«by Kirsten Francescone A thesis submitted to the Faculty o f Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the ...»
With the COB’s ability to call general strikes, to blockade major transport highways and shut down cities across the country at a call, this provided significant clout to the matter, forcing the government to seriously think about the project.
The TIPNIS march arrived in La Paz, 65 days after its initial departure. The CIDOB/CONAMAQ further forced their move by taking over the Plaza M urillo w ith a group o f about 250 indigenous marchers. W ith this additional pressure, public outcry from urban pacenos, increasing m obilization from the FEJUVE of el Alto, the recent judicial election upset276, and the COB threatening to escalate actions the governm ent agreed to meet with the marchers. On October 21 Evo M orales determined the TIPNIS territory “intocable” and produced the Ley Corta TIPNIS preventing the highw ay from passing through the park. At this point the vigil and Plaza Murillo occupation were dismantled. Despite the government claiming the territory untouchable, it is important to note, that the contract with Brazil and the IIRSA was not cancelled. As such, in January following the national cumbre, the government announced that the Ley Corta TIPNIS would be revised, that the TIPNIS communities would be consulted again, and that the highway San Ignacio de Moxos- Villa Tunari was back in the works.
Even though the conflict partially fragmented and disseminated, popular m obilizations have again resurfaced and have done so in a more complex and potentially dangerous way. Some of those dangers I have discussed elsewhere, and for the purposes o f this particular study I highlight this case as exemplary o f the ways politics unfold and manifest in times o f political and economic turmoil, as well as to define the sheer 276 Largest nullified vote results in B o liv ia ’s history, a cam paign that w as lead by the M SM right-w ing opposition party.
importance o f broad-base alliances for constructing alternatives. In the end, the emerging Brazilian capital interests in Bolivia have preserved in the short run, outw eighing the ability o f these mobilizations to truly modify the M A S’ politic of the present. However, what emerged from this conflict is the re-catalyzation o f popular m obilization, a re catalyzation that is bubbling and conscious o f the M A S’ present political and econom ic alliances and tendencies.
W hat makes the TIPNIS conflict important for our analysis is two-fold. First, it represents a moment in political conjuncture that opened up possibilities for political mobilization not only by the Left, but also for the Right wing to capitalize on the struggle for hegemony over the conflict. Second, it demonstrates a larger politic o f division that is becoming more and more common in B olivia’s recent political history, a story o f inter class tension and conflict over the property o f natural resources, whilst the larger political-economic context suggests the continued sale to foreign interests o f the major portion o f them. That being said, the TIPNIS conflict, as a moment in political conjuncture, enabled not only the fragmentation but also the formation o f other alliances that could prove to be important in the years to come.
5.5 El “como” y la recuperacion del proceso de Cambio.” Herein lies the politics of possibility.
As we have seen through out this examination the MAS government has entered into a new realm o f political conjuncture and is struggling to maintain hegemony in light o f increased political and civil dissent by the very popular and indigenous classes that propelled the party into power. A s demonstrated in the early sections o f this study, there are clear contradictions between the discourse being used to propagate the M A S’ hegemonic stronghold and the practical actions and political tendencies o f the MAS government as o f late. The M A S’ failure to adequately reform land and territory and develop a land policy that counters transnational and elite interests has lead to a re mobilization o f the national-popular and indigenous sectors that are taking up the calls o f the early 2000s. The gasolinazo conflict that erupted in 2010 from an increase in the price of petroleum incited mass widespread popular mobilizations, and w idespread public scrutiny regarding its political orientation. Since that time, the government has failed to fully recuperate its image.
Specifically, this investigation sought to analyse the M A S’ political positioning on agricultural production, which, as I have shown, has yet to be re-organized in a way that truly confronts the elite and transnational agro-industrialist classes. Instead, the MAS holds the position that, beyond their discourses o f the environment, indigenous rights, and new socialism, presently benefits the expansion o f capital. The unfortunate movement of this recognition is that it serves not only to continue to exacerbate the experiences o f poverty and marginalization for indigenous, campesino, and w orking-class Bolivians, but that it violates the demands that coalesced and emerged following the massive popular uprisings of 2000 and again in 2003. With the continued concentration of land in the hands o f capitalist agro-industrialists, campesino and indigenous communities alike are forced to fight for what remains, which is insufficient even to begin thinking about national agricultural sovereignty. Instead, as these exam ples reveal, mounting tensions within the subaltern classes serves to obfuscate the real political and economic powers at play. As a result it is extremely important to think about the ways in which the Right Wing can capitalize on these divisions in the first place, and beyond government political parties, the ways in which capital can expand and exacerbate these mounting divisions.
I suggest that before the MAS government can begin talking about food sovereignty and indigenous rights, it needs to engage in a true revolutionary process. A process to ensure that more concrete political policies can be put into place to guarantee developments. In order to maintain the image that brought about its existence, there is an essential necessity to work towards re-directing the target o f political conflict away from the subaltern classes and towards those who continue to benefit from m ounting divisions and tensions. As such, the complete expropriation o f agro-industrial capitalists is elemental to any further advancement. In addition, the governm ent needs to make true efforts to strengthen agricultural production, which will enable food sovereignty for all Bolivians.
Promoting agricultural production for export, the promotion o f agro fuels, and legalizing genetically modified seeds will only act as barriers (and even destroy) revolutionizing agricultural production. That being said, however, the issue is clearly complex.
Simply expropriating agro-industrialists without also taking into consideration the liberal ideology that is continuously imposed onto indigenous and campesino comm unities will not result in the socialization or communization o f agricultural production. The role o f organic intellectuals, that is to say, research institutions that those that participated in the vigilia, but also campesinos and indigenous communities who have experience with agricultural production need to take the lead in socializing, and engaging in the conquest o f the hegemony o f capitalist-liberal organization o f land and production. This process must occur with the expropriation o f large-scale industrial landholdings, and it m ust be clarified that, given the political and economic stronghold o f this particular elite, this expropriation would not occur without violence.
The current tendency o f the M AS administration in agriculture reveals an age-old politic that has continued to haunt the Bolivian political-economic trajectory, that o f a prim aryresource extraction industries. I f Bolivia continues to allow for the expansion o f the agro industrialists in the media luna region, their position will continue to remain subordinate and susceptible to highly volatile m arkets and price regimes, to foreign capital, and climate change.
Much like the Centro de Documentacion e Informacion Bolivia (CEDIB) has revealed in their investigations in hydrocarbons and mining, Bolivia was and has continued to be, since colonial times, a primary-resource producing nation. M aintaining a politic that continues to pursue this trajectory will continue to permit that capital takes all and leaves nothing. That nothing becomes what, as we saw in the final section o f this investigation, the popular classes are left to fight over: scraps.
That being said, the future is anything but written for Bolivia. What m akes Bolivia central for investigations founded in the politics o f possibility is the active nature o f the politics, and the central dynamism that challenges strict “state” - “civil society” binaries.
The unrelenting push o f the popular sectors and the constant re-imagining o f political possibilities, continues to produce moments o f conflict absolutely necessary for the construction o f a politics that enables Bolivians to “vivir m ejor.” Bolivians continue to “battle-out” politics in moments o f political conjuncture, moments which not only serve to challenge the immediate, but also are critical for political formation and building solidarity for the future.
As the final two sections revealed, the indigenous and national-popular sectors are again mobilizing to recuperate their vision for the future o f their country. Demands centered and grounded in ownership and distribution o f natural resources seek to m obilize and unify Bolivians, and are resulting in the production o f widespread and interesting strategic political alliances between indigenous communities and working popular sectors. Such alliances are extremely important to combat the continuous penetration o f transnational capitalist interests. The only way these alliances can be fully realized, however, is by unification within and between the popular and subaltern classes.
What is clear is that this re-mobilization has resulted not only in a questioning o f the M AS’ politics yet again, but it has also provided unclear opportunities for Right-W ing political mobilization, and fragmenting between and within the indigenous and campesino sectors and popular classes. As we have seen, Bolivians have a clear and unrelenting history o f struggle against colonial and capitalist oppressors, old and new.
These more contemporary events, or moments in its political history will surely affect the ways in which mobilizations continue to build and alliances to grow. And with elections rapidly approaching in 2013 the ways in which these popular sectors m obilize and unify are especially critical to confront the “push-back” o f the capitalist elite.
Bolivia provides us with a case for further examination into the means in which political alternatives are constructed, maintained, and reclaimed. It is clear that Bolivians w ithin the national-popular and indigenous sectors know what they envision for the future o f Bolivia, the difficulty comes from the long and difficult road they m ust travel to get there. Political systems do not exist in vacuous spaces, and transnational capital is anything but unrelenting. Hope, as well as the possibilities for future contestation and struggle exists in the equally unrelenting ways in which Bolivians unite and resist; under even the most ideologically or physically oppressive circumstances. The MAS government emerged from the blood o f m assacred Bolivians fighting united to live better, with the unprecedented support and trust o f the subaltern and popular classes. The ways in which politics unfold from here cannot be removed from that past, but the steps that are taken to get there will reveal moments central in the formation o f w hat is envisioned for the future, and how that vision becomes implemented practically.
Que los transnacionales no enfrente al pueblo boliviano IJallalla Bolivia!
Appendices Appendix A: Abbreviations ANAPO: Asociacion de Productores de Oleaginosas y Trigo AOPEB: Asociacion de Organizaciones de Productores Ecologicos de Bolivia CATNCO: Camara de Industria, Comercio, Servicios y Turism o de Santa Cruz CANEB: Camara Nacional de Exportadores de Bolivia CEDIB: Centro de Documentation e Investigation Bolivia CIDA: Canadian International Development Agency CIDOB: Confederacion de Pueblos Indfgenas de Bolivia COB: Centra] Obrero Boliviano CONAMAQ: Consejo Nacional de Ayllus M arkas Qullasuyu CNMCIOB-BS: Confederacion Nacional de M ujeres Campesinas Indfgenas Originarias de Bolivia- Bartolina Sisa CSUTCB: Confederacion Sindical Unica de Trabajadores de Bolivia FAO: Food and Agriculture Association FES: Funcion economico-social FINPRO: Fondo para la Revolucion Industrial Productiva FONTAGRO: Fondo Regional de Tecnologfa Agropecuaria FSTMB: Federation Sindical de Trabajadores Mineros Bolivianos GMO: Genetically Modified Seeds INIAF: Instituto Nacional de Innovation Agropecuaria y Forestal IFI: International Foreign Investment Institutions LRPCA: Ley de la Revolucion Productiva Comunitaria Agropecuaria MAS: Movimiento a] Socialismo MNR: Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario MST: Movimiento Sin Tierra NCPE: Nuevo Constitucion Politico del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia OECOM: Organizaciones Economicas Comunitarias TCO: Territorios Comunitarios de Origen TIPNIS: Territorio Indigena Parque Nacional isiboro Secure Appendix B: M ethodology This project is the result o f nearly seven months o f fieldwork participating and working with indigenous organizations, primarily in Cochabamba and La Paz, Bolivia. In the first five months of fieldwork I lived in Cochabamba, travelling to and from La Paz. The indigenous organizations with whom I worked primarily during this time were the Consejo Nacional de Ayllus y Markas del Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ) and the M ovimiento Sin Tierra de Tierras Altas (M ST-A). At the time o f the investigation, CONA M A Q was a critical member organization of the Pacto de Unidad, and the MST previously pertained to the Pacto de Unidad. Since this investigation concluded, CONAM AQ officially withdrew from the Pacto de Unidad. During this period of time (M ay-August) I attended conferences, workshops, protests, assemblies, meetings, and presentations related to the two struggles that these organizations were simultaneously involved in. The first being the introduction of the new Ley de la Revolucion Productiva Communitaria Agropecuaria, and the second being the conflict surrounding the controversial construction of the highway Villa Tunari- San Ignacio de Moxos in the parque Isiboro Secure.