The Struggle for Bolivia’s Future
Federico Fuentes writes in the Monthly Review:
After five hundred years of domination and colonialism, more than fifty years since the introduction of universal suffrage, and following five years of intense social struggle, the indigenous majority of Bolivia, for the first time in December 2005, elected one of their own as president—the coca grower leader and head of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) Evo Morales. The victory—winning more than 50 percent of the vote—was more than an indication of the rejection of twenty years of neoliberal rule. Peruvian activist Hugo Blanco summed up the significance of this event when he wrote, “the new president is not the result of a simple ‘democratic election’ like the many that frequently occur in our countries, it is an important step in the path of the organized Bolivian people in their struggle to take power into their own hands.”
Morales’s election marked the emergence of an alternative national project for South America’s poorest country, coming on the back of a new cycle of revolutionary struggle which opened in 2000 with the concurrent “water war” in Cochabamba against privatization, the Aymara rebellion on the altiplano (the highlands to the west of La Paz), and the cocalero (coca growers) resistance in the Chapare region. Through a combination of street fighting and parliamentary battles, a policy of consistent alliance building and accumulation of social forces, and by focusing on the key national desires of the people—control over natural resources and a constituent assembly—Morales and the MAS leadership have forged a powerful national movement of liberation.