«by Kirsten Francescone A thesis submitted to the Faculty o f Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the ...»
217 Frederico Fuentes, “Government, social m ovem ents, and revolution in Bolivia today: A response to Jeffery Webber,” International S ocialist R eview 76:M arch-A pril (2011).
institutionalization, or the entrance, o f civil society organizations into the fabric o f the state apparatus? What are the possibilities for revolutionary transformation when pre existing state structures fail to be dismantled? Furthermore, to what extent can the state be mobilized in a counter-hegemonic project?
The Pacto de Unidad prior to the election o f the MAS assessed some o f these risks when organizations were debating whether or not a formal relationship should be expressed with the emerging Movimiento al Socialismo. in 2005, CEDIB held a “Foro del Sur” debate on the Pacto de Unidad and its position on the M A S’ assent. In the minutes released from this event, it was confirmed that “En el Pacto de Unidad existe una plena conciencia de la necesidad de unir a todas las organizaciones indigenas y campesinas, al margen de las posiciones politicas particulares, con el linico horizonte de im pulsar las reivindicaciones historicas y estrategicas de sus sectores”. At this particular forum participants argued that even though the MAS showed clear political possibilities as a political instrument, and that the very emergence o f the Pacto de Unidad and the growing unity within the popular classes was organic and popular, plus despite the growing support for companero Evo Morales, they would m aintain their autonomy. W hile these concerns were voiced very early on, they continue to be o f central importance when discussing the breadth o f participation in Bolivia.
Following the past few years o f political mobilizations and support o f the M AS administration it is somewhat unclear as to who forms the M AS popular support base and who is amoung the elite that continue to support their policies. What is slightly clearer is who emerges in moments o f what appear to be political crisis to defend the MAS and the proceso de cambio. From my fieldwork, I saw continued appearances (in large numbers) of the campesino organizations Bartolina Sisa (CNM CIOB-BS) and Confederacion Sindical Unica de Trabajadores (CSUTCB), huge mobilizations from the cooperative mining federations, and significant and persistent mobilizations from the Cocaleros Campesino federations from the Cochabamba Valley, sectors who were central in the uprisingings o f the 90s and 2000s. During the production and approval o f the law, and later with the TIPN1S conflict, those sectors were criticized for the clientalist relationship they hold with the government. The following section attempts to com plicate and break down these claims, to better understand the relationship between these sectors and the government.
Since Bolivia presents us with an incredible case o f persistent popular resi stance against the state that dates back hundreds o f years it gives an interesting case for analysis o f what happens when the popular sectors, or at least some o f them, are invited and encouraged to participate in politics. Beyond that, and more specific for this particular case, what happens in the event that when presented with an instance where controversy emerges, what are the possibilities for contestation and negotiation in the battle for counterhegemonic alternatives between the state and “civil society.”
4.2 The LRPCA: Controversy and “Consent”
As alluded to in the previous chapter, due to capitalist tendencies o f the LRPCA and some concessions surrounding land made to the crucena elite, the rolling out o f the M A S ’ new agricultural development plan has been met w ith increasing dissent. W hat em erged upon the release of the LRPCA, however, was not solely a critique o f the M A S’ decision to approve the law, or particular ministers in its development, but rather w hat em erged was fractioned resistance against particular elements o f the law, plus also broader questions o f the proceso de cambio. Within the questions that emerged, a resonating critique towards the Pacto de Unidad and the perceived co-optation o f the campesino movement by the Morales administration surfaced. The critique caused increased fragmentations both within and between the subaltern and popular classes.
When the LRCPA was approved by the camara de senadores in June the popularized criticism was twofold. First, it was against the capitalist-nature of the law (as we saw in chapter II). Second, the blame was placed upon the member organizations o f the Pacto de Unidad (cocaleros and campesinos) who had approved the law without generalized consent from their bases.
218 From Interview with Rafael Puente.
Later, the LRPCA was re-introduced to the m em ber organizations o f the Pacto de Unidad for signing approval post-revisions four out o f the five member organizations at that time approved the law without revisions. Only CONAM AQ voiced their disapproval o f the law, refusing to sign their approval. It appeared to Rafael Quispe, the then president o f CONAMAQ that the law had been changed without their participation- leaving him to refuse to sign it;
...entonces regreso y ya estaban[articulos sobre transgenicos]; Era dificil sacarles, ^no? Entonces el CONAMAQ, no soy solo, somos varias autoridades donde hemos reclamado, no hemos firmado mo? Pero, sin embargo las otras cuatro organizaciones han estado de acuerdo y lo que hicieron, es mas aprobar ^no?
Aprobar, aprobar...2ly Whereas the Bartolinas, CSUTCB and Interculturales took to proceeding with “business as usual,” other organizations like the CONAM AQ, MST and AOPEB took to informing their bases to come to a consensual decision process regarding how to deal with the law.
CONAMAQ and the MST held their own information sessions where the authorities o f their communities were invited. They came to participate and learn about the law, and the issue of transgenic seeds. A t both o f these meetings, it became apparent that the hostility was also directly targeted at their brothers o f the Pacto de Unidad who had approved a law permitting transgenic seeds. Similarly when discussing transgenic seeds with members o f both the Bartolinas and the CSUTCB it appeared as though their knowledge o f GM O’s was limited. Dona M artinez Colque, a Bartolina and aged participant in popular struggles argued “no nos vam os a permitir esto”220 when questioned 219 From an interview with Rafael Quispe.
220 From interview with Dona Martinez Colque.
about the legalization o f transgenic seeds in the LRPCA, despite the fact that the Bartolinas had approved the law. Licarion Soto, a member o f CSUTCB argued that transgenic seeds are already in the country and so, “a partir de esta ley ya no entramos no se podrian introducir pero si introducen algun producto transgenico tiene que llevar el sello que diga como el cigarro el cigarro mata entonces este es un producto transgenico entonces el consumidor dira pues consume o no consum o,”22' leaving the onus up to the consumer. Further, based on the historical anti-transgenic mobilizations that were propelled by the CSUTCB and Bartolinas, why is it that these organizations suddenly had a turn-of-face?
It is a commonly expressed criticism o f the new institutionalization o f civil society, that leaders o f these organizations have been “co-opted” or purchased with items and prestige
by the MAS. Lie. Gonzalo Vargas Rivas:
Lo que ha pasado, es que en la ley, esta en la ley, hace poco prom ulgada, el movimiento campesino tiene harto peso politico ^,no?, y sobre todo su dirigencias.
Una cosa es cuando hablas con el dirigente, y otra cosa es cuando hablas (K: con sus bases) con la base, ^no cierto? El dirigente ya esta mas arraigado justam ente por su intermediacion entre su comunidad y el mundo politico institucional, esta digamos, sus elementos de interes personal han aflorado mas hacia una tendencia mas individual, £no? Que la gente de la comunidad, por tanto, no creo yo que refleje. Por eso cuando me dicen “han dicho los dirigentes”, a h... es una cosa los dirigentes, pero habria que escuchar a sus bases. Entonces, yo me imagino que la ley, esto una opinion personal...creo que la ley de la revolucion productiva comunitaria, tiene una fuerte carga de la opinion y los intereses de esta capa dirigencia, que en este momento, m as esta en una estrategia de copam iento de la institucionalidad estatal del mundo republicano liberal, antes que de su estrategia comunitario.22 2 221 From an interview with Licarion Soto o f C SU TC B.
222 Interview with Lie. Gonzalo Vargas Rivas.
Raphael Puente (ex-advisor to Evo Morales and current political commentator) argued that what has increasingly happened is counter to the M A S’ rhetoric o f participation; a concentration o f power and decision-making upwards.
RP: Y ahi hay es un elemento m uy agravante, y es que los dirigentes de las organizaciones sociales
RP: Claro, todos se dijeron, vamos a apoyar, vamos a estar de acuerdo, el pueblo apoya presidente; Sin consultar para nada la opinion de sus bases, en los hechos las bases estuvieron en desacuerdo... Evo tuvo que dar marcha atras, y es que los dirigentes han dejado de ser representantes de sus bases, les han convertido en autoridades... por si mismas, con lo cual pierden todo vigencia pues. Ahora eso tambien tiene un origen preocupante ^no? De verticalismo. Entonces la cosa el verticalismo llega al extremo. El verticalismo llega al extremo de que muchas veces a los dirigentes se los elige por recomendacion de E vo...
Based on my conversations with the m em ber organizations that still m aintain alliances with the MAS (primarily the CSUTCB and Bartolinas) I noted this tension how ever wish to complicate it a bit further. Leaders have been co-opted with their exposure to the political and economic opportunities that come with having a solid working relationship with the MAS. In order to m aintain good relations with the government they continue to support their projects, regardless o f their substance and regardless if in practice they are what they fought to eliminate. There is another element; the importance o f ideology, the ways in which the counter-hegemonic project that the M AS represents resonates with collective social memory o f struggle, but also o f the still persistent economic inequalities rampant across the country. Since there is this suspicion o f leadership co-optation, as well as a concentration o f power from above, this has resulted in a simultaneous demobilization and remobilization o f the political conjuncture in Bolivia. When I refer to demobilization, I am referring specifically to the role the Pacto de U nidad has held institutionally, in terms o f successively approving legislation at the behest o f the bases which they represent. In the case o f the LRCPA, they approved legislation that will further marginalize the very bases they represent; and did so in contrary to their past experiences o f struggle and resistance.
With the verticalization o f power, the bureaucratization o f political participation and the co-oportatization o f popular participation, other organizations as well as civil society are beginning to talk o f “recuperation.” It seems only natural that there would eventually be a re-mobilization o f political participation among and within the subaltern and popular classes given the persistance o f popular struggle historically. Despite this fact, the ways in which politics are being re-vitalized can provide us with the complexities and difficulties that emerge when constructing counter-hegemonic projects from below.
4.3 ;Esto es el pueblo, el pueblo no es pagado!223 The LRPCA revealed a clear example o f the emerging critiques against the campesino organizations o f the Pacto de Unidad and their decision to support the M A S’ decision to approve the law. Thus, when another controversial M AS project emerged, the highway San-Ignacio de Moxos- Villa Tunari, the Pacto de Unidad became the central focus where popular unification should emerge and contest the government’s actions. W hen it 223 This was taken from a chant that surfaced in a pro-TIPNIS m obilization follow ing the contra-marcha by the MAS.
did not, and became divided on the issue, the political event revealed a larger fractioning occurring within the popular classes.
In June 2011, the MAS government announced that in collaboration with the Brasilian government and IIRSA, they would be constructing the highway San Ignacio de M oxosVilla Tunari (see Map III). This highway (yellow-black dashed line) was set to pass directly through the Territorio Indigena Parqite N a tio n a l Isiboro Secure (TIPNIS) territory. The TIPNIS communities fall under the overarching representation o f the CIDOB, and so, upon news o f proposed construction, Adolfo Chavez o f the CIDOB immediately announced the rejection o f the project by TIPNIS. This rejection was m ade on the basis that it was an imperialist project o f the Brasilian government,224 and that their communities had not been p riw y to the “consulta previa” as outlined in the N C PE.2 5 This is significant because we can, after outlining the centrality of land and power in the previous chapters, see the ways in which the LRPCA and TIPNIS highway are not two separate events, rather the ways in which they are connected and grounded in the political and economic power o f land.
CONAMAQ also saw the linkages between their fight against genetically modified organisms and their lack o f consultation during the LRPCA, and what was going to be happening to their “hermanos de tierras bajas.” On the 29th o f July CONAMAQ signed and presented a letter o f support to their lowland indigenous brothers o f the TIPNIS and CIDOB. CONAMAQ expressed their decision to march on August 15th against the construction o f the highway San-Ignacio de Moxos- Villa Tunari with the TIPNIS and CIDOB against the project, and against genetically modified seeds.
The last week o f July, I attended a 3-day general assembly for CONAMAQ authorities, organized around the Consulta Previa. The opening remarks o f Day I presented the concerns o f CONAMAQ as those concerns that were beginning to em erge popularly,
particularly within indigenous communities: