[Marxism] fronting for Morales

Jorge Martin jorge at marxist.com
Thu Jun 19 06:08:46 MDT 2008

Andy Pollack said:
"John Riddell has an important article, "From Marx to Morales: Indigenous
Socialism and the Latin Americanization of Marxism," at
He provides many useful examples of how the struggles and thoughts of
indigenous peoples, as supported by Mariategui, Guevara, the Bolsheviks,
etc., enrich Marxism.
But his conclusion is dead wrong: "On all these points, the Bolshevik
experience closely matches the revolutionary policies toward Indigenous
peoples now being implemented in Bolivia and other Latin American

I fully agree with him on this question. The strategy proposed by Marx in
his letter to Zasulich, by Mariátegui, Che Guevara and others in relation to
the use of the peasant commune (in the case of Perú, the ayllú) as a basis
for socialism in the countryside, presupposed the workers taking power in
the cities. It was a socialist strategy.

The strategy of Alvaro Garcia Linera, Morales' vice-president, which he has
explained on many occasions, is to develop "Andean capitalism" for 50 years,
before one can talk of socialism. This is precisely the opposite of what was
advocated by Marx, Mariategui and Che Guevara.

The most complete explanation of his views about this question available in
English can be found here:

and in Spanish you can read:

He clearly says that socialism is off the agenda in Bolivia (for the next 50
years), and that what is needed is a strong state to develop the country's
industry within the framework of capitalism.

This seems to have led to another debate about whether there was a
possibility for taking power in October 2003 and in May-June 2005. I think
that was clearly the case.

In October 2003 there was a massive general strike which paralysed the
country involving the main contingents of workers and peasants. The state
was paralysed and repression did not stop the movement. The movement
organised itself through mass popular assemblies, cabildos abiertos,
neighbourhood juntas, and these started to take over functions of the state
(the distribution of gas, the regulation of public transport, the
distribution of food), there were armed clashes which the workers won (when
the miners forced their way to the capital), the state apparatus was split
(the army and the police) and there were clear indications that the ranks
sympathised with the movement, during the movement of the El Alto Federation
of Neighbourhood Juntas passed a resolution to create "Armed Self Defence
Units" and the main slogan of the massive march on La Paz the day after the
massacre in El Alto, the main slogan was "Now is the time: Civil War".

Many quotes could be given, but I will just give two from a bourgeois news
agency which talks about "dual power":

"Who rules in El Alto? The 500 presidents of the Neighbourhood Juntas, the
basic structures of urban and semi-urban organisation in the nine municipal
districts in this city of a million people. The structure is as follows, the
Federation of Neighbourhood Juntas has a president and a group of 20 leaders
with various responsibilities who represent the nine districts. Then there
are the district representatives (nine) who coordinate with the rank and
file juntas. Then there are the 562 presidents of the neighbourhood juntas,
which is the basic structure and the one which now (for the last nine days)
has had in its hands the power in the city of El Alto".

"No one can come in or out without the permission of the neighbourhood
committees, who are organised to fight the troops, to march on La Paz, to
look after the children and the wounded. There is a communal kitchen in
every block, every body shares their poverty, they are all the authority,
the organised community. It is another state with its own rules and dreams"

The elements of dual power are spreading like a red tide: "Further down, in
the basin, in all the poor areas of La Paz, control is also in the hands of
trade union and people's organisations, organised around the COB. The whole
of the High Plateau, from Oruro to Potosi, the whole of the Western part of
Bolivia is the hands of the peasants and local people who are blockading all
roads, big and small" (Bolpress (October 15)).
Similar events were repeated in May-June 2005.

What was the policy of the MAS leadership in those two occasions? First of
all it was not the MAS leadership that issued the call for these movements,
but rather a broad coalition of different workers' and peasant
organisations, some coming out first, some joining in later, in which the
positions of the MAS leadership were the most moderate. During the October
uprising Evo Morales left the country and went to Europe. Clearly, from his
point of view, the aim was not to overthrow the government through a mass
movement of workers and peasants. The whole strategy of the MAS leadership
on both occasions was for a constitutional solution, that is within the
limits of the capitalist system, a change of government rather than a change
of system.

A collection of articles that were written at the time including many
eyewitness accounts, quotes from the press, statements from the
organisations involved and a day to day acocunt of the movement, apart from
analysis, which you might agree or disagree with:


Same for the May-June 2005 movement:

as for Walter's comments: "Marxist.com website, seem to be on the permanent
warpath against Evo Morales and the Movement Toward Socialism, for some
reason, and they back some other forces in Bolivian life which are leading
the struggle against Evo, but not against secession by the privileged
areas." I won't even bother responding to such distorsion of the truth. The
International Marxist Tendency and In Defence of Marxism are on record in
writing and in actions in supporting the Evo Morales government against the
oligarchy, in the elections in December 2005 and ever since. At the same
time we have pointed out that the strategy of the Evo Morales government of
basing itself on talks with the oligarchy rather than the mass mobilisation
of the workers and peasants which brought it to power is an extremely
dangerous one, one which encourages the oligarchy to go on the offensive and
which runs the risk of disorientating and demobilising its own supporters.


More information about the Marxism mailing list