Bolivia

We wish to express to our Bolivian brothers and sisters that their courageous stand is a source of great inspiration to the workers, peasants, students and youth of the world. Therefore we are appealing to all our readers to send a clear message of support to the Bolivian people. Raise the question of the Bolivian Revolution in your trade union branch, party branch, local associations, etc., get resolutions of support passed and send them on to us at . We will publish them on our website and forward them to Bolivia. The workers and peasants of Bolivia must be made aware of the fact that the workers of the world support them.

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 organisations. The meaning of this cannot be underestimated. It is a first step towards the creation of an organisation of workers’ power.

The revolutionary crisis that has gripped Bolivia for the last three weeks has reached new heights. Last week ended with the parliament unable to start its sessions, torn apart by the class war that divides the country. The revolutionary movement of workers and peasants has increased in strength, its national spread has broadened and it has radicalised its political positions, now clearly challenging bourgeois democracy.

On Tuesday, May 31 a series of marches and demonstrations with people numbering in the tens of thousands surrounded the Bolivian Parliament. On the third week of protests, demonstrations and roadblocks, as many as 100,000 workers, miners, peasants, the people of El Alto, and teachers, etc. vented their anger in central La Paz.

On Monday, May 16th a new wave of mobilisations of Bolivian workers and peasants broke out, which is increasingly raising the question of power once again. The Bolivian masses are revealing an unprecedented level of revolutionary determination to see the struggle through to the end.

The situation in Bolivia has undergone a sharp change in the last few days. Faced with a new upsurge of the mass struggle against the policies of the Mesa government, a movement in favour of the expulsion of Aguas de Illimani (the water company controlled by French multinational Suez), and for the nationalisation of hydrocarbons, the forces of reaction decided to go on the offensive by using bourgeois institutions, their mass media and the reactionary mobilisation of sections of the petty bourgeoisie.

The situation in Bolivia has undergone a sharp change in the last few days. Faced with a new upsurge of the mass struggle against the policies of the Mesa government, a movement in favour of the expulsion of Aguas de Illimani (the water company controlled by French multinational Suez), and for the nationalisation of hydrocarbons, the forces of reaction, led by the multinationals and the oligarchy, decided to go on the offensive by using bourgeois institutions, their mass media and the reactionary mobilisation of sections of the petty bourgeoisie.

Bolivia is living through a revolutionary situation. There is a popular insurrection, led by the working class, which has formed a workers' militia and is clashing with the army. The government has responded by unleashing a white terror. The supporters of Marxist.com in Latin America and all over the world will do all in their power to aid the Bolivian revolution. But we need your help!
We have produced a model solidarity message. We invite you to use this as the basis for messages of solidarity to the Bolivian working people, and protests to the Bolivian authorities.

After the manoeuvre of the so-called referendum on the privatisation of gas, in August transport workers and community organisations organised protests against the rise in the price of gas. They were joined by the Landless Peasant Movement (MST). But the most striking development is what has become known as the "University Revolution" at Oruro.

The fraudulent nature of the recent gas referendum in Bolivia has become even clearer to the Bolivian masses. Within just a few days Mesa was selling off even more of Bolivia's natural gas resources to the multinationals. The response of the masses has been to mobilise once more.

The recent referendum was called by the Mesa government as a legal cover for what it has laready gone ahead with - the privatisation of Bolivian gas. The questions were not simply posed as yes or no to privatisation. The masses sensed this and in many parts of the country took part in a boycott. This is the priced the movement is having to pay for the compromise reached back in October.

The National Enlarged Meeting of the Bolivian Workers' Union (COB) on April 8, convened in the mining stronghold of Huanuni, decided to call a general strike and national road blockades starting from May 2nd. The call has the support of the peasant unions organised in the CSUTCB under the leadership of Mallku Felipe Quispe, and could precipitate the fall of Mesa's weak government.

There is widespread opposition to the Mesa government, however the general strike that was supposed to take place in Februaray this did not take place. Jorge Martin looks at the factors that explain this. The situation remains an explosive one.

In the three articles that Luis Oviedo has written in answer to my article published on January 7 (Marxism versus Sectarianism - Reply to Luis Oviedo) a number of very important issues are raised. These questions deserve the most careful consideration by Marxists in Britain, Argentina and internationally. However, in order to clarify the issues raised and to educate the cadres (which ought to be the aim of every polemic) it is necessary to avoid heated language, distortions and personal attacks that only serve to divert attention away from the political questions. Such an approach will only confuse matters

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The national enlarged meeting of the Bolivian Workers’ Union (COB) gathered in Cochabamba on January 22, and decided to call for an indefinite general strike with road blockades in twenty days time if Mesa’s government does not concede the demands of the October insurrection and continues with its announced austerity measures. The COB meeting “ended with the decision to take power, by closing down Parliament." This decision marks the end of the truce given by the worker and peasant leaders to Carlos Mesa’s government.

My attention was recently drawn to an article signed by Luis Oviedo, entitled The Counterrevolutionary Position of Socialist Appeal(in Prensa Obrera nº 826).Having read the article, I could not decide whether it was the product of bad faith or simple ignorance. Certainly, the method used is contrary to every basic principle of Marxism and above all Trotskyism, which comrade Oviedo and the Partido Obrero (PO) claim to defend.

"This government is not at all different from the government of Sanchez de Lozada. Carlos Mesa has not listened to the message of the El Alto Indian rebellion against the sale of gas" These are the words of one of the leaders of the Bolivian October insurrection, Roberto de la Cruz.  They sum up very clearly the real meaning of the bourgeois government of Carlos Mesa and the conclusions sections of the masses and most of the revolutionary vanguard are already drawing.

A revolution is a situation where the masses take their destiny into their own hands. That is precisely what we are witnessing before our very eyes in Bolivia. On Friday 17, Sánchez de Lozada was driven from power. The demonstrators blockaded La Paz and other cities. Soviets were formed in El Alto. Bolivia, South America's poorest and most unstable country, had been paralysed since mid-September by anti-government protests.

Finally the mass uprising which has shaken Bolivia for nearly a month has managed to overthrow the gringo Goni as he is known. Faced with a mass mobilisation, which was growing stronger despite the brutal repression which caused more than 80 deaths, finally the US embassy withdrew support from their puppet. The masses must not fall for these manoeuvres. No support for the Mesa government. For a workers and peasants government.

After a day of mourning and of relative calm on Tuesday October 14, the revolutionary movement in Bolivia has continued to grow in strength, boldness, organisation and also to spread further. It is a classic revolutionary situation where elements of dual power now exist, with the masses controlling the streets and the President prisoner in his own residence.

The mass workers' and peasants' mobilisations against the selling off of the gas industry that has shaken Bolivia over the past period took on a clear insurrectionary character on Monday, October 13. The balance sheet of the clashes between the masses and the army is more than 50 dead and hundreds of wounded, and a government which is increasingly isolated and on the verge of being overthrown.

After 12 days the General Strike in Bolivia is still going on. the country is close to a standstill thanks to the road blockades organised by the peasant organisations. All the roads to the capital, La Paz, are under the control of the strikers. One of the most militant sections of the working class, the miners, have taken a leading role, keeping the level of militancy very high. Aníbal Montoya (El Militante-Argentina) analyses the situation.

After a week of mass protests, road blockades and a general strike in the city of Cochabamba the Bolivian government of Hugo Banzer declared a state of emergency on Saturday April 8th. The main focus of the protests was the decision to sell Cochacamba's public water system to a private corporation which then doubled water rates. The trade unions, peasant unions and students responded to the state of emergency by calling further protests and a general strike.