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From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 19 Oct 2003 21:28:09 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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Here you’ll find the position of «Quilombo Libertario» on the people’s
insurrection here in Bolivia.
The recent events in Bolivia have to be viewed in context of the emergence
of new social actors: indigenous uprisings, the small traders many in
running their own business, often in the informal sector of the economy,
the farmers be they coca farmers or not, are the new living forces.
During the Anarchist Meeting in Porto Alegre, 2001, we had analysed and
give examples of, the fact that in the closest years the social conflicts
in Bolivia would somehow have to do with the clash of interests between the
indigenous and peasants interests and those of the gas concessions.

This moment is arrived, although there is not the needed and desired
strength building, there is nonetheless processes that are unfolding.

The events were triggered by a series of local conflicts in different
regions of the country; the spark arose from a hunger strike and protest
from the indigenous from the high lands, who demanded the freedom for a
detained leader, while in other parts of the country, different conflicts
were going on.
The arrogance and criminality from the government was such that – while the
indigenous leader was freed and the indigenous demonstrators from western
Bolivia were about to withdraw- it gave the order to the army to get in the
Warisata community, without mercy, provoking a massacre.
It is noteworthy that the Warisata are a community with an extraordinary
tradition in self-management who had began a self-managed education program
back in the 30ies.

>From this moment on, inevitably, the forms of protest became harsher and
more massive and in geometrical progression.

It’s curious to remark that this arrives while the indigenous leaders from
this high plateau region were having their leadership questioned (both
Mallku and his opponent Loayza), because of negotiations about the payment
of electricity in the communities, and other suspicions of corrupt
Something similar was occurring with the ‘cocalero’ leader, Evo Morales,
who was in real risk to loose the leadership of the hermetic peasants
federations of the Chapare (his ‘Bunker’), that began no longer acknowledge
his leading role from the moment he yielded to the “castro-chavism”, which
launched a political campaign in South America.
One month ago, Morales was able to avoid that his party (MAS) suffers a
split between the indigenous sectors who accepted to enter in it and the
high ranking hierarchy of peasant leaders from the same party, a split
which is still at risk, it is only in waiting.

In fact, the indigenous MAS parliament members had announced the division
of the party and their return to the indigenous bases.

Among this confusion, the Warisata massacre, in the middle of the Aymara
plateau (the coca growing farmers almost didn’t participate in these
uprisings), has given oxygen to the above mentioned leaders and both were
able regain political prestige, to the eyes of public opinion.

The situation has become really uncomfortable to the political parties,
given the fact that the streets were full the whole of social sectors and
not only groups, institutions, etc.

This was used for his own benefit by the leader of the once powerful
COB (Bolivian Workers Confederation) who made an appeal to all the sectors
when those – including the miner workers carrying dynamite batons- had
already decided to mobilise themselves in solidarity with the victims and
demanding the destitution of the president Lozada.

This has shown clearly that the bases had gone beyond their leaders. For
the moment being, they have put an halt to their particular demands and
only put forward two general ones:

In this instance, the city of El Alto (were our comrades have a militant
and active presence), 1000 metres above La Paz, began a march and uprising,
demanding the destitution and suffered a massacre (Sunday).

>From that point on, the conflict was general, with hunger strikes launched
by sectors of the middle-classes, from the clergy, the employees and the
students, forming strike supporting groups all around the country (at the
moment more than 150), evoking 1978, when miners wives started a hunger
strike which became general and ended with the fall of the dictator Banzer.

To this one must add the 34th anniversary of the second petrol and gas
nationalization which belonged to Gulf Oil (the first one was in July
1937, against the Standard Oil, after the Chaco war), in a fight leaded by
one of the most admired social activists in Bolivia:
Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, murdered during the García Mesa coup.

With 70% of the population demonstrating in the streets, one can only
nonetheless speak of an authentic people’s rebellion with insurrectional
character without having a social project, and not able to build one, in a
true revolution.

>From their side, the political opposition and their re-oxygenated leaders
have regained the offensive, with their holy trinity demands:
Constituent Assembly
Referendum on gas
Changes in the Petrol and Gas Bill

Concerning these points our position as anarchists is the following:
- In spite of our differences with their leaders, we have adopted the
principle of the MAXIMUM CONSENSUS with all the social and political forces
from the people’s and opposition side.

- To accept the Constituent Assembly, but grounded in a model of the COB
from the times of its foundation, horizontal and grass-roots participation,
where all the citizens sectors have their say.

This should be an useful space for strength building from the social
forces; to get political experience; knowledge and learning of the present
day productive processes; for taking sides and for debating in pluralism
within the national, regional and international aims; this with the goal of
developing in practice the self-management procedures upon the economy and
the natural resources.

Nevertheless, it is not the first experience of this kind that the Bolivian
people had, and there is the possibility that this Constituent Assembly
becomes a very conflictive space, like in 1971, when the reactionaries and
bosses blocked all the initiatives, so the Constituent Assembly can become
a frustrating process and yielding totalitarian or dictatorial adventures.

Concerning the referendum on the gas issue, it will have a solely political
character, because:

- One must continue to develop the conscience in various segments of the
population, to avoid that to “nationalise” the gas becomes the same as to
“State property and management” of it.

- Self-management of the Natural Resources: the gas and all other resources
must be self-managed, allowing the participation of all the parts of the
population in the general definition of the policies, and establishing the
priorities from which the indigenous communities will benefit, who have
their ancestral territories where those resources are.

We think it is important to create a communication network from and for the
people (like, in the past, the radios of the miners, which were managed by
our comrade Líber Forti) that is able to inform in useful time, supporting
people’s education initiatives and creating the conditions for public
discussions and debates.

Concerning the Petrol and Gas Bill, there is no doubt it is made to benefit
the petrol corporations (and to give subsidies to the great ranch owners)
and disregards the ownership from the indigenous people and their
territories, and therefore, instead of modified, it should be abolished and
a new one built by consensus which is respectful of the above mentioned

While we write this report, Lozada is writing his resignation letter, and
meanwhile in La Paz 100.000 people debate how one can go ahead, in a sort
of open assembly.


Quilombo Libertario
From: "Sergio Serrate" <quilombolibertario-A-hotmail.com>

[* translator’s note: the text was written some hours before the former
president Lozada resigned. But the contents are substantially as
interesting now as then]

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