[Marxism] The latest round of debate on Evo...

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Thu Jan 5 15:27:47 MST 2006

... is not one I'm going to get into in any major way. 

I want to explain why I think we've exhausted the topic.

It has become quite clear to me that there is a very deep divide between
the view of people like me, Nestor, Fred F., on the one hand, and RR,
David Walters, and a number of others. These differences have to do, in
terms of Bolivia,  with whether a proletarian socialist revolution is on
the agenda in Bolivia right now. I agree with Fred, that is not
*possible* right now. Evo's task, like that of Chávez, is to help create
the conditions that would make it possible through a process of
permanent revolution that is likely to take many, many years and not
just in Bolivia but in the region. I believe --I hope-- what we will see
in Bolivia is the *beginning* of an indigenous, national,
anti-imperialist, democratic revolutionary process, similar to the one
underway in Venezuela, or the one that Cuba lived through in extremely
compressed form in 1959-1960.

Comrades like RR, David and others in my opinion take as their starting
point --I think that David actually put it something like this in a
post-- the domestic class struggle of the workers against their bosses
and the local ruling class. I think that's wrong, the right framework is
the world struggle against imperialism and I would say what flows from
that is what Chávez is about and especially what Evo (at least judging
by his campaign and post-election actions and statements) seems to be

And I just don't believe we're going to solve that here, or get much
further in discussing it. 

There is, in my opinion, not only a historical and ideological but also
a material grounding to these differences that make the dialogue about
them very strained, leading to reactions, like Walter's, which even if I
don't agree with him, I certainly understand and empathize with.

*  *  *

I didn't have a particularly favorable opinion of Morales prior to his
election campaign, having heard a number of the things other people have
cited and followed a number of the events in Bolivia for the past few
years. His campaign led me to a more favorable impression of him,
frankly, and the overall outlook of some of his critics became clearer
to me and put them in a somewhat different perspective.

But having had an opportunity to observe closely how he has conducted
himself following the election, and to think about the *meaning* of the
electoral result, I've got to say quite frankly what I said about Hugo
Chávez when we first started talking about him on this list, that
perhaps I ought to know better, but nevertheless, I really *like* the

The electoral results he obtained --especially when you take into
account the Florida-style disenfranchisement of many indigenous people--
are nothing short of spectacular. And this isn't even a case like
Chavez's first election where a significant section of the bourgeois
media was covering him favorably, Morales's victory was won against the
*entire* bourgeois press.

But most of all it has been his insistence that he is going to put an
end to the 500 years of oppression and marginalization of the indigenous
majority, and that he immediately set out to get the pieces in place to
make it so, for example, the literacy campaign, the thousands of medical
student scholarships in Cuba, the new oil deal with Venezuela which
Bolivia will pay for with agricultural products, the agrarian reform.

I don't think the COB leaders who say they will give Evo 90 days to get
the things they want done and if he doesn't they will try to overthrow
him are representing the true interests of the working class. The
Spanish and Mestizos have had 500 years; and *before* his inauguration,
you're giving the first indigenous president of Bolivia, the first real
majority president Bolivia has had in living memory, ninety-day

I known about the distrust of Evo on the part of some of these folks.
But here you have a HUGELY popular president, with both a clear mandate
and a clear program, before his inauguration, who has specifically
reiterated that program (on the nationalization of the gas) after his
election. And COB leaders are so *apolitical* that they right off the
bat start *threatening* and taking a confrontational stance against the

And I try to understand, what is being expressed by this tone and these
threats? The politics of nationalization? Or the arrogance of
white-mestizo minority rule?

If I were in the leadership of the COB, I'd try to analyze whether,
despite its very long history and very militant traditions, did it ever
succeed in becoming the voice of the most oppressed and dispossessed, of
the indigenous majority, as indigenous peoples? Did it ever succeed in
becoming the organized expression of THEIR movement for justice, for
equality, for dignity? And if it did not, how should it relate to those
who DID?

Because as I see it MAS is NOT a "workers party." A purely "class" party
in Bolivia is an abstraction.  The MAS is first and foremost the party
of the indigenous majority. Evo Morales is the first genuinely
indigenous president of a Latin American country since, I think, Benito
Juarez. Maybe he will be "inconsistent" and "betray." And maybe --just
maybe-- the priorities of those who have been pushed side for half a
millennium are a little different than those of other people.
Nationalization of everything sounds great, but if your Indian community
still has collective ownership of the land, perhbaps you might be more
interested in running water, electrification, and learning how to read.

Evo's election, in and of itself, is a tremendous, revolutionary
development in Bolivia, a country what's been done to the indigenous
majority is every bit as brutal as apartheid in South Africa or Jim Crow
in the South, except its gone on for five CENTURIES. 

His efforts to change that deserve the unstinting solidarity and support
of the entire human race.


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