Morales vs Bolivia’s opposition: the proletariat always loses

Morales dances with indigenous women

Bolivian anarchists on politics in the state as Morales tried to change the constitution in 2008, much to the consternation of the local landed gentry.

Submitted by Rob Ray on January 26, 2009

Bolivia has once again been thrust into the public eye by the latest in a series of political convulsions as the right and left wings of capital clash in this South American country.

This time, violent right-wing groups are opposing the regime of president Evo Morales, backed and funded by a broad sector of the Bolivian bourgeoisie who disagree with Morales about how to manage capitalism in that country and therefore seek power, or at least, a devolving of power to the regions they control.

The actions of these right-wing and fascistic organisations have already claimed the lives of more than 30 peasants who were attacked with firearms while en route to a political demonstration in support of Evo Morales. These same right-wing groups have also attacked the offices of media and social organisations allied to Morales.

But what is behind all this conflict?

Last August Morales won a referendum on whether he should remain in the presidency. Following this victory, Morales called for an inquiry to be held in December to ratify the new constitution, adopted just last year and representing in it the whole program of his government.

The new constitution, like the last, is an integrated defence of capitalism, namely the private property of class society. The world of exploitation and merchandise is in no way threatened, and neither are the privileges of class from the Bolivian bourgeoisie. It will continue to maintain the exploiters in their dominance over Bolivians - but then, why are there so many problems?

The Bolivian elite are well aware that their system of domination will not be touched and that Morales has no intention of doing so, however, he does defend certain points which are making the rural bourgeoisie very uncomfortable, for example, in December a law will be debated "against the large estates", which aims to reduce the amount of land individuals can own from 10,000 hectares to 5,000.

In addition, departments like Santa Cruz, dominated by the rightist opposition, are claiming the right to receive part of the HDI (Tax of Hydrocarbons) which is currently managed by central government.
The new constitution also allows for the indefinite re-election of Morales and this, of course, is not something that pleases his political opponents.

But the explanation of the conflict can not simply be reduced to the struggles of both parties (government and opposition) on a national level, this same confrontation goes beyond the borders of Bolivia and affects various interests of imperialists worldwide.

According to Morales, his government has evidence which shows the Bolivian right has received strong financial support from the US, which is suspicious of the friendship between leftist Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and Morales. It thinks of the Bolivian president as an inconveniently-placed piece in the Latin American political chessboard.

Indeed Morales is an ally of Chavez, who in turn has been establishing a strong commercial and political relationship with Russia, which has woven a strong rivalry with the United States. Through its relationship with Venezuela a marker has been put in the back-yard of the US as it supplies high-powered weapons to the state.

Evo Morales and the rightist opposition: Enemies of the proletariat alike
The actions of the opposition groups have made it quite clear they are ultra-reactionary and completely contrary to the interests of the exploited Bolivian masses. They have inflicted terror on indigenous peasants who were massacred in departments of Pando, where these groups have operated with funding from the local bourgeoisie and the US, and with the benefit of Leopoldo Fernandez, prefect of the department, who has been blaming it on their opponents.

But if it is obvious that the right has a pernicious and anti-proletarian character, the left that now governs in Bolivia still does so on behalf of the bourgeoisie.

The left of capital worldwide has put out a call to "defend democracy" in Bolivia, namely to defend the Bolivian state and its government, as if the government, unlike the right, is not an enemy of the working class in Bolivia.

These defenders of the government of Morales seem to forget that just last August, five people were killed by police bullets. Two of these were miners at a union mobilisation which demanded a better pension system, after the mobilisation was violently repressed on the direct orders of the government. Before this, a previous miners’ strike had also been severely repressed and facilities in the mine militarised.

The bourgeoisie itself right across the continent has recognised the good work of Morales as a defender of the capitalist system. At a meeting held just a few days after this crisis, in the city of Santiago in Chile, all the presidents of the UNASUR (South American Union of Nations), agreed to support the regime and Morales spoke in defence of bourgeois democracy in Bolivia.
That all other capitalist governments give support to Morales, whose government has ongoing trade relations with the bourgeoisie of these countries, is a clear sign they know he is no threat to capitalism.

Clearly they believe Morales is the right man to manage these business interests – though it is likely they would understand and sympathise with the motives of the Bolivian right if it succeeded in overthrowing him.

The bourgeoisie and nearby states, in order to keep a foot in the system of profit and the dictatorship of capital gains, are able to look beyond their individual inclinations toward right or left.
No-one has spoken out more strongly in support of Evo Morales than Hugo Chávez, who knows Morales is one of his allies in Latin America for the project of a "Socialism of the Twenty-first Century" - which is nothing more than the same capitalist system with greater state intervention in economic participation and regulation. It's the old semi-statist capitalist model with new names submitted by bourgeois nationalists like Chavez and Morales.

Evo Morales and his vice president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, have stated that their project is not designed to eliminate capitalism, but rather, to create an "Andean capitalism", in other words: exploitation of the proletariat, class domination and inequality, but "Andean".

Our view
It is urgent and vital that the exploited class assert their independence against all sides of the bourgeoisie.

As we have said almost from the outset, this inter-bourgeois fighting on resources and taxes, along with the struggle for territorial control within the Bolivian State and these two different visions of how to manage capitalism, is largely a way of pushing Morales into acceding to some of their requests.
This becomes clear when after which saw dozens of deaths on the left, the government has seen the need to sit down to talk with the opposition.

From this dialogue the Bolivian working class can not expect anything good, it is simply a negotiation between two warring sides that have nothing to do with the class interests of workers. The Bolivian working class has shown a great fighting spirit in recent years and an enthusiasm to fight to change their reality, after years of being held down in ferocious misery.

But the great weakness of the Bolivian workers has been its inability to check the nationalist bourgeoisie, with the exploited being dragged in time and time again to defend bourgeois causes, such as estatizaciones or electorally supporting Evo Morales, and now “their” government.
This proletarian combativeness must be unleashed on an autonomous basis, fighting the right fascists and the bourgeois nationalist regime of Evo Morales alike.

The explosion and the spirit of struggle of the Bolivian workers will acquire a great revolutionary potential only to the extent that these ingredients are combined with autonomy. Without it, that fighting will only continue to be used to launch the proletarians as cannon fodder by one capitalist side or another.

It is necessary that this autonomy also includes a break with the COB, the central trade union organization which for years has talked "radical" and which now leads the Bolivian workers into an alliance with the government.

On September 17 the COB signed an "agreement for the defence of democracy, unity and integrity of the country" with Morales, in order to drag the proletariat into defending "Andean capitalism", and the typical nationalistic poison that characterises it.

This arrangement is called to "defend the unity of the motherland", it welcomes the "revolutionary process" of "our brother Evo Morales to build a new homeland". All this comes through "a new Constitution of the State".

For this reason we emphasise the need for the construction of an independent movement of workers (Indians, mestizos and whites alike), to take into their own hands their struggles against these exploiters and which, in view of the violent actions of the right, also self-organise legitimate self-defence classes to counter both the paramilitaries and the forces of the state ‘left’.

Bolivian Libertarian Socialist group