«by Kirsten Francescone A thesis submitted to the Faculty o f Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the ...»
On August 6th, 2012 in front o f the Bolivian parliament, Evo Morales announced his economic plan for the country for 2025. In the country’s anniversary speech he claimed
...llegar al Bicentenario y que todo nuestro pueblo este con servicios basicos (...) yo digo el 2025, de rincon a rincon, agua potable, luz y telefoma para el pueblo boliviano. El 2025: autosuficiencia alimentaria con soberanici y aqui hago un llamado a todos los hermanos del campo.6 In fact, food sovereignty has been on the recent M orales discursive agenda since the release o f the Ley de la Revolucion Productiva Comunitarici Agropecuciria (LRPCA) in
2011. This years meeting o f the OAS even took place in Cochabamba, with the main focus of the meeting being “food security with sovereignty.” His emphasis on the “hermanos del campo” is also significant for our purposes, in that, discursively, M orales argues that small-scale community production is the key to obtaining food sovereignty.
The Via Campesina claims food sovereignty must necessarily include the following conditions: local food production, protection from food importations, sustainable agricultural production and biodiversity, ju st labour conditions and access to healthy food.7 However, as we will see later on, while discursively encouraging “ food sovereignty”, and “local” production, the Morales administration is sim ultaneously promoting the expansion o f agro-industry, particularly in the production o f cash crops.
This contradiction is leading to popular unrest, and increased inter-sectorial conflicts.
6 Baldwin Montero, “Evo fija 3 metas para el 2 0 2 5.” La R azon, August 7, 2012.
7 Paul N icholson and N icole D elforge, “V ia Campesina: R esponding to global system ic food crisis,” D evelopm en t 51(2008): 457.
Josue de Castro, Brazilian doctor and economist, in 1959 reveals a question that still maintains central relevance, some 50 years later. In his book entitled Geopolitica del Hambre he argues that hunger is not in fact caused by lack o f production o f food, if not caused by the politics o f distribution o f food, a politic that is both capitalist and imperialist.8 Despite the fact that food production has risen significantly over the past century, hunger has maintained its presence in the global landscape. Yet, according to the ways in which hunger was framed at this years OAS in Cochabamba, and the continued insistence o f the MAS administration on industrialization, increased food production via industrialization is Bolivia’s only chance for eliminating hunger.
Considering the increased international focus on the M AS administration in recent years, and the ways in which it has served as a symbol o f hope for progressive scholars and activists globally, it is important to delve into what appear to be contradicting tendencies surrounding a theme that is central to any progressive re-organization o f political and economic policies: agricultural production.
This investigation seeks then, to engage in a historical m aterialist’s analysis o f the political economy o f agricultural production in Bolivia under the Morales government.
Under such a broad topic o f exploration this project addresses questions surrounding communitarian socialism, as well as the relationship between the state and social movements. Finally, the challenges, if any, that the MAS presents to capitalist and 8 Josue de Castro, G eopolitica d el H am bre: E nsayo so b re los p ro b le m a s alim entarios y d em o g rd fico s de!
mim do (Buenos Aires: Solar Hachette, 1963).
imperialist powers o f today as they materialize in agricultural production in light o f a growing food crisis nationally and globally.
For Marx, historical materialism provides us with the tools that prevent the dangers o f generalization, determinism and linear knowledge production to analyze the ways in which in “moments”, times o f “political conjuncture”, or “crisis” can (and m ust) be analyzed alongside and within the relations o f production, in our present case, capital.9 The core o f the dialectic then, for studies in social movements, cannot be the signi ficance o f that particular moment o f crisis and its’ necessary movement towards revolution, but rather the spaces that moment produces for dialectical processes to be battled out, to be contested and negotiated, and then to continue producing. This is what allows for the uncertainty but also the possibilities o f political mobilizations.
Gramsci adds that moments o f crisis reveal the ways in which the political and economic terrain o f struggle is organized; and then how civil society, elite groups, m em bers o f the proletariat and working classes and intellectuals w ork out or battle their w ay through conflicting moments in time. Finally, moments o f crisis reveal how social relations
become re-organized as a result:
...the crisis [of hegemony] creates situations that are dangerous in the short run since the various strata o f the population are not all capable o f orienting themselves equally swiftly, or o f reorganizing with the same rhythm. The traditional ruling class, which has numerous trained cadres, changes men and programmes and, with greater speed than is achieved by the subordinate classes, reabsorbs the control that was slipping from its grasp.1 0 9 Karl Marx, The G rnndrisse N otebooks (N ew York: Penguin C lassics, 2005).
10 Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the P rison N otebooks, ed. Smith and Hoare (N ew York: International Publishers, 1971), 210.
M oments provide us with windows through which we can observe the capitalist dialectic.
Their importance not only lies in their centrality o f m oments of revolution, but also as moments that need to be documented and noted for the battles to com e which produces knowledge that is as much historically relevant, as it is politically practical.
In attempts to revive old discussions about agricultural production in light o f decades o f failed agricultural reforms within the industrial capital paradigm,1 this study attempts to reveal the dangers and possibilities o f the M A S’ current agricultural agenda. Bolivia has a recent historical experience with the ways in which agricultural industrialization fa iled to eliminate hunger, while increasing economic dependency at the behest o f foreign capital interests (something we will see in Chapter 1). W ith recent global technological changes like GMO seeds and patented technology, the risks are even greater for the Bolivia o f today, a risk that will continue to be born by the popular classes, those m ost vulnerable to rising food prices, volatile markets and displacement.
This investigation explores two interconnected political moments that occurred over seven months o f engaged anthropological fieldwork in Bolivia. The first is the MAS government’s release o f the agricultural plan: the Ley de la Revolucion Productiva Conmmnitaria Agropecuaria (LRPCA) and the second is the infamous and possibly m ost important political conflict to emerge in Bolivia since the gasolinazo: the TIPNIS conflict. Both moments can be viewed as reflecting the larger political and economic 1 Tony W eis, The G lobal F ood Econom y: The B attle for the future o f farm ing (London: Zed Books, 2007), 89-120.
tendencies that are present in Bolivia revolving around land and agriculture. Further, both demonstrate the unparalleled and unrelenting way in which Bolivians continuously construct, negotiate, and challenge the Bolivian political process.
Chapter one explores the historical development o f agricultural production in Bolivia focusing particularly on the relationship between community production and industrial agricultural production. In this chapter I argue that notions o f communal property ownership and production must be situated within the colonial conquest, and later within and alongside the development o f capital. As such, any real attempts by the MAS to propagate communal agricultural production and land tenure must be seen as a project that requires re-construction and necessarily requires the dismantling and destruction o f colonial and capitalist forms o f land tenancy, which continue to persist and thrive in Bolivia.
Chapter two introduces the Ley de la Revolucion Productiva Comunitaria A gropecuaria (LRPCA), the M A S’ most recent legislative document for agricultural production in Bolivia and the source for the mobilizations against genetically modified seeds that emerged in June. In this chapter I trace the production o f the law, identify the political and economic contradictions and tensions that emerged during its production and ensuing implementation.
Chapter three outlines the present political-economic context o f agricultural production in Bolivia, attempting to identify and outline the possibilities for revolutionary communitarian production within capitalist, particularly large-scale industrialized agricultural production. In this chapter I argue that the present political and economic tendencies o f the Morales administration are those that are reducing the possibilities for revolutionizing agricultural production and focus on genetically-modified seeds as one o f the examples o f the ways in which the LRPCA represents a danger to sovereignty and sustainability.
Chapter four looks at some o f the political tensions and contradictions that emerged in light o f the LRPCA and their relationship to land, property and production. Specifically, in this chapter I examine the relationship betw een social movements and the state, and how the M AS’ government’s re-imagining o f politics in the context o f their inability to revolutionize land tenancy has resulted in an increased political upheaval and the construction o f new alliances demanding a more revolutionary political front. The Pacto de Unidad,1 a collection o f indigenous and campesino communities that works directly with the government will be the prim ary site o f analysis for this chapter. The Pacto de Unidad is particularly important for understanding these two movements given its composition (campesino and indigenous organizations), its relationship with the M AS, and the role it has held in political mobilizations o f past and present.
Finally, chapter five looks at the ways in which these new alliances, particularly between working and indigenous communities emerged and were challenged and negotiated 12 The Pacto de Unidad during the time o f this investigation w as com prised of tw o indigenous organizations CONAM AQ and CIDOB, and three cam pesino organizations C SUTCB, Federacion Bartolina Sisa, and the Interculturales.
during the TIPNIS conflict. This final chapter offers a critical analysis o f the strengths and limitations o f the possibilities for revolutionary change from below w ithin the Bolivian popular and indigenous classes.
Chapter 1: Community Production and the Development o f Capitalist Agricultural Production.
With the emergence o f the LRPCA and the governm ent’s emphasis on the im portance o f small-scale, community-based agriculture for the future o f Bolivian agriculture, discussions o f the possibilities for communal small-scale indigenous production need to be examined. The central argument o f this section is that any analysis o f the possibilities for the M AS’ vision for communal production cannot be discussed w ithout a look at the ways in which previous forms o f communal production were destroyed by colonial and capitalist conquest.
The first section of this chapter will explore the ways in which the “com m unity” or socially organized land holdings as they existed outside o f capitalism were destroyed.
The second section will explore the Agrarian Reform and the state-supported roll-out o f capitalist development of campesino and agro-industrial agriculture following the popular revolution o f 1952. The final section will introduce some questions and comm entary in order to foreground the following chapter’s exploration o f the MAS’ m ost recent agricultural legislation.
While there is a recent dearth o f economic studies that focus on the material production realities o f agricultural communities in Bolivia (since approximately the 90s), some past studies like Maria Lagos’ study on agricultural production in the Cochabamba Valley region, Allison Spedding’s comparative analysis o f coca production in the Chapare and Yungas regions, and a compilation o f studies that compare agricultural production regionally perfomed by CIPCA, suggest that community indigenous production is complex and integrally intertwined with capital.1 Despite a recent academic trend to identify indigenous communities that produce communally and then expand that case to generalizable insights about indigeneity and values as necessarily com m unal,1 this first chapter attempts to historically situate those claims. It also is a call out for a revival o f studies which are both anthropological and economic, studies that attem pt to reveal the ways in which production is tied to internal value systems and meaning, but that also is intertwined with the contextual economics o f production.
Much like during colonial conquest, the rise o f capital worked towards dism antling indigenous communities as a way o f ensuring a labour force. And today we continue to see the ways in which industrial agricultural production has been able to expand significantly, at the expense of land available to indigenous and campesino communities.
For Spedding, the anthropological tendency has been to treat agricultural com m unities as bounded entities void o f their historical and present context.1 She does not argue that collective or communal production do not exist, but rather that the essentialism that these values are indigenous or that these values do not coincide with other ways o f producing, 13 See Maria Lagos, Autonom y a d P ow er: The D yn am ics o f C lass a n d P o w e r in R u ra l B olivia (Philadelphia: University o f Pennsylvania Press, 1990); A lison Spedding. K aw asachnn C oca: E conom ia Cam pesina C ocalera en los Yungas y el C h apare (La Paz: PIEB, 2005) and Lorenzo Soliz and Silvia Aguilar, P ro d u ccio n y E conom ia Cam pesino-Indigena: E xperien cias en se is ecoregiones d e B olivia 2001-2003 (La Paz: CIPCA cuadem os de investigacion, 2 0 0 5 ) 14 See Susan Healey, ’’Ethno-Ecologica! Identity and the Restructuring o f Political Pow er in B o liv ia,” L atin Am erican P erspectives 36(2009): 83-100; M ichael Schulte, L lam eros v Caseros: La econom ia reg io n a l