The organic veins of Latin America and the challenge to neoliberal formulae

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Evo won! The process of change won. By a small difference, after the count, the ruling party ticket surpassed the barrier of ten percentage points over the second candidate, Carlos Mesa. The representative of neoliberalism was the former vice-president of “Goñi”, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who had been responsible for the virulent repression of social movements in Black October 2003, and since then a refugee in the United States.  After his precipitous resignation, Mesa occupied the Executive for the next twenty months.


As was foreseeable, the opposition does not respect the results and is now calling on their followers to refuse to recognize the triumph and the re-election of Morales Ayma. They denounce fraud that they would also loudly denounce over any adverse result, in the first or the second round. As this latter option has escaped their hands, the tone has become violent and with coup overtones.


In the legislature, the Government lost its ample two-thirds majority, but retains the majority in both chambers.


With this victory, those who win are the poorest sectors of Bolivia, the peasantry, the workers and the lower middle class in process of social empowerment. The forces of the left and progressivism are also celebrating with jubilation across Latin America and the Caribbean.


After the logical wear and tear of a period of more than thirteen years in government, the emergence of a new generation in Bolivia, the dirty war of very bad-taste fake news, the secessionist and racist exacerbation, the appearance of a far-right evangelical candidate and the conspiratorial work of the tentacles of the United States, what is the key to the new triumph of Bolivia’s first president of indigenous and peasant origin?


The organic veins of the Process of Change


The democratic legitimacy of the victory of the ruling party ticket is not only due to the electoral mathematics (over 40% and a difference of 10% over the second), but also to the support and representativeness that the peasant-indigenous and workers people’s organizations confer on the government. The former, initially grouped in the Pact of Unity, later in the CONALCOM, represent the entire arc of discriminated rurality, who were excluded, until 2006, from any decision-making and power in public policies.


These were the forces that made up the bulk of the resistance to the last–neoliberal– stretch of centuries-long exploitation. At the same time, they constitute the complex popular organism that gave life to a sovereign and plurinational revolution, that brought cultural dignity in the attempt to expand the democratic frontiers of a racist and plutocratic state, alienated by the oligarchy and servile to multinational interests.


The power of the peasant-indigenous organization is related to a demographic matrix whose way of life and historical memory exhibits strong community traits. Although today some 70% of the Bolivian population now lives in urban areas, internal migration has transferred that mental structure to the peripheral sectors of the cities.


For their part, the workers, mostly represented by the Bolivian Worker’s Confederation (COB), are the living memory of a long and painful struggle of miners and other manufacturing sectors to overcome humiliation and acquire the most elemental human rights. Heirs of the nationalist Revolution of 1952, they complete the conglomerate of rebels who, with sometimes very critical support, form part of the popular network that sustains the Process of Change.


The popular legitimacy of Evo Morales has much to do with his poor and peasant origins, but it is founded above all in his track-record as a coca-farming social leader and builder of peasant-indigenous unity of all regions and his political instrument, MAS-IPSP. A tool through which these organizations managed to occupy institutional space and have influence on public policies.


Likewise, Evo Morales has fulfilled the role of mediating in the urban-rural tensions and of establishing an unstable balance between the native culture of Good Living and the aspirations of human development dependent on the advance of an economy that was previously very precarious. This paradox increases if one remembers that this unprecedented revolution based the electoral triumph of Sunday October 20 on premises of stability and growth.


The white and blue ballot boxes


The immense majority of Argentines were hoping for the triumph of the opposition headed by Alberto Fernández and seconded, from an undeniable political centrality, by the ex-President Cristina Fernández. The social debacle produced by the neoliberalism of a delinquent mob proves them right.


The victory of the Frente de Todos is the product of the unity of (almost) all the sectors opposed to the Macri policies, concluding the nefarious period and returning hope to an asphyxiated Argentine people. A people disposed to face the consequences of their political errors and “move forward”.


The unity of forces that includes various political sectors (of Liberation Theology, the national left, communists, humanists, Bolivarians, radical Alphonsinists, the small and medium business sector, peasants, among others), is congregated around the Peronist movement. A movement whose structure comes from its labour and trade union origins–at times more bureaucratic, at others more demanding–and has a significant political base of provincial and municipal governments. These governments are those that in poorer provinces and municipalities provide many jobs that, combined with an indispensable structure of social assistance, make up an undeniable structure of power. From them emerges an important flow of votes and mobilization, but also a federalist counterweight to the omnipresent centralism of Buenos Aires, inherited from colonial history, a centralism that condenses Macrism into a symbol and political presence.


Added to these organic political formations, are people’s movements that generally act in the peripheries where extreme poverty wreaks havoc. The combination of urgent demands (habitat, programs of work and self-built housing, social wages, strengthening of the popular economy) together with a multiplicity of direct actions of human development have projected these movements to become important pillars of expression and people’s action.


Other organic expressions have also proliferated strongly in Argentina. Feminist initiatives and networks, activism in defense of the environment, coalitions for democratic communication, human rights bodies, cultural groups, that together with innumerable social, cultural and sports activities paint an organic map that connects Argentina in depth.


(This is an extract from a longer article, published in Spanish)


- Javier Tolcachier is a researcher with the Centro de Estudios Humanistas de Córdoba, Argentina and a communicator with the international agency of news Pressenza.
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