[Marxism] More on Bolivian referendum boycott

Fred Fuentes fuentf01 at tartarus.uwa.edu.au
Tue Jul 13 04:55:11 MDT 2004

Below are a few more (badly) translated articles detailing some more
developments in Bolivia. It seems as though more sections are moving
towards backing the boycott, including the Congress of Neighbourhood juntas
in El Alto, which met over the weekend, and the federation of peasants and
bakers of El Alto. This is significant as the town of 800,000 people played
a crucial role in the downfall of the "Goni" in the October referendum. The
Congress had 1800 delegates representing 464 neighbourhood juntas. They
will be holding three day strike starting Friday and will blockade main
roadways in the area.
One section the Federation of Unions of El Alto (which i gather is the COR
controlled by MAS but correct me if i am wrong) had already decided a month
ago to support the referednum and follow Morales position on how to vote.
The division within and against MAS continue as well. The Congress of
Fejuve "applauded" the explusion of Morales from the COB and voted out the
previous president of the organisation, a MAS leader who had apparently
been beaten and dragged several times in the last few months over this role
and defence of the referendum. It must be remebered that EL Alto was a
strong base of support for the MAS, who still continue to have some
influence and control over the CORs, hance the previous president of the
neighbourhood juntas
The division is widening as well as MAS leader are calling for the jailing
of those that impede the referendum. One leader from Cochabamba was even
quaoted as saying "Those who want to burn the ballot boxes will be burned".
Also according to La Razon, Bolivian daily, which is quoted in Clarin,
Quispe is losing his support base, this is the ifrst i have heard of this a
suspect it is an attempt by the media to play down the boycott, but does
anyone have more info on if this is true?
On Tuesday (ie Today) there is meant to be open meetings in La Paz to
decide what actions will occur.
La lucha continua

Leaders of COR begin to be surpassed

The boycott of the Referendum in El Alto strengthens


The FEJUVE, which brought down the Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada presidency
with a civil strike, is aiming to do the same with similar methods to
the referendum on gas. The altenos (those from El Alto FF) declared
themselves in favour of the defence of hydrocarbons last October.
Peasants from the urban fringe will blockade main roadways to Copacabana
and Desaguadero from Friday to Sunday

El Alto, (APA)- The campaign for a boycott of next Sundayís July 18
referendum is beginning to grow in El Alto with a 72 hour strike which
will begin on Friday and extend until Sunday. This measure was approved
by the congrees of the federation on neighbourhood juntas (FEJUVE), in
which 1800 delegates representing 464 neighbourhood juntas participated.

The body which groups together the juntas of El Alto has followed the
measures that peasants in the urban fringe and sub-urban areas have
decided to execute in rejecting the 5 questions imposed by the
government of Carlos Mesa in the referendum. The altenos say they have
already made clear their position in defense of hydrocarbons in the
events of last October during the ìgas warî, which end with ex-president
Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada fleeing the country, the person to who the
intellectual responsibility of the deaths of over 80 people are attributed.

Despite the opposition of MAS which controls the leaders of the
organizations such as Regional Workers union (COR), the boycott of the
referendum has grown in the last few weeks, escaping the control of
those leaders who pretend to make the consultation over gas viable.


Bakers y peasants

The leaders of the Federation of Bakers and the Federation of
Agrarian Communities of the Urban fringe and Sub-urban regions of El
Alto (FSCARUSU) Nicasion Yujra and Zacarias Maquera, respectively,
prasied the resolution of the neighbourhood juntas at its last congress
and announced that they will join the 72 hour strike against the referendum.

Yujra said the bakers respect the decision that was taken last
October, for which they will boycott the referendum by other means which
they will execute as a surprise next Sunday. ìEl Alto needs to unite
again just as in the Gas Warî he said.

For their part, the representatives of the peasants said they have
already begun to prepare the measures of pressure which they will
execute on Sunday, of which they have in mind blockades of the roads to
Copacabana and Desguadero.

The FSCARUSU was the first organization to decide to declare a strike
from Friday to Sunday.


The representatives of the Federation of Unions of El Alto, decided at
its seminar on the issue of the referendum last month, to participate in
the consultation next Sunday. Rodolfo Mancilla, leaders of the
organization, informed that they would instruct people to vote YES to
the first 3 questions and NO to the fourth and fifith question.

Mancilla said that this sector would not eco the slogans of some leaders
with concided with the position of militants of the far right parties
who want to destabilize the democractic process.

12-07-2004 a horas 20:08

* *

They Applauded the explusion of Evo Morales from the COB*

*Neighbourhood juntas in El Alto decide to boycott the referendum*


The strike will occur over 16, 17 & 18 July. La FEJUVE decided to join
in the civil strike and in helping with the judgment of responsibilities
against the ex- president of the Republic Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. They
announced that they will not allow the Major, Paredes, to stand for reelection
in the Municipal elections. The secretary of the executive of COB
praised the decision of the altenas juntas.

El Alto (APA) ñ FEJUVE has decided to boycott the referendum set for
Sunday July 18 with the realization of a 72 hour strike beginning on
Friday and end on the day of the consultation.

For the analysis demanded by the Referendum, the event that was to occur
after the consultation, was advanced by decision of an extended meeting,
with the intention to determine an action. In addition, it is considered
that the new political scene in which assumed the presidency of the
Republic Carlos Mesa, was opened by the alteÒos in the denominated War
of the Gas.


The proposal of the Political Commission [to boycott the referendum]
which due to its timing was one of the most important was not opposed by
the delgates of the 460 juntas which participated, and which was
scheduled to finish at midnight last night

*Support for the explusion of Evo Morales*

The congress approved and applauded the explusion of the parliamentary
deputy and national leader of MAS, Evo Morales, by the COB which was
decided by the executive committee of the main body of workers in the

The considered that Morales, along with his party, had become a part of
the Mesa government, as well as scolding the political party for
betraying the interest of the country and union and neighbourhood
organization of El Atlo


*Other Decisions*

In talks about the accomplishment of the Constituent Assembly, the
congress approved to recommend to the next leaders who elaborate a plan
to raise consciousness of the neighbors of the alteÒas region.

Among other decisions decided in the meeting of the neighbourhood
juntas, they also decided to initiate an action of the de-partyisation
of the Fejuve, the Territorial organizations of Base
(OTBs) and the Committees of Monitoring. They approved that the leaders
of the Fejuve will not be able to stand for candidates as councilmen and
deputies, and in case that they do they will be sanctioned with a veto
for life and will be declared traitors of the alteno people.


12-07-2004 a horas 18:11

The COB wants to crush the neoliberal referendum

The Workers Union and the rebellious town of the El Alto have called for
disrespect and civil resistance to defeat the pro oil referendum this
Sunday, while the government resorts to the militarization, supported by
peasant leaders of the MAS, loyal to Evo Morales, who request jail for
the leaders of the social protest. the marches and the mobilizations of
the masses has returned

RedacciÛn de Econoticiasbolivia.com

La Paz, July 12, 2004. - Excited by the support of the rebellious town
of El Alto, Central Bolivian Obrera (COB) summoned all the workers and
impoverished sectors of the countryside and the cities to defeat the
neoliberal referendum of this Sunday with the mobilization of masses and
the boycott and burning of ballot boxes.

With six days until the consultation, the COB called to the workers and
neighbors of La Paz and El Alto to concentrate this Tuesday in an open
town hall and carry out marches and manifestations, in the resumption of
the popular offensive to nationalize the gas and petroleum, the demand
that was not included in the governmental referendum in spite of the
increasing popular outcry.

The objective of the COB is to organise workers, teachers, farmers,
students and neighbors of the poorest districts of the government seat
to commit themselves to follow the example of the powerful Fejuve, that
determined last weekend, in its congress, to mobilize itself and to
decree a three day strike to prevent the popular referendum, a
consultation that, according to the unionists and sectors, does not have
another purpose that to loosen the millionaire businesses of gas export
and legitimate the control and total dominion of the transnational
companies have on Bolivian hydrocarbons.

Paralyzed the consultation in the city of El Alto (800 thousand
inhabitants) and in the popular districts of La Paz and Cochabamba, the
COB hopes that the farmers and comunarios are successful in blocking the
roads and closing the centers of voting in the Altiplano and some
regions of valleys with which virtually they would have eliminated the
referendum, that is supported by the international organisations, the
oil transnationals, the national industralists and all the governing elite.

Many forms of protest

At national level, the protest will assume several forms, according to
it level of militarization of the zone the decision of region al or
neighbourhood assemblies. The leader of the COB, Jaime Solares, said
that in the fight against the referendum and in favor of the
nationalization "all the forms of protest are valid like the abstention,
civil disrespect, burning of ballot boxes, signatures of petitions for
nationalization, theft of ballot papers, nullifying votes by the
inscription of nationalization on them, marches, vigils and all action
implemented by the labor, civic and local organizations and others,
according to the characteristics of each region".

"If there are pressures very strong and some people fear for the fines
or the jail, the population that are going to vote must mark with X or
put nationalization in the suffrage problem", instructed Solares.

Marches and Signatures

In the city of La Paz, in addition to the opened town hall of this
Tuesday, the workers already have programmed a march of torches for the
Saturday night. According to the leader of the combative Federation of
urban Teachers, Jose Luis Alvarez, the march of torches will be made
jointly with thousands of manufacturing workers, finishing off Sunday,
day of the referendum, with protest meetings in the electoral enclosures.

In the countryside, the farmers will initiate blockades of highways as
of Thursday. "there will be no voting in the communities, and in the
towns where they want to make our peasant brothers vote, we will burn
the ballot boxes", assured the "Mallku" Felipe Quispe.

In the city of Cochabamba, leaders of the Departmental Workers Union and
of the Coordinator for the Defense of the Gas, have informed that more
one hundred thousand people ahve already signed books of petitions for
the nationalization of the gas and petroleum. "We are going to continue
in this task until we reaching the million votes", said the leader of
the Coordinator Oscar Olivera.

In other regions of the country, the preparations also were intense to
deceive the militarization decreed by the government in their eagerness
to preserve the voting centers and to ruin the boycott.

In the city of Sucre, the voices in support of nationalization are
multiplying. Thus, the ex- state president of the state petroleum
company, Jorge TÈllez, assured that "it is not difficult to nationalize
hydrocarbons and to throw out of Bolivia the transnational companies to
recover the power resources".

"Nationalization is feasible, is totally legitimate and is a political
measurement", he said, although the leader of the revolutionary Worker
Party (POR), Guillermo Lora, declared that this task could only be
executed by the proletariat.

"The referendum is an embarrasment, it has been devised and is executed
by the bourgeoisie. A referendum in the colony of the Yankees lacks
meaning (...) Everything is calibrated to favor the bourgeoisie. Here it
is necessary to free itself of the bourgeoisie and of imperialism, of
the great private property ", he said when assuring that "only a
government of workers and farmers could transform what is Bolivia and
could expel the transnational companies, which is the fundamental problem".

In other regions, like PotosÌ, the departmental Workers Union have also
called for the boycott and called on workers to face the militarization
and the sabotage of the mobilizations by the militants of the Movement
to the Socialism (MAS), for which its head, the deputy coca grower, Evo
Morales, was expelled from the COB as a traitor.

In Santa Cruz, the peasant leaders loyal to Morales have solicited
publicly that the government jails the leaders of the COB. Thus, the
Eastern leader Benigno Vargas, assured that his sector will participate
in the referendum of the gas and that it will protect the security of
the electoral tables and the ballot boxes so that the results are
transparent and to avoid any boycott. "Those who want to burn the ballot
boxes will be burned", said when demanding "that Jaime Solares and
Felipe Quispe should be jailed for their threats against the popular
consultation, which was a conquest of the people".

Econoticiasbolivia.com -
El Alto, July 12, 2004. - El Alto, the rebellious people of heights, the
people that overthrew to ex- president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, has
arisen against the referendum made in accordance with the transnational
companies and has decreed a three day strike to prevent the consultation
of next Sunday and to demand the nationalization of the gas and
petroleum. Passing over all the legal dispositions of the Electoral
Court, of the government of the neoliberal Mesa and the Constitutional
Court, which have declared voting complusory and have defined sanctions,
fines and jail for those who are against the referendum, the powerful
Fejuve decreed the boycott in this capital of almost 800 thousand
inhabitants, in common agreement with Central Bolivian Obrera (COB).
This decision, that supposes a hard blow for the government of Mesa and
his allies, was made during the Congress of two days of the Fejuve,
which concluded last Sunday and in which also support was given to the
decision of the COB to expel for "treasonous" the cocalero deputy and
head of MAS, Evo Morales, who up to the beginning of the year had a
strong control over many of the social organizations, unions and
neighbourhood organisations of El Alto, including the Fejuve. The
strike, with blockades of streets, meetings, mobilizations and closing
of voting centers will be begin from this Firday, Saturday and Sunday,
as determined by the Congress, that chose Abel Mamani Marca,
representative of District 3, as president of the alteÒos neighbors.
Mamani replaces the leader of the MAS, Mauricio Cori, who in the last
few weeks had been beaten and dragged several times by the neighbors who
questioned his "MANEJO PREBENDAL" (not sure of exact translation, some like
lack of worker in his position but not sure if this acurately portrays what
the writer wants to say) and their adhesion to the government of
Mesa. In the Ordinary Congress of the Fejuve, under the banner "For the
recovery of our hydrocarbons, nationalization of the gas, the El Alto is
up on its feet, never on its knees", participated the leader of the COB,
the miner Solares Jaime, who noted that "if Mesa does not listen to the
people it is better he grab his suitcases and goes away". Solares also
announced that the forces of the COB are working intensely to boycott
the "tramparendum", the cheating referendum that it only looks to give
free access to the millionaire businesses of the gas exporters, as well
as legitimize the control that the oil transnationals have on the wealth
of hydrocarbons that Bolivia has.

For this Tuesday, in La Paz, it has been set aside for the realisation
of an open town hall meeting and other actions oriented to the boycott,
such as the closing of roadways in the Altiplano and the valleys, in
addition to the assault of ballotboxes and closing of voting centers in
the cities of the La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro, PotosÌ and rural areas. The
decision of El Alto constitutes a forceful and decisive backing to the
fight of the COB, and it had already been preannounced in the
inauguration of the neighbourhood Congress, when the delegates marched
through the streets, from El Cruce to Villa Adela, shouting for
"nationalization" and "El Alto no its feet, never on its knees". The
people that where the vanguard of the October rebellion does not seem to
be prepared to lose at the ballot boxes, in a compulsory consultation,
which it defended with blood, pain and anger nine months ago.

CHIEF of South Command Approves referendum
(La Paz, julio 12, 2004).- The Commander of the South Commando of the United
States, the general. James Hill, fulfilled two missions in Bolivia: he
endorsed the referendum of the gas and warned of cuts in aid to the
country if they did not give immunity to US troops and civil employees
who commit crimes against humanity in national territory. In a brief
visit in La Paz, general Hill offered to president Carlos Mesa and his
government the endorsement and support from the United States to the
referendum of Sunday 18 of July, that he will give free access to the
millionaire transnationals to export gas and will legitimize the total
control of the oil transnational of Bolivia's hydrocarbons. According to
reports of the governmental agency ABI, General Hill " wished to the
Bolivians success in the binding Referendum, that will be made Sunday to
decide on the future of the gas". "I know that the next Sunday, the town
of Bolivia will participate in a national Referendum, that will help the
government of Bolivia to guide the energy policy of country", he said
when assuring that the "United States and all the members of the
Organization of American States (O.A.S.) are totally compromised to the
principles of democracy and the constitutional government" of Carlos
Mesa. The referendum of Sunday counts until now on the support of the
international organisations, the oil transnational companies, the
national industralists and the high state bureaucracy, the mass media
and the more enriched sectors of the population, although it faces the
resistance and the boycott of the union sectors of the countryside, and
the city and the social and popular organizations, with the only
exception bieng the unions controlled by the cocalero deputy and head of
MAS, Evo Morales. With the threat of the boycott, the government has
called in to its aid the Army and the Police, to protect the voting
centers and to disrupt the road blockades and to face to those who try
to burn ballot boxes or to prevent the voting.

Indeed Hill has met, during his stay in La Paz, where he
promised to the military cheifs and administrators greater cooperation
in several areas, especially in the ones tied to Civil defense.
According to the official report, the South Commando of the United
States will harness the Armed Forces, through Civil Defense, to reduce
to risks of natural disasters and/or emergencies, in addition to free
medical aid to zones of extreme poverty and training of the Bolivian

In meetings with the military heads and the Bolivian authorities and in
contact with the press, the military leader of the United States, after
endorsing the referendum, also warned that the programs of economic aid
would be suspending economic and military aid if Bolivia did not sign
the Treaty that gives immunity to the military troops and American civil
employees who could operate in the country.

"Nations that have not signed the agreement of article 98 with the
United States is forbidden certain types of assistance from the United
States", he said when justifying the agreement that he establishes that
the North American military and citizens cannot be judged in the
International Criminal Court for cases of genocide and war crimes
commited in national territory, with the exception of an express order
of its country. In conversations with the Bolivian authorities, Hill was
urgent to the ratification of the agreement that had been privately
signed by ex- president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and recently prroved
by the Senate, leaving only the approval of the House of Representatives
so that it has legal validity and becomes in use. The social and popular
sectors have rejected the approval of this Agreement and have restrained
their approval in the House of Representatives.

In Bolivia, the COB threw Evo Morales out for "treasonous"
by Bugler, 10/07/04 Clairn
The executive secretary of Central Bolivian Obrera
(COB), Jaime Solares, announced yesterday the expulsion of the deputy and
cocaleros leader Evo Morales, for "treason", because of his endorsement of
the referendum on the gas summoned by president Carlos Mesa for Sunday 18.
Morales said that he did not know the action taken.
Evo Morales, a MAS deputy, is considered the figure most important of
the opposition and supports the consultation on the hydrocarbon policy
he has indication to his followers to vote YES in the first three
points and NO for both last two, in a small difference from the
For president Mesa, a massive YES vote would
indicate an undisputed support for his policy.  In conversation with the
press, Solares, of the COB, indicated that in one recent meeting of the
Workers Union it was decided to break ties to Morales for being "treasonous,
vendepatria,supporterof the referendum and biased".  Consulted on the decision
of the COB, Morales said he had not been informed of this and indicated
that the
encounter of the organization did not have the necessary quorum to
take such a measure.
"He is leaving much to be desired Solares,
because on top of this i do not know any document of expulsion", the
leader of the Movement to the Socialism declared, that added that along
with him this would also be breaking ties with the cocaleros.  "I
do not understand the attitude of the comrade, it is only possible to
understand if he has mental problems", said Morales, who considered
that Solares is "destroying" the movement of the workers.  The previous
climate to the referendum, the continuous criticism of its formulation
and the unstable opinion of the most important figures of the political
arc are igniting discussions, while "esmerila" (not sure translation) the
image of the leaders of the popular protest that in October 2003 resulted
in the resignation of the then president, neoliberal Gonzalo Sanchez de
Then, the detonator of the revolt was the sale of gas to a American company
would have used a Chilean port to exit.  Bolivia and Chile have been in
over the port subject for more of a century, after the defeat in a
war left Bolivia without exit to the sea.
Jaime Solares, of
the COB, had been disowned by his original union, the one of miners,
and faces accusations on his presumed paramilitary past during the
regime of general Hugo Banzer, in the 70s.
On the other hand, the Aymara peasant
leader Felipe Quispe is also being rejected by his
bases.  Quispe has called for a boycott of the referendum, and
threatened blocking routes and burning ballot boxes, suggestion those that
want ot fill out the ballots to null their votes by writing the word
"nationalization" .  Nevertheless, in Achacachi, the town
where historically he had his base,  it is said that Quispe no longer has
the following of the people
and that the process of the consultation will be made with total
normality, according to the Bolivian newspaper La Razon.
The questioning of Morales arose from the began of the
government of Carlos Mesa, when the cocalero leader's positions approached
those of the president and he decided to support the referendum, one
of the main promises the President made when he was appointed.
In the last weeks, Morales has continued supporting the consultation
although he
has suggested to his bases a distinguishing voting.  According to Morales,
answering YES to the first 3 questions and NO to the two last ones,
the government will be left with no option by to renationalise the
 hydrocarbons, today in private hands.  With 54.9  trillones
of cubical feet, Bolivia has the second more important gas reserve in
South America, after Venezuela.

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