Bolivia: The democracy of the privileged besieged by participatory democracy

Jubenal Quispe, September 5, 2007

Democracy in danger! A totalitarian regime is upon us! We must defend democracy! These and many other trite slogans are recited mechanically by the feudal “lords” of the traditional political machines in Bolivia. Do they think Bolivians are still the imbeciles of yesterday? Maybe Athena (the goddess of the intelligentsia), as a punishment, has paralyzed their minds and sterilized their discursive creativity! After all, the damage they are doing to Bolivia is bereft of divine mercy.

We are told that there is no democracy, when Bolivian participatory democracy is in fine health. We are told that totalitarianism is rampant, when the totalitarianism of the neoliberal minorities was routed at the ballot boxes. We are told to defend their corrupt representative democracy, when what we have to promote is our inclusive participatory democracy.

If truth be told what is endangered is the democracy that crowned Bolivia as a world champion in corruption, that turned its politics into a fine art of theft and plunder of natural resources. That democracy is at death’s door, in intensive care, mourned by its promoters and beneficiaries as they begin to lose their privileges and can no longer hide the stench of human blood that pervades their ill-gotten wealth.

For them, democracy means being in the Government. Now, deprived of their faithful financial servants and state infirmaries for their businesses, it follows that their democracy is in danger. When the landlords are expelled from the ministries of agriculture and development, and when their democratic banquet comes to an end, they beseech the angels with mechanical chants of “Democracy yes, Dictatorship no!”

Branco, Manfred and Oscar are nervous

Branco Marinkovic is nervous because he is dogged by the harshness of the Law. Will he be able to demonstrate the legality of the 27,000 hectares of land that he holds in Guarayos? He knows that his peons in the civic committees of the “half moon”, including the workers of the Prefecture of Cochabamba, the City Hall and the St. Francis Xavier university of Sucre, are not a sufficient shield to protect him from the Law. That’s why he has decided, in fact, to convert the civic committees into the counter-revolutionary political party in Bolivia.

Manfred Reyes Villa is very nervous too. How will the captain be able to demonstrate, under the Law, the “legality” of his economic inheritance, valued at many millions, when the Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz Law[1] comes into force? If García Meza and Gonzalo Sánchez had had the opportunity to overthrow Evo Morales, Manfred would have allied with his former partners. But for now he is simply clamouring desperately for the resignation of the President. They say that the anti-corruption fight is to the corrupt and immoral ones what holy water is to the peons of Lucifer.

Oscar Zurita, president of the non-existent Civic Committee of Cochabamba, suffers the same chronic paranoia. Zurita knows that the nationalization of ELFEC [Empresa de Luz y Fuerza Eléctrica de Cochabamba] is inevitable. As inevitable as his losing the 18% of the shares that are “his” in this electrical power company.

What is the Government waiting for in order to act?

The democracy of the privileged minorities collapsed with the emergence of the excluded majorities. The democratic banquet of the rich has been disrupted by the militant engagement of the hungry. The peace for the rich is threatened by the hunger for bread of the impoverished. The democracy of capital is being cleansed through the legitimate cultural and ethnic pluralism that is budding throughout the country. The “democratic” tyranny of the savage hordes of the urban civic committees has been unmasked by the active and persevering non-violent mysticism of the social and indigenous movements. The democracy of the privileged is collapsing like a house of cards while its promoters and beneficiaries are sucked into the whirlpool of existential desperation.

When they asked for autonomy in order to halt the process of the Constituent Assembly, they were given an overdose of autonomies. They demanded a two-thirds majority, which was conceded to them. Last January, they set Cochabamba alight with the fratricidal confrontation that cost four lives (whose souls await them in the beyond) and they boast about their impunity. They used a sector of the people of Sucre as cannon fodder and useful idiots in order to carry out crimes, and there is no state that dares lay a hand on them. They kick, beat, rob and kill the poor and there is no state authority to be seen. They demand dialogue and, when they are convoked, they don’t come. Could it be that their eyes are blinded by the light of truth?

What is the central government waiting for in order to exercise the monopoly of force confered on it by law? Are they waiting for the country to be divided into two, as the mayor of Santa Cruz clearly proclaimed, before acting with a firm hand? Or is it that the lying media dictatorship, in “defence of (corrupt) democracy”, has also had its desired effect on the central government?

Jubenal Quispe is a journalist and activist with the Tribuna Boliviana cyberforum.

Translated by Richard Fidler


[1] Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz was a Socialist party candidate for president of Bolivia, and a Congressman representing Cochabamba, when he was kidnapped and murdered in 1980 by the dictatorship of Luis Garcia Meza. The Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz law, a MAS government bill, calls for increased governmental transparency and investigations in the fortunes of past and present public officials. The bill, officially entitled the “Struggle against Corruption, Illegal Enrichment and Fortune Investigation”, also establishes a National Commission to investigate crimes. – Translator

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