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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: "La victoire de Morales doit amener un changement de cap"

by Gérard Devienne

"Morales’ Victory should lead to a change of course for Bolivia"

Translated Monday 11 August 2008, by Henry Crapo

Bolivia: On the eve of a referendum that would revoke the mandates of the president and of the regional prefects, Marcos Domich, secretary of the Bolivian Communist Party, analyzes the situation in the country.

Huma: What is the political and social situation in which this electoral process takes place?

Marcos Domich: The Political tension is extreme, and fom it derives a social crisis possessed of a certain legitimacy. It’s not just by chance that this double tension sharpened during the ten days preceding the election. The right wing would never have ventured into a referendum if they had not been certain they could defeat the progressive government, one which objectively affects their interests. And even when they were in power, they would never have risked such an adventure, tantamount, in their eyes, to suicide.

The popular referendum won constitutional stature thanks to popular pressure, under the government of Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada, in order to oppose the sale of gas to the United States by way of the multi-national companies. At the end of the year 2007, Evo Morales proposed a revocative referendum, which was adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, where the MAS (Movement toward Socialism) has a majority, but the Senate, which is dominated by the right, blocked the measure.

This was the case until a night of celebration, when Podemos, the party of ex-president Jorge Quiroga, euphoric, with the certainty of being able to "beat the Indian", accepted that the referendum be held. The president then picked up the gauntlet, provoking a veritable earthquake on the right.

Huma: You speak of tension ...

Marcos Domich: The right, knowing itself beaten, has multiplied its pretexts and traps, including the use of fascist-type brigades, to avoid the consultation. The right has even encouraged certain social struggles. The Bolivian Central Workers’ Union (COB), weakened, has proposed as priority a pension law that annuls the preceding law, one based on private pensions. On the right, the civic committees have engaged in hunger strikes in order to demand that some of the funds taken by direct taxation on hydrocarbons, which finance the old age pensions, be returned to the regional governments. This tension could lead to a boycott of the process, or at least could prevent its total expression, in terms of both numerical and of geographical representation.

The 10th of August will not be the "Mother of all Battles". This will come later. When the right displays its arguments to deny the success of Evo Morales, and the support he will have gained for the pursuit of social advances.

On the left, we hope that the victory will lead to a change of course, necessary in order to correct the errors and omissions in the management of the popular government.

Huma: How do you explain the quasi-coordinated actions of sectors so fundamentally opposed to one another, as the COB and Podemos?

Marcos Domich: There is no doubt about the infiltration of the labor unions by agents paid by foreign espionage agencies. Also, there are some disqualified labor leaders who manage, thanks to a radical discourse, to obtain positions of power in a renewed labor union structure under the influence of neo-liberal elements, unions that no longer retain the revolutionary traditions of their class. Nevertheless, the present convulsions in the labor movement should have no great influence on the outcome of the referendum: the political map is clearly drawn, and indicates a predominance of popular forces.

Huma: What do you see for the immediate future?

Marcos Domich: There will be no immediate exit from this prolonged crisis. We cannot ignore the fact that the crisis is multi-facetted and has gone on for years. On the economic front, the crisis cannot be resolved in Bolivia alone, a small country immerged in a global economy that is currently in a grave crisis. But it is clear that the solution, here, will be by the defeat of one of the two political poles. Who will win? We believe, not by feigned optimism or naïveté, that the battle will be won by the Bolivian people.

It will be extremely hard, there will be many sacrifices, and blood spilt. We do not wish this, but a good cause demands that one comprehend matters for what they are. The battle in Bolivia is part of a larger battle, one that involves all of Latin America, for the progress of the various peoples of which it is composed, a movement that will lift imperialism off its hinge-pins.