[Marxism] A Confusing Retreat in Bolivia

Fred Fuentes fred.fuentes at gmail.com
Wed Mar 16 23:18:57 MST 2005

A Confusing Retreat in Bolivia
By Luis Gomez,
Posted on Wed Mar 16th, 2005 at 10:49:08 PM EST
After announcing last night that the pressure tactics would continue,
Evo Morales met with the social leaders this morning, before flying to
the Chapare to announce a temporary suspension in the mobilizations.
Last night, after Carlos Mesa's proposal to move forward with general
elections and the diverse reactions to his speech, the Chamber of
Deputies approved the hydrocarbons law proposal after a debate over
the details. Now it's up to the Senate to approve it definitively or
modify it… in waiting for that moment, the movements went into a
confusing retreat this morning.

(Posted in Spanish at 12:17 PM)

First President Mesa shook the political stage once again in Bolivia
with his call for early elections. Later, the Chamber of Deputies
finally approved the hydrocarbons law (in which the collection of
taxes and royalties follows the government's original proposal),
leaving the Senate the task of making any modifications.

Faced with this situation, Evo Morales and the social groups aligned
to his Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party decided to lift their
blockades and proposed an "intermission" to the other social leaders
committed to the national mobilization pact created last week.

During the meeting this morning in the headquarters of the Bolivian
Workers' Federation (COB in its Spanish initials), both Morales and
COB Executive Secretary Jaime Solares explained that it was necessary
to wait until the Senate worked on the hydrocarbons law, and, they
said, "decide to respect the sovereignty of the Bolivian people,"
modifying the law until the royalties are set at 50 percent per unit
of gas or petroleum produced.

Roberto de la Cruz (a member of the El Alto city council), Felipe
Quispe (the Aymara leader known as el Mallku), and the Aymara leader
of the peasant farmers of the La Paz department, Gualberto Choque,
also attended the meeting. Quispe, frustrated by the suspension of the
protests, walked out before the meeting was over.

Choque, who later held a meeting in his office with the main Aymara
community leaders from the Bolivian highlands, was not happy with the
meeting either: the Aymara nation had decided to join the blockades in
full force, and this new posture from Morales and other leaders left
them disconcerted.

At the moment, the highway that unites the cities of Cochabamba and
Santa Cruz, passing through the Chapare, is now practically free of
blockades. Evo Morales is heading there to speak with his supporters
about what will come next for them. And speaking of the center of the
country, this morning the peasant irrigators confronted the police in
Cochabamba, making them flee and strengthening their blockades, which
they will probably lift this afternoon. This afternoon a joint session
of Congress will debate Mesa's call for early elections. Nevertheless,
the proposal to make the newly elected congress also into a
Constituents' Assembly, charged with writing a new constitution, has
been rejected by nearly every sector of the political class and the
Bolivian social movements. (The original proposal for such an assembly
was understood to be separate from Congress, and inclusive of all
Bolivia's social sectors as opposed to just the political parties).

The withdrawal of the social movements, some tired but gambling on
congressional action (such as the MAS), others frustrated by what they
consider to be a step back (such as Felipe Quispe) is without a doubt
still confusing… but we will keep watching these events unfold.

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