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“The time to truly change our Bolivia has come”


Speech by president of the republic, Evo Morales Ayma, at the mobilization to mark 514 years of colonialism, La Paz, October 12, 2006

Thank you very much sisters and brothers from Bolivia and from Abya Yala; companero Alvaro Garcia Linera, our vice president of the republic of Bolivia, sister and brother ministers, parliamentarians, companero leaders of CONAMAQ, of CSUTCB, retirees, companero transport drivers, companeros from the Confederation of Colonisers, indigenous brothers from CIDOB, sisters and brothers from all the organizations present here, for course companeros from the city of El Alto, sisters and brothers from the department of Oruro, from the province of Omasuyos, companeros from Santa Cruz, from Beni, from Pando, from Tarija, from Chuquisaca, companero colonizers, to all the social, trade union and communal organization of all of Bolivia.

I want to tell you that we are here for two important reasons. Firstly, with the motive of the day, October 12, this day will be historic, it will be a day of remembering, but fundamentally I would say that this day is a day of liberation of our peoples.

And secondly, sisters and brothers of Bolivia, we are here to share with the indigenous brothers from all of Latin America, from all the Americas, previously called Abya Yala. Not only indigenous brothers from the Americas but also companero leaders from Europe. Our companero Jose Bove is here, campesino leader, defender of the small producers in France, many times imprisoned, he is here accompanying us, so many leaders, part of a popular indigenous movement of resistance that begun years ago.

A special greeting, a revolutionary greeting, a greeting of friendship, of brotherhood, to all the brothers who are visiting us for the 12th of October this year.

Sisters and brothers, I was remembering that one year ago, in this historic plaza, like this, with thousands and thousands of sisters and brothers from all of Bolivia we began the campaign to participate in last years national elections. I want to say truthfully to all of you, to all of Bolivia, to those brothers from the countryside and the city, to the Bolivian patriots who love their land, who care for their land, I want to say sisters and brothers, thank you very much for making me president to defend the peoples, the pure, honest people, the poor of Bolivia.

This pure, honest support, this support, this dignified vote by you, and from all Bolivians, has not been in vain. It is no coincidence, sisters and brothers, that in the last few days rumors of a coup have been circulating, it is simply to intimidate, to scare, they come from conservative sectors and they want to scare us, they want to intimidate us, they want to psychologically defeat us, but this gathering, this act on October 12, is a demonstration of the unity of the people, of this dignified and honest people who are willing to recuperate the natural resources.

Sisters and brothers of Bolivia and of Abya Yala, I want to briefly inform our Ecuadorian brothers and our Guatamalan, Colombian, Chilean, Mapuche, Peruvian, Brazilian, Colombian brothers, from all the delegations present here, I want to say to you, who are part of this movement called the campaign of indigenous popular resistance that begun in the year 1989, 90, 91. The results this campaign have been that the campesino, indigenous, colonizer, originario brothers together with other sectors, some intellectual sectors, Bolivian professionals, we organized ourselves in the year 1995 to construct a political instrument of liberation, a political instrument for the dignity and sovereignty of our peoples.

And this movement began with much strength, with the understand of our sisters and brothers from the countryside and the city, especially based on the campesino, indigenous movement of Bolivia. Even in the year 1995, 96, 97 some did not understand, they did not comprehend, but we said, a group of leaders from the altiplano, the valley, the Bolivian east, and now many of those constituent assembly delegates, many of those deputies, some of those ministers, we said: construct in order to end this black history of domination, of humiliation, of oppression and especially of looting of our natural resources, like our historical ancestors such as Tupac Katari, Tupac Amaru.

We carried out the campaign of 500 years of popular indigenous resistance, we said together, from resistance to power, from protests to proposals, we have organized ourselves and here we have advanced, thanks also to the participation of all the social movements and with part of the executive of the Confederation of the Retired Renters of Bolivia, of free transport, also organizations of the middle class, of the cities, we joined together to construct.

And I realize that it is not only important to wager on a democratic revolution in Bolivia, but also in many countries, in all the countries, in the same way that many social movements continue this struggle for the liberation of the peoples, in the search for equality and justice.

And here we are advancing bit by bit, but I realize, it is still hard to make some sectors understand, we hope that our social movements from the countryside or the city, workers, students, middle class, all the social forces will be instruments to liberate the people, and not instruments to conserve the systems of the empire.

I want to call on all the sectors, my brother workers, trade union leaders, we have a grand opportunity to liberate the Bolivian people, with certainty, and we are seeing that there are some obstacles, there are some sectors who do not want to lose the great advantages they had during all of this history, all the republic benefited from the state, from the people and only now are we struggling for there to be equality and justice with all the sectors, regions of the country and this is the struggle of the Bolivian people, headed by the indigenous originario movement of our country.

We truly want, sisters and brothers of America, of Abya Yala, for you to accompany us in this process of democratic change, you have accompanied us in difficult moments that have presented themselves on occasions, when they try to put obstacles in the way of this change, and in this change sometimes they talk of all of us, before they accused us. Of what? Of being terrorists, the social movements were converted into terrorism, they accused the cocaleros of trafficking drugs.

We are grateful for the presence of the brother of Cofecay, companero cocaleros from Yungas, from Cochabamba, a principal part of this political movement of social struggles, companeros.

And now that we are in government they no long accuse us of being terrorists, of narcotraffickers, now they accuse us of being ignorant, of being crazy, through the mass media they even say that we are incapable of governing. I only want to say to you, as always, the combination of social conscious with professional capability are important for governing, but they treat us as if we are racists.

This morning I was reading some newspapers and they said of me, this racist, when we demand the rights of the originario peoples of this noble land. They accuse us of racists, I want to say to you that the campesino indigenous movement in Bolivia is not racist, it is not exclusionary, it is inclusive.

With certainty our orginaria authorities who are present here can tell you and inform you of our way of living, but also, when they what to convert us into their slaves, we have the right to rise up and make them respect our rights as absolute owners of this noble land.

I want to tell you, sisters and brothers, that we really want to change Bolivia through the Constituent Assembly, the indigenous brothers from the Bolivian east already marched years ago, 15 years ago they asked for a Constituent Assembly.

Companeros from the west, what do we want with the Constituent Assembly? We want to truly refound Bolivia, that those brothers, our ancestors who struggles for the independence of the country, before the year 1825 thousands of companeros from the province of Ayopaya, thousands of companeros in Sucre, in La Paz, in the Yungas zones, [struggled] for the liberation, for independence. After they defeated the invaders of the west, they did not participate in the foundation of Bolivia, and now we want to refound Bolivia, with the women from the countryside and the city, with professionals, with business owners and headed by the indigenous movement.

It is true that at this moment, the largest number of constituents are indigenous campesino, but I want you to know that we have a Constituent Assembly which is refoundational, originaria, and when we talk of originaria they try to confuse, in an interesting way, those in the city. They are saying that the assembly is originaria because there are only originarios there, this is false.

I have understood, thanks to our professionals, that originario means an originario Constituent Assembly which has all the powers to change Bolivia, companeros. An originaria Constituent Assembly is not subordinated to the other powers of the state.

Some parliamentarians have informed us that after the foundation of Bolivia, up until now, there have been 18 Constituent Assemblies, but derived Constituent Assemblies. What does this mean? Constituent Assemblies subordinated to the executive power, subordinated to the legislative power, subordinated to the judicial power, which changed nothing, they simply carried out a reform. We can carry out reforms with our parliamentarians.

Here we want to inform you that through an originaria, all powerful Constituent Assembly, [we have] a Constituent Assembly with all the powers to change this state structure, to change the neoliberal model, especially to recuperate all the renewable and non-renewable natural resources for the Bolivian people.

I want to tell the students of the city, our brothers from the city, don’t allow yourselves to be confused by these bad campaigns, dirty campaigns, where they say an originaria Constituent Assembly will only be for the originarios, this is so false, so false. What a way to try and confuse the population. Where ever we visit we are informing people, and they understand perfectly what it is that we are looking for with the Constituent Assembly.

But I also want to tell you sisters and brothers, that with the Constituent Assembly we do not want to suppress anyone, we do not want to subordinate anyone, we only want a Constituent Assembly that creates equality, equality for all in regards to rights, be they from the east or the west, be they all the working sectors, because they are also saying, that with the Constituent Assembly some small groups are going to suppress us, are going to subordinate us, are going to dominate us.

The indigenous movement does not have a principal of domination; we want to live in equilibrium, in equality, that is the grand desire that we have. I am sure sisters and brothers that we are going to find this liberation, this way of living in reciprocity, in solidarity, in brotherhood, in equilibrium, that is the grand desire that we have, because until now our natural resources have been looted, robbed, our brothers exploited – that has to end.

That is why, indigenous brothers of Abya Yala, we are wagering for this liberation, for this equality of our peoples.

What have we done in these 8 months of government, of being president? Some 4, 5 months ago I said, I still don’t consider myself nor feeling like a president. Bit by bit in the palace they are convincing me that I am president, sisters and brothers, because it is hard for me to understand the fact of me being here as president, sometimes there are always provocations, some aggressions by some sectors, like before I want to respond everyday, our vice president, our ministers would say to me, don’t respond, you are no longer leader you are president, bear with me so I can clarify some issues.

But it doesn’t matter companeros, I am sure that the people are watching us, the people will judge us one day, the first task that we have proposed for ourselves, with our ministers who come from the social movements, intellectuals, professionals, we said, we are here to serve the Bolivian people.

Here we have many ministers with their professional capacities, with their intellectual capacities; they could surely be earning triple what they earn as a minister, I asked them at a meeting, and I want them to know, that they have the opportunity to share their knowledge, their capabilities for the Bolivian people, and that is why just a moment ago I was saying that this combination, this understanding of social conscious with intellectual capacity, is important.

And within this framework, sisters and brothers, companero miners who are also present here, an applause for them, who in these days that, lamentably, we have lived though such difficult moments in the mining centre, I am sure that we will overcome this issue.

I want to truthfully say that the natural resources have to serve in order to resolve the economic problems of the family, the region, as well as the nation. Here reason must reign, sisters and brothers.

Happily the price of minerals have risen, we have a good price for tin in the international market, which has truly been a grand blessing, but this grand blessing can not convert itself into a curse of fighting amongst brothers.

I only want to ask the mining brothers, not only of Huanuni, of all the sectors, make use of this natural resources for the region and for the nation, both sectors of our mining brothers should make use of this, salaried and cooperative miners in equality and in equilibrium, so that this natural resource benefits the families but also the nation, companeros.

It is not about confronting each other, here our struggle has historically been against the neoliberal model, against a system, and I want to ask all of you, together, united, organized, to finish off this economic model that has caused so much damage to the country, and for course to all the working sectors.

Companeros, I was saying, what have we done up until now? The nationalization of hydrocarbons, of natural gas, that some companeros still do not understand, they do not believe above all, that with the companero Alvaro Garcia Linera, with the ministers, days, nights, until the early morning, we debated the nationalization, but the result, so as to not tire companeros, is that before the new law of hydrocarbons, before the nationalization, the Bolivian state only received some $300 million, but now this year, the fact that we are going to receive more than $1000 million dollars, is a result of the nationalization.

I constantly said to you all, we do not want Bolivia to be a pauper state, so that when we reach October, November, December, the ministers in the area of economy with their small hats travel to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and ask for alms because there is a budget deficit.

One week ago, we were revising the figures, and the economists, the experts in the issue of finance where able to inform us, companeros, this year, until now at least, we can demonstrate with figures that there will not be a budget deficit but rather a surplus of 1.5%, companeros.

It seems that this year we are going to put an end to the pauper state that Bolivia was and we are not even yet applying all the things that we would want, there is still much to be done.

But I also want to use this time, to say to you sisters and brothers, impress on you, the collection of taxes from customs, from migration, the tax that we pay, which has never been increased by 46%, companeros, that is the grand confidence that the Bolivian people have in this government, that confidence, in the honesty of our government, and which certainly, with a bit of campaigning to explain, we could increase it to a 50% tax, which would entry into the General Treasury of the Nation.

And when we add it all up, it is very impressive, this totals to $600 million of taxes on top of what we received before, additional to what we were receiving. Sisters and brothers I want to say to all of you who pay your taxes, thank you very much, that is the money of the people, because the money of the people, that money will not be embezzled, that money will not be robbed, sisters and brothers.

And we could continue talking about some figures, but you have also seen that there is macroeconomic stability, that we support the companero Villegas, the companero Arce, from the ministry of housing, especially the economic team, the economic cabinet could tell us in detail, we have overcome 4, 5 attempts at financial terrorism. You heard in the mass media that they were saying, that there is a banking corralito the people are withdrawing their money to leave the banks empty. Other say that Evo is going to dedollarise, we need to withdraw our money from the bank, others say that there is going to be a banking corralito, and with the banking corralito, with the deposits, with something that belongs to you, the people, we were going to implement, companeros, our plan for government.

Comments from here and there, to scare the people, which are false, in the figures that we have looked over deposits have increased, but also credit loans, which is very impressive, just as the knowledge, the pure and smart conscious of the Bolivian people is.

Companeros, after we took possession and we were here at the celebration on January 22 of this year, what were they saying? That Evo Morales will last 3 months, 4 months, he will not be able to govern. But we have seen that the economy has improved, although we still need redistribution, the distribution of this wealth will be the next task, but we improved without impuestazos [tax hikes], without gasolinazos [hike in gas prices], without dieselazos [hike in diesel prices], companeros, and there will not be dieselazo nor impuestazo.

I want to say to the companero transport drivers, this is the first petition of your demands and it says, that the government will increase the price of diesel, that is why they began a hunger strike. We have never talk about nor have we though of increasing the price of diesel, nor of a gas cistern, in fact I have asked, companero Alvaro was saying, the president is asking that the price of a gas cistern be reduced, and we have the possibility of lowering the price of a gas cistern, of lowering the price of combustibles. The only problem we have is that if we reduce the price there will be more contraband.

Companeros, if it was not for contraband, tomorrow, or the day after, we would reduce the price of a gas cistern, because there are not only a few sectors that can collect and receive financial assistance, but there are also the poor people, the humble family, that is the issue that we have, the issue of contraband, let’s see if we can resolve it.

But I feel that they use false arguments, lies in order to discredit us.

Companeros, sisters and brothers present here, they also said, Evo will not respect private property, Evo will end private property, how false is that, what a lie, how many companeros from the altiplano, from the valley, from the east, thanks to their efforts, to their work, are business owners, business owners who do not owe anything to the state, in fact the state owes these business owners.

How could I think of finishing off with private property, companeros. But in order to scare some people they peddle this type of information, because not only are we physically diverse, some are dark, some are white, some are black, we are also economically diverse. Many families with their efforts have earned their wealth, there are families that work from 4, 5 in the morning to improve their economic situation, but there are also some families that evidently have been parasitical in regards to the people, parasitical in regards to the state, and these people begin to circulate rumors, saying that we were going to take away or end private property. Private property is respected companeros, but we are also going to strengthen communal property, collective property, these communal companies, these associations, these cooperatives, that is where our Bolivia exists, that is why we are economically diverse, and that economic diversity must be respected.

They have also told us, companeros, that Evo will end religion. We are also diverse in our religious beliefs, we have never spoken of ending religion, but religious diversity has to be respected, religious beliefs. Sisters and brothers, there can not be a monopoly on religion, we are catholic, we are evangelical, we have our own proper religion as quechuas and aymaras, the celebration of mother earth is coming up, San Andres that ch’allamos to mother earth, we must all be respected in Bolivia, sisters and brothers.

But I feel that just as historically there has been a dirty war, this dirty war continues. I want to say to those brothers who are carrying out a dirty war, become part of this project of change, a political project, a programmatic project in search of equality, justice between our peoples. Together we will change, we will unite the altiplano, the valley and the Bolivian east.

They speak of autonomy, the struggle of the peoples. Historically we have struggled for the self-determination of our peoples. This struggle is continuing in the United Nations through our delegates. I want to say to you sisters and brothers, one of our tasks is how to approve the declaration of the rights of the indigenous peoples in the United Nations, in the international sphere. They have the obligation of recognizing and approving this declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Sometimes we, you brothers from this continent, companeros, we have participated, and what do representatives of some of these governments say to us? They say, the indigenous peoples are sub-national groups, directly in Geneva, in those debates where we had to defend the rights of the indigenous peoples, they would still say this, but companeros, it seems that the proposal of the indigenous peoples will be a contribution not only towards defending the family, not only towards defending life, but towards saving humanity, and the way of life that we have in Bolivia and Abya Yala is certainly the way to defend mother earth, of how to live in harmony with mother earth.

If we speak of mother earth, we are speaking of the planet and us here, we are trying to save the planet in order to save humanity. That is the best contribution that the indigenous people of Abya Yala can make to saving all of humanity, sisters and brothers.

Companeros, we still have much to do, we still have to better understand each other, and better understand some problems that I don’t know off, and the contributions, the suggestions, the criticisms, are welcomed by our government.

We would truly like to continue learning, I am continuing to learn, it is important that our social movements strengthen themselves, that they strengthen, that they unite better in order to make a contribution from Bolivia to the entire world in defense of humanity.

I am not scared at all of saying, I am one of the admirers of Fidel and the companero Hugo Chavez, surprised by the solidarity of these two presidents, from Cuba and Venezuela. Before, when I was a trade union leader I said that my contribution, my support, I want not only to come from the position of the trade union leadership, but from the presidency.

I want to say to you, sisters and brothers, we now have the opportunity of contributing, of contributing from the government to those two countries who have liberated themselves. But when we speak of Cuba and of Venezuela, what do they accuse us of? They are going to end private property here like in Venezuela and Cuba, this is false, I have been in Venezuela a number of times. PDVSA has agreements with transnational petroleum companies, Fidel has signed agreements with petroleum companies, but the rules are totally different, the state benefits, the company also has the right to recuperate its investments and it has the right to make profit.

Up until now we have more that 250,000 sisters and brothers who are studying to learn how to read and write, not only with the participation of the expert brothers from Cuba, but also many other countries are joining this campaign.

I have been surprised, I want to say truthfully, and my recognition for some brothers from the city, referred to as intellectual, middle class, have organized themselves, students, university students including from the private universities, from the colleges, in order to organize in a neighbourhood, in the countryside, groups to teach literacy to the sisters and brothers who did not have the opportunity to learn how to read and write.

My greetings, my respect, for the participation of the Armed Forces, of the National Police in the issue of literacy, I am impressed, without asking anything, without demanding anything, but rather we the aim of truly eradicate illiteracy in our country, like many professionals from the countryside and the city are contributing towards.

Companeros, with this cooperation in regards to social issues, we are taking important steps forward, but I am very impressed by the example, the support, the solidarity of the Cuban people, of its president, of its government with Mission Miracle.

I did not believe in Mission Miracle. About 2 or 3 years ago in a meeting with companero Fidel, he spoke to me of Mission Miracle, and when I saw the inauguration of an ophthalmologic centre, the operation, very specialized, with much professionalism, and this companero who could not see, this companero who came to the ophthalmologic centre with a walking stick and from there he left to rest. After resting he started to walk, being able to see well, but this eyesight operation was totally free, which is important.

Companeros, I believe that we are getting there, we are at 38,000 who have been operated for free up until now, sisters and brothers, we could continue speaking about some of these social issues, things that we are implementing bit by bit, the minister Arce, who is not present here, has woken up negotiating with some sectors, dialogue will always be important in resolving problems and attending to the corresponding demands.

But neither can we resolve all the social problems in 8 months of government. I have heard a few commentaries in the media, they say, there is no refoundation of Yacimientos [YPFB] and there is no industrialization of petroleum, of natural gas, that is just one example. After they privatized or auctioned off petroleum, in three years they dismantled the state company which is Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos [YPFB], in three years and now it is difficult, companeros, from May, June, July, August, September, in 5 months, to refound Yacimientos and begin with industrialization.

Soon there will be some surprised in the issue of industrialization, that our team is continuing to work on, now and not in the nationalization but rather in the industrialization, I want to say, that in 5 months to refound Yacimientos, to begin to industrialise, it is almost impossible, it is a process companeros. The industrialization of hydrocarbons we say, you said, all the Bolivian people is our task, and it is important that Bolivia stop being an exporter of primary materials, rather we have to industrialise and we are going to industrialise sisters and brothers, happily and thanks to the cooperation of other countries and in some case through our company.

Companeros, certainly 514 years have passed since the invaders from the west though of finishing us off, they put forward the extermination of the indigenous people. Not only have we defend ourselves, not only have we resisted, it is thanks to the red ponchos, green ponchos, thanks to our companeros from Tarabuco, thanks to the monteras, sisters and brothers, that we have begun to liberate ourselves in Bolivia.

Brothers from Sabaya, brothers from Huachacalla, so many brothers, brothers from Caranavi, so many organizations, on this October 12 previously called day of the race, afterwards called day of disgrace and now this October 12 it is the day of liberation, sisters and brothers, it is the day of dignity of our Americas, of our Abya Yala, beginning from Bolivia.

We want our brothers of all the continent to be actors in resolving the economic, social problems. We do not want to be considered as beneficiaries, we can make many contributions to the solution of problems, it is important that the neighbouring nations, it is important that Europe think of resolving them, helping to resolve our problems. But we also want to resolve the problems of Europe, the issue of migration.

If there are no secure markets for our products via a fair trade of the people, I am sure that many brothers will continue to abandon us, to go to Europe and other countries. The United States, if they do not want migration from Bolivia, then they have to accept the entry of our products into those countries, companeros.

Trade is not only for the transnationals, trade can not be only for the agro-industrial business owners that receive financial assistance from their governments, from their states, but rather, above all else, it has to be open to artisans, to the micro and small business owners, to the sectors associated with cooperatives and I want to say, on this issue at least, there is an excellent acceptance by Europe. Hopefully, in the near future we can consolidate this so that the products from small producers, products from artisans, products from the people that need markets, will have secure markets with just prices in Europe.

Happily, some of our companeros who use to be advisors, and are now my collaborators, are actively participating in helping us to understand this problem, which is not just a problem for Bolivians but of all Latin Americans, as well as the Andean region.

Sisters and brothers, it is a great joy for me, this act of solidarity, the presence of you, the indigenous brothers of the continent, we have with us the companero Alvaro Garcia Linera, with us our foreign minister, with us our parliamentarians, supporting us to strengthen the struggle of liberation in Latin America and in the world. We are a movement of liberation not only in Bolivia, but in all the world, therefore it is our obligation to participate, orientate ourselves, but also to receive your recommendations, your suggestions, and that is how we have educated ourselves in the trade union struggles. I am sure, sisters and brothers we are going to continue in this process of liberation.

This change in Bolivia, sisters and brothers, is not attempting to offend, humiliate, to stop us. I want to truthfully say, hearing some information around there, this cultural democratic revolution with or without Evo Morales will continue to go forward. Nothing will stop this change in Bolivia, sisters and brothers, no one will be able to stop the Constituent Assembly, no one will stop the recuperation, the nationalization of our natural resources.

I only want to ask the brother social leader, the different sectors, let’s unite in an even better way, organise ourselves in an even better way. The time to truly change our Bolivia has come, to time to live in equality of conditions with all sectors has come.

I want to thank the companeros from the middle class, intellectuals, working sectors, mining sectors who are joining this process of change. Now is the time for all of us to become instruments of liberation and not instruments of oppression, sisters and brothers.

That is why I ask on my behalf, to all the trade union leaders, what damage have we done to the people, the poor people, no damage, no anti-popular economic measure against the popular movement, sisters and brothers.

Rather, so that our visiting brothers know this, 5 years ago there was never an increase in the national minimum salary and this year we have begun to increase it by 13.6%, after 5 years, and I could speak of many things, dignified tariffs, and all of us still have in our minds to continue developing without affecting the economy of the popular movements especially, but I want you to know, it is difficult to resolve this in 8 months of government.

Sisters and brothers, thanks a lot for listening to me and thanks a lot for visiting us. To finish I want you to help me say:

Jallalla Abya Yala,

Jallallas Bolivia

Long live the liberation of the peoples

Thanks a lot.

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