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(en) Bolivian mass organizations form revolutionary council

Date Thu, 16 Jun 2005 10:06:28 +0300


Bolivia’s Mass Organizations—Trade Unions, Peasant Unions, Neighborhood
Councils—Unite to Form Their Own Governing Body El Alto Proclaimed
‘General Headquarters of the Bolivian Revolution of the 21st Century’
The translated document below, containing the decisions made on June
8 at the first enlarged meeting of the National People’s Assembly
Originaria, states that a United Leadership of the Assembly is being formed.
It states that the Assembly and its leadership will be an “INSTRUMENT OF POWER.”
Action committees were formed, including one for self-defense.
The leadership of the Assembly will apparently be made up of the
leaders of the mass organizations, which are as follows:

First of all, this United Leadership includes
FEJUVE (the Federation of Neighborhood Councils of
El Alto), an alliance of more than six hundred
neighborhoods in the working class city of El Alto
(population, one million), whose best-known leader
is Abel Mamani. These neighborhood councils
(juntas vecinales) have existed since the mass
uprising of October 2003, which drove out former
President Gonzalo (“Goni”) Sanchez de Losada.
These neighborhood councils of the working class
and urban poor hold regular mass meetings to
decide democratically on strategy and actions. It
is through these juntas vecinales that the
million-strong population of El Alto has mobilized
persistently in recent weeks to march into nearby
La Paz and occupy that capital city and to carry out an
open-ended political general strike to shut the
country down until the demand for nationalization
of the gas and oil industry is carried out, along with
“industrialization”—that is, harnessing the wealth of
Bolivia’s gas and oil resources to provide jobs and
a decent livelihood to the vast majority of
Bolivians who live in poverty (with incomes of
less than a dollar a day).

Thus, we can see that there is good reason for this
solidly organized working class city of one
million to be proclaimed “general headquarters of
the Bolivian revolution for the twenty-first
century.” (Whether consciously or not, this
proclamation echoes the call of President Hugo
Chavez in Venezuela for a “socialism of the
twenty-first century.”)

Second, there is the Regional Workers Federation of
El Alto (Central Obrero Regional de El Alto,
or COR-El Alto). This federation of trade union
organizations of El Alto is undoubtedly
intertwined with and probably has overlapping
membership with the mass base in FEJUVE.

The most prominent leader of COR-El Alto is Roberto
de la Cruz. On May 17 at an Enlarged Plenum
of the El Alto Regional Workers’ Union (COR) the
decision was made to begin an indefinite general
strike in El Alto to enforce the demand for the
nationalization of hydrocarbons. It was reported
that the sentiment at the COR Enlarged Plenum was
that for the struggle to be victorious, “the
bourgeois parliament had to be closed down.” The
same sentiments prevailed among the neighborhood
councils of FEJUVE.

Third is the Central Obrero Boliviano (COB), the
nationwide trade union organization. Its leader
Jaime Solares stated at the COB national enlarged
meeting in El Alto (June 6 or 7): “There will
be no peace in Bolivia as long as the hydrocarbons
are not nationalized. We cannot give in on
the struggle for nationalization. This is a life or
death matter. We cannot retreat.”

Fourth is the United Trade Union Confederation of
Peasant Workers of Bolivia (CSUTCB). This is
the peasant union federation mainly of the
altiplano (or highlands region) adjacent to El Alto
and surrounding La Paz. This region is populated
mostly by the indigenous Aymara and Quechua
peoples, and it is these indigenous peoples who
constitute most of the population of El Alto and
the membership of the trade unions as well as the
peasant unions. They are also the majority of
Bolivia’s population. And so there is a national
tie (of the indigenous peoples) that also binds
together the unions, the neighborhood councils, and
the peasant organizations. This is reflected
in the rainbow flag of the indigenous people that
has appeared widely in the mass demonstrations
that have shut Bolivia down in the past few weeks.

Fifth is the Trade Union Confederation of Artisan
Workers and Small Traders of Bolivia. These are
the urban peddlers and the poor who eke out a
livelihood from the informal economy. It is a great
advance that they are organized in their own
federation and are associated as
semi-proletarian allies of the Bolivian working
class, for otherwise they could provide a social
base for fascist movements. The demands of the
workers movement (nationalization of gas and oil)
provide hope for a better life for these sectors
of the population as well. (There is also an
organization of the unemployed workers.)

Sixth is the Trade Union Federation of Mine Workers
of Bolivia. The mine workers were formerly
the most powerful force in the Bolivian workers
movement. Although the miners’ organization is
less powerful today, with the decline of the
mining industry and its privatization, the miners
are still a force to be reckoned with. It is the
dynamite sticks of the miners that are most
feared by the police and troops who haveconfronted
the demonstrations of the Bolivian working class
majority in recent weeks.

Brother Zubieta, head of the mine workers, declared
at the mass public meeting (cabildo abierto)
in La Paz on June 6: “All the social
organizations of the people—we are going to
proclaim a massive people’s assembly and forge
a new government to solve the power vacuum. The oil
companies want another clown in government to
defend their interests, but we will make a new
government of the people arising today from a
Popular Assembly, with the aim of nationalizing
the hydrocarbons.”

Also in the leadership of the People’s Assembly is
the Interprovincial Transport Federation of La
Paz, the organization of workers employed in the
transportation industry.

The document adopted by the People’s Assembly also
mentions “the other mobilized social
organizations of the interior of the country.”

It is not clear whether the formulation “mobilized
social organizations of the interior of the
country” includes the coca-growers’
organizations, which are the base of the MAS, the
Movimiento al Socialismo. Among the prominent
leaders of the MAS political party are of course
Evo Morales and Roberto Loayza, elected members
of the Bolivian bicameral legislative body, whose
dissolution the mass movements are demanding.
Under pressure from the mass radicalization, which
also affects the members of the coca-growers’
organizations, Loayza especially, but also Morales,
have recently taken more radical positions.
At first Morales refused to support the demand of
most mass organizations for nationalization of
the gas and oil industry.

In the last two days, the forces represented by
Morales and Loayza played a key role in direct
mass action that successfully blocked an attempt
by right-wing Senate leader Vaca Diez to take
over the presidency. Vaca Diez moved the June 9
session of the Bolivian parliament to the
historic capital of Sucre, hundreds of miles away
from La Paz. The mobilized mass movements,
however, followed the bourgeois parliamentarians
and stalemated them in Sucre. Agence France
Presse reported the following on June 8:
“According to the leader of the powerful One Union
Confederation of Bolivia Farm Workers, Roman
Loayza, who is close to Morales, some 2,000 Quechua
campesinos have left from the neighboring state of
Cochabamba [heading] toward Sucre.”

The next day Vaca Diez was blamed for the death of
a mine workers’ leader, shot by police special
forces as a miners’ contingent was approaching
Sucre on June 9. The special police detachment was
reportedly ordered by Vaca Diez to prevent
protesters from entering Sucre. This police murder
rebounded against Vaca Diez, and he withdrew
himself from the presidential succession, to be
replaced by the head of Bolivia’s Supreme Court,
who under the constitution must call elections
within three months.

The document below calls for Popular Assemblies to
be formed in all departments of Bolivia. This
is most significant. The rise of such bodies
throughout the country could form the basis for a
workers and peasants government exercising power
through popular mass organizations that would
be similar to the workers, peasants, and soldiers
councils (Soviets) of the Russian revolutions
of 1905 and 1917.

**** ****

Bolivian People’s Assembly launched

A step towards workers’ power

We publish here a translation of the resolution
launching the People’s Assembly passed yesterday
in El Alto (Bolivia) at a meeting of about 150
people representing 60 different organizations.
The meaning of this cannot be underestimated. It
is a first step towards the creation of an
organization of workers’ power.

According to one report, workers from the Senkhata
gas and fuel plant which supplies La Paz and
who are on strike were also present. It was agreed
that supplies to working class neighborhoods
in La Paz and El Alto would be permitted, but the
lorries would be guarded by representatives of
the workers and of the Neighborhood Juntas to
make sure they are not sent to the wealthy
neighborhoods or used for speculative purposes.

---

The First Enlarged Meeting of the National Originaria* People’s
Assembly of Bolivia
The transnational oil corporations, North American
imperialism, and the treacherous rulers of the
Bolivian state have plunged the whole nation into
a deep political, economic, and social crisis,
with the country currently on the verge of total
collapse. The aroused masses in the city of El
Alto and throughout the country have a decisive
role to play; to save the country through a
people’s government elected from below and with
real accountability.

For this reason, the first enlarged meeting of the
Originaria National People’s Assembly takes
the following decisions:

1) That the city of El Alto be the General Headquarters
of the Bolivian Revolution in the XXI century.

2) To create a United Leadership of the Originaria*
National Peoples’ Assembly as an INSTRUMENT OF
POWER, at the head of the Federation of Neighborhood
Juntas of El Alto (FEJUVE), the Regional
Workers’ Union of El Alto (COR), the Bolivian
Workers’ Union (COB), the United Trade Union
Confederation of Peasant Workers of Bolivia
(CSUTCB), the Trade Union Confederation of Artisan
Workers, Small Traders of Bolivia, the Trade Union
Federation of Mine Workers of Bolivia, the
Interprovincial Transport Federation of La Paz,
and the other mobilized social organizations in
the interior of the country.

3) To create SUPPLY, SELF-DEFENSE, PRESS, AND
POLITICAL Committees whose aim is to guarantee the
success of the organized peoples’ organizations.

4) We reiterate that our struggle for the NATIONALIZATION AND
INDUSTRIALIZATION OF HYDROCARBONS is non-negotiable.

5) To organize the formation of Peoples’ Assemblies
in every department under the leadership of
the COB, the Departmental Workers’ Federations,
and the delegates elected from the rank and file
in mass meetings and cabildos.

6) To reject all maneuvers of the ruling class either through a
constitutional succession or elections involving
the same old “politicians.”

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