From the Archives of 2008
Bolivia is experiencing moments of enormous tension under the violent and large-scale action of right-wing armed groups. They are the so-called Civic Committees of the four departments that compose Media Luna (Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando) and the Cruceñista Youth Union.
International Workers League Statement, September 2008
These groups took the streets, occupied and exploited some gas facilities and pipelines, occupied public buildings, harassed and terrorized trade union and popular leaders ,and attacked peasant groups killing fourteen of them and injuring dozens.
The ultra-right gangs have a clear objective: to hold power in the Media Luna departments, forcibly imposing their total control over this part of the country. First, they want to force the government to suspend the referendum called by Evo Morales on the draft new Constitution approved by the Constituent Assembly, and to revoke it.
This bourgeois ultra-right sector has many fascist characteristics: it uses methods of civil war against the labor, peasant, indigenous and popular movement; it’s deeply racist and displays a brutal hatred against the indigenous majority of the country; It is run by the most powerful bourgeois sector in the country, which tries to monopolize gas revenue, and mobilizes mass sectors of the middle class and the petty bourgeoisie against the popular masses. The actions of this ultra-right seek to terrorize the mass movement, paralyze it and impose its objectives by force, against the popular will manifested through struggle and elections.
The bourgeoisie and the Media Luna right mobilize behind the claim of an alleged “autonomy” right, with which they even threaten to divide the country. This false reactionary and pro-imperialist “autonomy” right ,only really seeks to control and deliver the natural resources wealth of its region directly to imperialism and to the strongest countries of the continent, such as Brazil, while keeping a much larger portion of what they obtain today, since they wouldn’t have to share with the bourgeoisie of La Paz. At the same time, getting rid of the “poor plateau” and its “unruly masses.”
Behind this ultra-right movement is the hand of Yankee imperialism that stimulated the entire process through its ambassador, Philip Goldberg. This man met, days before the assault, the main Media Luna leaders to discuss and support their murderous actions. The interest of imperialism is to guarantee, at any cost, the control of important hydrocarbon reserves and, at the same time, to end the Bolivian revolutionary process, a reference for all of Latin America.
Why does the extreme right gain strength?
It is a fact that the extreme right, with its fascist methods: grows rapidly, already controls part of the country, threatens the production of gas (the most important resource of Bolivia) and is imposing itself against the impotence or inaction of the government.
How is it possible that this happens in a country that lived in recent years, two revolutions that toppled right-wing governments (the last one only three years ago)? How can this movement be so strong in a country where, less than two months ago, the president obtained almost 70% of the votes to confirm his mandate in a recall referendum?
The only possible explanation is the government’s conciliatory policy. The Evo Morales government refuses to repress the ultra-right movement and mobilize the masses against it, while recently it did not hesitate to harshly repress the struggle of the Huanuni miners in defense of their retirement and other claims, killing several workers in this repression.
At all times, Evo seeks agreements or pacts with the Media Luna bourgeoisie to jointly govern the country. He refuses to send troops to all the Departments to recover the occupied public buildings, using the justification of “no bloodshed”. Accepts even yielding to the demands of the extreme right on issues such as the referendum on the Constituent or taxes.
With this policy, Evo leaves the field open so that the extreme right, through direct action, is emboldened and strengthened more and more, occupying the power vacuum left by the government. Worse, it paralyzes and demoralizes a possible reaction of the masses that would be the only force capable of confronting and defeating the extreme right.
You cannot argue with those that use fascist methods! It is necessary to defeat them by force!
There is no possible conciliation with a sector that seeks to crush the working class, peasants, indigenous and subject them by terror to the same situation of misery and super-exploitation in which they lived for five hundred years, and from which they seek to free themselves.
The ultra right that uses fascist methods only understands one language: that of force. Enough of reconciliation! We demand that the government and the Army repress and jail the ultra-right groups that occupy public buildings! Gas facilities are a heritage of the Bolivian people: prison for the ultra-rightists who occupy and sabotage them! Trial and punishment for peasant killers! Immediate dissolution and illegalization of the Cruceñista Youth Union and the Civic Committees! No to a divided Bolivia!
For the COB to lead a United Front of workers, peasants and popular sectors to defeat the far-right!
However, from what they have shown in the face of the many attacks, there is no guarantee that the Evo government and the Armed Forces will want to confront and defeat the groups of the organized right. Only the working class, at the forefront of the peasant, indigenous and popular masses can do so.
It is necessary to resume the glorious miner’s tradition of the 1952 Revolution, in the mobilizations of 1985 and in the triumphant 2003 and 2005 uprisings, when workers and popular sectors faced and defeated armed repression in the streets.
We welcome the call of the COB to a National March on the 16th, as well as the demand for Evo to open a trial of responsibility and decree the prison of the Media Luna and Civic Committees’ leadership , and the decision to prepare a National mobilization of the COB in Santa Cruz.
But it is necessary to go further. The COB must call on all unions, peasant, popular and democratic organizations to form a massive United Front to confront the extreme right through direct action.
You cannot confront these rightist groups with only public speeches or acts. It is necessary to defend against these gangs using direct action methods in the streets. It is urgent that unions and peasant organizations organize thousands of self-defense groups among miners, peasants, factory workers and popular sectors. We demand that the government support and give the means for these groups to defend themselves from ultra-right gangs.
The COB and the peasant, popular and indigenous organizations must call for a general strike, accompanied by a mass national mobilization to defeat the right. This call for mobilization should include in a prominent way a call to the working class and the popular sectors of the departments of the Media Luna, to rise against the bourgeoisie and the landowners who exploit and oppress them directly. Only the working class and the exploited of Bolivia can unite the country against the divisive bourgeoisie.
Only with mobilizations is it possible to enforce the “October agenda” ,which intends to fight for the expropriation of landowners in the Bolivian East, Land to peasants and indigenous people and for a true nationalization of gas and mining, without compensation to imperialist companies .
All support to the Bolivian people to defeat the fascist threat!
The labor movement around the world, mainly in Latin America, the peasants and indigenous people of our continent, the students and all the peoples that fight against imperialism should support the Bolivian people.
It is urgent that all social organizations pronounce themselves as soon as possible in repudiation of the violent actions and the coup attempts by the ultra right Media Luna bourgeoisie. It is vital to convey our solidarity to the working class and the popular sectors of Bolivia through their organizations. Let’s do a great solidarity campaign that helps them face and defeat the forces of the extreme right!
September 13, 2008
Translation by Corriente Obrera Litci