Darrall Cozens in
12 December 2007
Today "my people", the pensioners, were on the streets. They blocked one of the major crossroads, Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz and Calle Ayacucho, near the centre of
Why should about 200 men aged 50 and over block one of the main arteries of the city? Victor Castro, President of the National Committee of Pensioners, an organisation that is active in all geographical departments of
The government says that that interpretation of the code is correct, but has refused to pay back the 8% for each year. In response the pensioners took to the streets in September and October of this year. They then went on a 9-day hunger strike. The Minister of Finance and the MAS deputies in the Constituent Assembly promised talks if the pensioners called off the hunger strike.
The pensioners agreed and talks started but very little progress was made. Eventually the pensioners asked the civil servants they were negotiating with to sign an agreement. The bureaucrats stated that they did not have the power to do so. Eventually the pensioners agreed to meet the Minister of Finance but he kept on postponing the meeting. The pensioners now began to feel as if they were being made a joke of.
So now they are back on the streets and will stay there until Friday. If no progress is made, they will begin the hunger strike again next Monday. Some 21,000 pensioners across
While this protest was going on, just
A few days ago, on Monday, the women stall holders outside San Francisco cathedral had blocked all entrances to the cathedral and were facing up to the riot police in a bid to get their contracts renewed so that they could carry on selling. The same day saw a march up
Whilst all of this is going on the country is falling apart. Last night I was discussing with a MAS deputy from
The Constituent Assembly (CA) here has just finished ratifying a new constitution that will be put to the electorate in a referendum at some time around April next year. The vote will be in two parts: one vote will be on the statutes in the constitution and the other will be on the government proposal to limit landholdings that are unproductive to
You can imagine the furore that this has created amongst the bourgeoisie. They are trying to prevent a referendum taking place on the basis that the way the CA approved the draft constitution was illegal. If the referendum does take place, and the constitution is approved, the bourgeoisie in the
The oligarchy, with the help of imperialism, have skilfully used issues like the capital city status for
In these conditions the strategy of the Morales government seems to be based on making more concessions (for instance including the issue of autonomy in the proposed constitution) and appeals for negotiation, combined with putting the different issues to a vote in a referendum "in order to gain democratic legitimacy".
The crux however is that at this juncture the opposition could win. There have been no plans drawn up to ensure a MAS victory. Most of the MAS deputies are relying on the personal authority of Morales. Just as in
Furthermore, the oligarchy will not be impressed by any democratic vote in a referendum. In Venezuela the Bolivarian movement has achieved plenty of democratic victories in elections and referenda and this has not stopped the ruling class and imperialism from using extra parliamentary undemocratic means (rioting, sabotage of the economy, a military coup) to try to overthrow the democratically elected government of president Chávez. In
Let me give a practical example. It gets cold here at night at
The lady explained that she and many others could not read nor write, so any kind of political "socialisation" (the term used here to sell the new constitution) would have to take place at a level that people can understand - verbal, pictures, DVD, etc and that would mean that all the grassroots organisations of the MAS would have to be mobilised to go out and win others to the vote. For Morales to win and take the movement forward, his supporters have to be convinced of the benefits of the changed laws so that they will turn out and vote. They cannot be taken for granted. Look at what happened in
It is said that 8,000 soldiers have been mobilised to move on
Republished from Marxist.com