Bolivia

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

...

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.