On May 3, Bolivian President Evo Morales issued the following statement in response to a declaration by Bolivia's key business federations attacking his government's policies.
Yesterday, Bolivians were able to read in the newspapers a declaration signed by the heads of the private business owners' confederation of seven regions of Bolivia. It is evident that we have in front of us a political manifesto that assumes as its own the discourse of the [right-wing] Podemos party, and makes a clear defence of an economic model that is archaic, anti-national and was defeated by the Bolivian people.
1. The declaration refers to the current process of change as an "ideological adventure", as the signatory organisations hypocritically raise a false nationalism in order to oppose the nationalisation of the economy and of the Bolivian state being carried out by our government.
2. The declaration forgets that the economic policies of this government — which in four months has done more in favour of Bolivians than the 20 years of neoliberalism — were supported with 54% of the votes; a result never before achieved by any democratic government in Bolivia. And, since that date, the popular government of MAS [the Movement Towards Socialism] has not parted one iota from its electoral program that it proposed to Bolivians. That is why today, according to the polls, more than 80% of Bolivians from the countryside and the cities express their approval of our term.
3. It is an attempt to confuse the people, saying that we do not have an economic program. But in these four months we have been working on the reconstruction of a strong and dynamic public sector, on the construction of basic infrastructure oriented towards regional, social, and economic development, on the industrialisation of our natural resources and on the promotion of indigenous and communitarian economies. That will also benefit the patriotic and honest business owners, removed from those bought-off and anti-national business elites.
4. Why did these bosses' organisations not speak out when Bolivia was leading all of the international records for corruption, when the state was a booty at the service of the most "clever", when business success did not depend on enterprising will and productive capacity, but rather on friendships with the key figures of political power? Why is it that today 72% of employment is created by micro and small businesses and not by the leaders of these organisations that are refusing to accept that the festival for the business owners who feed off the public treasury, protected by political godfathers, has finished?
5. In their story about defending institutionalism and democracy, these business heads defend the institutions captured by transnational interests and military figures that handed over strategic armament to a foreign power. Those who vouch for those who handed over the Bolivian anti-aircraft missiles [former president Eduardo Rodriguez did under the direction of the US so prior to Morales taking power] and disarmed our armed forces are traitors to the homeland. That is why they also defend foreign businesses that pretend to "invest" in the country, violating the laws and the political constitution of the state. For that same reason they reject the nationalisation of hydrocarbons, which scores of poor Bolivians died for.
6. It is said that Bolivia has become dependent on Cuba and Venezuela. When did these business organisations raise their voices against imperial ambassadors that acted as viceroys, undermining our sovereignty and trampling on the dignity of the Bolivians? Today there is no subordination, but rather trade and cooperation agreements within the framework of national independence, without conditions as occurred before, and which benefit the popular majorities who have been traditionally discriminated against and excluded.
7. It is also mentioned that Bolivian soldiers sing the anthems of other countries, which is part of the protocol when dignitaries of friendly nations visit. When did these same organisations protest about the complete subordination of our soldiers to the mandates of those in uniforms of a foreign power? When did they raise their voice to oppose the entry of soldiers in order to massacre and humiliate indigenous peoples and peasants in the name of the fight against drug trafficking, terrorism and 'zero coca'? The difference is that today, the external cooperation is to save lives and not for the mistreatment of our fellow patriots.
8. They say that Bolivia is isolated. But more than isolated, today the international community — for the first time in our history — looks at Bolivia as a country that demands respect, that has left behind being a no-man's land in order to belong to all Bolivians who work, produce and are capable of participating in this process of rebirth of our homeland.
9. Our government works and will continue to work with patriotic, dignified and honest business owners who are committed to Bolivia.
10. The memories of the past that Bolivians decided to leave behind on December 18 [the day Morales was elected president] are too fresh for us to forget so easily the difference between those who defend the nation and those who have sold it off with impunity.
From Green Left Weekly, June 14, 2006.
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