“I will return, and I will be millions” -Tupac Katari
Latin America has, since its first breath, represented a long tradition of decolonial and anti-imperialist struggles. The commitment of all its peoples to establish self-determination and sovereignty runs deep in the spirit of its lands. The many nations that form the regions of Latin America and the Caribbean find the constant forms of U.S aggression too familiar, whether it is from the sanctions and embargoes or the neo-colonial projects of the IMF and World Bank, these regions seem to remain under a constant state of assault. This fact is born from the long campaign held by the U.S to establish itself as the dominant (if not sole) economic and political force in the western hemisphere. The U.S’s imperialist nature show as early as the U.S’s refusal to recognize The Republic of Haiti until 1862 (long after it declared its independence on January 1st, 1804), as transparent as when it declared itself as the overseers of the western hemisphere in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, and up until to the multiple coup d'etat attempts we have seen in the last few years.
Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia represent three countries that have fallen under the boot of U.S aggression in the last three years. In Nicaragua, it was the protests that arose against the democratically elected Sandinista government triggered by the IMF austerity measures in 2018 (of which only accepted partial measures that have since been retracted), but have continued due to the National Endowment of Democracy ( NED) funded U.S auxiliary groups. In Venezuela, when Juan Guido’s self-declaration of presidency on January 23rd, 2019. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela headed by PSUV (Partido Socialist Unido de Venezuela/ The United Socialist Party of Venezuela) would claim victory over violent U.S sanctions (similar to those placed on Nicaragua today), military coup attempts, and assasination attempts all of 2019 and early 2020. Nicaragua with President Daniel Ortega and Venezuela with President Nicholas Maduro remain under the democratic rule, securing constitutional sovereignty and the push towards Eco-Socialism. Bolivia on the other hand has been taken over by a military junta backed by the U.S.
Bolivia’s fight to re-establish its right to self-determination and road to socialism is what this article will be concerned with. The goal is to offer an analysis of the current situation of Bolivia for the anglophone world and the proletariat in the settler nation of The United States, an analysis that is in favor of Movimiento Al Socialismo’s (MAS) return to power, as decided by the masses of Bolivians rising against the illegitimate interim-regime, which was formerly headed by Jeanine Anez and now is scrambling in disorder. Bolivia is a nation with the spirit of Tupac Katari and Tupac Amaru, a nation named after El Liberatador Simon Bolivar. Bolivia has had a socio-economic revolution that lasted from 2006-2019, until the political party of Evo Morales: Movimiento Al Socialismo- Instrumento Político para la Soberanía de los Pueblos Indígenas (MAS-IPSP- MAS and MAS-IPSP are used interchangeably) was ousted by a military coup.
MAS-IPSP as an Organization
To understand the will of the Bolivian peoples struggling to once again overcome Neo-Colonialism and Imperialism, we must look into the history of MAS and the political motion of the party. We will approach the development of MAS but focus primarily on its merger with IPSP.
MAS was founded as a left outbreak of Falange Bolivian Socialist in 1987 by Bolivian Lawyer David Añez Pedraza originally as MAS-U (Unzaguista).
Originally, it was proposed in addressing a coherent method of organizing the cocaleros (Coca farmer) unions as the primary means of combating the pro-imperialist national bourgeoisie. The cocaleros were organizing in amidst a U.S terrorist front, the “war on drugs”. The criminalization of their traditional coca leaf was a point of disrupting cocaleros and other industry union organizing. The DEA and CIA served as the primary means of installing a state of hybrid wars, in large part affecting the indigenous peoples of Bolivia’s Cochabamba area. It was in this violent political climate that Juan Evo Morales Ayma and other organizers would unite both cocaleros and miners through the formation of IPSP (the mining industry having a long tradition of Marxism in Bolivia, Evo Morales’ early Union work).
MAS-U proposed a more center left line titled “Andien Capitalism’ which would have a market economy with strong national development and protectionist characteristics, inside of the bourgeoisie superstructure. Or as others have described it, “resistant to neoliberalism, in defense of natural resources- especially that of coca leaf and gas- an important ethnic-cultural component of social struggles like political struggle.” Although this would shift, it is important to note. MAS understood, like all Bolivian Revolutionary movements, the centrality of the cocaleros and mass indegenous mobilizations as a revolutionary force in Bolivia.
It wasn't until 1995 that they would move past this theoretical approach and become the MAS that would later merge with Evo Morales' party and others left alliances many of which were run by women.
In 1997, for the coming elections an alliance of indegenous parties from the cocalero movement formed, of which MAS was one. Evo was initially elected by the congress alliance to run as president, but an interorganizational split between Asamblea Soberania de los Pueblos Instrumento Político (ASP-IP), founded by Alejo Veliz and Evo Morales led to the later creation of IPSP. Hervé do Alto defines IPSP to be “organized as a political party and a federation of social movements at the same time.” Alejo Veliz, ASP-IP ran for president although the majority of the votes in the alliance were for Evo Morales.
Evo Morales ran as parliamentary leader and humbly withdrew to the former's demand despite the coalition's request for him to lead. With the need to run under a registered party (MAS) he would run and win in Cochabamba. This would be considered the moment in which Evo Morales would become the sole commanding leader of the MAS-IPSP of today. Leonida Zurita Vargas, leader of the National Federation of Women Peasants in Bolivia states on the developing matters:
We continued with our mobilizations and marches to La Paz; Likewise, our vigils continued on different dates when necessary, always in defense of human rights. For the poor which was ours COCA, land, territory and for a life with dignity.
On July 8, 1999, in the municipal elections we obtained 3.3% of the vote of the 320 municipalities throughout the country; there we participated with our own acronym MAS and our flag with the colors: Blue representing the sky and the water; the White for purity, peace and hope and Black for mourning or the death of ancestors and martyrs. We only achieved 11 Mayors and we obtained 40 councilors in Cochabamba, 18 in La Paz, 10 in Potosí, 1 in Chuquisaca, 6 in Santa Cruz, 5 in Oruro and 1 in Tarija; a total of 81 Councilors throughout the country. And yet they didn't think we had won! In addition, after a year had passed, some councilors resigned from their parties and joined our ranks, so we had almost 100 councilors.
The beginning of the 21st century was one in which the Neo-liberal projects of Bolivian Bourgeoisie created conditions for revolution. The “Water Wars” of the 2000’s, an attempt of global capital to privatize Bolivia’s water and the battle for hydrocarbons in 2003 similarly an attempt to privatize these mineral deposits. On the latter, the Vice-President of Evo Morales, Álvaro García Linera says it "would be the second unifying factor of this society" and that "the debates over hydrocarbons are playing with the destiny of Bolivia."
It was in this backdrop that Evo would run for presidency in 2002 and lose obtaining 20.2% of the vote. Alvaro Garcia Linera was a co-founder of the Ejercito Guerrillero Tucaj Katar (EGTK; Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army) , who was imprisoned in the nineties as a political prisoner. He was a Marxist academic that joined MAS in the 2000s and become an ideological forerunner in the party. Alvaro would be chosen by Evo to run as his running mate in the 2005 election in which MAS would win with the second largest votes in Bolivian history; 54%. Evo Morales assumed power on January 22nd 2006 and becoming the first indigenous president in 500 years of post-conquest South America (Second in Latin America to Benito Juarez of Mexico, of Zapotec Nation)
MAS-IPSP was able to bring the indigenous communal movements and the working-class movements of Bolivia together, how this was done will be discussed here. MAS describes itself as Bolivian Socialist, it is a part of the many Bolivarian Revolutions in Latin America from Venezuela to Nicaragua. Its practice will be summed up here using party documents, analysis from its party heads, and external commentary.
In 2003, MAS-IPSP grounds its ideological construction on the basis of its concrete conditions and has developed from the motion of those conditions. MAS’ ideological foundation understands that the people of Bolivia have been subjugated to the world outlook of the west for 500 years and in that time it has brought wealth to the nations of Europe and the US. The western worldview promoted imperialism and the exploitation of the land and the people leaving the nation undeveloped and impoverished. MAS understood the need for capital infrastructure to be the creators of their own history. But, the reality from colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism was that its cities lacked capital infrastructure, and its people lived in dire poverty. That is until MAS led in the development of the nation, which we cover later in the article.
MAS understood the state was a tool for the national bourgeoisie which adheres to the western outlook of internal colonialism, imperialism and neo-colonialism. The state was being used to repress peoples on the claim of national security distinct in their approach as history passed; first and foremost the ingenious peoples of the land, the communist, and the hybrid war against the coca and cocaleros.
MAS stood in the tradition of Africa, Asia and Latin America that to overcome poverty and underdevelopment that the nation could no longer be administered to the needs of imperialism. The environmental devastation of the imperialist nations that left the darker nations was one of inequality. That the territories of the traditional people governed by its peoples and not the imperialist tran-national corporations. In their own words:
One thing we know that the earth does not belong to man, it is man who belongs to the earth.
Of that we are certain. All things are related to each other like the blood that unites a family. Everything is related. What harms the earth, harms the sons and daughters of the earth as well. “It was not man who wove the fabric of life; he was just a thread of it. Everything he does with a plot he will do to himself” (An indigenous chief of the Redskins in the letter addressed to GEORGE WASHINGTON, President of the USA).
We have a sacred duty to humanity, to fight to retake the paradigm of a symbiotic society in total balance with nature, the highest expression of which is the Pachamama concept. On the contrary is Western industrialism will continue its task of destroying life on planet earth.
If the capitalist economy of exchange and accumulation, which also supposes the power of private property, has brought us extreme poverty, we have no choice but to replace our economic principles of reciprocity and redistribution, that is, to produce for the common good. With this, it is necessary to control the vertical and transversal of the ecological floors that will allow us to create abundance and quality of life. For a long period to carry out a Tink'u between the capitalist economy of exchange and accumulation with the economy of reciprocity and redistribution. In this framework, our municipalities must function under the philosophy of the Ayllu´, the Ayni, the Mink'a and the Minga in no case under the principles of the capitalist market economy.
Bolivian socialism is to be determined primarily by the development of Bolivia against imperialism, in regional emancipation of Latin America and as a political program for the development towards socialism with the particular characteristics of Aymara and Amazonian world outlooks.
Marta Harnecker and Federico Fuentes have written extensively on the indgenous national movement of Bolivia and have labeled MAS as the “new indgenous nationalism”.
MAS is a movement based primarily to combat the contradiction of neoliberalism and imperialism.
Evo Morales characterizes the socialism of Bolivia as one based in communal practice. MAS-ISPS approved the organizational congressional proposal titled “Communal Socialism for the Liberation of Bolivia from the Colonial State”. The ideological formation of the party is viewed as an intersection of the traditions of indigeneity, Katarismo, and leftist trends that range from Marxist to mild anti communism. Álvaro García Linera, has expressed of MAS in more recent years before the coup MAS-IPSP "An eclectic Indianism with the critical and self-critical traditions of the intellectual left that began to indigenize Marxism from the 1980s onwards." He has written many books on the development of Marxist Communalism developing from the MAS transitional government of “Andean Capitalism”, to is best to be understood as a transitional stage of socialism; state capitalism.
When viewing the development of Bolivia under the leadership of MAS we will only be discussing the international implications of its governance; in their local, regional and global policy have both domestic and foreign implications. The former would be inappropriate to address as those are difficult for anyone on the outside looking in to be able to understand. It would be unprincpled to comment on policies that have little implications on life here on Turtle Island, let alone attempt to provide a resolution on such matters. Only the masses of the people can solve the dissolution in their struggles. So, the primary concern of the analysis of MAS-IPSP governance is in battle against imperialism.
In 2009 the people of Bolivia ratified a new constitution making it the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
Article 1: Bolivia is constituted as a Unitary Social State of Pluri-National Communitarian Law (Estado Unitario Social de Derecho Plurinacional Comunitario) that is free, independent, sovereign, democratic, intercultural, decentralized and with autonomies. Bolivia is founded on plurality and on political, economic, juridical, cultural and linguistic pluralism in the integration process of the country
Article 2: Right to self determination Given the pre-colonial existence of nations and rural native indigenous peoples and their ancestral control of their territories, their free determination, consisting of the right to autonomy, self-government, their culture, recognition of their institutions, and the consolidation of their territorial entities, is guaranteed within the framework of the unity of the State, in accordance with this Constitution and the law.
It was this that the Bolivian state became a tool for the sovereignty of originarios (a term used for the First Nation peoples in Latin America) in 500 years and with this constitution and other policies that the people moved forward their socio-cultural struggles.
In the time period of MAS leadership o f2006-2019, the achievements that the Bolivian people made for socialism, humanity and the earth itself are many. To list a few as they pertain to the long struggle against imperialism are as follows:
The 2010 “The Law of Mother Earth” laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. In relation to the concept of Panchamama and development of the nation.
The cultural shifts due to the capital development in Bolivia, with the language programs in school and the president speaking in Aymara at the UN. The architecture inspired by non-western influences and conceptions which would be impossible without development, the Chola fashion industries
As the prior decades had the terrorist wars from the war on drugs against coca and the people of Bolivia. Under MAS governance a developed coca industries that ranged from consumable goods to cosmetics and many more. It was a successful means of combating the regional hybrid wars that have created the conditions that people are rebelling against in Colombia today.
Through nationalization of hydro-carbons and other commodities the Bolivian government was able move away from the Neo-colonial debts from IMF and World bank the previous bourgeoisie had negotiated. MAS demonstrated an alternative to the projects of imperialism as it was able to build infrastructure and markets outside of western finance capital. The current Presidential candidate and former Minister of Economy and Public Finance Luis Arce played a crucial role in developing these matters and other industrial trends mentioned here.
In construction of a multilateral world in which Latin America is able to counter surge the Influence of U.S hegemony regional collaborations like Telesur and Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). The current Vice-Presidential candidate David Choquehaunco was the former Foreign Minister and also was the Secretary General of ALBA.
MAS and the 2019 Coup d’etat
As stated in the beginning of this paper in October 2019, a military coup was launched against Evo Morales on his 4th presidential election in which he was predicted to win. As of now all claims on electoral fraud have been disproven and/or shown to be tools of imperialism.
David Choquehaunco comments on the coup, “We were beginning to industrialize our natural resources, we wanted to industrialize our lithium, we were taking the first steps to industrialize our gas, and suddenly the transnationals began to organize a coup d’état. The other day one of Tesla’s representatives said it: ‘We have organized the coup with the United States government, and if we feel like it, we can intervene at any time in any other country.’” This reveals that the real imperialists are the owners of capital, that imperialism is economic rule of the global south. Imperialism positions resource extraction and the domination of the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America at the center of all its socio-political activities.
The following year has been filled with ruthless violence against the people of Bolivia. The military ran Evo Morales and Álvaro García Linera out of the country, forcing them to flee to Mexico to save their lives. They would later relocate to Argentina after the election of President Alberto Fernadez and Vice President Cristina Fernedez de Kirchner defeating Argentinas neo-liberal goverment. The military junta kidnapped Patricia Arce, a mayor, paraded her in the streets barefoot covered in red paint after having her hair cut. The coup removed the national symbol of the Andien people, the Whipala, from the military uniforms and declared the religion and culture of the people of Aymara as satanic. Evo Morales was blocked from running as president and in the senate. This was done within the first few months of the coups. It would be a precursor to the year of violence against the people of Bolivia.
The year will be marked by Bolivians rallying under MAS against the policies, mismanagement and state violence of the military junta. In cities and in towns the people would confront imperialism’s new neo-colonial project in the streets with flags blue, black and white.
The elections were initially postponed till May, in which Evo Morales named Luis Arce and David Choquehuanco to run in the presidential election as running mates. The elections were once again delayed in September by Anes on the grounds of COVID-19. As if the pandemic didn't wreak havoc after the austerity measures of the coup destroyed the health system, and reintroduced $327 million in debt in IMF loans.
The national bourgeoisie of Bolivia is disunited and inconsistent. Military leader Jeanine Anez has withdrawn from the election. Fernando Camacho, a Evangelical extremist and Former President Carlos Mesa who resigned in 2005 due to a corruption scandal are running as separate candidates for Bolivia’s national bourgeoisie .
The coup has made something very clear that any discontent with MAS is being resolved in the struggle for state power. From the syndicalist that opposed Evo, to the Anarchist who work towards the weakening of the masses and the essential strengthening of imperialism like Silivia Rivera, “But the defeatism suggesting that there was a coup d’etat here and that everything has been lost is false. That would mean that we would have to think that the MAS is the only option we have for an interethnic, plural, pluricultural Bolivia.” MAS has proven to its critic that its governance is in the best interest of the nation and it has the support of the most powerful force in any nation; the people.
MAS has been chosen by the masses of the bolivian people and will move forward as delegated by the people.
As Luis Arce comments, “ MAS is a guarantee that lithium and all natural resources, including gas, minerals, will remain in the hands of the state. We are the only political party that guarantees the Bolivian people that not a molecule of our natural resources is going to be transferred so happily to transnational companies. Our policy proceeds through agreements where the state has an absolute majority in both the control over these businesses and the profits from them.”
As the workers of the United States scramble to create a social movement that can address the interior contradictions of empire characterized by; monopoly capitalism, No New Cold War politics, environmental destruction, hyper-incarceration, wage stagnations, the insecurities of housing, health and education, and the appartheid rule over Black and First Nation peoples and others of African, Asia, Latin America and Caribbean peoples. The resolutions and strides of the global south should be heeded to as to help us develop a true decolonial movement that confronts imperialism and places us as true internationalists combating our national bourgeoisie through a socialist praxis.
The lessons of Bolivia’s movement of cocaleros, originarios and working-class politics is an important lesson for the U.S. The Socio-cultural movement did not abandon the economic class character of their circumstances and instead developed a revolutionary socialist politics that positioned the Aymara and Amazonian world outlook at the center of a scientific approach of obtaining the state as a political instrument of sovereign development. Socialism is the science of the revolution and it is not western, it is a tool to abstract the particular truths of the world in order to transform it. The people of Bolivia have taken this science and traditional world outlooks to overcome imperialism and will once more do so.
In the U.S there is a disconnection of the subaltern peoples of the land with the working-class movement. Meaning, that the colonized people have not as of yet developed a political approach based on a scientific socialism based on their particular struggle in the U.S or better understood as particular struggles under empire. The counter-revolutionary trends of critical theorists, post-structural analysis and revisionist trends attempt to abandon revolutionary politics based on the betterment of the masses' material conditions led by the people. We must resolve the disunity in the working-class movement and decolonial projects of the people if we are to ever Free The Land.
This can only be determined by the masses own will and can not fear its own construction coming into contact with the real contradiction present in the world. Only its application can develop a praxis. It cannot abandon the goal of obtaining one of the most powerful tools of class warfare which is the seizure and/or creation of the state.
The U.S represents the highest form of imperialism in the age in which monopoly capitals crisis grows more volatile, the bourgeois tendency towards facism grows as the contradictions of the present are that which hold the proletariat and the global south at the boot of finance capital. All our efforts are to resolve the settler contradictions we face on the domestic front as the Imperialist attempt to confront the rise of proletariat self determination with the New Cold War and environmental devastation.
The settler state of the U.S is occupying the lands of Hawai’i, Borinquen, New Africa, Lakota, and many more. The colonized peoples must use the lessons learned from the working class movements; the socialist decolonial projects of Africa, Asia and Latin America to overcome the current occupation on our lands. The freedom of the land is dependent on the people of colonized lands rally with all working peoples with a working-class politics.
MAS understands that the indigenous movement alongside the urban working class movement united was the only way of exceeding the motion towards sovereignty. The imperialist force has only strengthened the resolve of the Bolivian people and united them under MAS to lead them to continue their development according to their own volition. Bolivia has taken the science and traditional world outlook to overcome imperialism. Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca Céspedes will lead the nation because the people of Bolivia have stated they want MAS.