Bolivia: The university professor and the governor

Andrés Soliz Rada

Academia, especially in the area of social sciences, allows the professor to extend themselves talking about theories, hypotheses and endless speculations. In the end, this can only disorientate (or not) their students. On the other hand, someone who governs needs to demonstrate precise pathways forward, given that their diagnosis and decisions can result in benefits or disasters during transcendental historic moments like this one. This reflection is the result of a response given by Álvaro García Linera to the following question published in La Prensa (17-06-07) regarding the constituent assembly: How are you looking to incorporate the issue of indigenous autonomies in the territorial level?

The vice president said: “This is the problem. The first option is to use the current territorial structures in force: various municipalities conform a province and a number of these, the departments, and a number of these a region. Here there is no problem and one saves themselves the tensions over borders. And the idea is like this: two or three municipalities which have an indigenous majority conform an indigenous territory, but we have to see with what attributions; or various provinces where there is an indigenous majority conform another macro indigenous territoriality; apart from this, if all the provinces of a department have an indigenous majority and they are seen as so, then they would conform an indigenous department; and if pieces of a department with pieces of another articulate themselves into an even bigger territoriality, there can be an indigenous region. There we are not constructing something parallel, rather we are superimposing the issue of identity over a territorial ordinance already in existence. It would be the easiest way and perhaps could generate less friction.

“Nevertheless, the companeros of the social movements are proposing that the territorial delimitations not use those in existence, but instead involve the reconstitution of the old territorial borders of the indigenous peoples. This is interesting, but complicated to implement. And the constituent delegates have this discussion in their hands. There are legitimate historically arguments for them, but I have the impression that these will be the most difficult.

Coinciding with the opinions of Danish and Swedish NGOs, Garcia Linera sees “no problem” in amalgamating indigenous municipalities in order to transform them into indigenous provinces or departments, although, he points out, the attributions of these, and if they are assumed to be indigenous, are still to be established. He estimates that it would be easier to compress departments - like a forensic scientist interchanging noses, arms and ears on nine cadavers - with the aim of constructing new territories (and 36 nations, according to MAS’ proposal), each with there own territories, languages and sovereign control over natural resources. It doesn’t matter that some “nations” are made up of only 25 inhabitants, like the Pacahuara, or 31, like the Guarasugwe, or 101, like the Moré.

Finally, he believes it would be “complicated but interesting” to reconstitute pre-Columbus territories. As a consequence, the country could disappear through execution, hanging or electric chair (the gas chamber does not function due to lack of energy sources).

Garcia Linera, who calls “ignorant” all those who disagree with his opinions, puts forward his “solution” of a national state which has had its spine broken, with centrifugal forces that allow a representative of the “Half Moon”, and a spokesperson of the “Camba Nation”, Carlos Dabdoub, to last year preside over the first meeting of the “autonomists of South America”, in Guayaquil (Ecuador), with the participation of separatists from Zulia (Venezuela).

In 1961, Jorge Obando put forward the Stalinist thesis of a plurinational Bolivia, to be debate at a time when the country most required internal cohesion in order to defend itself from foreign threats. In Latin America, self-determination means the right to unite (Abelardo Ramos), with the aim of constructing a Bolivarian homeland, with indomestizo roots, and which consolidates our unity through diversity, with pride in our ancestral cultures.

The forced hypothesis of the vice president contrasts with the efforts of Evo Morales, who’s government represents those sectors excluded from society, to grant the concept of plurinational, although without academic rigors, an inclusive character, within which, as he stresses, all Bolivians feel represented (interview in Radio “Patria Nueva”, 17-06-07).

1 comment:

The Wolf Reports said...

Is this, or another, of Garcia Linera's, comment surprising? He is, after all, the man who stated:

"The MAS is in no sense seeking to form a socialist government. It is not viable because socialism is built on the basis of a strongly organized working class...Socialism is not constructed on the basis of a family economy, which is what dominates in Bolivia, but on large industry... What is the model for Bolivia? A strong state, and that is capitalism... It isn't even a mixed system...What I do as a Marxist is evaluated the actual potential for the development of society."

Strong state? Capitalism? Of course such a state, such capitalism can only exist, not on the basis of the family economy, but on maintaining the fragmentation of the working class, on promoting the isolation of working class organization from the impoverished, the landless, the unrepresented. Balkanization is the true course for a "strong state," a strong capitalism, carrying on the work demanded by the world markets.

102 years after Results and Prospects, we get "Marxists" arguing that socialism is not viable because of the forms of development/underdevelopment-- and this is presented as "modern," "realistic," viable, and even "nationalist" analysis.

What backwardness.