The working class, that has shown its strength in the streets, must bring its allies together to prepare the victory and found its own political instrument.
The COB’s Days of May, that we analyze in the pages of this Palabra Obrera, changed the Bolivian political map. Evo Morales no longer has the support of the working class, that, in its majority, has just carried out a political experiment with its government, that attacked the workers with a blind anti-worker rage and repression. Evo and García Linera would like to polarize the political scene with the (badly damaged) right wing of Doria Medina and consorts, but the right wing is not able, because among them all, they do not make up one that could challenge the power. They would like for middle-class “public opinion” to believe them, that the miners and the COB “are coup-plotters,” manipulated “by a gang of Trotskyites,” but they do not believe it, because history is there to determine which was the class and the parties that fought and defeated all the military dictatorships in Bolivia. They would like it if the talk against “the privileged leaders” made an impression, but that doesn’t work for them, because in the Huanuni assembly itself, the rank and file are the ones that decided to reduce the leaders’ wages to no more than ten thousand bolivianos, and the workers’ assemblies are the ones that are going to decide the course of the struggle.
The workers’ opposition against Evo Morales’ government has appeared. For that reason, the MAS machine is striving to divide the COB, by promoting “another COB” without wage earners, in an attempt to isolate the poor peasants, as opposed to the mass of workers. Also in the student movement, the MAS machine is promoting a split against those federations, like the FUL of Cochabamba, that showed up in support of the measures of the COB. There is a reason for so much ill will against the workers’ and people’s organizations of struggle, so much government expenditure in order to “mobilize,” with their machine, the peasants’ organizations, that have been manipulated by the government! Government speeches are less and less embellished with “anti-imperialism”: since the COB’s days of May, Evo and García Linera have used words and millions in resources against the new “public enemy No. 1” of the multi-ethnic state: the struggle of the working class for its legitimate, unfulfilled needs.
The official argument about the Pensions Law is unfounded; it is rather for the government’s supporters. The alleged lack of resources is refuted daily.
“Total foreign sales of natural gas, up to the month of April, reached $1.972 billion USD, a total that exceeds by 26.3% the same period last year, when only $1.561 billion USD was recorded for this same item,” according to preliminary data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE). To top it all, the Pension Funds Administrators (AFP) continue getting substantial earnings under “the process of change.” According to data from the International Association of Pension Supervision Organizations (AIOS), in 2009 the AFP in Bolivia got revenues of $41 USD per contributor as a commission (these swindlers get more than a “Dignity” Income of 250 bolivianos for each future pensioner). If we multiply this by all the real contributors (45% of the 1.5 million members) in 2011 and 2012 alone, they accumulated around $118,000,000 USD, to which are added $49 million, that this capital yields. The expropriation of the AFP, something that the COB leadership has not even suggested, would be a basic measure of a government that says it is “anti-neoliberal” (since it is not a big revolutionary measure, far from it, given that it was adopted even by Cristina Kirchner’s government in Argentina). These bankers and speculators from the AFP are the privileged people of Bolivia, next to the transnational petroleum corporations and the soybean businessmen! But Evo and Linera made it clear that those privileges are untouchable in “the process of change.” This government, although it rants and raves about the businessman Doria Medina, nevertheless protects the profits of the social class of the Doria Medinas, and, obviously, if the rich do not pay, we, the workers and the people, pay.
But, as we said in the previous issue of Palabra Obrera, the COB leadership did not have a program to win. In order to defeat the government, it is necessary that the working class fight for the base of support that the MAS keeps among strata of the peasantry and self-employed workers. That is, a course of consistent action, so that businessmen will pay with high taxes, that will make possible a decent income for everyone. The way to prevent the poor peasants from being used as a base for the state to maneuver, and win them for the workers’ and people’s cause, is to raise, at the expense of the capitalists, the demand for a universal income for everyone, peasants and self-employed workers, of at least 1200 bolivianos (the minimum wage set by the ruling party) in order to overcome the poverty of the so-called “dignity income,” [“renta dignidad”], that is in no way decent [“digno”]. In that struggle, it is necessary to forge the unity of workers, poor peasants, and self-employed workers, and the predominant power of the working class, leading all the exploited people of Bolivia against the exploiters from the ruling class. The declaration of the organizations of the peoples of the TIPNIS, in favor of the COB strike, in the midst of the struggle, was a big political act in that sense of the unity of the exploited, but it was completely underestimated by the COB leadership (which already became distracted in the big marches against the highways).
It is impossible to win if the syndicalist and corporate blinders of the COB’s bureaucratic leaders are not overcome. For that reason, the limits of this first part of the struggle reaffirm the need for the Workers Party (WP). The WP was the “other enemy” stated in the speeches of Evo Morales, García Linera, and their ministers, that put it on the national scene. The COB leadership yielded to pressure from the government supporters and did not defend the WP approved by 1,300 delegates in Huanuni. The government fears a political leadership of the working class, in collaboration with the COB and, especially, with its organizations of the rank and file and assemblies. A party of class-conscious militants that is not intimidated in front of the enemy and knows how to bring together its allies for common objectives, in order to be victorious in the struggle in the streets, as well as also knowing how to use the parliamentary platform for that strategic aim.
The Workers Party, that is going to have its Second Congress in Oruro this coming June 28 and 29, is the best antidote against this government’s demagogy and the best way to overcome the isolation of the workers from the masses of peasants, by raising the demands for all the dispossessed masses of all of Bolivia, with the perspective of a workers’ government, in alliance with the peasants, the original peoples, and the poor, as is inscribed in Founding Program of the First Congress of Huanuni.
A new internationalist perspective
Since the neoliberal counter-revolution (a real capitalist restoration) was imposed 30 years ago, we have been subjected to an ideological campaign to point out that the working class will never again be able to have the leading role in historic days, as in the Paris Commune, the 1917 Russian Revolution, or the great 1952 revolution in Bolivia. The days of May, of more than 15 days of a general strike of the Bolivian COB show, on the contrary, a recomposition of the working class, that is again proposing itself as an organizer of all the oppressed and exploited people that are confronting the capitalist governments. This recomposition of the working class, that has just had a milestone in Bolivia, is international. It is also being expressed on the European continent with big general strikes against the attempt to unload the crisis onto the workers, in the increasing emergence of the new proletariat of the “lung of capitalism,” in China and in Asia, at the beginning of the break with the Peronist government by the workers of Argentina, in the current struggles of the government workers of Peru and the renewed strength of the strikes by fishery workers in Chile.
We must get ready, with the perspective of big social upheavals, fueled by the world capitalist crisis, by organizing the class-conscious forces of the anti-capitalist struggle, both in the unions and in the student movement, in order to create forces related to the working class, and by calling all the social movements of the oppressed, the poor, environmentalists, feminists, to unite, to combine in a common cause, together with the working class in all countries, in order to put an end to this decadent system.
Translated by Yosef M.