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(en) Us, Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement (BAAM)* #5 - page 5a - INTERNATIONAL NEWS - A Tale of Two Bolivias by Bill Buddington

Date Fri, 28 Dec 2007 08:46:29 +0200



Bolivia is a country divided in two. In the West lies vast natural gas
resources, the seat of the government at La Paz, and the indigenous majority. In
the East, the white minority and business interests exert power from Santa Cruz.
Until very recently, Bolivia's white rulers maintained a regime of terror and
expropriation of the indigenous. The illusion of peace was maintained by brutal
police forces and repression of union movements. When in 2000, President and
one-time dictator Hugo Banzer privatized the water distribution system in
Bolivia's third largest city of Cochabamba, leaving thousands without access to
clean drinking water, the city exploded in a wave of protest and union activity.
As news about Cochabamba spread, a broader and more cohesive indigenous social
movement began to take form, uniting miners, cocaleros, craft-workers, and
social activists to demand entry into the political arena. In December 2005, Evo
Morales became president of the republic, the first indigenous president in the
nation's history.

Evo Morales and his MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo)
party ran on the ticket of land reform, a rewriting of the constitu-
tion, and a broadening of social programs for the nation's poor. In
a recent interview, vice president Alvaro Garcia Linera described
the land reform project: "If you look at the program put forth by
the poor in Bolivia, it doesn't propose socializing all wealth or
property. What you find is the demand for opportunities, a demand
to take part in the distribution of resources. I haven't seen anyone
who's saying, `We have to take all the land away from the hacen-
dados (large landowners).' They say, `We want to have land too,
we also have a right to have land.'"
Asserting a right to the land has been a central theme of
the Morales government. By September of last year, Morales had
distributed 2,301 titles of state-owned land, and promised to in-
crease that amount to 20 hectares by the end of his term in 2011.
While this may seem like a radical move, it is important to note
that this land is not a product of expropriation from the rich, but
rather a reallocation of what the Morales government has deemed
`unproductive land.' Still, this plan has been met with fierce op-
position from the eastern landowners, who criticize the reform as
hinting at communism.
Rewriting the constitution has been a more difficult task
for the government to institute. Set in the city of Sucre at the site
of an old theater, a new form of political theatrics is taking place.
The Constituent Assembly, the body charged with creating the new
document, has been bitterly divided between representatives of the
rich and those of the poor. Since August 2006, the process has
been impeded day after day by deliberation, bureaucratic obsti-
nacy, and even sometimes physical violence. In addition, rowdy
street mobilizations organized by powerful right-wing Santa Cruz
leaders have disrupted the assembly's work. As a result, represen-
tatives of the assembly have not agreed to one single article.
The right-wing demonstrations have stagnated the as-
sembly so much that on November 24th, an executive order by
Morales moved the assembly to the military barracks of Sucre. At
the barracks, and in spite of opposition within the MAS party, the
"MAS-proposed version of the Constitutional text was approved
`in full.'" Almost instantly, the colonial city became a "battle-
field," where "students and citizen groups went at the police with

http://boston.indymedia.org/usermedia/application/12/BAAM_5_1st_half.pdf
http://boston.indymedia.org/usermedia/application/12/BAAM_5_2nd_Half.pdf
=================================================
* A General Anarchist Union in the Boston Area

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