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News :: International
"Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
25 May 2005
((i)) La Paz (25/05/2005 11:08)

* After holding an emergency meeting, the FEJUVE (Federación de Juntas Vecinales de El Alto) has descended from the mountains to the Altiplano of Bolivia and the capital city of La Paz to "take over the National Congress.” In addition, they ratified a citywide strike as it entered its third day with no end in sight.

* Meanwhile a group of Army officials disassociated themselves with Carlos Mesa and called to the military to be united with the mobilizations.

* It is uncertain what will happen next. It is clear however that the road blockades at Copacabana, Desaguadero, Achacachi and Oruro with strong concentrations in the localities of Pallcoco, Batallas, Huarina, Warisata y Escoma (towns around La Paz, the capital) will be lasting. The protestors manning the blockades are members of the inidigenous Aymara community that have once again left their towns and villages to make their presence felt and voice heard in front of a deaf state. They are confronting the state’s partiality to the transnational companies and the state’s forgetfulness of the national majorities.

en espanol: http://bolivia.indymedia.org/es/2005/05/17382.shtml
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"Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia
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"Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia
Intense social mobilizations have followed one after the other in the last few weeks. The central demand is the Nationalization of Hydrocarbons (gas and oil), although some movements, related to the Movement Towards Socialism party (MAS) of Evo Morales, tried to weaken the slogan to support solely the current accomplishment of the Constituent Assembly [that recently passed a bill that taxed all hydrocarbon exports 50%].

The 24th of May was without doubt the most critical moment in the mobilizations when the 20 provinces of the La Paz Altiplano marched towards the government seat together with wage-earning miners. They were intent on entering Murillo Plaza, first circling through the four corners of the city through the Omasuyos, Pacajes, Camacho, Ingavi, Aroma y Los Andes province. Later they arrived and reinforced the comunarios of the Murillo province in the taking of the Plaza. Also the coca growers who arrived from Chapare [traditional base of Evo Morales] wanted to be part of the take-over, but emphasized the gas contracts.

It was the hardest day as far as repression. Not only enormous amounts of tear gas but rubber bullets were used against the masses who had gathered to take back the power. The police also wanted to intimidate to the leadership by stopping and persecuting several of them.

At this point, considering all that had happened in an emergency meeting, the FEJUVE (Federación de Juntas Vecinales de El Alto) descended from the mountains to the Altiplano of La Paz to "take over the National Congress.” In addition, they ratified a citywide strike as it entered its third day with no end in sight.

Groups of the Departmental Federation of Farmers of La Paz Tupaj Katari and the rural teachers joined this march.

The military in action

But not only beat the hearts of the social movements. On the evening of the 24th two military men, lieutenants colonels, made an announcement that distanced themselves from the military High Command and called for the resignation of Carlos Mesa.

They made many mentions of the consequences of neoliberalism in Bolivia, they railed against the transnational companies, they asked the constituent assembly and other officials to add themselves to the social mobilizations.

They assured that they will not shoot in the town, but at the same time announced that they have the control capacity to recover the stability in the country when there is a new plan for the government. This coup has been connected to Jaime Solares, leader of the Bolivian Workers Union, who has called for the formation of a patriotic military government.

In synthesis, it is uncertain what will happen next. It is clear however that the road blockades at Copacabana, Desaguadero, Achacachi and Oruro with strong concentrations in the localities of Pallcoco, Batallas, Huarina, Warisata y Escoma (towns around La Paz, the capital) will be lasting. The protestors manning the blockades are members of the inidigenous Aymara community that have once again left their towns and villages to make their presence felt and voice heard in front of a deaf state. They are confronting the state’s partiality to the transnational companies and the state’s forgetfulness of the national majorities.
See also:
http://bolivia.indymedia.org/es/2005/05/17382.shtml
http://bolivia.indymedia.org

This work is in the public domain.
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"We Won't Let Them Tear Bolivia Apart"
25 May 2005
Check out Narco News for great english language coverage
http://narcosphere.narconews.com/story/2005/5/24/131418/002


"We Won't Let Them Tear Bolivia Apart"

By Luis Gomez,
Posted on Tue May 24th, 2005 at 01:14:18 PM EST

Yesterday morning at 10:00, the leaders of the Federation of Neighborhood Committees of El Alto, with their president Abel Mamani in front, walked the hundred meters that separate them from the Ceja zone and installed a blockade in front of the highway that leads to La Paz. The El Alto public school teachers followed them. At the same time, the march of the different groups of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), which arrived last night in El Alto, began the final section of their long march to government headquarters. A general civic strike, a march, and, at 1:30 pm sharp, a great open council in the Plaza de los Heroes in La Paz: the Bolivian social movements spent several hours deliberating what to do to reclaim the country’s hydrocarbons and other natural resources, taking them out of the hands of the Bolivian politicians and the multinational corporations. It was a fast, dramatic day... let’s look at the events, and what led up to them.



A Week of Agitation

The last few days of last week were tense in La Paz, especially because the mineworkers kept besieging the city center. Mesa spoke little, allowing the media to discuss his “new” plans. The oil companies and the right wing remain at their posts: among the multinational corporations, the Brazilian company Petrobras has decided to accept the changes in the terms of its original contract. The right-wing Santa Cruz bourgeoisie has decided to begin its process towards autonomy without consulting the rest of the country.

Some announcements have begun to appear in the Bolivian commercial media… the classic government propaganda in this country: in a melodramatic tone, they ask the population not to fall into the trap of the “naughty ones” and to support democracy. One illustrating phrase, from a radio spot: “Let’s not let ourselves be influenced by leaders looking only for their own benefit… we are all Bolivia.” We don’t know if that was aimed at Jaime Solares, who accompanied a score of leaders from the Bolivian Workers’ Federation (COB) to try to enter the Congress on May 18, in order to impede the convocation of an automatic referendum on Santa Cruz’s autonomy before the Constituents’ assembly is held. This, kind readers, could be a good example of the present conflict in Bolivia: the right wing wants autonomy, while the social movements what to remake the country.

The highway blockades outside the city continue in a few points (some maintained by peasant farmers, others by miners). But the biggest demonstration before yesterday took place at noon on Friday, May 20, in Cochabamba. The social movements of that city marched a few kilometers to the Gualberto Villaroel refinery to organize a “symbolic occupation.” A crowd of 30,000 people arrived at the refinery at 12:30 pm. “It’s good, chief,” Oscar Olivera told us from the demonstration. “They have arrived on foot, in cars, in trucks… we are many.” Oscar finished speaking to us and then began his speech. Curiously, the media paid little or no attention to this event…

The leadership of the La Paz department remains on hunger strike (they have now entered their 16th day). Felipe Quispe and other peasant farmer leaders are doing the same in the legendary Mallku´s offices, in the Single Farmworkers’ Federation of Bolivia. And in El Alto, seven of the eleven members of the city council are also on hunger strike.

The Shut-Down Begins

Yesterday, at 10:00 am, the autumn sun was beginning to heat up the air. On 6 de Marzo Avenue, walking without any hurry, the first leaders of the Federation of Neighborhood Committees of El Alto (FEJUVE) carried the red banner that identified their organization, as they have many times before, to the area where the highway heads down into La Paz.

Two hundred riot police watched them install the first blockade, which the public school teachers, a group of high school students, some mineworkers, and unemployed workers soon joined. In the highway leading to the international airport, just a few blocks away, another group closed the road to cars and buses. And so began the first day of the El Alto general strike. The blockades continued appearing in the city throughout the day. According to sources consulted by Narco News, there are now various blockades installed in District 8 (in the south), District 6 (in the North). The Ballivian curve, in the center of the La Paz highway, was closed by local residents.

Around a half hour later the MAS march arrived. Many kilometers long and brightly colored, the march came down into La Paz to join the great council, organized by them, the Bolivian Workers’ Federation (COB), and a dozen other organizations. Coca grower and congressman Evo Morales, wearing a brown hat and wreath of flowers and coca leaves, walked in the first rank, accompanying some of his party’s most important leaders. They were more than ten thousand all together, without a doubt.

Division and Debate

A few blocks before the Ceja, the marched turned towards the old route that comes down from the highlands into the city, where the president lives. A contingent from the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) was waiting for them at that corner. But before they met, a large group of students and professors from the Public Autonomous University of El Alto (UPEA) stopped to receive the MAS... and began to taunt them: “Neither 30 percent nor 50; nationalization!” This slogan, referring to the MAS’s proposal on how to tax and collect royalties from the exploitation of hydrocarbons, was shouted at all the MAS-aligned farmers who have been marching for an entire week. The division over how to reclaim the natural gas and other hydrocarbons for the people was obvious… some of the MAS contingents responded with their own slogan (demanding the Congress convoke a constitutional assembly), though others accepted it as their own.

The debate remained open. Jaime Solares told us as much a few minutes later, in a brief conversation in the Ceja neighborhood, where Solares headed to greet the FEJUVE representatives. The COB president said the council was held in order for the movements to try to reach a single position. The problem is that the COB, the Aymara farmers and other groups have demonstrated in favor of total hydrocarbon nationalization, while the MAS maintains the possibility of negotiating, through legal means, higher profits for Bolivia without expelling the oil companies.

In any event, it remained clear that nobody wanted to break with his brothers. This was demonstrated later, during the council. For that reason, FEJUVE’s Abel Mamni, El Alto city councilor Roberto de la Cruz, and other El Alto leaders came close for a while to salute the march, though they didn’t accompany it; the people of El Alto are engaged in a shut-down and agreed not to abandon their blockade points. Mamani, anyway, left clear that the strike he is leading does not aim to overthrow the government, nor does it hope to provoke anything other than the recuperation of hydrocarbon property.

The Tense Council

And while the Alteños remained on guard, peasant farmers from the nine departments (provinces) of Bolivia came down to attend the council, where several labor unions (including the La Paz teachers) waited to debate. At 1:30 pm the arguments began. And of yesterday’s speeches, kind readers, we have saved for you that of Aymara leader Gualberto Choque, executive secretary of the Tupaj Katari Single Federation of Peasant Farmers of the Department of La Paz. Choque explained to his brothers, who had arrived from all parts of the country, that now is the time to throw out the “old shoe” that is the Bolivian State.

“We cannot allow the k’aras (the white men) to tear apart Bolivia,” explained Choque in his speech. He spoke in Spanish, rather than his native Aymara, “so that those who have sucked our blood for 500 years understand once and for all.” And on the Constituents’ Assembly, a demand the MAS has made in response to the Santa Cruz bourgeoisie’s threat to divide the country, Choque made it clear that the people would have to organize themselves, and forever forget the lies of the Bolivian politicians. “We are at war,” he concluded, “and in a war one does not fight or debate, but fight, as we are doing today, always fight.”

Alternate Senator Román Loayza, a MAS leader who controls a large part of the peasant-farmer sector, also spoke. His position was that a strategy for gas recuperation would be negotiated with all sectors, but that the people themselves had to decide what path to take. Loayza, at the end of the event, was charged with publicizing the main decision of the day’s council: the National Congress has four days to resolve all of this, or the people will do it themselves.

Of course, Evo Morales spoke as well, at the end of the event. Part of the crowd booed the MAS president, demanding nationalization. In his speech, which focused on the difference of opinion within the social movements, Morales spoke of not allowing the United States to continue pressuring and taking from Bolivia. Several times he repeated that he and other leaders of his party would do what the grass roots decide, what the people want. He defended the unity of the social movements despite all of their problems. Morales ended by announcing that the marchers would stay in the facilities of La Paz’s San Andrés University, and that they will not leave until they get what they came for, marching through La Paz to the center of power each day until they are heard.

It was Jaume Solares who closed the event, two hours later. Warning that no one can oppose the will of the people, he asked for understanding and attention from Evo Morales, but defended what he called the “revolutionary unity” of the social movements. Things were left at that, but the discussion in this tense council remains open. In the coming days, internal discussions will continue, to see if the movements can arrive at a single discourse, a unified political leadership, and if, finally, those that make up the majority in this country will be able to definitively take control of their lives.

And so the marches will continue today, and tomorrow, as will the El Alto shut-down. Meanwhile, the government has denounced a few “radical leaders,” claiming they are plotting with the military for a coup d’état, although for now nothing is clear on that front and Carlos Mesa, as usual, has not shown his face in the media. But things are heating up, kind readers, and although they sometimes stumble a little, the Bolivian social movements continue moving forward with strength… don’t miss what happens next.
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
25 May 2005
hey, great job guys!! ;)
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
25 May 2005
This is true, altough it is by far not such a big mobilization as you might think.
It's just a group of some hundreds of radical leftists followed by peasants who, themselves, don't even know what they are fighting for. Recently, a new hidrocarbons law was passed, that increases taxes to oil companies from 18% to 50%. The hope of the radical leftists was that this law does not pass, so as to have a motive to provoke an uprising. Since the law has actually been passed, now the leftists have found a new motive to provoke: expell foreign oil companies and revert oil fields to the state. The thing is, no matter what happens next, leftists will always find something else to provoke unprisings. The real goal is to overthrow the government and create a form of comunist state in Bolivia. This has been clearly stated by the extremists when proposing to close the parliament and seize power by taking control of the presidential palace.
The economic damage being caused to Bolivia is huge. The main consequiences will be:
- Foreign investments in Bolivia will come to a halt, because of the political turmoil.
- Foreign aid will also stop, because the new law is a form of expropiation and violates all treaties regarding protection of foreign investments in Bolivia.
- The govermental economic plan is doomed, because it will not have the necessary cash for all the projects. This means shortages in plans to improve education, health care, housing, road building, etc.
At the end, the most affected will be the same people who today are out there in the streets shouting and burning things.
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
25 May 2005
Alfonso, you must be a right wing puppet! Saying that the people will get 18-50% of their own resources...what a joke! Also implying that the Indigenous people of Bolivia or any country could not make it without these greedy multinational corporations of the so called "civilized world" is shit! Indigenous people of the world have survived for thousands of years without the destruction of the land for these so called precious resources, which only serves to benefit a few rich, while the rest suffer. But it seems that either your completely ignorant to this fact or you've just become a brainwashed sheep that cares about whats in your own little bubble of self-fulfillment... and just screw the rest. Wake up you puppet! When you've destroyed the world with your precious ideas of what civilized society is, only then will you realize that your money is useless!
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
26 May 2005
Alfonso is also lying about the numbers
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
26 May 2005
although i agree that alfonso is WAY off the mark and i basically feel the same as Dr Strange on this issue. i have to say that insulting alfonso and saying he is a puppet is not going to win any hearts and minds to the struggle of the bolivian workers. it's just not the way to go about creating dialog....that is, if you are interested in dialog.

it looks like alfonso is a victum of right wing pupetts, not a pupett himself. he's probably been exposed to a lot of propaganda on this issue.

alfonso....what say you?
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
26 May 2005
Here's another article:
Bolivian Capital Isolated by Oil Protests

LA PAZ, Bolivia - Thousands of demonstrators blocked major roads in and around the Bolivian capital on Tuesday, isolating the city in a protest demanding the nationalization of the oil industry and opposing autonomy for an oil-producing region.

Police used tear gas and water cannons in the narrow streets to disperse the demonstrators, mainly peasants who had marched for several days to La Paz to press for their demands and who were later joined by miners, students, and teachers.

Explosions could be heard throughout the city from both the police tear gas canisters and dynamite sticks traditionally used by Bolivian miners in protests. There were no reports of injuries or arrests.

Police sealed off the central Murillo Plaza, site of the presidential palace and Congress, preventing demonstrators from reaching the area.

In the neighboring city of El Alto, protesters blocked the road between La Paz and the airport as well as several connecting the capital with other cities.

At dusk, demonstrators began to retreat and the blockades were lifted. They were expected to resume their protest and blockades on Wednesday.

A key leader of the protests is Congressman Evo Morales, whose Movement Toward Socialism party has demanded higher taxes on foreign oil companies than the 50 percent established in a law passed by congress.

Morales also wants President Carlos Mesa to send troops to occupy the oil installations, claiming the contracts between the foreign companies and the government are invalid because they lack congressional approval.

Many demonstrators have more radical positions, demanding nationalization of the oil industry.

The protests are also to oppose an autonomy drive by Santa Cruz, Bolivia's richest region and the site of its oil industry.

Army commander Gen. Marcelo Antezana said Tuesday his institution does not oppose greater autonomy for the regions but rejects "the division of our country."

He dismissed reports that the continued political tension may lead to a coup, saying the military maintains "a policy of respect for constitutional order."
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
27 May 2005
Are there any instances where oil nationalization has had long-term sucess in bringing prosperity to a country?

Every case I can think of always ends up with huge government corruption, mismanagment, and under-investment in infrastructure.

The best I can think of is Alaska's system which just cuts a dividend check of the oil revenue to every citizen. Of course, this has some problems since people think of it as "free money" and will move somewhere expecting it as a handout. Maybe that's fair enough.

What about a system where private corporations paid part of oil profits directly to the population? Maybe you could issue equity so that each citizen would own a piece of the company and receive dividends. Then you could avoid the inevitable corruption that occurs with nationalization.

How could you discourage carpet-bagging under such a system? Maybe scale payments according to how long someone has been a citizen?
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
27 May 2005
In venezuela much of the oil money goes to social programs for the poor...

I don't think you could draw any correlation whatsoever between oil nationalization and corruption. Either a country is corrupt or it isn't (and what country isn't?) or the nationalize oil or they don't.

Just because they have nationalized oil that does not make them corrupt just as not nationalizing the oil does not then make that country less corrupt.

The whole idea is ludicrous.

what does correlate though is the nationalizing oil and the use of Military US force to re-privatize it.

Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, recently a failed coup in Venezuela, and I guarantee, action in Bolivia if these good people succeed. US operatives already were trying to take EVO down by trying to link him with the FARC in Columbia.

This, as far as I know, is a genuine people's movement against neoliberal economic policies. And I have studied it very closely (albeit from afar). I hope that Americans will see that they are right and support them.
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
27 May 2005
Venezuela is corrupt on two accounts:
1. Much of the money that is earmarked for social programs gets swindled through sweetheart contracts. Contracts are also awarded based on politics. Anyone who has opposed the governement is shut out of bidding.

2. Not enough oil revenue that is generated is re-invested in infrastructure. This ultimately degrades their oil reserves. They're basically milking their long-term future for short term political gains.

Fortunately for Venezuela, oil prices are high enough to sustain the system in the short term.

I'm not saying that nationalization creates corruption. I'm saying the concentration of huge amounts of wealth into a few unaccountable hands creates corruption. Whether those hands are private or public is irrelevant.

If you think the average Bolivian or Venezuelan bureauocrat is any less corrupt or greedy than an ExxonMobil exec, think again. Follow the money sometime. See who's profiting.

I think the best way to handle oil resources is to let the most efficient producers extract the oil (i.e. private firms), then ensure that a sufficient share of the revenue goes directly to the people.

My opinion is that governments shouldn't be in the business of owning or running oil companies. Like most things, they'll just fuck it up.
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
27 May 2005
Um dudes, like war is bad, ok? Like this is war and this is bad, ok?
Re: "Nationalization or death!" Uprising in Bolivia / "¡Nacionalización o muerte!" gritan los movimientos sociales
27 May 2005
Folks, neither capitalism nor socialism is going to get Bolivia out of it's doldrums. Alphonso and his opponents make good points but they don't see the whole picture. Neither a reign of the multi-nationals, nor another "dictatorship of the proletariat" will pull Bolivian fat out of the fire, so to speak.

Let their economy be worker-owned and worker-managed. Small businesses and Mondragon-style co-ops. Small and localized government. Pro-Ten Commandments social policies, sane environmental policies, permanent withdrawl from the UN and WTO, etc.

Such policies come under the title of DISTRIBUTISM, co-founded by G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. The co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, Dorothy Day, was greatly influenced by these men.

If you are even slightly curious to know what this is, please go here for more info:

http://www.distributism.com

http://distributism.blogspot.com

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/distributism

Please comment. Thank you all for your time and patience.
beach
27 May 2006
Very interesting website. Keep up the outstanding work and thank you...