[Marxism] Bolivia: Social Movements Unite, Reality Changes Again

Tony Tracy tony at tao.ca
Thu Mar 10 13:36:22 MST 2005

Mesa, the president of Bolivia, announced his resignation on Sunday 
night, but Congress refused his resignation on Wednesday. Social 
movements which had previously been fractured and fragmented have now 
united to oppose this recycled right-wing government.

- Tony


All Social Movements Unite In Bolivia, Reality Changes Once Again


March 10, 2005

Good day, kind readers, yesterday morning the landscape changed and 
there is a new story to tell. The social movements in Bolivia, ALL of 
them, have united to coordinate their efforts, to organize more 
demonstrations and fight against the new (or recycled) right wing that 
just last night gave more power to the administration of President 
Carlos Mesa. Let’s take a look at this immediate history.

It was just after 9 in the morning, and about one hundred social 
movement representatives and journalists were crammed into the small 
auditorium of the Central Obrera Boliviana (the legendary COB, Bolivian 
Workers’ Federation). A dozen people sat up front, full of enthusiasm. 
Take a look at the attendance list, because this phenomenon is nearly 
unknown in the country’s recent history:

  1. Evo Morales, congressman from the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) 
party, and coca-growers’ leader from the Chapare region.

  2. Felipe Quispe, el Mallku (the Condor) of the Aymara nation and 
outgoing executive secretary of the Bolivian Farmworkers’ Federation 

  3. Jaime Solares, executive secretary of the COB.

  4. Roberto de la Cruz, El Alto city councilor, Aymara, known for his 
participation in the uprising of October, 2003.

  5. The leaders of the Bolivian Landless Movement (MST).

  6. Román Loayza, alternate senator for the MAS and parallell CSUTCB 
which answers to Evo’s party.

  7. Enrique Mariaca, an engineer from the Committee for the Defense of 
National Patrimony

  8. Former police official David Vargas, one of the leaders of the 
so-called Black Februray (2003) when the people revolted against a tax 
increase from Sánchez de Lozada (at the request of the IMF).

  9. A bit later, Abel Mamani, well-known president of the Federation of 
Neighborhood Committees, arrived in high spirits.

  10. In Cochabamba, Oscar Olivera, of the Coordinating Committee for 
the Defense of Gas and Water, and Omar Fernández, leader of the 
Bolivian irrigating peasant-farmers.

  And there were more, of all colors, from all over the country, 
protesting Carlos Mesa, who was ratified as president: the purpose of 
his blackmailing resignation, in reality, was to pressure the Bolivian 
people into a step back in what they were demanding and achieving in 
the streets, above all on hydrocarbons (but also on water, on justice 
for the massacres of 2003, on everything they are lacking and the 
justice they deserve).

  The new alliance, which revives an entity known as the Estado Mayor 
del Pueblo (loosely translated as the People’s General Staff, founded 
in 2001), has begin to guide the people in resistance against the 
coalition of political parties and the government, which seeks to 
restrain the social mobilizations.

  In his front-line trench, Mesa gave a press conference at 10 am. The 
event reprised the points from his speech last night before the 
National Congress: to retake his government agenda, this time together 
with the traditional political parties, and not to permit any more 
social mobilizations.

Mesa has asked the people to demonstrate at noon tomorrow, in all the 
plazas of Bolivia, against the blockades and marches.

But there was something new as well.

As some sectors of El Alto have remained firm in their blockades 
demanding the exit of the multinational Suez corporation from the 
administration of their water services, as the coca growers continue 
blockading the main highway in the Chapare, as many people have refused 
to abandon their demands just because Carlos Mesa demands it in order 
to govern, President Mesa threatened to bring all the blockaders and 
marchers to justice. That is, apply the law as always: against the poor 
and working people of this country.

The apparent defeat of the social movements last night was not 
conclusive. The political class’ rallying behind President Mesa has 
provoked the social movements and leaders to rally themselves in 
response. We still don’t know what dimension this might take on for the 
people, but we know that, for the moment, this new stage of the 
conflict as not over yet.

Luis Gomez is editor and publisher of Narconews 
(http://www.narconews.com), where this column originally appeared.

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