«by Kirsten Francescone A thesis submitted to the Faculty o f Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the ...»
Marginalization o f indigenous people politically and economically, and compounded by the neocolonial dismantling of industry and the public sector following 1985,1 8 indigenous and national-populist sectors looked to the reconstruction o f the Asamblea Constituyente as a way o f practically implementing their vision. Their vision was two fold and enabled a mergence o f the national-popular and indigenous political imaginary, de-colonization o f the state, and anti-neoliberalization.1 9 196 Both D iaz and Tapia argue that these are key points in a historical development o f popular-national m obilizations that em erged to propel the A sam blea Consituyente. For the purposes o f this paper, it is unfeasible to enter into a historic developm ent o f the history o f popular m obilization, su ffice it to say for the moment that what emerged in the 90s is the product o f a historical process o f exclusion and resistance
by the popular and indigenous classes. See: Vladim ir Diaz, C ritica d e la Teoria d e l P o d e r C onstituyente:
Los L lm ites del P roceso Constituyente B oliviano (La Paz: Instituto de Investigacion, Capacitacion y Formacion Democratica “Carlos M ontenegro”, 2008); and Tapia, La Coyuntura d e la au tonom ia re la tiva d el estado.
197 The Indigenous march “por la Asam blea Constituyente, por la Soberania Popular, el Territorio y los Recursos Naturales” posited state-reform with the demand o f a new Consituyent A ssem b ly. See: C havez & Mokrani, L os M ovim ientos Sociales en la A sem blea Constituyente, 109.
198 1985 marked the official neoliberalization o f the Bolivian Econom y with Estenssoro’s “N ew Econom ic Plan.” 199 See Oscar Olivera and Raquel Guitierrez, N o so tro s Sornos la Coordinadora (La Paz: Fundacion Abril, 2008); Tapia, La Coyuntura de la autonom ia rela tiva : and J e ff Webber, From R ebellion to Reform in Several Boli vian scholars have analyzed the possibilities and limitations o f the Bolivian Constitution as the site for revolutionary change. As early as 2007, scholars were questioning the possibilities of revolutionary change within the parameters o f the Constituent Assembly. According to Diaz, (in his analysis o f the possibilities and limitations o f the new constituent assembly) the Asamblea Consituyente “m arcaba una consigna democratica, un mecanismo para reparar la historica exclusion de las m ayorias indigenas del pais.”200 However as Diaz continues to argue, the possibilities for decolonization and the development o f a plurinational state are in fact constrained by the economic and political structures that failed to be challenged with the M A S’ reorganization o f the state apparatus.2 1 Diaz maintains that the new constitution m erely represents a re-organization of political power whilst the economic structures, liberal capitalist structures, remain intact.
For Webber, the turn to institutional politics lead to a de-radicalization o f the M A S’ political agenda, and eventually led to them m aking critical concessions w ith the elite lowland class and reformist middle classes when the Asamblea Constituyente entered into the formal legal production and approval process. And so, although the MAS made explicit linkages to “social movements” and indigenous organizations, these conversations were held within the liberal state institution. On the one hand, this enabled Bolivia: C lass Struggle, Indigenous L iberation a n d the P o litics o f E vo M orales (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2011).
200 Diaz, C ritica de la Teoria d e l P o d er C onstituyente: L os Lim ites d el P roceso C on stituyen te B oliviano.
201 In this book D iaz is reviving a Marxist critique o f the possibilities o f cultural and political reform s within the capitalist econom ic system. His analysis is particularly important due to the fact that it w as written in 2007, years before the present contradictions B olivia is facing became “v isib le.” the reproduction of various structures o f political neo-colonial power, and on the other, served to bring some representatives (W ebber argues a m ore privileged intellectual and middle class) into the state apparatus. This prevented pow er being filtered upwards. And so, when the Asamblea Constituyente was approved by the MAS in 2006 these, and some more radical and popular demands were modified in that final state revision process.202 The Pacto de Unidad came to form during the Carlos Mesa years from the context o f the mass popular mobilizations o f 2000 and 2003 with the objective of collaborating on the production o f the Constituent Assembly. Beyond the Constituent Assembly, this process became a space, which collided and coalesced with the working and popular sectors to articulate the demands that had emerged from struggles that were both im m ediate and historical. Moises Torres, an original mem ber o f the Pacto de Unidad argues that the Pacto de Unidad in its initial stages provided a space in which indigenous, cam pesino and popular sectors could imagine the reconstruction o f the Bolivian State.203 For Isabel Rodriguez member o f the Pacto de Unidad and a participant in the Foro del Sur held in
CEDJB Cochabamba 2005:
El Movimiento Campesino indigena vive una realidad, nosotros no producim os en papeles, nosotros hacemos producir la tierra. Esa es nuestra realidad...P o r esto el Pacto de Unidad es de todos, es del movimiento campesino, es del m ovim iento indigena, es del movimiento popular, es de todos los bolivianos quienes quieren transformar una situacion de miseria de explotacion y marginacion.204 202 Here I am specifically referring to land, and the large-landholding restrictions that were rem oved.
203 Taken from Interview with M oises Torres, V ice-President M ST-Tierras Altas. C BBA: B olivia.
204 This quote was taken from the document produced at the Foro del Sur debate on the Pacto de Unidad which was organized in part by CEDIB and included over 85 participants, some o f w hom w ere m em bers o f the Pacto de Unidad, members o f indigenous/cam pesino organizations, and political analysis and activists.
CEDIB, “Foro D el Sur,” CEDIB (2005).
The six member organizations,205 along with other participating groups came to form the periphery, which would inform the production o f the Constituent Assem bly, often referred to by those who participated in the process as the re-construction o f Bolivia. [La Asamblea] “...decia con todos, para todos, de todos. Incluyendo no excluyendo, refundar el pais de la antigua constitucion que estaba, que estaba ya caducado, destrozar la casa vieja y empezar desde el cimiento entre todos.”206 Today, the Pacto de Unidad has become a central point o f reference when referring to the ways in which the popular classes o f Bolivia, campesino and indigenous actively participate207 to produce the Bolivia they collectively imagined. That Bolivia that they envisioned would be anti-colonial and anti-capitalist.208 And, based on our recent historical memory, the popular political power that emerged from the uprisings following the Gran Marcha Indigena de Tierras Bajas did have enough political and economic force to put into motion historical uprisings that would lead to the overthrow o f the neoliberal governments at the beginning o f the 21st century.
203 CONAM AQ, CIDOB, CSUTCB, Interculturales, Bartolina Sisas, M ST were the original six m em ber organizations who participated in the production o f the Asam blea Constituyente, follow in g its developm ent the MST withdrew from the Pacto de U nidad based on the M A S ’ political decisions regarding land and latifundios which were revealed post-facto (Interview with M oises Torres, Vice-President M ST-Tierras Altas and participant in production o f the Constituent assembly).
206 M oises Torres. Vice-President o f MST-Tierras Altas, Bolivia.
207 Chavez and Mokrani, Los M ovim ientos S ociales en la A sem blea Constituyente.
208 At the Foro del Sur in 2005, members o f the Pacto de Unidad explicitly expressed the im portance o f the nationalization o f B olivia’s resources- and the importance o f renewed political and judicial representation and participation by indigenous peoples.
The Pacto de Unidad was understood as more than just a body of organizations. It was conceived as an arena where, through the construction o f constitutional change alongside
political direct action mobilizations, change could be obtained. For Garces:
Las organizaciones lo entendian [pacto de unidad] y lo entienden como un mecanismo valido para trascender el modelo del Estado liberal y monocultural con fundamento en el ciudadano individual; ello, mediante la constatacion de que el modelo liberal es el que ha impuesto la cultura occidental y ha m arginado y debilitado las culturas originarias y los sistemas politicos y juridicos de los pueblos indigenas.209 In conceiving the Pacto de Unidad as a popularized pressure mechanism that was organized and had collective organizational power and backing, its m em ber organizations were able to pressure governments to act on their demands. If the governm ent didn’t act, as in 2003,210 it was removed from office. As time progressed though the Pacto de Unidad began to take on a more consultant as opposed to confrontational role. As a result, member organizations, like the M ST began to distance themselves from the organizational body.
The participation of the Pacto de Unidad in m atters o f state policy is one o f the major institutional restructuring projects that the MAS government took on upon their election in 2005. Evo Morales has, on numerous occasions since his inauguration as president noted the central importance o f social movement participation for the proceso de cambio.lu But, referring to social movements, and referring to the M A S’ political 209 Garces, “The Dom estication o f Indigenous A utonom ies, ” 4.
2101 do not wish to attribute the uprisings o f 2000 and 2003 solely to the Pacto de Unidad. It w as only one o f the ways in which organizations organized them selves. Other networks and com m unities w ere equally important.
211 Regal sky, “P o litica l P rocesses an d the R econfiguration o f the State in B o l i v i a 8-9.
support bases is something distinct. On the February 22, 2006, during his first month
evaluation o f the presidency M orales claimed:
... los movimientos sociales si o si tienen que ir en la Asamblea Constituyente...
Tiene que haber la mayor participation de los movimientos sociales, del pueblo boliviano, de los territorios, tiene que haber legitimidad acompafiada por la legalidad... con los movimientos sociales vamos a cumplir con nuestras tarea...
con ese aliento permanente del pueblo boliviano, especialmente los m ovim ientos sociales dispuestos a apostar.212 Recent political MAS documents also reveal the centrality o f popular participation through direct government-civil society interaction. For example, in the N uevo Plan
Economico de Desarollo Nacional, the Bolivian state is recognized as:
...potencia transformadora del cambio y su caracter esencial se expresa en un nuevo poder que surge de los sectores populares y de los pueblos indigenas, de las comunidades campesinas y de los trabajadores del campo y la ciudad. Este Estado representa el nuevo bloque de poder que enuncia los intereses de los que fueron marginados y excluidos durante siglos. Este nuevo Estado corresponde a una sociedad diversa, participativa y justa, basada en la solidaridad, cooperation y reciprocidad como rasgos distintivos de su propia identidad. 213 The core o f the power of the government is identified as lying within the process o f the decolonization o f power relations- the equal participation o f popular sectors in m atters o f government. Some concrete examples o f the ways in which the popular sectors o f Boli via participate in “ Politics is through the annual Cumbre Nacional where various m embers o f civil society come together to discuss which themes will be on the national economic and political agenda for the following year.214 Another channel that was opened w ith the Morales administration is through the creation of the vice-ministerio de los movimientos 2,2 Ibid, 8 213 N uevo Plan de D esarollo d el E stado, 38.
214 What is interesting about this year’s Cumbre N acional is that the sectors that m obilized during the TIPNIS conflict withdrew their participation in the Cumbre that took place at the end o f Decem ber.
CO N A M A Q, CIDOB and som e sectors within the central w orker’s union (COB) opted not to participate.
societies. This is an institutionalized body that directly works with social movem ents, the idea being to propel political power upwards by bringing any concerns forward. For Tapia, there is a problem with m aking the conclusion that proximity with social movements within the liberal state apparatus necessarily makes the M AS the government of social movements, or the government o f the people.
Durante un tiempo, al principio de su gobiemo, Evo Morales mantuvo reuniones diarias- bien temprano al dia- con los diferentes movimientos sociales y reuniones de evaluacion del gabinete sobre todo con aquellas organizaciones de la sociedad civil aliadas. Hay un vinculo mas continuo antes, sobre todo entre Evo M orales y estas organizaciones de la sociedad civil, pero eso no equivale a un gobierno de los movimientos sociales.215 This question o f the nature of the relationship between “the people” and “governm ent” or the “people” and the “state” is one that is constantly re-emerging within the Left. A current debate between Jeff W ebber and Federico Fuentes attempts to define what the MAS government is for the revolutionary Left. W ebber argues that Evo M orales and the MAS are reformists, who are now incapable o f revolutionary change since their assumption o f political power.216 W hereas Fuentes offers up the common Garcia Linea catch phrase of revolutionary process, providing m ore excuses to the current risky political decisions o f the MAS more than anything.2171 would argue instead that it is clear the terrain o f struggle in the Gramscian sense has been historically altered, for better or worse, with the election o f the MAS in 2005. There are however, significant concerns that need to be considered with the changing o f the political terrain o f struggle in Bolivia.
To be clearer: What are the potential problems that can emerge with the 213 Tapia, La coyuntura de la autonom ia relativa, 143.
216 Webber, '‘Revolution against “pro g ress ”.