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Movement Towards Socialism (Bolivia)

Bolivia: Development before environment?

Indigenous Bolivians begin a 500-kilometre protest march to La Paz.

By Federico Fuentes

September 8, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- The decision by leaders of the Sub Central of the Indigenous Territory and National Isiboro Secure Park (TIPNIS) to initiate a 500-kilometre protest march on Bolivia's capital of La Paz has ignited much debate about the nature of Bolivia’s first Indigenous led-government. The Sub Central of TIPNIS unites the 64 indigenous communities within the park.

Much analysis has focused on the supposed hypocrisy of the government headed by Evo Morales, Bolivia's first Indigenous head of state. The Morales government has been criticised for pursuing pro-capitalist development and trampling on the rights of its own Indigenous people.

Many analysts have also highlighted the contradiction between Morales’ public discourse in defence of Indigenous rights and Mother Earth, and the proposal of his government’s to build a highway that would run through this protected area of the Amazon.

Bolivia: How Jeffrey Webber's 'From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia' turns reality on its head

Review by Federico Fuentes

From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia: Class Struggle, Indigenous Liberation, and the Politics of Evo Morales
By Jeffrey Webber
Haymarket Books, 2011

August 19, 2011 -- Aborado - Latin America uncovered -- The Evo Morales government recently celebrated its 2000th day in power in Bolivia – a feat in its own right for a country that has had around 180 coups since 1825 – any serious attempt to explain the underlying dynamics of this decade long political process should be welcomed. Combining his academic research and extensive fieldwork in Bolivia, Jeffrey Webber sets out to do exactly that in From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia. Unfortunately, the end result leaves a lot to be desired.

The election of Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, on the back of a mass rebellion that overthrew successive governments has stirred great interest in this small Andean nation.

Bolivia: Evo Morales' fight to control the military

By Federico Fuentes

August 7, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- Speaking to CNN en Espanol on July 27, Bolivia's President Evo Morales said, “When presidents do not submit to the United States government, to its policies, there are coups.” His comments are backed by attempts by the US and Bolivia’s right wing to bring down his government.

Recently released WikiLeaks cables prove the US embassy was in close contact with dissident military officers only months before a coup attempt was carried out in September 2008.

But the close relationship between the US and Bolivia’s military has a long history.

In recent years, the “war on drugs” provided the US with cover to extend its control over Bolivia’s armed forces. As a coca grower union leader from the Chapare region, Morales faced the direct and brutal consequences of the US “war on drugs”.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Chapare region, nestled in the heart of Bolivia, became the site of bloody massacres carried out by US and Bolivian anti-narcotics forces. As part of its attempts to destroy coca, seen by indigenous Bolivians as a “sacred leaf” and part of their traditional way of life, the US established and funded the Mobile Units for Rural Patrolling (UMOPAR) in the Chapare.

Progress in Bolivia: A reply to Jeff Webber

Bolivia's president Evo Morales addresses a press conference during theWorld People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, April 2010.

[See also "Debate on Bolivia: Government, social movements and revolution". For more article on Bolivia, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

May 5, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Six years after Bolivians elected their first Indigenous-led government, their ongoing struggle for national and social liberation remains a subject of debate and disagreement among socialists around the world.

Debate on Bolivia: Government, social movements and revolution

[The following article is a reply to Jeffery Webber's article, “Bolivia’s reconstituted neoliberalism”, which appeared in the International Socialist Review, September–October 2010. Webber's reply to Fuentes' criticisms follows the article below. Fuentes is editor of the Bolivia Rising website and was based in Venezuela as a correspondent for Australia's leading socialist newspaper, Green Left Weekly. He is a member of the Australian Socialist Alliance. For more coverage of Bolivia, click HERE.]

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By Federico Fuentes

Bolivia: Fuel subsidy backdown reveals pressures on Morales

Protest against fuel subsidy cut, El Alto, December 30.

By Federico Fuentes

January 24, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- On December 31, the Bolivian government of President Evo Morales repealed a decree, passed five days earlier, to remove subsidies for fuel. The repeal came after protests and discontent at the resulting price increases from many of the government’s poor supporters.

“Why is the government making us suffer during these days … I don’t understand, I don’t understand”, Carla, a housewife in El Alto told Radio Atipiri on New Years Eve. An elderly woman expressed the shock of many supporters of Bolivia’s first indigenous president: “We are poor, we don’t have anything, what are we going to now, Evo has betrayed us, he must go.”

They were among the many that came out against the government’s decree, which sent petrol and diesel prices up by 73% and 83% respectively. It also caused spikes in the price of transport and food.

Bolivia: Morales faces new challenges; Behind the ‘MAS crisis’

Problems and challenges face Bolivia's radical government -- led by President Evo Morales (above), the country’s first Indigenous head of state -- and the process of change it leads. Australia's Green Left Weekly has published two articles on the question, by Eduardo Paz Rada, editor of Bolivia-based magazine Patria Grande, and Pablo Stefanoni, editor of the Bolivian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique. Both were translated by Federico Fuentes. See also Fuente's "Bolivia: Warning signs as social tensions erupt" and the related comments.

* * *

By Eduardo Paz Rada

September 5, 2010 -- Following the political and social transformations undertaken over the past five years by the Evo Morales government with the huge, active support of Bolivia’s popular sectors that have mobilised around their demands since 2000, the political map has radically changed.

Estallan tensiones sociales en Bolivia

Escrito por Federico Fuentes (Green Left Weekly), traducido por Robert Cavooris y Janina Suárez-Pinzón (Upside Down World)

Agusto 24, 2010 -- Las escenas recientes de bloqueos de carreteras, huelgas e incluso un atentado con dinamita en la casa de un vice-ministerio en el departamento boliviano de Potosí, recuerdan los tiempos de los anteriores gobiernos neoliberales y han dejado a muchos preguntándose qué está sucediendo realmente en la “nueva” Bolivia del presidente indígena Evo Morales.

Desde el 29 de julio, la ciudad de Potosí, que tiene 160.000 habitantes, se ha parado abruptamente. La gente está enardecida y preparada para luchar por lo que ellos perciben como una falta de apoyo del gobierno nacional para el desarrollo regional.

Potosí es el departamento más pobre del país, pero el más importante para la industria minera, que está a punto de superar al gas como principal producto de exportación, debido a los crecientes precios de los minerales.

Bolivia: Warning signs as social tensions erupt

Indigenous Quechua protesters blockaded the main road between La Paz and Potosi on August 8.

By Federico Fuentes

August 15, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- Recent scenes of roadblocks, strikes and even the dynamiting of a vice-minister’s home in the Bolivian department (administrative district) of Potosi, reminiscent of the days of previous neoliberal governments, have left many asking themselves what is really going on in the “new” Bolivia of Indigenous President Evo Morales.

Since July 29, the city of Potosi, which has 160,000 inhabitants, has ground to a halt. Locals are up in arms over what they perceive to be a lack of support for regional development on the part of the national government. Potosi is Bolivia’s poorest department but the most important for the mining sector, which is on the verge of surpassing gas as the country’s principal export because of rising mineral prices.

Bolivia: When fantasy trumps reality -- the `general strike' that wasn't

President Evo Morales (centre).

By Federico Fuentes, Caracas

May 22, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- Ironically, while the left is one of the fiercest critics of biased media coverage, it can also fall into the trap of corporate media distortions, particularly if its coverage dovetails with its own fantasies. A May 14 article by Daniel Lopez published on the website of Australian group Socialist Alternative is proof of this. The article echoes the view of a May 10 article on the BBC website, which has a clear dislike of Bolivia's President Evo Morales.

The BBC article argued a “general strike” by Bolivian unions marked “the end of the honeymoon period between the left-wing Mr Morales and his power base among the country's poor”. This position fits nicely with the outlook of Socialist Alternative, which also condemns Bolivia’s first Indigenous president.

Bolivia: Bittersweet victory highlights obstacles for process of change

By Federico Fuentes, Caracas

April 10, 2010 -- Bolivia Rising -- Although final figures will not be known until April 24, the results of Bolivia's April 4 regional elections have ratified the continued advance of the "democratic and cultural revolution" led by the country's first Indigenous president, Evo Morales. However, it also highlights some of the shortcomings and obstacles the process of change faces.

Initial results from the election for governors, mayors and representatives to municipal councils and departmental assemblies have confirmed the Morales-led Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) as the sole political force with strong support across Bolivia.

It follows the historic 64% vote to reelect Morales and the two-thirds majority MAS obtained in the Plurinational Assembly last December.

Bolivia: Women a driving force in the revolutionary process

Bolivia's new justice minister Nilda Copa, one of the 10 women among the country's 20 government ministers.

By Lisa Macdonald

March 3, 2010 -- In January, Bolivia’s left-wing President Evo Morales began his second term by appointing a new cabinet in which women are equally represented for the first time. Morales, Bolivia’s first president from the nation’s long-oppressed Indigenous majority, is leading a revolutionary process of transformation. The 10 women ministers are from a wide range of backgrounds, and three of them are Indigenous.

Introducing the new ministers, Morales said: “My great dream has come true — half the cabinet seats are held by women. This is a homage to my mother, my sister and my daughter.”

In the December 6, 2010, national elections, in which there was the highest-ever voter participation in Bolivia, Morales and his Movement towards Socialism (MAS) party won a resounding victory. Morales was re-elected with a record 64.2% of the vote and the MAS secured the two-thirds majority in the Senate needed to pass legislation to advance its pro-people program.

L’appel historique de Chavez pour une 5eme Internationale

par Federico Fuentes

2 décembre 2009 -- CADTM/Green Left Weekly -- S’adressant aux délégués de la Rencontre Internationale des Partis de Gauche qui s’est tenue à Caracas du 19 au 21 novembre (2009), le président vénézuélien Hugo Chavez a déclaré : « il est temps de constituer la 5ème Internationale. » Face à la crise capitaliste et la menace d’une guerre qui représente un danger pour l’avenir de l’humanité, « les peuples réclament » une unité plus forte des partis de gauche et révolutionnaires qui sont prêts à lutter pour le socialisme, a-t-il dit.

A l’instar de son appel de 2005 pour la construction « d’un socialisme du 21ème siècle » et son appel de 2006 pour la création au Venezuela d’un nouveau parti de masse révolutionnaire – le Parti Socialiste Unifié du Venezuela – l’appel de Chavez à l’unité de la gauche et pour une nouvelle internationale est un événement historique.

El llamado histórico de Hugo Chávez para conformar una V Internacional Socialista

por Federico Fuentes

2 de diciembre de 2009 -- CADTM/Green Left Weekly -- Hablando a los delegados del Encuentro International de Partidos de Izquierda realizado en Caracas, el presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez señalo “que llegó la hora de que convoquemos a la Quinta Internacional. Frente la crisis capitalista y la amenaza de guerra que poner en peligro el futuro de la humanidad, la unidad de partidos de izquierda y revolucionario dispuesto a luchar para el socialismo “es un clamor del pueblo,” dijo Chávez.

Como su llamado en 2005 a construir el “Socialismo de Siglo XXI” y su anuncio de la construcción de un partido de la revolución al final del 2006, el llamado de Chávez a unificar la izquierda en torno a la Quinta Internacional representa en hecho histórico.

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez calls for international socialist unity

[Read the conference declaration HERE.]

By Federico Fuentes, Caracas

November 27, 2009 -- Addressing delegates at the International Encounter of Left Parties held in Caracas, November 19-21, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said that with the capitalist crisis and threat of war risking the future of humanity, “the people are clamoring” for greater unity of those willing to fight for socialism.

Chavez used his November 20 speech to the conference, which involved delegates from 55 left groups from 31 countries, to call for a new international socialist organisation to unite left groups and social movements: “The time has come for us to organise the Fifth International.”

Historic

Venezuela: Chavez calls for new international organisation of left parties

By Kiraz Janicke, Caracas

[Read the conference declaration HERE.]

November 23, 2009 – Venezuelanalysis.com – Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez called for the formation of a “Fifth International” of left parties and social movements to confront the challenge posed by the global crisis of capitalism. The president made the announcement during an international conference of more than 50 left organisations from 31 countries held in Caracas over November 19-21.

“I assume responsibility before the world. I think it is time to convene the Fifth International, and I dare to make the call, which I think is a necessity. I dare to request that we create my proposal,” Chavez said.

Bolivia's vice-president defends MAS government’s record

Interview with with Álvaro García Linera, vice-president of Bolivia, by Maristella Svampa, Pablo Stefanoni and Ricardo Bajo, from August 2009 Bolivian edition of Le Monde Diplomatique. English translation and notes by Richard Fidler for the Bolivia Rising blog. Available in Spanish at http://tinyurl.com/kle4vt.

September 11, 2009 --  What is the explanation for the weakening of the opposition after more than two years of confrontations?

For President Evo Morale’s government the Constituent Assembly offered the possibility of arming a broad collective ensemble of all the country’s social forces. We placed ourselves at the head of this effort to build a new constitutional consensus. Internally, within the people, we had to pull together the popular bloc — not an easy task, because there was a lot of corporate diversity — and then we had to follow this up with the opening to the other social sectors, who are an important opposition albeit a minority.

Raúl Prada Alcoreza: Analysis of Bolivia's New Political Constitution of the State

Bolivians celebrate their new constitution. President Evo Morales in centre.

The following article by Raúl Prada Alcoreza was originally published in the first issue (June 2008) of Crítica y Emancipación, a biannual Latin American journal of the social sciences. This translation from the Spanish, by Shana Yael Shubs and Ruth Felder, was published this year in a complete English-language version of the journal’s first issue. It was distributed at the recent congress of the Latin American Studies Association, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June. A review of the first issue of Crítica y Emancipación was published at http://tinyurl.com/nuk4jp. This article also appeared at Bolivia Rising.

Interview with Bolivia's foreign minister: `Communitarian socialism will refound Bolivia’

Interview with Bolivia’s foreign minister David Choquehuanca by Patricia Bravo and Cris González, translated from the original article in the March 20, 2009, edition of Punto Final (Chile) by David Montoute.

David Choquehuanca.

Bolivia’s new ``Political Constitution of the State’’, approved by referendum on January 25, 2009, by 61.4% of the vote and announced on February 7, is clearly of transcendental importance for the refoundation of Bolivia. The recognition of individual and collective rights, popular participation, the principle of equality and the end of all types of exclusion and discrimination are all present in the new constitutional text.

It establishes the creation of “a Unified Social State of Law whose character would be Plurinational Communitarian, free, independent, sovereign, democratic, intercultural, with decentralised autonomous departments, regions, municipalities and indigenous circumscriptions”.

Evo Morales: `I declare myself Marxist ... now let the OAS expel Bolivia'

April 16, 2009 – During his intervention at the seventh ALBA Summit, Bolivia's president Evo Morales recalled the 1962 documents of the Organisation of American States (OAS) that resulted in Cuba being expelled from the organisation, and outlined the importance of reflecting on the motives of that expulsion.

The resolution indicates that the adherence of any member country to Marxism-Leninism, and the association of any member government of the organisation with the communist bloc, broke the unity and solidarity of the hemisphere. Therefore, given that the government of Cuba identified itself as Marxist-Leninist, it was incompatible with the purpose of the OAS and was therefore excluded from participating.

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