Bolivia: Regroup the Patriotic Movement
by Andrés Soliz Rada
The decree to nationalize hydrocarbons (1 May 2006), which enjoyed 95% public approval, was the zenith of the Evo Morales government. Now it has lost the Chuquisaca Prefecture, by a narrow margin, but legally, which lets the referendums that approved the autonomy statutes in Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, and Pando camouflage their illegality. It should be remembered that, in politics, if we wish to advance, it is more important to criticize our own errors than the errors of others.
The separatist schemes in Bolivia have escalated geometrically from the arbitrary election of "governors," the outrageous creation of a virtual parliament, which passes "laws" in Santa Cruz (published in its "legal gazette"), to making it impossible for the President to visit the official premises controlled by the opposition. Meanwhile, the armed forces and the police are unable to contain a creeping coup d'état through regional autonomies which, step by step, are disintegrating the nation.
Unfortunately, the MAS, with NGO funding, gave the pretexts that their adversaries needed. Only an absolute myopia (or bad faith) explains why the officialdom welcomed the proposal of Román Loayza, the head of the MAS bench, to change the name of the country from Bolivia to Tawantinsuyo and that of Plaza "Murillo" in La Paz to Plaza "Tupaj Katari." Similarly, Foreign Minister Choquehuanca couldn't resist warning that domestic workers, Aymara and Quechua, could poison their employers, opponents of the regime.
The physical abuses committed by irregular groups against parliamentarians, journalists, and opposition governors (who got their names attached to dogs whose throats were slit in Achacachi) explain the present difficulties. Such actions obscure the cruelty of oligarchic racists, who, on several occasions, beat Quechuaymara Indians in Santa Cruz and stripped campesinos naked in front of the "House of Liberty" in Sucre. In short, the MAS, instead of strengthening the alliance of mestizos and the indigenous against oligarchs, isolated the indigenous by pitting them against mestizos and agents of imperialism.
The government, abandoning the legal channel and tolerating corruption (not judging, for example, frauds in road construction as serious), had to submit itself to the illegalities of the opposition, since it approved a reckless draft Constitution, which, recognizing 36 indigenous nations, divorced Evo from middle strata. Lending money from Bolivia's foreign exchange reserves at 2%, only to receive loans at 8% from the very banks and entities that benefit from that money, has demonstrated the fragility of the government's anti-neoliberal convictions. Likewise, sending troops to Haiti has put its anti-imperialist rhetoric into question.
However, Vice President Álvaro García Linera, (who inspired the gaffes of Loayza and Choquehuanca), recently made the correct decision to reconsider the MAS's program of government, in which state capitalism regains its status as the engine of the country's economy, replacing the unviable politics of ethnic fragmentation. Based on this program, which is an expression of state capitalism, the government must put an end to the plagues of corruption and indigenous exclusion that still exist and must give effect to regional autonomies that bring the country together. Consistent application of this program will prevent the dismemberment of Bolivia. Then, Evo could better face the recall referendum on the tenth of August and, if that referendum doesn't come to pass, the early elections that his opponents demand.
Andrés Soliz Rada is a former Minister of Hydrocarbons of Bolivia. The original article in Spanish was published in Rebanadas de Realidad on 5 July 2008. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.