Rectification to Deepen the Bolivian Process of Change

Katu Arkonada October 2019, the Movement to Socialism-Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS-IPSP) with Evo Morales as candidate obtained 47.08% of more than 6 million valid votes, with almost 11 points difference over Carlos Mesa, who came in second with 36.51% of the votes. Such a percentage and difference enabled him to win in the first round, but the OAS operation denouncing a fraud that never existed, and a revolt of the urban middle classes with police and military support and encouragement, culminated in a coup d’état that ended paradoxically at the polls with a higher percentage of support for MAS (55%, 3.4 million votes) in October 2020.

And with Evo and Álvaro exiled first in Mexico and then in Argentina, many of us thought that the journey through the desert was going to take at least 5 years, and that the coup plotters and the US, decisive in mobilizing the police and military, as well as in ordering the coup plotters’ opposition, were not going to hand over the power that they had worked so hard to seize, much less at the risk of going to jail, either for murder or for robbery. But the coup plotters’ inability to govern and the proximity of the US presidential elections, and a possible victory for Biden, have been decisive in preventing the foreign intelligence services, with the help of local cipayos, from sustaining the coup.

However, the popular mobilization of the popular classes, together with the social movements and indigenous peoples, the hard core that recovered its dignity with the process of change that arrived in government in 2005, did justice at the ballot box to close the mouths of those who looked the other way or spoke of fraud in 2019 with 55% of the votes.

One fundamental change to understand what happened is that while the victory of 2005 occurred through a popular movement that had been growing with the struggles for water in Cochabamba in 2000 or to defend gas sovereignty in El Alto in 2003, the victory of 2020 occurred through a popular movement resisting a coup d’état that attempted to marginalize them again and take away their dignity, resorting to racism and classism.

That is why it is important to emphasize that the victory of 2020 is produced as a result of some middle class people who were reacting to the destruction of the economy by the coup d’état, but above all, as a demonstration of resistance by those who were given back their dignity by the Bolivian process of change.

However, since names are important, Evo Morales, who synthesized the dreams and aspirations of those social majorities, campaign leader of MAS-IPSP from the exile in Buenos Aires, is as important in this story as Lucho Arce and David Choquehuanca, a former Marxist Minister of Economy together with a former Aymara Foreign Minister, a synthesis of the 14 years of the process of change.

After the inauguration of Luis Arce as President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the first measures will be aimed at reactivating the economy of a country whose GDP grew at Chinese rates for several years but currently has decreased by 11% while unemployment has tripled from 4 to 12%. First of all, an anti-hunger bonus of 1000 Bolivians (144 USD), a partial tax refund of VAT to the less well-off, and a tax on large fortunes.

It is also urgent and more than necessary to promote a Truth Commission to completely dismantle the coup d’état. Both to denounce the coup crimes before the courts (in Sacaba and Senkata alone, 37 people were killed, 27 of them by gunshot wounds, in addition to 512 people wounded) and to exonerate the more than 1,500 people accused of sedition and terrorism for resisting the coup.

For this, the MAS-IPSP has a majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, but it is facing the challenge of rectifying the errors of 14 years that the coup plotters rode on, and at the same time deepening the process of change. In a few months the territorial elections will take place and the MAS, which, for example, has been the second force in Santa Cruz, could finally eliminate the coup plotters from the political scene.

There are also risks, among them that the positions most favorable to making a pact with the opposition and getting closer to the middle classes will again advance within the MAS-IPSP, positions that are largely responsible for the mismanagement of the crisis a year ago that culminated in a coup d’état. In a parallel track, not recognizing Luis Arce’s leadership as President is also a risk, and some will want to position themselves for the next presidential election in 2025.

It is necessary that Evo Morales return to Bolivia for all the possible scenarios, not so much to influence a government that will have many new faces, but to unite and lead a party that for the first time in 15 years will have to do politics in different ways from those of the previous government, strengthening territorial organization and creating new political cadres.

Translation by Internationalist 360°