Monday, November 26, 2007

Revolutionary Showdown in Bolivia

Yesterday -- Nov. 24, 2007-- the representatives
of Evo Morales' MAS party in the Constituent
Assembly finally broke with the oligarchy and
approved, with a simple majority vote, a new
draft Constitution for Bolivia.
See article:

Revolutionary Mobilizations Shake Bolivia Yet Again

By Eric Blanc

In response to a deepening right-wing offensive against the unity of Bolivia and the government of Evo Morales, new mass revolutionary mobilizations are shaking the entire country.

In the second week of January 2007, workers and peasants from the Cochabamba department of central Bolivia poured into the streets to demand the resignation of the governor, Manfred Reyes Villa, for supporting the reactionary "autonomies" promoted by the U.S. Embassy and the oligarchy of the oil-rich Santa Cruz region.

Despite the fact that 64% of Cochabamba voted against the reactionary "autonomies" in the national referendum in July 2006, the governor declared his support for "the independence of Santa Cruz" and a new autonomic referendum.

Tensions on this question have been escalating for months. Beginning on January 8, tens of thousands of coca growers, indigenous peasants, students, and workers from the countryside and city occupied the department's capital, in response to the call of the Departmental Workers Federation (COD). On January 11, a right-wing fascist youth group - made up of racist upper-class white students linked to the oligarchy and Governor Reyes Villa - broke through the police lines and brutally attacked the peaceful demonstrators with baseball bats and lead pipes.

Street fighting ensued, leaving hundreds of protestors wounded and two dead. The repression only radicalized the demonstrators. On Jan. 16, a popular assembly (cabildo) of over 30,000 peasants, workers, and youth denounced Reyes Villa for attacking the unity of the nation. The assembly refused to recognize the authority of the departmental government and proceeded to set up a "Departmental Revolutionary Committee," made up of 21 popular and labor organizations to act as the sole legitimate government in the region. Reyes Villa fled to Santa Cruz.

With Cochabamba as an example, the workers' and their organizations (particularly, the COR and the FEJUVE) in the cities of El Alto and La Paz in Western Bolivia took to the streets to demand the resignation of their right-wing governor who supports the autonomies, Pepelucho Paredes. Declaring a "war to death" in defense of the unity of the country, the demonstrators gave Paredes 48 hours to resign - or be forced out.

It was at this point that the national government of Evo Morales stepped in to put water on the fire by proposing a future referendum to decide whether Villa Reyes should stay or go. Vice President Alvaro Garcia declared: "Legitimate protests must be legally channeled. The government respects the legally existing authorities. ... We will give the governor police and military protection to return to Cochabamba."

For the time being the government's intervention has demobilized the protestors - but none of the underlying conflicts have been resolved.

In the year since Evo Morales took power, he has taken various important anti-imperialist steps forward, most important nationalization of oil decree, the call for a vote against autonomies in the national referendum, the refounding of the state mining company, and steps toward land reform. These actions, taken under pressure from the organized and mobilized workers and peasants, have been an inspiration for the whole continent.

Unfortunately, the Evo government has also ceded on various occasions to the intense pressure of the right wing and imperialism. For example, recently Evo declared that he supported regional autonomies and the members of Congress of his party, the MAS, caved in on Jan. 24 to the right wing by approving the proposal for making the (still paralyzed) Constituent Assembly based on a 2/3 majority principle.

In today's explosive context, the key is the independent mobilization of the masses and their organizations. For its part, La Chispa (The Spark) has directly participated in all these struggles, around the following political axis:

"The Bolivian people do not want autonomies. They want bread, land, and jobs. To win this, the labor, indigenous, and popular sectors must build an anti-imperialist united front with the government of Evo Morales! Nothing is more urgent in the current situation! The struggle against the pillage and division promoted by imperialism through the oligarchies unites us all. To defeat the right-wing, it is necessary to continue and deepen the structural changes. It is time to mobilize!"

1 comment:

Leslie A said...

This gives me hope. The fist of people solidarity is stronger than that of the money-grubbing (and noteably white upper-class) oligarchs. HOOHA!