[Marxism] Background material on Bolivia: inteview with COR leader

dwalters at marxists.org dwalters at marxists.org
Wed Jan 4 21:13:28 MST 2006

[This interview was conducted in El Alto prior to the Dec. 18th Elections. It is
good background material to the discussion on Bolivia, and the upcoming June
"Constituent Assembly" elections--David W.]

"We must build Popular Assemblies in the regions, coupling this call
 with the demand for nationalisation of oil and gas and the
 distribution of the land Š"

 Interview with Limber Surco Callejas, Secretary of Education and
 Culture of the El Alto COR (regional branch of the COB) and recently
 elected Executive Committee member of the COR

 Question: The National Workers and Popular Summit declared that the
 elections to the June 2006 Constituent were illegitimate. Why?

 Limber: It's because this year's May-June mobilisations were not
 ready to accept an election set up through a curtailed democracy as a
 solution. They demanded the convening of a Sovereign Constituent
 Assembly and the nationalisation of oil and gas resources.

 The June 2006 Constituent Assembly is actually being implemented at
 the behest of the bourgeoisie to serve its purposes. It sets a
 so-called representative system that in no way changes the present
 Bolivian system of selecting the presidents or the deputies. This
 means that the rich will continue dominating the Constituent
 Assembly; the political parties, the NGOs and the foundations will
 continue giving money to the candidates they want to see in the
 Assembly. Let it be known that in the current Congress, 75% of the
 deputies are agents of the U.S. Embassy and the recycled Bolivian

 Question: The call for a Sovereign Constituent Assembly was withdrawn
 at the last minute from the Summit's Final Declaration. What do you
 think of the fact it was withdrawn?

 Limber: The Popular Assembly slogan is embedded in the minds of trade
 unionists and of all who think that in this manner, with the
 participation of the COB, a workers' government could take state
 power. They counterpose this to the call for a Constituent Assembly.
 Our position is that the Sovereign Constituent Assembly is the slogan
 that concretely opens the way to the creation of Popular Assemblies.

 Question: You intervened in the plenary discussion to say you
 supported this slogan ...

 Limber: I did this to say that for the indigenous peoples, the
 workers, and the students, the word Constituent Assembly is
 synonymous with a change of the political system. Now we see that the
 bourgeoisie has set limits on what the proposed "Constituent
 Assembly" can say and do. It cannot, for example, modify in any
 substantial way -- at least not in the interests of the workers and
 peoples -- the State's present political Constitution.

 We think that as we struggle for a Sovereign Constituent Assembly, we
 will be able to take control of the State's three powers: judicial,
 legislative, and executive -- all of this rolled up into one
 Assembly, which, by whatever name it goes, will have to be sovereign,
 which means total. The bourgeois class currently in power only
 proposes a stunted "Constituent Assembly." But for the first time we
 have a different perspective; we believe it is possible to take
 action so that this Assembly actually will be sovereign. This is the
 objective we wish to reach.

 Question: What are the prospects now for pursuing the struggle?

 Limber: I say it again, with this Summit, we took a historic first
 step in the 21st century. It is not only a matter of signing a unity
 agreement between disparate and disjointed sectors of the trade union
 and popular movements. With the call for Local and Regional Popular
 Assemblies -- and later, for the National Originary Popular Assembly
 -- the COB, the COR and the Miners' Federation can become the axis
 around which the masses' revolutionary mobilisation can be advanced.

 But to reach that point, we first must build Popular Assemblies in
 the regions, coupling this call with the demand for nationalisation
 of oil and gas and the distribution of the land. This is the path we
 must take. It is the path to renew what we already achieved in May
 and June, when we launched the first Popular Assembly in El Alto on
 June 8. There, we took this first step. We had no theory, no previous
 experience. We achieved this in an empirical way because we
 considered it was the right thing to do in the name of popular and
 originary movements.

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