Federico Fuentes

Not for the first time in recent years, politics in Bolivia has spilled out of the official institutions and onto the streets. With the constituent assembly entering into its decisive phase — less than two months from its official deadline to draft a new constitution to present to the people in a referendum — Raul Prada, a delegate from the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS, the party of Bolivia’s indigenous president, Evo Morales), told La Razon on June 18: “it has become sufficiently clear that the issues this assembly is dealing with will not be resolved only inside the assembly, but rather outside”.
The breaking of a six-month deadlock in Bolivia’s constituent assembly has paved the way for the opening of an intense debate on the future of this politically polarised country nestled in the heart of South America. Beginning to lose the battle within the halls of the assembly, the right-wing opposition has threaten to take the fight onto the streets, announcing that it may reject any new constitution that emerges out of the body.
The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia
By Benjamin Dangl
A K Press, 2007
US$15.95
Under the banner of “For freedom of speech and against imperialism”, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas on June 2 in defence of their revolution, and as a direct response to the domestic and international campaign being whipped up by Washington in the wake of the non-renewal of Radio Caracas TV’s (RCTV) broadcasting concession, dwarfing all of the opposition marches that had occurred in preceding days. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced: “If the Venezuelan oligarchy believe that they will stop us with their threats, with their manipulations or with their destabilisation plans, forget it!”
Returning once again to Venezuela — having last spent four months here in 2005 — I recalled a refrain that had been constantly repeated by Venezuelans: “After we re-elect Chavez in 2006, the real revolution will begin.” It took very little time for me to realise exactly what they meant.
Launching the second phase of La Otra Campana (The Other Campaign) on March 25, Subcomandante Marcos, the best-known spokesperson for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), denounced “the current stage of capitalism” as a “new war of conquest”. He argued that “another world is possible, but only on top of the corpse of capitalism, the dominant system”.
For the fourth time during his 14-month government, Bolivian President Evo Morales swore in a new president to run state petroleum company YPFB on March 23. This followed the eruption of a scandal that has cast doubts on the government’s most popular measure to date — the nationalisation of the country’s gas resources.
Shortly before leaving to inspect what was once viewed as the US’s backyard, US President George Bush told a March 5 event organised by the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, “I want to talk about [an] important priority for our country, and that is helping our neighbours to the south of us build a better and productive life”. Explaining that he was embarking on a trip to Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico, Bush said: “These are countries that are part of a region that has made great strides toward freedom and prosperity. They’ve raised up new democracies, They’ve enhanced and undertaken fiscal policies that bring stability.
Commenting on the natural disaster that has left large swathes of Bolivia’s lowland east underwater after months of flooding, and much of the Andean region covered in ice, in late February Bolivian President Evo Morales called for a global debate on the effects of climate change and environmental destruction on poor nations.
Walter Chavez, an adviser to Bolivian president Evo Morales, has found himself in the centre of a well-orchestrated corporate media campaign aimed at delegitimising the Morales government internationally by linking it to “terrorist” groups. This accusation comes only a week after attempts by the Spanish media to link Morales’s party — the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) — with the Basque separatist group ETA.
On January 8, Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez swore in his new cabinet, including five new members, calling upon them to take an oath that they would “never rest arm or soul in the construction of the Venezuelan path towards socialism”. One the ministers sworn in was Hector Navarro, previously higher education minister and now Venezuela’s minister of science and technology.
On January 22, 2002, then Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) senator Evo Morales was expelled from parliament, accused of being a “narco-terrorist”. Exactly five years later, as the nation’s first indigenous president, Morales gave his first annual report to parliament. This time it was not Morales who exited prematurely.
A chain of events triggered by the passage of a new agrarian reform law, part of the “agrarian revolution” of indigenous President Evo Morales, has brought into sharp relief the drive by the right-wing opposition to overthrow Morales’s government, even if it means pushing Bolivia towards a civil war.
In April 2000, the people of Cochabamba captured the imagination of anti-corporate campaigners the world over. Only months after the US transnational Bechtel took control of the regions water supply — forcing citizens to pay for rainwater they collected — the people of Cochabamba, organised through the Coalition in Defence of Water and Life, rose up and booted out the corporation.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on September 19, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, said that previous Bolivian governments had “massacred people that struggled for their economic demands, for their natural resources” and that “perpetrators of genocide, corrupt criminals, escape in order to live in the United States”.

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