Morales leads the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), which describes itself as the “political instrument” of the social movements and trade unions. Morales is an indigenous Aymaran and former leader of the cocaleros (coca workers). Popular struggles against neoliberal “free market” policies, which had swept
The “democratic and cultural revolution” articulated by the MAS seeks the “refoundation” of Bolivian society, decimated by decades of neoliberalism; national sovereignty against foreign capitalists who have bled Bolivia’s wealth through their control of its hydrocarbon and other natural resources; and the political involvement of the previously excluded indigenous peoples, who constitute 60% of the country’s 9.2 million inhabitants. Despite having the second largest natural gas reserves in South America (after Venezuela), Bolivia has the continent’s lowest per capita GDP (US$1440 in 2007).
The Morales government is confronted by intransigent resistance from a racist big-business oligarchy, which has no specific political party and no distinctive leader, but dominates a crescent-shaped region known as the “half-moon” — the eastern departments (states) of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija, Cochabamba and more recently Sucre.
One of the strategies of the oligarchy is departmental “autonomy” — independence from the economic and social policies of the central government in
The department of
The Civic Committee Pro-Santa Cruz, an organisation that arose prior to the 1952 nationalist political revolution, represents the regional oligarchy — the big capitalist landowners and the local representatives of the foreign energy corporations, which have their headquarters in
The anti-Morales opposition enjoys political hegemony in the cities of the half-moon. Utilising the corporate media to evoke uncertainty and fear, the oligarchy-run opposition parties have promoted the idea that the “Indianisation” of the Bolivian state will mean that the urban middle classes will be racially discriminated against or their interests ignored — an argument that does not necessarily win them to support the opposition, but does distance them from the government.
The Spanish “discovery” of the “new world” led to the dispossession and enslavement of the Native American peoples. When Spanish colonial rule ended in
Racism today provides a brutal ideological weapon for the anti-Morales opposition. A disturbing example of this occurred on May 25. Morales was scheduled to present ambulances and funds to the city of
The Morales government’s nationalisation of key industries — such as hydrocarbons and the telecommunications network, Entel — and its collaboration with Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez’s working people’s government and socialist Cuba, are causing concern to the US imperialist rulers. Although preoccupied with their faltered attempt to conquer oil-rich
In an article published on the Venezuelanalysis website last September 12, Venezuelan-American writer Eva Golinger observed that “in
Philip Goldberg, the
It is widely expected that Morales and Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera will emerge victorious from the recall referendum. This may partially change the political terrain, electorally legitimising the process of change being led by Morales. However, given a determined opposition with tendencies to resort to extralegal violence and the active support of
Any meaningful change, particularly one that empowers an excluded majority, will inevitably disturb an established order. After August 10, the socio-political tensions may intensify in what is already a volatile situation. Morales has frequently expressed his concern about the prospect of a military coup, which cannot be ruled out. However, it will be those forces that placed Morales in office — indigenous workers, campesinos and the lower middle class — that will be fundamental to resisting and breaking the opposition to Bolivia’s nascently anti-capitalist “democratic and cultural revolution”.
Republished from Direct Action