«by Kirsten Francescone A thesis submitted to the Faculty o f Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the ...»
166 On Decem ber 28, 2011 the newspaper El Deber announced that 98 Crucena b usinesses has not paid their end-of-the-year bonus as required by law, which accounted for 1/3 o f businesses w ho had failed to do so in suspension for five years will allow for medium and large landholders to continue with poor environmental and labour practices without being subjected to possible review.1 7 This, however, was not the first move taken by the MAS government to allow for the perseverance of large-landholdings in Bolivia. Since the election of the MAS in 2006, land distribution has increased, especially the re-distribution o f land to indigenous communities as Territorios Communitarios de Origen (TCOs) through the Ley de Reconduccion Communitaria 3545. Upon stating this however, this re-distribution o f land often has come out o f state or fiscal land. This as opposed to working to dism antle the industrial agricultural production system in the lowland crucena region (with the majority of TCOs being o f poor quality and quantity failing to adequately meet their subsistence needs)1 leaves the elite crucena economic power essentially untouched.
Inequality among those who have land and those who do not is astronomical. In Bolivia approximately 400 individuals own 70 percent o f productive land while there are 2.5 million landless peasants.1 Even when the violent political eruptions occurred in 2008 with crucena elites attempting to overthrow Evo failed, and their political power destabilized “...sin embargo, la base material de su poder conservado, la tierra bajo the country. Although the article did not outline which businesses had failed to do so, sin ce agriculture accounts for the majority o f econom ic activity w e can assum e that som e o f those practices occurred within the agricultural sector.
167 This was the M A S’ m odification to the 1996 1715 Ley INRA. S ee Fabricant, “Ocupar, Producir, Resistir”; and M edeiros, Evolucion y C a ra cteristica s d el S ecto r Sovero.
168 Ormachea, Revohtcion A graria o C onsolidacion.
169 W es Enzinna, “All W e Want is the Earth: Agrarian Reform in B olivia,” in Leo Panitch and C olin L eys (eds) S ocialist R egister 2008: G lobal F lashpoints, R eactions to Im perialism and N eo lib era lism, 2007.
forma latifundiaria y destinada al negocio inmobiliario, todavia se m antiene.1 Their power has been maintained, due in part to a large constitutional loophole, perm itting the holding o f plots o f land exceeding 5,000 hectares. Large landholdings still continue to maintain about 90 percent o f Bolivia’s productive land, with only 10 percent divided between mostly-indigenous peasant communities and smallholding peasants.11 Originally when the CPE was developed in conjunction with the Pacto de U nidad in 2003, it was decided that no one, by any means, could have landholdings larger than 5,000 hectares. Again, this was the product o f the collective decision-making and production o f the CPE. After the CPE entered into the bureaucratic phase o f its life, the phase o f state revision; articles 315 and 398 were inserted which elim inated the 5,000 hectare limit. This implied that Bolivia would have no maximum land tenancy. That was before the MAS took presidential power.
With the approval of the referendum o f the M A S’ TMCPE in 2009 the M AS, clearly pressured by the crucena elite, failed to correct this loophole. Similarly they failed to address the growth o f land holdings by agroindustry, which has lead to growing discontent amoung campesino and indigenous communities. For Urioste, the concession which would primarily benefit the landholding class in Santa Cruz “ fue el precio que el gobiemo de presidente Morales tuvo que pagar a cambio de la aprobacion de la convocatoria parlamentaria por dos tercios, para realizar la aprobacion de la NCPE en 171 Walter Chavez and Alvaro Garcia Linera, ‘‘R ebelion Camba: Del dieselazo a la lucha por la autonom ia”, E l Jugiiete Rabioso (2005).
febrero de 2009 y asi viabilizar su continualidad en el gobiem o...” 1 2 W ith the approval o f the NCPE the MAS enabled the expansion o f agro-industry, first by making landholdings not retroactive (which m eant that those who did hold large land plots sim ply had to prove their FES),1 3 and second that in Article 315 the state would guarantee that all partners o f a corporation or all family members would be permitted to hold 5,000 hectares as long as it met the requirements o f generating employment and commercializing goods and services.174 The MAS government then, has failed to break away from the neoliberal politics o f the past “porque se considera central para el desarollo del pais la presencia del capital extranjero y la gran empresa nacional en la explotacion de los recursos naturales.” 1 5 The government is opting instead to promote the protection o f individual private property and the expansion o f the agro-industry, which, as we have seen, produces cheap cash crops primarily for export. Further, in February, the government announced that nearly 10% o f the country’s international reserves would be inverted into productive developm ent in agriculture through the Fondo para la Revolucion Industrial Productiva (F1NPRO).
According to the Vice-president o f the Camara Nacional de Exportadores de Bolivia (CANEB), Guillermo Pou M ont “ el Fondo deberia ser el de las oportunidades para los emprendedores, para que puedan desarrollar no pequenas empresas, sino m edianas y 172 Urioste, C on centration y extranjerizacion d e la tie rra, 26.
173 Articles 398 & 399.
173 Ormachea, R evolution A graria o C on solidation, 108.
grandes, porque el futuro esta en los mercados de exportacion.”'7 This again emphasizing the importance o f industrialized production for export, which as we have seen time and time again, further subjects farmers to the precarity o f international food prices, cheap food stuff imports, and increased poverty and marginalization.
3.1 The Campesino - Indigena Question: pequenos productores, economia plural, and the dangers of romantisizing the local...todos esos temas que dicen de los companeros, tambien comparto toda la estructura de la comunidad que esta basado en solidaridad, en trabajo comimitario; se va a destruir, por que se esta imponiendo a la com unidad un sistema econdmico en base a unidades economicas, entonces n o s e esta valorando eso. Helga Cauthin, M ST-Mujeres Another potential danger o f the LRPCA is the way it emphasizes the importance o f strengthening ‘community-based production.’ The problem lies in the ways in which the community is envisioned as social and communal land ownership, production and redistribution for subsistence and national markets, as opposed to fam ily-unit individual land ownership with the objectives o f production for profit. There is a recent tendency, one which I would argue coincides with the neoliberal off-loading and rolling-back o f states, o f romantisizing the local- which has coincided with indigenismo politics. These two trends combined have contributed to the ways o f imagining alternatives within 176 W Chipana, “El Finpro financiara a 22 sectores para asegurar alim entos y em pleo,” La R a zo n, February 15th, 2012.
capital. Alternatives which, as we have seen can co-exist and even strengthen capitalist models o f surplus extraction.
In addition, if as many studies in Bolivia have shown production is com m unally and socially organized amoung indigenous communities1 7 (particularily in the lowland region) then we can make the claim that indigenous production still m aintains some forms o f communist forms o f production. Simultaneously these forms o f production exist within (and interact with) complex systems o f agricultural campesino production which has developed from state-encouraged farmer production, and large-scale agro-industrial production.
As Spedding reminds us in her studies comparing coca production in the Yungas and Chapare regions, often the lines between communal/individual, public/private are blurred depending on the precarious nature o f production in Bolivia, be it through constantly fluxuating market prices, extreme weather conditions, geographic isolation, property access, etc.1 8 Further, those distinctions vary within “indigenous” and “cam pesino” communities. I do not, then, wish to make the claim that indigenous com munities continue to produce for subsistence and campesino communities for markets. That is a simplification that is void o f its political and economic context despite the fact that it figures heavily into the ways in which tensions have emerged, catalyzed and in some ways been manipulated in order to fracture the collective solidarity within the subaltern 177 See Arajo, E tnodesarrollo, Tierra Y Vida; Margerita, E l P o d er d e la T ierra; Schulze, lla m e r o s y C aseros; and Soliz & Aguilar, P rodttccion y E conom ia C am pesino-Indigetia.
178 Spedding, K awasachun Coca.
classes. In fact, with the large land gifting to lowland indigenous groups through TCOs by the MAS government over the past few years, conflicts between “ indigenous” and “campesino” groups have begun to re-surface. For Urioste, “Como efecto de la titulacion de grandes territories de pueblos indigenas, especialmente a los de tierras bajas, se han aguadizado conflictos entre los campesinos y los indigenas por el aceso a la tierra y control del teritorio.” 1 9 The fact remains that there are still large numbers o f campesino and indigenous communities that do not have access to land.1 These internal popular sector stuggles allow for distraction from the ways in which the MAS politics have continued to protect the land-holding class in Bolivia. The follow two chapters will focus on this fracture, the objective at hand however, is to focus on the ways in which the M AS’ communitarianismI8J is being used to propagate capitalist development, further destroying possibilities for collective organization o f land and resources and the socialization o f the means o f production.
As we saw with the popular Revolution in 1952, armed campesino m ilitias began expropriating haciendas in the highland and valley regions. This impulse was then absorbed into the M NR state apparatus, which released the Agrarian Reform to redistribute land to individual and family campesino land holdings in the event that they were unidades productivas. Combined with the increased colonization o f the lowland region, campesino communities began to grow in number but also in political power. As 179 Urioste, C on cen tration y extranjerizacion d e la tierra, 19.
180 Recent “illegal” land expropriations by cam pesinos in Santa Cruz reveal this very fact. The governm ent’s reaction w as to protect private property for the landholders and remove the cam pesinos from the land. See Fabricant, “Ocupar, Resistir, Producir. ” 181 Ormachea, R evolution A graria o C onsolidation.
we saw in chapter one, the objective o f the Reforma Agraria o f 1953 was not to encourage small-scale socialized production, rather to encourage farm er based capitalist production which, although uneven, resulted in increasing polarization o f pow er and wealth within campesino-indigenous communities. It is absolutely essential that we remember the core base o f the capitalist mode o f production, the individual right to hold property. The central role o f the MNR government and later IFls becam e then to protect, facilitate and maintain private property ownership. Their encouragement o f parceled production lead to some campesino and indigenous families andm ajorly the agro industry accumulating wealth at the expense o f continued impoverishment o f the m ajority of Bolivians.
Bolivians often refer to a socialist or communist vision for the future, when referring to the ways in which they want to see the proceso de cambio develop so that all Bolivians are able to “vivir mejor.” The MAS government on countless occasions talks about the potentialities o f combining the andian cosmovision with “other” modes o f production.
Since the idea o f the “community” has become reified through its rom antisization- it provides the appearance o f the possibility or expansion o f indigenous socialized production through these strategic partnerships with capital. For Soruco,...esta relacion disimil, antagonica, en ultima instancia, solo sirve a los intereses de la reproduction del sistema capitalista y, desde luego, conduce a un m ayor desintegracion de las comunidades indigenas, proceso que el Estado neoliberal impuesto en el pais las ultimas del siglo XX acentuo notoriam ente1 28 182 Soruco, “D e la Goma a la Soya, ” 49.
When the MAS government propagates the communitarianization o f agricultural production then, this resonates among the popular classes in two ways. First, among those who form part o f the nationalist project which seeks to unify the popular classes against neoliberal, capitalist and colonial forms o f exploitation.13 Second it resonates among those indigenous communities that live in the lowland regions w here autonom y resonating with a history o f geopolitical isolation has lead to a rejection o f the colonial state apparatus and thus a move towards self-governance.1 4 So, when the LRPCA emerged following the “Bolivia Digna, Soberana, Productiva y Democratica Para Vivir Bien” national economic plan, the promotion o f the com m unity resonated with common-sense. It also, however, revealed key tensions between the economic-political tendencies o f the government and the ideological representations o f those policies. Thus being, that despite what the government was claiming to deneoliberalize and de-colonize production was not present in practice. The LRPCA provided a clear example o f those em erging contradictions.
According to Victor Comacho, when the LRPCA emerged from the revisionary tri council completely changed, not only in fom i but also in spirit. For Comacho,...[los ministros] se involucro mas, y creo que generaron una propuesta, pero a mi juicio, con otra vision digamos, que es la revolucion productiva, (,no ve?..El seguro agrario indigena originario campesino es una deuda historica del estado, a lo que es economia indigena originaria campesina. Entonces, no puedes actuar con la misma logica de cualquier tipo de seguro, ^no? Dentro marco occidental, neoliberal, etc. No es posible. Un seguro agrario es como un seguro de salud, ^no ve? donde el estado asume su responsabilidad publica con ese sector. Entonces, 183 Luis Tapia, La Coyim lura de la autonom ia re la tiv a d el esta d o (La Paz : Muela del D iablo, 2007).
184 Ybamegaray, El E spiritu d e l capitalism o.