[Marxism] Revolution in the Andes: Fidel's Prophecy Fulfilled

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Jan 24 08:26:04 MST 2006

Via NY Transfer News Collective  *  All the News that Doesn't Fit
sent by Simon McGuinness - Jan 24, 2006

The Guardian - January 20, 2006

Op Ed

Revolution in the Andes 

Fidel Castro's prophecy has at last been fulfilled as Bolivia joins
Latin America's 'axis of good' 

by Richard Gott

One of the most significant events in 500 years of Latin American
history will take place in Bolivia on Sunday when Evo Morales, an Aymara
Indian, is inducted as president. People of indigenous origin have, on
occasion, risen to the top in Latin America. But Morales's overwhelming
election victory took place on a tide of indigenous mobilisation that is
especially powerful in Andean countries; elections in Peru and Ecuador
this year might also bring success to indigenous movements. 

The Rebellion of the Hanged is one of B Traven's novels of the Mexican
jungle, written in 1936. In these stories the Indians turn slowly from
rebellion to revolution, and something of that spirit infuses the new
mood in Latin America. The heirs to pre-Columbian civilisations have
conquered their distrust of white "democracy" and are again moving to
the front of the historical stage. They do so as one of Kondratiev's
long economic waves has been sweeping through the continent like a
tsunami. The terrible impact of neoliberal economics is reminiscent of
the slump of the 30s that brought revolution to many countries of Latin

Morales's victory is not just a symptom of economic breakdown and
age-old repression. It also fulfils a prophecy made by Fidel Castro, who
claimed the Andes would become the Americas' Sierra Maestra - the Cuban
mountains that harboured black and Indian rebels over the centuries, as
well as Castro's guerrilla band in the 50s. His prophecy exercised US
governments in the 60s. Radical elected governments were destroyed by
the armed forces - guardians of the white settler states - supported by
Washington. Countries such as Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia were
prevented from following anything that might have resembled the Cuban

Today the rules have changed. The cold war no longer provides an excuse
for intervention, and the US is stretched in other parts of the world.
The ballot box, for the first time in Latin America, has become the
strategy of choice for revolutionaries and the poor majority. The result
in Bolivia is a president who invokes the memory of the silver miners of
Potosi and Che Guevara, who dreamed of a socialist commonwealth of Latin
America. Castro's prophecy looks close to fulfilment, and, in his 80th
year, he will go to Bolivia to savour the moment. 

Another historic presence will be the shadow of Simón Bolívar, the
independence leader of the 19th century who also had faith in the
ability of the Andean provinces to change Latin America. He drove the
Spanish from the mountains, and finished his battles in the country that
was given his name. Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, mentor of Morales and
largely responsible for channelling the new mood into revolutionary
paths, will also be present this weekend. 

The "axis of good" - as Morales terms it - of Cuba, Venezuela and
Bolivia, is a huge threat to US political, economic and cultural
hegemony. It is also a challenge for Latin America's traditional left,
which has never had much success in coping with indigenous populations.
Now the representative of Bolivia's farmers, tin miners and coca growers
of indigenous ancestry is to wear the presidential sash and seek their
incorporation into political life. They will be joined by more overtly
socialist groups that derive their legitimacy from half a century of
union work - an alliance that will be at least as problematic for the
president as US hostility and international companies seeking to exploit
Bolivia's oil and gas. These won't be nationalised but will certainly
have to pay higher royalties. 

False dawns are common in Latin American history, but the strength of
the radical tide suggests that this time it will not be dammed, still
less reversed. 

[Richard Gott is author of Cuba: A New History; and Hugo Chávez and the
Bolivarian Revolution.]
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