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Gómez & Friedsky: Bolivia on the Train of Life

Gómez & Friedsky: Bolivia on the Train of Life

September 9, 2005
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The last major battle for the future of Bolivia was fought in the streets in May and June, and the next one, it seems, will be fought in the ballot box. Or will it? Today, Luis Gómez and Jean Friedsky, who provided some of the best coverage anywhere of the events this spring in these pages, take survey of the passengers aboard the "election train" headed toward the general elections scheduled for December 4. They look at the campaign of coca grower and Movement Toward Socialism presidential candidate Evo Morales, his surprising choice for vice president in left-wing academic and former guerilla Alvaro García, and how the rest of the Bolivian social movements have responded to this attempt to finally unify that country's left wing.

Gómez and Friedsky write:

"In early August, García Linera, just days before official launching his candidacy, held meetings with several different social organizations, including FEJUVE and COR from El Alto, the Coordinating Committee for the Defense of Water and Life, and the Bolivian Workers' Federation (COB). The former guerrilla's idea was to create a single united social front, which he would represent in a probable Evo Morales administration. But not everyone was excited about this... from his corner, in the United Bolivian Farm Workers' Federation (CSUTCB), Felipe Quispe, the legendary el Mallku of the Aymara nation, said no. 'It is not humanly possible; there is no liquid or chemical that could unite us,' Quispe explained, and abruptly broke his tie to García Linera... and so began the new diversifying process among the social movements.

"In any event, Evo Morales, Alvaro García Linera, and the MAS' followers took their proposal forward. García Linera obtained support from various sources (the Water Coordinating Committee, with Oscar Olivera in the lead, gave its support, though very critically, but the COB refused to go along with him on this trip)... and the race began to see who among those with the MAS would get their names on the lists of the party founded by coca growers of the Chapare region. The well known 'cuoteo politico' (the corrupt giving-away of political offices, which Alvaro very humorously called 'positions of electoral power,' in return for support) was a constant in these meetings: how many congressmen, who will get to be prefect (departmental governor), who gets to be a senator...

"On August 9, García Linera announced that the social front he had requested to support his candidacy was virtually consolidated and backed his program. Curiously, candidates were indeed discussed - to continue with our example, Abel Mamani should have been candidate for prefect or senator from the department of La Paz - but until today, not a single program proposal has come out, save for a something called 'The MAS' Ten Commandments.' This document fails to mention some of the most urgent issues, and speaks abstractly of laws to investigate wealthy estates, for autonomy, for the land issue and other things. But the MAS does not speak of coca, nor directly of a 'trial of responsibility' for former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada for the massacres of October 2003. In the document's discourse on the problem of land ownership, nowhere does there appear mention of the burning conflict surrounding the Landless Movement (MST), which has been forced off of large estates in Santa Cruz and suffers from constant aggression on the part of the state and landed elite..."

Gómez and Friedsky decide to let the "electoral train" leave the station without them, boarding instead "the train of life," headed toward the stations they will visit as their coverage of this new phase of Bolivia's history unfolds before us.

Read the full report, on what is happening and what is to come, in The Narco News Bulletin:

From somewhere in a country called América,

Dan Feder Managing Editor
The Narco News Bulletin

© Scoop Media

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