On October 21 hundreds of thousands of workers and peasants cheered enthusiastically in the Bolivian capital La Paz on hearing the news that the calling of the long awaited referendum on a new constitution had been agreed. But while the masses mobilised on the streets, the leadership of the MAS had been negotiating behind closed doors with the oligarchy, changing key aspects of the CPE which fundamentally change its character.

As 100,000 workers and peasants arrive in La Paz, this article by Darrall Cozens, written as the march was setting off, explains the issues that are pitting the Bolivian workers and peasants against the oligarchy.

We publish here this statement signed by all the working class and people's organisations in the city of Santa Cruz on September 13. The statement clearly expresses the anger of the people faced with the fascist attacks organised by the oligarchy and correctly appeals for mobilisation and legitimate defence in order to face up to them.

On Friday, September 12, we reported on the attack on pro-MAS peasants in the department of Pando, in the East of Bolivia. We said at the time that 9 people had been killed by the hired thugs of the opposition regional prefect (governor), Leopoldo Fernández. But only later was the full scale of the massacre revealed, with the death toll currently at 30, and many more still missing.

The situation in Bolivia remains one of confrontation between the oligarchy, backed by U.S. imperialism on the one side, and the masses who support the Evo Morales government on the other. This is no time for words or negotiations. This is the time for action, to put an end once and for all to the power of the oligarchy.

Having suffered a clear defeat in the August recall referendum. The reactionary oligarchy of Bolivia is back on the offensive. It has unleashed its gangs, occupying government buildings and terrorising the workers and peasants, but the Morales governmenmet vacillates, not taking the required decisive action to stop what amounts to an attempt at a coup.

After Evo Morales' massive victory in the recall referendum in August, the pressure has been building up from below to move against the oligarchy. Now Morales has called a referendum on a new Constitution and for elections of the regional governors of Cochabamba and La Paz, steps in the right direction, but in and of themselves not enough to break the deadlock between the classes.

After having won a two-thirds majority in the recall referendum, Bolivian president Evo Morales made an appeal to the oligarchy to negotiate and for national unity. As was to be expected, the oligarchy responded by launching a renewed offensive against the democratically elected government using all means at its disposal. But now we are seeing an organised reaction against the oligarchy. Building on the movement that started on May 4th, the mass movement of workers and peasants is being in the streets once again.

In the August 10 recall referendum, President Evo Morales and vice-president García Linera were ratified with an increased number of votes and the two MAS prefects (governors) of Oruro and Potosí were also ratified. But at the same time, four of the six opposition prefects were also ratified with sizable majorities. So, who won? Who lost?

The mass media in the west continue to pump out lies about what is happening in Bolivia. They claim the oligarchy in Santa Cruz has won support from the people for "autonomy". We provide the facts that show the opposite is the case. Reaction is spurring on the masses to step up their revolutionary offensive.

The attempt of the Bolivian oligarchy to use the referendum on autonomy as a lever to push forward their reactionary agenda has failed. They failed to get the votes they required, and at the same time they have enraged the masses of workers and peasants, who have risen once more in huge mobilisations.

The oligarchy in Bolivia has launched a major challenge to the Evo Morales government in the form of a referendum on an "Autonomous Statute" in the Eastern Department of Santa Cruz. They are using this question to mobilise the forces of counter-revolution. Morales must stop dithering and take firm action.