Bolivia: Long live the revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle of the workers and peasants


The recent uprising in Bolivia in the last months has taken the world’s centre stage. The workers and peasants rose up in their tens of thousands and forced the hated President ‘Goni’ to flee to Miami. But the revolution was stopped halfway by the leaders of the peasants’ and workers organizations’ who made deals with Goni’s replacement, another US stooge, Mesa. The leaflet below was a joint statement published during the recent uprising in Bolivia before the resignation of Goni in October? It raises the central question of the necessity for a nationwide workers’ congress to prepare for a Workers’ and Peasant’s Government. These demands were reprinted in the paper of our fraternal group Poder Obrero of Bolivia at the height of the struggle in September.

Long live the heroic revolutionary and anti-imperialist struggle of the Bolivian workers and peasants!

Long live the general strike with road blockages across all the nation!

For a workers’ and peasants’ government of the United National Leadership, the COB and of all the workers’ and peasants’ organizations that take part in it, based on the workers’ and peasants’ militia and on the self-organization of the workers and the people!

Out with imperialism and its blood sucking monopolies from Bolivia and the whole Latin America!

On Saturday 20th of September, the land of Bolivia was once again stained with workers’ and peasants’ blood. The army and police assassins, sent by the US lackey Sánchez de Lozada, irrupted with blood and fire in the localities of Warisata and Sorata, where workers and peasants were maintaining a total blockade of roads against the selling of the natural gas resources to the US, for the right to produce coca and for land for the peasants. Six more workers and peasants martyrs fell murdered, among them, a woman and her eight year old daughter; dozens were wounded, imprisoned or missing.

This new massacre of Sánchez de Lozada’s -"Goni" - government and the military-backeed regime, under a new agreement with Yankee imperialism, the gas and oil barons and the officer caste of the army, was perpetrated the day after tens of thousands of workers and peasants went into the streets of La Paz, Cochabamba, Oruro and the main cities of the country, extending the peasants’ road blocks against the extraordinary plundering of Bolivian gas proposed by imperialism, the oil monopolies and the government. Once more the Bolivian workers and people rose up shouting the slogans "the gas is ours and not of the foreigners"; "With the gas and the coca, the future of our sons". “Out with the gringos!"

But the massacre of Warisata did not demoralise the heroic Bolivian workers and peasants. On the contrary, while taking care of their martyrs, they prepared for battle again. In Warisata, they organized a workers’ and peasants’ militia to defend their lives from the assassin army. In Sorata, the people rose up, set fire to the prefecture, the hotels, the police stations, and the city is in the hands of the insurgent workers and peasants, who have declared themselves in a "state of civil war". Thousands of workers and peasants in the province of Omasuyos - where Warisata and Sorata are - met on September 22 in a general assembly, raising the demands "Death to Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada", "Civil war, civil war", and "the gas is not for sale", and demanding the head of the ministers of Government and of Defense and that of Goni himself.

The indefinite road blocks are now all over the country, leaving La Paz surrounded and forcing the closure of the markets in the capital city. The CSUTCB (Peasants’ Central trade-union) declared a national mourning for 30 days with road blockages and peasants’ strike, along with a peasants’ ‘state of siege’ -which means that the soldiers and the police officers cannot safely patrol the peasants’ communities. At the same time, it has called on the workers and peasants "to occupy the sub-prefectures, municipal offices, and military posts, so that the Wipala (the flag of the indigenous people) is the only national flag raised".

Today, the workers and the peasants of Bolivia have forced their leaderships - the COB, Quispe, Morales - to set up a United National Leadership of Mobilisations, and to call for a general road blockage and for the indefinite general strike from September 29th, in the defense of the gas, for their particular demands which includes the resignation of the murderous government of Goni and his military regime.

So, the workers and the peasants have risen up again, breaking the truce made last February with the government by the leadership of the COB, Quispe and Evo Morales - members of the World Social Forum -, a truce that aborted the revolutionary uprising when the workers and peasants were mobilising against Goni’s government and his military forces, faced the army in the streets, threatening to divide it and causing divisions among the officers, and beginning the Fourth Bolivian revolution, under the battle cry "Rifles, shrapnel, Bolivia will not be silenced".

Down with Sánchez de Lozada! Throw the imperialist pirates out of Bolivia!

Long live the heroic struggle and the general strike of our Bolivian brothers and sisters, who show the way for all the Latin American workers and exploited people, breaking the truces and the pacts imposed by the reformist leaderships grouped in the World Social Forum, and confronting the imperialist plunderers and their lackey governments and regimes!

Long live "the war for the gas" of Bolivian workers and peasants!

Fight Yankee imperialism, the imperialist oil monopolies, and the servile government that wants to steal the gas resources!

After having plundered the mineral riches of Bolivia for decades, after having taken the oil, after having left the country exhausted and in ruins, and the workers and peasants in misery, this gang of robbers who are the imperialist oil monopolies, Sánchez de Lozada and the Bolivian bourgeoisie, are ready to perpetrate a new extraordinary robbery against the people. The prize is very valuable: Bolivia has enormous gas reserves, valued at US$80 billion (when the GDP of this country is only US$8 billion), while the vast majority of the population has to use firewood to cook, and suffers cold without heating. The government has decreed the selling of the natural gas to an imperialist consortium (Pacific LNG, a consortium of YPF Repsol, British Gas and British Petroleum), which will build a gas pipeline to the Chilean port of Patillos and from there ship the gas to the United States. This business would make US$1.3 billion dollars of profit per year for 20 years (i.e., US$26 billion dollars!) for this monopoly and Bolivia will get only US$70 million dollars per year in royalties (i.e., US$1.4 billion in 20 years!

The same Yankee butchers and their greedy corporations that invaded and occupied Iraq to get its oil, today want to steal the Bolivian workers’ and peasants’ gas! How true was the cry of our Bolivian class brothers and sisters when, during the mobilizations against the war of Iraq, they shouted: "To Iraq for its oil, to Kollasuyu (indigenous name for Bolivia) for its gas; Gringos out of Iraq!”

Today, before such blatant robbery, the exemplary struggle of the workers and the peasants of Bolivia shows once more that they are not willing to be plundered. They had already shown this in 2000 in Cochabamba when they rose up against the imperialist monopolies that wanted to steal their water, and against the government of Banzer; and by opposing with a civil war the imperialist policy of eradication of the coca; and then last February again rising up against Goni’s generalised attack on wages ordered by the IMF, almost overthrowing the regime and forcing it to retreat. It proves once more that the working class - with its allies the poor peasants - is the only class that does not have any interest in serving imperialism, and for that reason, it is the only class capable of carrying the struggle against imperialism to the end, liberating the oppressed nation from its yoke.

Down with Sánchez de Lozada and the military-backed regime!

Throw imperialism and its plundering monopolies out of Bolivia!

For a Workers’ and Peasants’ Government of the United National Leadership, the COB and all the workers’ and peasants’ organizations that are part of it, based on workers’ and peasants’ militia and on the independent organizations of the workers and the poor people!

This gang of thieves and assassins, massacrers of the people and plunderers of the nation which is imperialism, its insatiable monopolies, the lackey bourgeoisie and the government of Goni, wants to steal the wealth of the people by means of blood and fire, to continue to condemn the people to hunger and misery and reduce Bolivia to a slave colony.

The only way to prevent this happening, to stop the plundering of gas and the natural resources of the country, and to win bread, work, land, living wages, and the right to cultivate coca, is to open up a victorious revolution with the general strike and road blockages, taking control of the factories, the banks, the transport, extending and centralizing the workers’ and peasants’ armed militias, destroying the West Point caste of army officers, overthrowing the murderous lackey government of Goni, smashing every pillar of the regime and expelling imperialism and its monopolies. And then imposing, on these ruins, a government of the United National Leadership, the COB and all the workers’ and peasants’ organizations comprising it, based on workers’ and peasants’ militia and on the independent organizations of the workers and the poor people.

To carry this decisive combat forward, the United National Leadership, the COB and all the workers’ and peasants’ organizations that take part in it must fight for the dissolution and disarmament of the police and the army and the construction and centralization of workers’ and peasants’ armed militia. This is the only way to destroy the army – a key pillar of the military-backed regime and of the state –at the same time calling upon the rank and file soldiers and the subordinate officers of the army –sons of workers and peasants –to rebel against the West Point caste of sepoy officers, to disarm and destroy it, and to organize themselves in committees of armed soldiers, to coordinate with the workers’ and peasants’ organizations and to join the general strike, putting their weapons in the service of the workers’ and peasants’ militia.

By overthrowing Goni and the military-backed regime and imposing a workers’ and peasants’ government, that breaks with imperialism and expropriates the expropriators; by re-nationalizing without payment and under workers’ control the gas, the oil, the mines, and all the privatized enterprises; by expropriating imperialism in general and breaking with the IMF, the World Bank and the IDB (International Development Bank); by imposing the free production and marketing of the coca, the provision of agricultural machinery, the canceling of the debts and the granting of cheap credit to the ruined small producers of the country, through expropriating and nationalising the banks under workers’ control and the creation of a single official bank; by nationalizing foreign trade; and by taking every measure to guarantee work, decent wages, health and education for the people; only in this way will the Bolivian working class and the peasants be able to finish with the catastrophe, the plundering and the colonial oppression caused by imperialism, the national bourgeoisie and the lackey government.

No new truce or pact with Goni and the gang of plunderers of the people!

For a Workers’ and Peasants’ National Congress of rank and file mandated delegates, democratically elected, to organize the decisive combat and to prepare the insurrection to defeat Goni and the military regime!

After the massacre in Warisata, and facing the indefinite general strike, the government of Sánchez de Lozada once more is trying to negotiate sector by sector, trying "to dialogue" with those organizations that have particular demands, such as the peasants led by Quispe, and ignoring others such as the COB who demand his resignation. For his part, Evo Morales declared that the coca producers of Chapare would not join the road blockages before October 10th because "the executive secretary of the COB was premature in calling for a national mobilization", and he criticised Quispe for demanding that the representatives of the government go to Warisata to negotiate, saying that Quispe and the government "are gambling with the situation of the country".

No new truce or pact with the murderous government of Goni and the gang of plunderers of the people!

It is necessary to stop the unity created in the struggle of the workers and the peasants from being broken by the reformist leaderships, and from allowing the energy, the struggle and the blood of the workers and the peasants to be abused by these leaders to establish new truces and pacts with the bosses, and, in this way, to save the government and its military backers. The only way forward for the masses is to create the widest direct democracy, with a workers’ and peasants’ national Congress of rank and file delegates who are democratically elected, mandated and recallable, in the COB and all the workers’ and peasants organizations that are part of the United National Leadership.

At the same time, in every village, every city, in every region, it is necessary to set up strike committees with elected delegates of all the organizations in struggle which become a true workers’ and peasants’ power. This National Congress, a true workers’ and peasants’ parliament - opposed to the power of the exploiters - would become an organization respected by all the masses in struggle, and with an enormous authority to guarantee the construction of workers’ and peasants’ militias, to advance workers’ and peasants’ control over production and distribution, to carry out the expropriation and the nationalisation of the banks under workers’ control, and the formation of a single official bank which releases small ruined producers from debt and provides cheap credit, as well as the nationalization of the foreign trade, and to fulfill these tasks by organising a triumphant insurrection to overthrow Goni and the military-backed regime and then to put in place a workers’ and peasants’ government that the bureaucratic leaderships of the trade unions, Stalinism and social democracy cannot do themselves.

The Bolivian workers and peasants show the way forward for the exploited of the whole Continent to break the collaborators truces and agreements and to confront imperialism and its client regimes!

The fight of the workers and peasants of Bolivia today is the undisputed advance guard of the struggle of the Latin American working class and exploited people to break the truces and pacts that the reformist leaders have imposed on them, tying their hands in the face of imperialism, the employers and the exploiting and repressive client regimes.

This is the road confronting the Bolivian masses today, the one that Fidel Castro imposes, along with the union bureaucracies of the continent, the leaders of the organizations the peasant’ unions, and all the reformist leaders of the World Social Forum. One of deals and class collaboration with pro-imperialistic popular fronts like that of Lula in Brazil, of colonel Gutiérrez in Ecuador, and President Lagos in Chile; or with the supposed "anti-neoliberal" governments like the one of Kirchner in Argentina, all servile lackeys of Bush and the IMF; or with the bourgeois nationalist governments, like the one of Chávez in Venezuela, which use the masses’ fight to blackmail concessions from imperialism, only to turn on the workers as soon as they threaten to erupt into revolution.

The road opened up by the Bolivian workers and peasants, is that of a fight to the end to bring down the government of Goni (Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada) and the military-backed regime – unlike that of FARC in Colombia, which refuses to expropriate a single factory or patch of earth in the territories it controls, and is today preparing to sign a new pact with the murderous government of Uribe and with the blessing of Lula, with the blood of thousand of farmers and city workers killed by the "death squads".

For that reason, this fight of the workers and peasants must open the way to the ‘fourth’ Bolivian revolution, defeating the reformist leaders, overthrowing the government and destroying every pillar of the military-backed regime, including the officer corps, trained in assassination at West Point, and put in place a workers’ and farmers’ government based on the independent, armed organisations of the masses. This fight is inseparable from the struggle of the Ecuadorian workers and peasants to break the truce and the policy of class collaboration of their leaders and regain the revolution that they began in 1997. It is inseparable from the fight of the Argentine revolution, today retreating under the treachery of the union and piquetero bureaucracy and the reformist leaders, to raise once more its head; from that of the Peruvian workers to throw out the truces and agreements which the CGTP and the stalinists have made with Toledo; with that of Brazilian workers and farmers to break the links of the (PT) Workers Party with the popular front government of Lula and Alencar –which imposes the plans of the IMF, beating workers and massacreing farmers –and with the leaders of the CUT (Central Workers Union) and the MST (landless peasants’ movement), and to begin a political fight of masses against the government of Lula, the lackey of Bush.

Therefore, the insurgency in Bolivia today shows that the exploited people of Latin America face a life and death choice: either the victorious workers’ and peasants’ socialist revolution; or new and terrible defeats as the nations of the continent are turned into colonies and protectorates facing unlimited plunder and destruction. For that reason, the workers and peasants uprising in Bolivia depends on the successful struggles of workers for socialist revolution in each country of the continent, overthrowing the bourgeoisie, destroying its armed forces, and imposing workers and peasants governments based on the independent, armed organisations of the workers and the peasants that put an end to the imperialistic yoke and capitalist exploitation, and go on to form a Federation of Workers’ and Peasants’ Republics of Latin America.

But this historical task will only be advanced if the Latin American proletariat unites with its important ally, the North American working class, and in particular with its most exploited and oppressed fractions, the millions of black and latino workers, exploited and treated like outcasts by the imperialistic bourgeoisie, discriminated against by the US labour aristocracy and the union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO, who therefore suffer the worst working conditions, unemployment, poverty, as well as persecution and harassment by the police. By uniting with the North American workers of Latino origin, the working class of Central America and South America can build unity with the North American working class to weaken imperialism, to advance the revolution in the United States and assure the victory of the continental and world-wide proletariat in the struggle for socialism. But this will only be possible if the working class and the exploited of all the Americas, the United States but also of Latin America, overcome the dominance of the North American labour aristocracy and defeat the AFL-CIO union bureaucracy, the labour lieutenants of Bush and the Yankee imperialist bourgeoisie.

All out support and solidarity with the heroic fight of our class brothers and sisters of Bolivia!

The Bolivian workers and farmers are the leading edge of the fight against imperialism and its client governments in Latin America. They show how all the workers and exploited people of the continent can break the truces and agreements that the reformist leaders have made that tie the hands of the workers before imperialism, the capitalists and their lackey regimes and repressive austerity governments, allowing these regimes to remain and go on the offensive like today in Bolivia. We cannot allow the masses to continue being massacred by the servant Goni and his killer army! Their fight is our fight! Today we must all be Bolivian!

We call on all the workers, student organizations and parties that claim to be for the workers and against imperialism, to immediately act to win support for and solidarity with our class brothers and sisters of Bolivia, with mobilizations in the streets, picketing of Bolivian embassies, and the widest unity in action.

End the massacre and repression!

Long live the struggle of the Bolivian workers and peasants!

Down with the government of Sanchez de Lozada, assassin and exploiter of the Bolivian people!

Fight imperialism in Latin America!

The international Trotskyists that signed this declaration and who fight for the revolutionary program raised here are committed to initiate actions and to participate in united actions in all every way possible to build support for and solidarity with the heroic fight of our Bolivian brothers and sisters.

At the same time, we call on the workers and peasants of the continent, to demand that the leadership of all the political organizations in Latin America who speak in name of the working class and the poor peasants, and of the unions (like the CTA and the organizations of unemployed people of Argentina; the CUT and the MST of Brazil; the CUT of Chile; the CGTP of Peru; the CONAIE and the unions of Ecuador; the PIT-CNT of Uruguay, etc) that they immediately break all agreements with the client governments, and that they break all ties that subordinate these organizations to the employer's associations. We call on the labour movement to immediately create a continental workers’ and peasants’ movement in support and solidarity with the heroic revolutionary and anti-imperialist fight of the Bolivian workers and peasants, against the imperialism that destroys the people of Latin America and against the governments that are their servants.

We must build a Trotskyist and internationalist revolutionary party, to equip the heroic Bolivian proletariat with the leadership it needs and deserves, and this is the task of the healthy forces of Trotskyist internationalists!

The Bolivian workers and peasants have given us great examples of heroism, of readiness to fight, and of revolutionary will. If they have yet not managed to open the way to the Fourth Bolivian Revolution, it is because of the leaders that they have in front of them, try at each step to prevent it. This life and death situation makes it more urgent and necessary than ever to provide the Bolivian proletariat with a new leadership –a revolutionary, Trotskyist and internationalist party, able to prevent them from sacrificing their forces and having their struggle expropriated once more by the truces, pacts, and class collaborationist alliances with "progressive patrons" and "the patriotic military".

The program of Trotskyism, of Permanent Revolution - defended in the 1940s by the POR (Revolutionary Workers Party) the Bolivian section of the IV International, became flesh and blood when the Theses of Pulacayo were adopted by the Bolivian working class in 1946 as its revolutionary action program - is now more correct than ever and has passed the test of the class struggle. Unfortunately, Pabloism and the revisionism of the IV International became a political influence on the POR and its leadership, preventing it from playing a revolutionary role in the revolution of 1952 and in the revolutionary events of the Bolivian masses in the second half of 20th century.

Therefore, though Trotskyism has passed the test, the currents that call themselves Trotskyist have not. In the three previous incomplete revolutions – in 1952, in 1971 and 1985 – these currents demonstrated all their impotence, renouncing the Theses of Pulacayo, that is to say, the fight for the armament of the masses and the strategy of building Soviets (or independent armed workers and peasants organisations), and instead subordinated themselves to the bureaucracy of the COB, if not directly to bourgeois nationalistic currents like the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) or to allies in "the patriotic military". These are the Pabloite currents that have deprived the Bolivian working class of the revolutionary leadership that it deserved: a revolutionary internationalist Trotskyist party.

Today, at the threshold of a new revolution, the forces that will bring that party into existence are being formed: they are the advanced workers who denounce the leaders who betrayed the Theses of Pulacayo, and who have taken on the task of rebuilding the COB, so that it becomes a proletarian organisation that can lead the peasants and all the exploited people towards a victorious insurrection overthrowing the government and its military backers. They are those workers, the exploited peasants and the heroic women workers who are the driving force of the workers and peasants militias, the assemblies, the strike committees, and the blockades. These, along with the honest Trotskyist militants who oppose the capitulations and betrayals of the General Staffs of the renegade currents of Trotskyism, and who seek a revolutionary way out, are the emerging forces that will create the revolutionary party.

But this party will only be able to make and complete the Bolivian revolution if it joins in the struggle to regroup the forces of a healthy internationalist and principled Trotskyism, if it learns the lessons forged by the acute events of revolution and counterrevolution world-wide, if it adopts the Theses of Pulacayo as a revolutionary internationalist program that sees Bolivia as a link in the Latin American and world-wide revolution, and if it fights against the reformist leaders in Bolivia - the union bureaucracy of the COB, Quispe,, Morales –as an indissoluble part of the wider fight against that new counter-revolutionary international the World Social Forum, and against the renegade Trotskyists that support the WSF.

Only in this way, mounting an internationalist struggle on the ruins of the revisionist and liquidationist currents that usurp the flags of Trotskyism in Bolivia, can the revolutionary internationalist Trotskyist party that the Bolivian working class needs and deserves be built as a section of the world-wide party of the socialist revolution. It is the task of the revolutionary internationalists, on the threshold of the Fourth Bolivian Revolution, to urgently collaborate to regroup our forces by campaigning for an International Conference of principled Trotskyists and internationalist revolutionary workers organizations.

October 12 of 2003. –
Lucha Marxista (Peru)
Groupe Bolchevik (France)
Communist Workers’ Group (New Zealand)
Grupo Obrero Internacionalista-CI (Chile)
Liga Obrera Internacialista-CI (Argentina)

From Class Struggle 53 November 93-January 04

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