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(en) Electraz #2 - Discussions with Bolivia's Libertarian Youth - by IBM

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://passionbomb.com/alcatraz/ **)
Date Sat, 19 Oct 2002 05:16:34 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

 As was protocol during the 60s and 70s, years of seemingly
 countless military coups in Latin America, Bolivia.s population
 was subjected to a military dictatorship beginning in 1964, which
 overthrew a leftist government brought to power 12 years earlier.
 The Bolivian population has suffered immensely ever since,
 especially during the years of right-wing repression. The 1982
 elections brought "democracy" to Bolivia, but this did not end the
 repression or the extreme poverty. Wealth is concentrated in the
 hands of a small minority of local and foreign families and
 corporations, and Washington is zealously pressing Bolivia to
 eradicate coca production in its Crusades-inspired "War on

 But resistance abounds as well. Labor unions resisted mightily
 throughout the dictatorship years, and average people have risen
 up against the policies of the state that heavily favor the rich over
 the poor. Juventudes Libertarias, a group of
 anarchist-communists based in La Paz, has risen from a strong
 history of resistance to capitalism in the country, and has
 endeavored to inject anarchist praxis into the social struggles
 happening today. This is a short interview with Guillermo of JL,
 though input from the organization as a whole was given.

 What do you know of the history of anarchists in Bolivia?
 What are the predecessors to Juventudes Libertarias?
 At the end of the 19th century, along with the appearance of the
 first mutual aid associations of workers and artisans, arrived the
 first libertarian ideas that introduced to these groups an anarchist
 analysis. The appearance of the May 1st Workers. Union (Union
 Obrera 1 de Mayo) dates from 1906, in Tupiza (Potos), when it
 declared itself socialist and centered its focus on the mining
 companies. abuses in the southern part of the country. It edited
 the newspaper "La Aurora Social," which frequently cited
 Kropotkin, Bakunin, Reclus and Proudhon. The group probably
 owes itself, because of its geographic location, to the influence of
 the anarchist movement in Argentina.

 The second source of introduction of anarchist ideals in Bolivia
 stems from the forced emigration of more than 4,000 Bolivian
 workers to the salt mines in northern Chile, where a strong
 anarcho-syndicalist movement developed. These workers spread
 out from the mines into the countryside and the cities carrying
 newspapers, books and ideas that changed the ideological
 landscape at the time.

 This process culminated in 1927 with the appearance of the
 Local Workers Federation (FOL) which brought together the five
 most combative, militant unions in La Paz [Bolivia.s capital].
 This experience, with many difficult ups and downs up until
 1956, has a key importance in the history of syndicalism and
 Bolivia.s popular movements because of the imprint left: key in
 the consolidation of an anarcho-syndicalist movement that
 practiced direct democracy, federalism, and unions autonomous
 from parties, states and intellectuals. tutelage. It played an active
 role in the struggle for the eight hour workday, in making manual
 labor dignified and the creation of a work ethic that marked a
 particular characteristic and vision of work carried out by a
 "workers. culture," a libertarian one and, in the end, a separation
 from the Marxist conception of workers.

 Over the years, the FOL.s influence declined within the workers.
 movement. Displaced by the deceptive actions of the Bolshevik
 parties, anarchist groups and even the movement never
 disappeared and, on occasion, succeeded in infusing their

 Juventudes Libertarias was born two years ago, with the majority
 of our members learning and coming from previous libertarian

 What is the image of anarchists in the eyes of the corporate
 media? Here in the US it.s the same: anarchists are
 vagabonds and even "terrorists" that want nothing more
 than to destroy private property, etc. What is the impression
 of the people you come into contact and work with?
 The corporate media accuses anarchists of being violent
 criminals. For them, the word anarchy is synonymous with
 chaos, disorder and looting. The people we work with are
 surprised upon hearing us, and radically change the conception
 of anarchists when they see our horizontal and organized work.

 Talk a bit about the strategy and resistance tactics that JL
 and others in the anti-imperialist movement have used. Have
 there been any "victories?"

 We utilize much propaganda, do flyering, debates, conferences,
 posters, we use simple and sincere words so people join in the
 struggle. Only when we achieve a certain level of consciousness
 can we all take to the streets to confront the government and
 rulers. Social movements in general are used to gaining victories
 when the utilize tactics such as blocking highways, occupying
 factories or taking politicians hostage.

 For you, what does the phrase "diversity of tactics" mean?
 In Bolivia, what is the relationship between the people and
 organizations that believe in nonviolence at any cost and
 those that think they need to defend themselves against the
 violence of the state?

 A: We believe that every tactic has its time and place. In a
 country such as Bolivia, the state is not interested in what form it
 takes, as they fire in the streets without a problem. The people
 that preach nonviolent action in Bolivia have achieved useless
 blood, sweat and tears. For that reason, those people have little
 say and the working class hardly listens to them. The violence of
 workers is not aggression. It.s self-defense. It is the difference
 between living and dying.

 Even in the Bay Area, a place that, for the rest of the US, is
 at times almost communist, there is a high level of apathy,
 the belief that "nothing will happen to me." Even in radical
 communities there doesn.t often exist a sense of urgency, of
 need. This sentiment at least in part comes from the fact that
 we, everyone that lives in the US, are, to some extent, the
 beneficiaries of imperialism. What are your thoughts? Does
 this exist amongst the people you know in Bolivia?

 The propaganda apparatus of capitalist imperialism is very
 powerful, so the majority of North Americans don.t think of the
 anti-capitalist struggle as their own. Nevertheless, no other
 country in the world has so many people in prison, there are
 fewer and fewer labor rights and protections, and the
 government.s control over peoples. privacy is absolute. One
 could cite many more facts, but the important thing is that, as is
 the case with every worker of the world, there they are not
 compensated nearly as much as their work merits, but instead
 they are robbed by bosses in search of wealth. That is the
 essence of capitalism. Destroying it through direct action and
 horizontal organization will allow us a more simple life: a human

 For more information about Juventudes Libertarias and
 anarchism in Bolivia visit them at:

Alcatraz magazine is a publication by radicals in the San Francisco
Bay Area. Our political orientation is towards anarchist communism:
we strive for a society free from all forms of domination, where each
gives according to ability, and each receives according to need.

As anarchist communists, our strategy for transforming society is
the establishment of a dual power situation: creating alternative and
democratic institutions while simultaneously struggling against the
established order. If we ever hope to succeed, anarchist actions
cannot be random and uncoordinated. We should strive for strategic
and tactical unity, and coordination in all anarchists factions and
affinity groups.

As a publication, our goal is to forward the quality and usefulness of
the anarchist press in both our Bay Area community and beyond.
We will assume that our readers are anarchists who expect a level of
political maturity, as well as tactical and tangible information. We do
not seek to constantly reaffirm our audience's ideological commitment
to anarchism.

Alcatraz is not a sectarian project, and we want to work collaboratively
with existing anarchist groups in the Bay Area. Besides a few scattered
websites and mailing lists, there is no existing communication network
for local anarchists. We hope to promote networking and communication
amongst Bay Area anarchist groups.

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