-wide referendum on Sunday 25th. The article below examining the issues is a translation of a piece by Socialismo o Barbarie.

Before the constitutional referendum of Sunday 25th January 2009, we say…

Neither the ‘no’ of the reactionary racist oligarchy in the east…

Nor the ‘yes’ of MAS, which wants to introduce “Andean capitalism…

We call for abstention!

Declaration by Socialismo o Barbarie Bolivia
La Paz, 22nd January 2009

Continue reading “evo morales and the constitutional referendum in bolivia”

morales tones down constitution to secure his re-election

Bolivia’s President makes a deal with the parliamentary right-wing and seals the ratification of a bill calling a referendum on the new Constitution. The far-right, the fascist governors and the ‘hardest’ oligarchs, who control half the country, are preparing resistance and civil disobedience.

La Paz, October 21st 2008 – translated from Econoticias Bolivia

Early this Tuesday evening president Evo Morales could boast of achieving half of his objectives after the Bolivian Congress voted for the staging of a referendum in three months’ time to ratify his new State Political Constitution, re-formulated at the eleventh hour with right wing MPs, who agreed to make legal the re-election of the president, in exchange for eliminating from the constitution’s text all reforms they considered radical. Continue reading “morales tones down constitution to secure his re-election”