In Bolivia a Yearning of the Peoples for Change Has Triumphed
The electoral victory of Evo Morales in the last elections is a political phenomenon that one could see coming, but the final results notably surpassed the predictions and polls that said that the candidate of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) would obtain 38% of the electorate.
This victory is part of the democratic, progressive and left-wing current that is taking shape in the Latin American countries, shown in various electoral processes and in the development of the struggle of the workers and peoples fighting for change; it is the answer to three decades of structural adjustment policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund and by governments submissive to U.S. policies that have notably affected the conditions of life of the Bolivians.
Morales knows how to concentrate popular feeling and he has raised a political proposal that contradicts the one defined by the United States for the region. He proposes to defend national sovereignty, to oppose endorsing the Free Trade Agreement and the presence of Yankee military bases in the continent, he promises to nationalise the oil and gas resources; he demands the political and material rights of the indigenous peoples and of the working classes; this has led him to gain the support of a people that is mobilised, as has been shown in these last years through the popular uprisings that have put an end to two anti-popular and pro-imperialist governments.
Morales has not only won due to the support of the indigenous peoples (Aymaras, Kichwas, Guaranis and others), but due to the support of sectors of the workers, miners, peasants, small traders, youths and unemployed who voted against neo-liberalism and for social change. Now he has a great commitment and an enormous responsibility towards a people that expects the new government to attend to their needs disregarded for years. Some social sectors (such as those organized in the Bolivian Trade Union Federation, COB) have set a time limit for Morales to meet certain demands and apply determined political measures. The level of mobilisation of the masses will be a determining factor for the political programme to be applied. But Evo Morales will also face a series of boycott actions from inside and outside the country promoted by U.S. imperialism and the pro-imperialist bourgeoisie. Certainly the oligarchy from Santa Cruz and that of other regions will persist in their plans for autonomy to break up Bolivia; and the demand to legalise the cultivation of coca will be taken as a pretext to call that country of the high plateau an emporium for drug trafficking, to justify interventionist actions.
We revolutionaries look with sympathy on this political victory gained by the workers and peoples of Bolivia, which is also a harsh blow to imperialism and the local bourgeoisie. The Bolivian people and their new government count on our solidarity and support in all those measures directed at striking a blow against the privileges of the ruling classes and at foreign domination; in all those actions that demand the sovereign right of that people to live with liberty and in equity.
Some facts about Bolivian reality
The last two decades of the application of neo-liberal policies in Bolivia have meant that, in the countryside, the number of wage workers has diminished from 73 thousand to 64 thousand. The number of households that work for themselves – basically with subsistence economies – went from 43 thousand to 447 thousand. In the cities, the so-called informal sector, composed of household units, artisans, based on family labour and not wage labour, grew from the 60% to 68% of the total working population. Thus, the number of people with work contracts fell from 40% to 32% of the total labour force.
Bolivia has very bad indices of income distribution, only exceeded – negatively – by Brazil. The richest 20% dispose of an income 30 times greater that the poorest 20%. Sixty percent of the population lives in poverty in the whole country, but that index reaches 90% in the rural areas. Official unemployment figures trebled in the last 17 years, since the monetary stabilisation plans began to be applied, reaching 13.9%, while the proportion of persons in the ‘informal’ sector – that is, those with precarious jobs – grew from 58% to 68% in 15 years. Infant mortality is 60 for every thousand live births, while the average for the continent is 28. Life expectancy at birth is 63 years, while the average for Latin America and the Caribbean is 70 years.
Two and a half million peasants have as their main instrument of labour the Egyptian plough, which is 3,000 years old. Modern technology is only utilised in the extraction of oil and gas, in telecommunications, the banks and in 10% of mining extraction and industrial production.
Editorial Board of En Marcha, Central Organ of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador (PCMLE) December 21, 2005
Translated from the Spanish by George Gruenthal
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