Supported by 95% of Bolivia’s citizens, the hydrocarbons nationalisation decree of May 1st 2006 was the zenith of the Evo Morales government. Now it has just lost, legitimately, by a very narrow margin the Prefecture of Chuquisaca, which gives camouflage to the illegality of the referendums approving autonomy statutes for Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando. It is worth remembering in politics that if one wants to progress it is more important to criticise one’s own errors than those of others.
The separatist attempts in Bolivia have grown geometrically, from the arbitrary election of "governors" and the abusive installation of a virtual parliament in Santa Cruz approving "laws" (published in their "judicial gazette"), to it being impossible for the President to visit official bodies controlled by the opposition, while the armed forces and the police are unable to contain an intermittent, ongoing coup d’état via regional autonomy secession. Unfortunately, it was the MAS party, with NGO finance, that generated the very pretexts that have been exploited by its enemies.
Only absolute myopia (or bad faith) can explain the complacency with which the government received the proposal by Román Loayza, the leader of the MAS constituent assembly delegates to change Bolivia’s name to Tawantinsuyo and that of the Plaza Murillo in La Paz to Tupaj Katari. Foreign Minister Choquehuanca did something similar by warning that aymara and quechua domestic servants could poison employers opposed to the government.
The physical attacks by irregular groups against paliamentary deputies, journalists and opposition Prefects (whose names were hung on slaughtered dogs in Achacachi) explain the current difficulties. This has obscured the cruelty of oligarchy racism that on various occasions has seen quechuayamras beaten in Santa Cruz and rural workers stripped naked on the steps of Sucre’s "House of Liberty". In summary, rather than strengthening the mestizo and indigenous alliance against the oligarchs, the MAS party isolated indigenous people by wanting them to confront mestizos and the agents of imperialism.
The government, by failing to respect the law and tolerating corruption (not bringing to trial serious fraud in highway construction, for example) had to submit to the opposition’s lawlessness in as much as it approved a reckless Political Constitution which by recognising 36 indigenous nations, divorced Evo from the middle classes. Lending money from national reserves at 2% and receiving credit from the same banks and other beneficiary institutions at 8% demonstrated the fragility of his anti-neoliberal convictions. Likewise, sending troops to Haiti casts doubt on his anti-imperialist preaching.
Even so, Vice-President Alvaro García Linera (who encouraged the foolishness of Loayza and Choquehanca) in the last few days got things right by representing the MAS party’s programme of government along the lines of State capitalism resuming once more its role as the locomotive of the country’s economy instead of unsustainable ethnic diffusion. With this programme, the expression of State capitalism, the government should manage to put an end to the curses of indigenous exclusion and corruption that still exist and also to promote kinds of regional autonomy that help the country cohere.
That way, Evo could face the August 10th recall referendum in better shape or, if the referendum is not held, then the early elections demanded by the opposition.
Andrés Soliz Rada was Minister for Hydrocarbons under Evo Morales – www.patriagrande.org.bo
Translation by Tortilla con Sal