Social movements approve strategy: Evo Morales organises offensive to defeat the fascist right

Hugo Moldiz


Convinced that it is necessary to have a correct reading of the results and mandates of the August 10 recall referendum with gave him 68% support in all the country, and that his indisputable hegemony in the west was strengthen by the triumph in the majority of the provinces of the so-called Half Moon (east), President Evo Morales and the social movements, who have called for the victory to be well administered, know that it is necessary to finish off the mortally wounded right that was defeat in order to ensure that it can not recuperate itself.

Just 15 days after obtaining a historic victory in the recall referendum, with the support of 68% of the country, Bolivian president Evo Morales has decided to further support himself on the force of the people and its mobilisation in order to confront the destabilisation plans of the ultra right, and make a reality the August 10 mandate: have a new Political Constitution of the State, reappropriate the banner of autonomy and establish a new form of distribution of state resources.

The decision is has been more than opportune in order to respond to a counter offensive that the right is seeking to make concrete, after its defeat in the popular consultation, through a destabilisation plan using violent, economic and judicial means which they hope to radicalise from Monday onwards.

Lacking political parties, the dominant classes, lead by the agroexporting, cattle ranching and commercial bourgeoisie - the most conservative of the old historic bloc that still continues to resist dying - have found in the form of the civic committees and the mass media the instruments to resist the process of change and to deal blows, on the political, physical and symbolic sphere, against Evo Morales and the project of emancipation that he represents.

The civic committees of five departments of the broadened “Half Moon” (Santa Cruz, Beni, Tarija, Pando and the city of Sucre) in the last few days have moved from a hunger strike, to a 24 hour stoppage and another day of road blocks, to the execution of a plan aimed at the take over of public institutions, oil fields and the suspension of the distribution of meat and other products to the Bolivian west.

To these actions, until now rejected by the population, have been added the now common violent operations carried out by paramilitary groups at the urging of the Cruceñista Youth Union (UJC) that during the last few days have not only been directed at leaders and militants of the social movements but also police officers who have suffered blows and aggressions of all types.

The government knows it has to put a halt to this. The social movements demanded this on Saturday in the meeting they had with President Morales where they agreed to unite all political and social forces to deepen the process of change and defeat the agonising right wing, according the head of state.

Governments and social movements approved a line of march of advancing towards the approval, via a referendum, of the new Political Constitution of the State and the recuperation of the banner of autonomy that the right have utilised very well as part of their destabilising objectives.

The constitution approved last December by the Constituent Assembly leaves behind the monocultural state and recognises the plurinational character of the Bolivian social formation, broadens out representative democracy with the incorporation of forms of direct and communitarian democracy, emphasises the active role of the state and communitarian economy within the national economy, respects private property as long as it compiles with a socio-economic function, prohibits the installation of foreign military bases on national territory and contains a wide number of social rights for children, youth and older people, never before seen in 183 years of republican history.

The proposed constitution recognises four types of autonomy – departmental, regional, indigenous-originario-peasant and municipal (which already exists) – with which it surpasses the proposal of the dominant classes that only talks of departmental autonomy.

The government has expressed its disagreement with only implementing departmental autonomy with the criteria that it reproduces the centralism so criticised, bureaucratises and impedes access to resources for the municipalities and indigenous communities and restricts democracy.

Basing themselves on the victory in 95 of the 112 provinces in the country, which means a triumph in a majority of the provinces in the Half Moon, the government and the social movements have moreover adopted the decision to move towards the election of councilors and subprefects in all the country.

Along the same line, the government and the social movements ratified on Saturday that the resources of the state have to be distributed along similar criteria and that all levels of government – national and subnational – have to contribute to the sustainability of the social measures put in march during two and half years of government, such as the Dignity Rent that favours people over the age of 60 with a payment of 3000 bolivianos per year.

This line of work, whose mandate has already been built into the social imaginary on August 10, will translate itself into an offensive in all spheres, from the parliamentary to the social, and will count, above all else, on the solid unity that the president has called for in these decisive moments for the Bolivian revolution.

Translated from La Epoca

Hugo Blanco on the Indigenous Struggle in Amazonia

Ian Angus

On August 22, Indigenous people in the Amazon rain forest areas of Peru celebrated a victory in their struggle against laws that promote privatization of communally owned land.

Last October, the country’s right-wing president, Alan García, outraged Indigenous communities by saying their refusal to permit exploitation of timber, oil and minerals on their lands was a result of “taboo, laziness, indolence or the law of the gardener’s dog that says: ‘If I don’t do it, no one can.’” Garcia continued:

“In addition to real peasant communities, there are artificial communities that have title to 200 thousand hectares but farm only 10 thousand hectares, leaving the rest idle, while the people, who live in extreme poverty, look to the state for help.”

“The anti-capitalist communist of the 19th Century, who disguised himself as a protectionist in the 20th Century, has in the 21st Century adopted the cloak of environmentalism. But always anti-capitalist, anti-investment…”[1]

García’s neoliberal goal is elimination of Indigenous communal property rights in the Amazon basin, releasing this environmentally sensitive area for development of timber, oil and minerals with an estimated value of 3.5 billion dollars.

Under Peru’s 1979 Constitution, communally-owned land could not be sold. That clause was removed by the notorious Fujimori government in 1993; the only remaining legal protection was a law that requires a two-thirds vote of the community involved before land could be sold or leased. This year, García took a further step towards privatization, reducing the requirement to a simple majority vote. He made the change unilaterally, using powers granted to him by Congress to implement the recently-signed free trade agreement with the United States.

On August 9, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, some 700 members of the Aguaruna Indigenous community occupied an oil pumping station in the Peruvian Amazon region, demanding repeal of the new laws and restoration of the provisions of the 1979 constitution. Similar occupations, road blockades, and strikes quickly spread across the forest regions of Peru, involving some 12,000 people in 63 communities.

There were clashes between police and protestors in a number of areas, including the city of Bagua Chica, where urban dwellers joined with Indigenous forces to expel the police from the town. On August 18, García declared a state of emergency, suspending civil liberties, banning public meetings in three provinces, and sending in 1,500 armed soldiers.

García refused to negotiate with the protestors, but growing popular outrage forced members of Congress to intervene. On Friday, August 22, the Congress voted 66 to 29 to disallow García’s decrees. It remains to be seen whether the repeal will hold, since under the constitution García can send the law back to Congress with revisions, and he still has emergency powers. Nevertheless, news reports say that there has been widespread celebration in the forest areas.

The following statement was distributed in Peru by supporters of the newspaper Lucha Indígena (Indigenous Struggle), shortly before the Congress vote. It was written by Hugo Blanco, the legendary peasant leader in the mountainous Cuzco region. For more information about Blanco and the Indigenous movement in South and Central America, see the links at the end of the article.


Translation Note: In this article, Hugo Blanco uses the phrase “Buen Vivir,” which translates literally as “Living Well” but implies much more. A central concept in the Andes Indigenous world vision, it has been defined by Bolivian president Evo Morales as “Thinking not only in terms of income per capita but of cultural identity, community, and harmony among ourselves and with our Mother Earth.”

Rosalia Paiva, the Quechua liberation activist and author who suggested this quotation from Morales, adds the following information:

“Our brother Hugo, in writing of Buen Vivir, is referring to Sumak Kausay or Allin Kausay. This was a central element in the lives of our Inca ancestors. Allin Kausay means to live in harmony with yourself, with the natural world, and with society. Allin means ‘splendid,’ Kausay means ‘life,’ or, better, ‘existence.’ Allin Kausay is composed of a diversity of factors including knowledge, ethical and spiritual codes of conduct, the relationship with the environment, human values, and the vision of the future. In this sense, it is a category that is in constant development in the life of Andean/Amazonian peoples. For more on this, go to http://mamapacha.org/allinkausay.html.”


The Struggle in Amazonia: A Clash of Cultures and Philosophies

Alan García’s philosophy of “progress” and the “gardener’s dog”
— against the philosophy of Buen Vivir, solidarity, and respect for nature.

Hugo Blanco

August 2008

For millennia, the rain forest has been inhabited by native communities, who over many years learned from nature how to live there.

They domesticated plants and adapted them for human consumption, including such species as papayas and cassava.

They knew how to heal: from them the world learned about quinine, which saved the life of the future Sun King of France. They taught us about Cat’s Claw and many other natural medicines.[2]

They know how to cultivate the land without destroying the thin and fragile layer of fertile soil. Copying nature, they cultivate different species with different life cycles together in a small area. Then after a time they move their agriculture elsewhere, returning the land they had been using to the forest.

They do not need to raise cattle, which is destructive; they fish and hunt.

They do not separate work from relaxation. They go for a stroll, and when they find something to hunt, they do so. They harvest wild fruits. If, as they pass through cultivated areas, they find something that is ripe they pick it; if something needs fixing, they fix it; if there is something to plant, they plant it.

They are not “owners” of the earth, they are its children.

Five centuries ago the European invaders came. Since then they and their descendants have been going into the forest to destroy it.

The first of the great invading predators sought rubber. Then came the big landowners who cleared the jungle for destructive plantations and even more destructive ranching, gold prospectors, loggers, and now the devastating oil companies.

Many natives have been adversely affected to a greater or lesser degree by the capitalist invasion. Some have fled contact with the civilization that destroyed their essential living space, that enslaved and murdered them, that exposed them to contagious diseases they had never known before.

Today the invaders are attacking the jungle primarily to extract oil and gas, but they are also cutting down forests for timber and to clear land for livestock. They are cutting and burning to impose new types of agriculture.

Killing the jungle will kill its native peoples.

Killing the Amazon will kill the lungs of the world.

We defend our Amazonian brothers who are defending the world.

The invaders claim their aggression is legal, justifying it with “laws” that they wrote while excluding Indigenous people from participation or consultation.

These laws “recognize” that the surface area belongs to the native communities, but not the wealth beneath the soil, which belongs to the invaders’ state.

Alan García said that the natives are “the gardener’s dog” who doesn’t eat the plants and won’t let others eat — so we must give way to multinational companies. Most recently he issued a series of decrees that allow “unproductive lands” to be seized — to hand them over, of course, to the big business predators in the name of “progress,” promoting the “legal” destruction of the rain forest.

Those who think they are white discriminate against Indigenous people from the highlands. Those who are considered white, creole or non-Indigenous, together with whites and Indigenous people from the highlands, discriminate against the natives of the rain forest, calling them “savages.”

Now, those who are discriminated against by other victims of discrimination are teaching the country’s exploited majority how to respond to attacks by big business and by Alan García and its other servants.

In various parts of the jungle, they have risen up peacefully and massively to block the continued attacks on the Amazon region. They have crippled oil extraction and electrical production.

The government has declared a state of emergency in those areas.

It has sent armed police to counter this “illegal” activity, but the natives have peacefully disarmed them.

There have been clashes with police in several areas.

The military is publicly preparing to attack the civilian population, which will lead to deaths and injuries.

The natives want to be masters of their future. They will decide what should be kept from the past and what aspects of the present should be adopted.

What they have taught us

That it is not enough to challenge the validity of the oppressors’ laws; we must respond with action.

  • That we need to act simultaneously in several areas.
  • That it is possible to disarm the repressive forces.

How will the fight continue?

This depends on the actions of the other exploited people in the country, and on solidarity from abroad.

If they stand alone, it’s likely that Alan García will murder them, as his long record of criminal actions demonstrates.

If we join their struggle, they will win and their triumph will be ours. It will lift our spirits and encourage the poor people of Peru to follow in their footsteps.

We likewise prefer Buen Vivir, albeit in our own way and not that of the rain forest. Although we can see it only in outline, we are confident that it will be based on collectivist principles, on solidarity, on our past and other aspects of our cultural heritage, on love and respect for nature whose children we are.

We know that this pits us against the so-called “progress” that causes global warming and the extinction of the human species, including:

  • The poisoning of water and soil by multinational oil and mining companies.
  • The poisoning of rivers, lakes and seas by other industrial activity.
  • The thinning of the ozone layer that protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • Atomic Energy.
  • Agrochemicals.
  • Agrofuels.
  • Genetically modified foods.
  • And more.

Support the culture of life that our brothers in the jungle are struggling for!

Crush the culture of death defended by multinational corporations and their servant Alan García!

Translated for Socialist Voice
by Ian Angus and John Riddell


Related Reading


[1] Alan García, “El síndrome del perro del hortelano.” El Comercio, 28 October 2007. The term “gardener’s dog” comes from a Peruvian proverb similar to the English expression “dog in the manger.” The gardener’s dog doesn’t wish to eat the cabbage, and won’t let anyone else eat it either.

[2] Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is an anti-inflammatory herb used in Peru since Inca times to treat a variety of illnesses.