Lessons from Bolivia. Where Che was Murdered. Where Again a Coup was Staged.
Forty-six years and two months. Eduardo Galeano wrote La Trampa on events of Chile that happened on September 11, 1973, in a few touching paragraphs. The last two we can reread now.
“In those difficult times, the workers were discovering the secrets of economy. They were understanding that it is not impossible to carry of production without the industrialists, not impossible to carry on distribution without the merchants and markets. But the multitude of workers marched without weapons, in empty hands, in the road to their liberty.
“From the coast of Chile it could be seen, from the horizons are coming the warships of the United States. And the military coup, as announced, occurred.” [my translation, and not literal.]
Even without warships appearing on Chilean coast on that very time the coup was going to happen, as the Chilean army obeyed the orders of capitalist-imperialist nexus of Chile. After all they were the instruments of class power. And on the other sides, “But the multitude of workers marched without weapons, in empty hands…”
Argentine ‘old guard’ Atilio Boron did not forget. He was barely thirty then. He tells us something which are becoming rarest of rare nowadays in his “El golpe en Bolivia: cinco lecciones [Nov 10, 2019] ” published in his own website, and which was subsequently translated into English and appeared in many publications [readers may visit https://www.globalresearch.ca/coup-bolivia-five-lessons/5695084], including some places whose ideas are not very same. Anyway. We got profound analysis from a neighbour country of Bolivia.
The first of the five lessons he wrote told us that though the economic policy of the MAS govt. of Evo Morales maintained a capitalist economy run efficiently as per parameters of World Bank, IMF and in short parameters formulated by imperialism like GDP growth rate, FDI and return form that and so on, imperialism as such never likes a govt. that is not ‘theirs’.
In lesson four he writes: “the ‘security forces’ enter the scene. In this case we are talking about the institutions controlled by numerous agencies, military and civic, of the government of the United States. They train them, arm them, do joint exercises and they educate them politically.
“I had the opportunity to witness this when, at the invitation of Evo, I inaugurated a course “Anti-imperialism” for officers of the three armed forces. In this opportunity I was astonished by the degree of penetration of the most reactionary North American slogans inherited from the era of the Cold War and due to the undisguised irritation caused by the fact that an indigenous person would be president of the country.
“What these ‘security forces’ did was withdraw themselves from the scene and give free range for the uncontrolled actions of the fascist hoards – as they acted in Ukraine, in Libya, in Iraq, in Syria to overthrow, or try to do so in this last case, leaders that bother the empire – and as such intimidate the population, the militant sectors, and the figures of the government themselves.
“So it’s a new socio-political concept: military coups ‘by omission’, allowing the reactionary groups, recruited and financed by the right, to impose their law. Once terror reigns and with the defencelessness of the government, the outcome was inevitable.”
Atilio Boron continues to his Lesson number 5, the final lesson: “The security and public order should never have been entrusted in Bolivia to institutions like the police and the army, colonised by imperialism and it’s lackeys of the local right-wing.”
Here again we get example of what Marx and Engels taught us regarding the ‘state’ of the old order and why and how the commune of Paris replaced it.
It may be recalled that only in Venezuela we are still watching a different show – it is largely due to existence of an army obedient to Maduro (and previously Chavez) govt, obidient to the idea of Bolivarian revolution and Bolivarian republic – because in the time of crisis it mattered. Why it is so or how it could be so was explained by late Marta Harnecker. In her September 2003 article: “The Venezuelan Military: Making An Anomaly?” [available at http://biblioteca.clacso.edu.ar/ar/libros/cuba/mepla/venezu/iartic4.pdf] she elucidated why the US planned military coup failed in Venezuela. It was really an exceptional case.
From Cuba we had another article: “Lecciones de una derrota” (Lessons of a Defeat, available at https://jovencuba.com/2019/11/16/cuban-reflections-on-the-bolivian-restoration/) by Yassel A. Padrón Kunakbaeva [dated 12 Nov, 2019]. Let us see what lessons are there.
“We should first understand what has happened. Evo Morales managed to peacefully coexist, for years, with the Bolivian middle-class. He walked on the path of liberal bourgeois democracy, getting 47% of the vote in the last election. However, the system shook him off, like a dog shakes off rainwater. The right showed its most violent and racist side, reaching extremes such as the rape of a indigenous young woman, who was then hanged with her own braids. The army and the police, which Evo didn’t manage to change, proved to be quite at home at oligarchic domination.
“Evo was the President. The MAS attained a degree of hegemony for years. However, the political system of liberal democracy – especially in the shape it takes in Latin America, with its institutions and power apparatus, its parties, its press, its justice and its military – proved to be effective.
“The bourgeoisie may let you sit at the head of the table, but it knows it owns the table, the chairs, the windows and the house itself. Sooner or later, they will kick you out of it.
“And so one cannot help but remember Fidel, and the clarity with which he led the Cuban Revolution once the insurrectionary phase was completed. He knew the first thing to be done was to disband the old army and the old police, to arm the people, to destabilise the entire bourgeois institutional system. The triumph and continuity of the Revolution in Cuba were achieved thanks to a complete dismantling of the preceding institutional apparatus, and to the cultural shift that was brought about, in which even the concepts of that political system were discredited and largely forgotten.
“Of course, it’s not the same to triumph by means of an armed revolution than by winning an election….”
Farther in the article we find: “Of course we need to have the rule of law. But justice must come from the heart of the people. It cannot come from those professional and class-minded mafias which treat Latin American countries brutally. We need popular and independent courts of law. It might be a good idea to remember ancient times, and how justice worked in the polis of Athens or in the Roman republic, as well as the experience of the Paris Commune.”
“We cannot abandon the idea of popular armed forces. Above all, we must rescue Fidel’s idea of popular militia. An army which is the people itself at arms, so no one may snatch away its destiny.”
Out of megabytes written on recent happenings in Bolivia, perhaps these are some vital-most lessons for the coming generations. PT of Brazil and the parties following Socialism of Twenty-first Century or the civil society may not like these nineteenth-century twentieth-century lessons. But the workers and peasants of Latin America need to learn precisely such ‘unrefined’ ‘uncivil’ lessons that the lackeys of imperialism engrave on their fleshes by violent rule.
Sandeep Banerjee is an activist who writes on political and socioeconomic issues and also on environmental issues. Some of his articles are published in Frontier Weekly. He lives in West Bengal, India. Presently he is a research worker. He can be reached at email@example.com