Under the gaze of the counterrevolution

Stella Calloni, April 7

Bolivia is once again under the most formidable gaze of the Empire. Latin America needs to support president Evo Morales, because the symbolic significance of his presence is a revolutionary fact, and because he has the arduous task of once again raising Bolivia to its feet. This is not a simple task. Those who do not understand that steps forwards are taken only when possible, particularly in circumstances where the United States has already outlined its geostrategic project for the re-colonialisation of Latin America, are spitting in the face of history.

And this is a very long history of looting and sacrifices. There is no other South American country with the same history of open looting and continuous resistance as that of Bolivia. During the times of Spanish conquest, it was said – an exaggeration, of course, but not that far from the truth – that all the gold that Spain took from Potosi could have built a bridge between Latin America and Europe.

Spanish colonialism destroyed much more in regards to the millenary culture, but that ferment never disappeared, instead it continued to live on through diverse cultures, in languages and in rebelliousness, many times hidden between rocks, but never dead.

Bolivian society was divided into castes: the campesinos and farmers, indigenous people, were called “indians”; the mine workers, rural workers and others such as the proletariat of the cities were “cholos”. On the other hand, in a marked division typical of a colony: the self-denominated whites, the owners of the haciendas and businesses, professionals and others.

But none of this was able to wipe out the memories of the anti-colonial struggle of Tupak Katari (1780-1782) and other heroes who continued to survive and continued being the ferment that has awoken Bolivia so many times.

This ferment that survived despite the other colonialisation, that new union of the mine owners, politicians and soldiers, the empire of the Patiño family, whom looted the tin from this country to hand it over to others outside. The “roscas” business owners and the dictatorships, one after the other. And if dictatorships existed, it was because there was resistance - and there was - and they were part of the most rebellious history of Latin America, with the miners there, with their famous entrance into La Paz, the campesinos always stubbornly hiding their rocks in each hand, and the eternal fighters.

But from of this history, too long to recount, and as strong as the faces of those who marked out the paths, have come the current ones.

The struggle for water, to not hand over gas: where would they have come from without this history? The new struggles at the end of the 20th century, when the savage dictatorship of Hugo Banzer had finished and, who began to be transformed – by that same empire that put it in power in 1971, in order to form part of the chain of South American horror – into a “democrat” of the market, of the new global, dictatorial form that devastated the country throughout the 90s and continued to throw massive numbers of poor people into the pits of misery.

The looting continued eternally, complying with the imperial law of ripping out resources until impoverishing and converting the countries of this extensive third world into a desert.

But Bolivia rose up across its roadways and mountains, in its cities, in the new struggles and there new leaderships were forged. From there came, at the end of 2005, the first indigenous president of Bolivia and the region: Evo Morales. A long await demand of the peoples and a nightmare for the colonizers who had always occupied that spot.

And so the history of destabilizations, of the dirty war, so well marked out by the empire in its counterinsurgency doctrines, or in the low intensity war, all its sinister chapters, are being put into action. They count on a new element. The disappearance of the best leaderships during the past dictatorships have left a gap and produced strong divisions in sectors who call themselves left.

They demand revolutions, where there isn’t any, but where instead there are the beginnings of paths and giant steps. Morales, in completely unfavorable conditions, due to the destruction carried out over the last few years, has made giant steps forward. He put his hands on the hydrocarbons - petroleum and gas to be precise - which as they say in Bolivia “are inserted into the collective imagination of the Bolivian people, associated with triumphs and historic defeats, inherited from parents to children, at least of the last three generations, and are national symbols”.

There have been two nationalizations prior to the one decreed on May 1, 2006, by Morales: that of the Standard Oil Company from which Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) originated, and the second at the beginning of the 70s when Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz as Minister of Hydrocarbons, nationalized the Gulf Oil Company. Quiroga Santa Cruz, in the middle of the 70s was assassinated by the dictators.

Evo regained the property rights over hydrocarbons for the Bolivian people “which had been handed over to the transnational petroleum companies, in the sadly celebrated “capitalization” [privatization], of the Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada government in the year 1996, via the most sinister maneuver of the last 30 years of neoliberal government, because he sold the country, and with this act, destroyed any possibility of growth and self-determination. More than capitalization, this political act was an sign of neo-colonialisation” wrote recently Maria Bolivia Rothe.

Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who was chased out of the country by the rebellion of the Bolivian people, had handed over all the companies to foreign capital. Or almost all of them, because the people put their body and hands and dead to impede the total handover.

Of all this - the entry into ALBA, the anti-hegemonic project that Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua make up, other almost incredible advances, the desperate race to provide education and health, all revolutionary acts - no one speaks off.

Nor is the story told of what the global power and its former and renovated internal accomplices are doing to raise walls in the path of Evo It is clear and transparent that the maximum has to be demanded of a president that got there due to the will of the people. But it is revolutionary to know what is the maximum that can be asked of in determined circumstances. Here it is valid to demand in terms proper to a real left, but the demands that assimilate those of the destructive power of the empire are not valid.

There are sociologists in the world that outline agendas for governments, far removed from these realties and the smelly feet of those who have walked bare foot. It is worth calling on them to have a sense of humility.

There are requirements and demands and warnings of errors that are key, precise, necessary. But there are also those that the empire stokes from the shadows, and we can not repeat them on our side, because the counterrevolution also comes wrapped in apparently revolutionary language.

If we make a list of all the steps taken by this counterrevolution, including before Morales assumed power, it would overwhelming prove how many were wrapping in the destabilization that precedes the final strike. Therefore there are no longer “innocence of value”. The discourse of those who demand to go further, should never line up with the discourse of the castes in power, or the embassy of the United States, always working to strike a blow against, and put obstacles in the way of, each step forward.

Many things still remain to be done and there will be those who do carry them out, and those who come with a fancy for power and the mechanisms of the past. But this is impossible to predict because the system has been effective in creating a culture of ferocious individualism. And if there are errors, there is a need to help correct them, and demand their correction, but never to use them to win others over politically, if those others have been fellow travelers, and if we are on the same path and in the same fight.

It is not enough to say that another world is possible; we need to know how to construct it. And this world is not constructed with slogans or fiery speeches, but rather with humility and revolutionary foresight. These are the times, and Bolivia should be accompanied by all. We know that unity is the only possibility for resisting the colonialism that has returned in this risky 21st century, of colonial wars. The empire has surpassed the neocolonial stage to move cruelly towards the rampant colonialism we see in Iraq. All we have left is our unity, in order to not lose another century.

Translated from Rebelion

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