permanent revolution in the andes?

24 10 2010

David Broder reviews S. Sándor John’s history of Bolivian Trotskyism

It is commonplace for western leftists to reduce Bolivia to a mere appendage of developments in Venezuela and Cuba. Yet it is in Bolivia itself that there is the strongest movement from below of any country in the Americas. Despite its relative economic underdevelopment and the small size of its working class, the rich heritage of class struggle in the country is the envy of most of the rest of the world.

Moreover, Bolivia is unique for its political culture. This has been shaped by the failure of Stalinism and classical social democracy to sink roots; significant indigenous and peasant movements; it is the only country apart from Sri Lanka and Vietnam where Trotskyism has found mass influence.

S. Sándor John’s book Bolivia’s Radical Tradition is a history of Bolivian Trotskyism written by a member of a Trotskyist organisation in the USA, the Internationalist Group. It offers a valuable insight into a much-ignored history, and is also important in what it tells us about Trotskyist politics more generally. Read the rest of this entry »





general strike in bolivia

17 05 2010

The last two weeks have seen a series of general strikes in Bolivia, both called by the ‘official’ union federation COB and organised on the impulse of manufacturing workers and teachers. The workers are demanding a pay increase above the 5% figure advanced by Evo Morales’ left-populist government.

With occupations and some workers going on hunger strike for over a week, and police repression which has seen two deaths and thirty injuries (as well as the arrest of fifteen people occupying the Ministry of Work), the struggle is hard-fought. In this article Martín Camacho of Socialismo o Barbarie looks at the background to the struggle. Read the rest of this entry »





el alto, bastion of social struggles in bolivia

9 02 2010

by Bruno Miranda

Even if in the context of the 1952 revolution the centrality of mining workers was indisputable, today the shape of the working class has changed. It is true that manufacturing workers remain an important part of the Bolivian working class, but the casualisation of labour relations and informal economy have created a large majority of the working class facing unfavourable conditions for organising.

In Bolivia there have been at least seven important uprisings in the last decade, based on the struggle over the control of natural resources [1]. Among these it is worth mentioning the battle normally called the “Gas War” of September-October 2003, and the “Second Water War” in May-June 2005, both of them in the city of El Alto. Read the rest of this entry »





state capitalism and communism-from-below in latin america

28 09 2009

David Broder’s talk to The Commune’s recent Manchester forum

The class struggle in Latin America is one that has always roused great interest and a certain romanticism among the western left. The continent has seen a number of heroic struggles against often savage exploitation and state repression, whether by the industrial working class, landless peasants or indigenous peoples. But the politics of the Latin American left are complex and often mischaracterised.

zelayacorreachavezortegamorales

I’m going to talk about the recent history of Latin America and the relationship of US imperialism to national ruling classes; in what ways this has shaped the major left trends and the workers’ movement on the continent; and the different types of movement that exist today.  Read the rest of this entry »





the commune’s pamphlets: reprints now available

10 06 2009

More copies of our pamphlet series, many of which had sold out, are now available. The text of each of  the seven pamphlets is online (see the list of subjects below), but you can also order paper copies – £1 +50p postage per copy.

communestall

Write to uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to place your order. We take payment by cheque (addressed to ‘The Commune’, at The Commune, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St. John Street, London EC1V 4PY) or by transfer to Co-op account S/C 089299, A/C 65317440. Read the rest of this entry »





bolivia: the working class and the morales government

16 05 2009

Bolivia’s trade unions are increasingly being incorporated into the state, but some sections of the labour movement are arguing for the re-affirmation of the historic goals of the working class and reclaiming the political indepedence of the unions faced with Evo Morales’ MAS government and the right.

by Enrique Ormachea

Since its foundation, the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB – Bolivia’s main trade union federation) has incorporated into its political principles the central points of the Pulacayo Thesis, including the political independence of trade union organizations. Today, the MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) government of Evo Morales is trying to take absolute control of the union leaderships, with the objective of converting them into feeble bodies which cover for his ever more blatantly anti-working class and anti-peasant policies.

COB

Much of the trade union leadership has been developing policies openly contrary to the principles of political independence upheld by Bolivian trade unionism, acting against even the resolutions of the last COB Congress. Read the rest of this entry »





bolivia: the struggle for control of the unions

7 05 2009

an Econoticias Bolivia editorial

La Paz, 30th April 2009 – the combative Bolivian working class has begun its May Day celebrations in the midst of a hard-fought struggle among the leadership of the Central Obrera Boliviana [the main union federation - COB], which has begun to fight actively as part of the ranks of the pro-indigenous government of president Evo Morales, whilst the radical miners’ and teachers’ unions are fighting to defend an independent class-struggle position and initiate a struggle over workers’ demands.

bolivia 051

Some believe that the unions should forget, at least for the moment, the poverty and exploitation workers suffer, putting their economic and social demands on hold in order to back the indigenous government which is working to humanise capitalism and make it fairer, and which is also confronted by the oligarchy and the fascists. Others argue in reply that workers must win back their independence, putting the brakes on mounting exploitation and taking back the agenda of October [2003's general strike], smashing the power of the oligarchy by taking over the mines, factories and agricultural estates.
Read the rest of this entry »





evo morales and the constitutional referendum in bolivia

23 01 2009

In September 2008 we carried extensive coverage of the coup attempt by white right-wing oligarchs in the east of Bolivia, who wanted to split the country, overthrow Evo Morales’ soft-left MAS government and crush the mighty workers’ movement. There were numerous racist attacks on indigenous people, with dozens massacred by fascist militias. As Morales vacillated and called on the mass movement triggered by the coup attempts to keep ‘calm’, it was up to the urban poor, indigenous peasants and workers to defend themselves. Eventually the failure of the coup resulted in Morales sitting down to talks with the oligarchy, and after making concessions over his planned State Political Constitution, the document will go to a country-wide referendum on Sunday 25th. The article below examining the issues is a translation of a piece by Socialismo o Barbarie.

Before the constitutional referendum of Sunday 25th January 2009, we say…

Neither the ‘no’ of the reactionary racist oligarchy in the east…

Nor the ‘yes’ of MAS, which wants to introduce “Andean capitalism…

We call for abstention!

Declaration by Socialismo o Barbarie Bolivia
La Paz, 22nd January 2009

Read the rest of this entry »





morales tones down constitution to secure his re-election

23 10 2008

Bolivia’s President makes a deal with the parliamentary right-wing and seals the ratification of a bill calling a referendum on the new Constitution. The far-right, the fascist governors and the ‘hardest’ oligarchs, who control half the country, are preparing resistance and civil disobedience.

La Paz, October 21st 2008 – translated from Econoticias Bolivia

Early this Tuesday evening president Evo Morales could boast of achieving half of his objectives after the Bolivian Congress voted for the staging of a referendum in three months’ time to ratify his new State Political Constitution, re-formulated at the eleventh hour with right wing MPs, who agreed to make legal the re-election of the president, in exchange for eliminating from the constitution’s text all reforms they considered radical. Read the rest of this entry »





between secession, revolution and suicidal deals

6 10 2008

The Commune has published many reports from Bolivia, mostly translations of articles by the trade union news website Econoticias. We have also established contact with Socialismo o Barbarie, a group who have comrades in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and Paraguay as well as Bolivia, and so are pleased to publish this translation of a recent SoB report on the social crisis there.

Bolivia on the brink of partition
By José Luis Rojo and Martín Camacho
From Socialismo o Barbarie in La Paz, 17th September

“The fascists shall not pass: the people will crush them”.
La Paz – Once again, events are moving rapidly in Bolivia. After two years of relative “calm” in the class struggle (2006-2007) in recent months the social and political convulsions traversing the country have again become red-hot.
Read the rest of this entry »





the fascists make a mockery of morales’ dialogue

23 09 2008

The Bolivian government has mobilised indigenous people and peasants to achieve an alliance with the separatist oligarchy. The “dialogue of the deaf” continues on Thursday. An Econoticias Bolivia editorial, translated from the Spanish. Read the rest of this entry »





socialismo o barbarie: 21st september ’08

23 09 2008

Readers of the commune keen to learn more about the class struggle in Latin America (and who can understand Spanish) may well be interested in the website of Socialismo o Barbarie. This group have activists and publish papers in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Paraguay, and they tell us that they are soon to establish a section in Honduras.

The group publishes a weekly newsletter each Sunday, and the 21st September issue includes this lucid piece by José Luís Rojo and Martín Camacho in La Paz on the current situation in Bolivia. Due to the length of the article we are yet to translate it into English, but will do so shortly.

We can also advertise the latest issue of their Bolivian newspaper Socialismo o Barbarie, which carries the front page headline “Don’t negotiate with the fascists: crush them”.  Click here for the pdf (Spanish language).





bolivian union disapproves of morales’ negotiations with fascists

19 09 2008

translated from the spanish from econoticias bolivia

The Central Obrera Boliviana sees no value in the current dialogue between the indigenous-peasant government and the separatist oligarchy. The president is urging the fascist governors to sign a grand national accord in the next four to five days. Read the rest of this entry »





witnesses to the pando massacre

18 09 2008

Below are eye-witness reports from the massacre perpetrated by fascists in Pando province, northern Bolivia, on Thursday 11th September, in which thirty peasants were killed and fifty wounded. Over one hundred people are still missing. 

This video (the speech is all in Spanish but the footage can speak for itself) show fascists shooting at peasants as they swim across the river in a desperate effort to escape the violence.

Read the rest of this entry »








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