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Notes on the Revolution / Column 26

Notes on the Revolution / Column 26

November 1, 2019

Political testimony from the Bolivian grassroots

By Charles McKelvey

As we have seen in our Notes on the Revolution of Monday, October 28, the Bolivian Revolution in power since 2006 has affected important changes, taking control of Bolivia’s natural resources and channeling state funds toward benefits for the people, especially the poorest. President Evo Morales was elected on October 21 with 47% of the vote, winning the elections on the first round on the basis of garnering more than 40% of the votes and having more than a 10% margin over his nearest rival. The electoral support for the Movement toward Socialism was less than in the period 2009 to 2014, when the new Constitution of 2009 was approved by 61% and Morales won presidential elections with 64% in 2009 and 63% in 2014. The softening of support is a result of an international and national campaign, directed by the United States, against the Morales government, in which the Bolivian Right, led by owners of large estates, large-scale business persons, and leaders of the traditional political parties, have been able to influence citizens who were supporters neither of the revolutionary government nor of the Right. Their gains with this popular sector may have been a result of the widely disseminated but distorted notion that presidents ought to be limited to two terms, and the general tendency of the people to expect too much from revolutionary processes, as a result of not sufficiently understanding the obstacles that revolutions confront.

We also saw on Monday that Hugo Mordiz, a well-known Bolivian intellectual, maintains that prior to the elections, the Bolivian Right had formulated a plan to not recognize the reelection of Morales on the basis of a claim of electoral fraud. When the election results were announced, the plan was put into operation. The people were called to the streets to protest; gangs burned electoral centers; efforts were made to influence the military to not recognize the results; and appeals were made to international organizations. Popular demonstrations against the electoral results have been far less than popular manifestations in support of Morales, but this is not likely to halt the plan, which will include, Mordiz maintains, U.S. recognition and financial support of an alternative government as well as economic sanctions against Bolivia.

At the Fifth Conference of Strategic Studies, a conference sponsored by the Center for Research on International Policy and held in Havana from October 23 to 25, 2019, I spoke with Sandra Cartagena, a deputy in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly. She provides us with a political testimony from the Bolivian grass roots.

“My name is Sandra Cartagena López. I represent the department of Conchabamba as a deputy in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly. I belong to the party of the Movement toward Socialism, and we have been working all this time with our brother President. During these thirteen years of administration we have had many gains, like the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, which we always have coordinated with the President, for which we Bolivians are very grateful.

“During the last ninety days, we have been involved in a democratic process, in which we again have put forward our own candidate, and we have arrived to the conclusion that on October 20, Bolivians in a massive form have gone to their corresponding ballot box in the different electoral districts. The participation of all the Bolivians is very important, in which we all have participated, with eight political parties. The primary elections have had legitimacy. Our party has found a presence in which once again we have elected our President, where a great percentage of Bolivians have supported our President Evo Morales. We are satisfied with the percentage that we have attained, and at the same time, I want to indicate that we Bolivians are more united than ever, because there is a group of persons, directed by Carlos Mesa and the Citizen Community, where they claim that there has been electoral fraud, in spite of that there has been a tracking of the voting that confirms a difference of more than ten percentage point between the Movement toward Socialism and the party of the Citizen Community. At the present time, 98% of the votes have been counted, but the results of some urban and rural departments are still pending; we are awaiting the final count. I want to indicate that we Bolivians have full confidence in the Electoral Supreme Court. It also is important to point out that there is a delegation that represents the Organization of American States, and it also is tracking this electoral stage, and they have first-hand knowledge of what is happening in Bolivia. As Bolivians, and as women representatives in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, because thanks to President Evo Morales, we have had the participation of women in the Plurinational Legislative Assembly. Fifty-one percent of the Assembly are women, including indigenous, peasant, professional, and non-professional women. We women are very appreciative for having this opportunity to be able to be representatives in the Assembly, women who always are going to support our President, who returned dignity to all women, who are representing at this moment the different departments and the different sectors of social organizations.

“It also is important to point out that in this administration we have worked on different projects in which Bolivia has taken a big step forward, in which we Bolivians from all sectors have worked in a process of social change. We have changed Bolivia. We are proud to be a part of this process of change, because it is important that Bolivia move forward. In thirteen years, we have attained the objectives that as Bolivians we set out to accomplish. For this reason, we are backing our President.

“We have attained a margin of more than ten percent of the Citizen Community, which is a group very racist and discriminating, from the region of the Media Luna, and they do not want to accept what we have attained today, the reelection of our President to the third term. We are organizing all of our social organizations, with our President at the head, to defend that the people of Bolivia once again have placed their trust in us to work for all Bolivians.”

Sandra Cartegena is a foot soldier in a permanent war that Miguel Díaz Canel calls the Third World War. The Cuban President expressed the concept at the Eighteenth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku, Azerbaijan on October 25, 2019, and he declared that the Third World War has already begun, initiated by attacks and aggressions against “peaceful nations, [by} imperial armies, mercenary soldiers, and terrorists that pretend to be liberators combating terrorism or defending democracy, freedom, or human rights.”

Beginning decades ago, we have imagined the Third World War as a devastating conflagration between superpowers. Our image was shaped by our consciousness of the constant conflicts among the global powers, and we were imagining the implications of the next bellicose conflict, given the immense destructive capacity of military technology.

What we were overlooking was the fact that the competing world powers are, if the full truth be told, competing imperialisms. The global powers have been in conflict and competition with one another with respect to which part of the peoples and nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean each has a claim to dominate and superexploit.

Not seeing the imperialist foundation of their power, we have been overlooking the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial movements that imperialism provoked. We have not seen that it is this conflict, the conflict between the imperialist powers and the colonized peoples, that is the fundamental conflict confronting humanity. And it is this conflict that has become increasingly visible as it came to a head, which occurred when the neocolonial world-system overextended the geographical territory of the planet and overreached its ecological limits; and the anti-colonial movements persisted and matured in their demands for and practice of their sovereignty. Now that it has come to a head, the global powers have acted with reckless aggression, demonstrating their incapacity to make necessary structural changes in a world-system built on a colonial foundation; while the colonized have, for the most part, acted with dignity, pointing the direction to an alternative world order based on cooperation among nations, solidarity among peoples, and mutually-beneficial commerce. Thus, there has emerged a global economic, financial, diplomatic, military, and ideological war between imperialist powers and those nations committed to human dignity. It is a permanent war, a war without foreseeable end. It will end when one side or the other prevails, creating either a global military dictatorship or a just, democratic, and sustainable world-system, with a fall into global chaos or human extinction existing as other alternative possibilities.

Bolivia, through its revolution, has emerged as a vanguard nation in the global movement of the colonized, as have Vietnam, China, the People’s Republic of Korea, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Russia. As a foot soldier in this permanent war, Sandra Cartegena strongly identifies with the leader of the movement in her nation, which is common among the soldiers in the global revolution of the colonized. Her loyalty is based on her concrete life experiences. She is grateful for the opportunity to meaningfully participate in a political process of changing her nation and making it better, and she credits President Evo Morales and the Movement toward Socialism for making possible this meaningful life, emancipating her from the exclusion and irrelevance that was supposed to be her fate.

This is Charles McKelvey, reflecting on the unfolding global popular socialist revolution forged by our peoples in defense of humanity.



Edited by Lena Valverde Jordi
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