Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Bolivian “Days of May”


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COB miners leading the march on La Paz during May days of 2013
We reproduce this article, originally titled "Bolivia: Breaking News", from the FLTI, International Workers Organiser, No 23, http://flti-ci.org/index_eng.html. Despite our programmatic differences causing our split from the FLTI in 2010, and our view (currently under review) that Cuba has not completed the capitalist restoration, subject to these reservations, we agree with the FLTI position on Bolivia. We take responsibility for adding some internet links and clarifications in the text and a note at the end [in square brackets].
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bolivia: Breaking News

The Huanuni miners have come again to the fight and again they do it despite and against the leadership of the FSTMB [Miners Union] and the COB [Bolivian Workers Central] that have broken the workers and peasant Alliance in the streets to continue supporting the Pro-imperialist Government of Evo Morales. This new breakthrough was anticipated by the struggle of the Colquiri miners and the last elections in the Miners Union of Huanuni, where the list of Trotskyists alongside the vanguard miners standing on the program of the Fourth International got 600 votes, expressing the willingness to fight of the mining proletariat. Huanuni miners should call for the defeat of the bureaucracy of the COB and restore the working and peasant Alliance in the streets to return to the revolution expropriated by the popular front. We must re-found the COB like in 1952 with its workers militias and under the Pulacayo Theses, [Based on the Trotskyist Transitional Program adopted by the FSTMB in 1946] to expel the MNCs and defeat their Government. To conquer the conditions for victory, we must re-found Bolivian Trotskyism to carry the working class to victory. 


Return to the path of the revolution and the anti-imperialist fighting of 2003-05 and bring them to victory!
 

From Monday, May 6 the leadership of the COB in a plenum of leaders has called for a general strike. However, this was not guaranteed to be successful: the factories are still operating normally; the vast majority of the proletariat of El Alto did not stop. The bureaucracy of the COR of El Alto did not adhere the strike. Health workers and students also did not take to the streets, only closed the UPEA and a march of the UMSA will be only complied by union officials and teachers. No sector of the rural poor in Bolivia has come to fight.  

The collaborationist leadership of the COB is using the farce of general strike to pressure the Government and negotiate behind closed doors, without the knowledge of the working basis, the 72 points of the statement of the COB –a specification that no rank and file worker knows - presented at the negotiating board with the Government of Morales and his ministers. At the negotiating board the COB and the Government Ministers already agreed the miserable wage increase of 8% generally, and a 20% for the national minimum wage, a “solution” that did not please any sector of the workers since this increase fails to meet even what the high inflation ate months ago; adding to this that basic food prices have again risen almost by 50%.  

The bureaucracy of the COB has launched this "strike" to pressure the Government of Morales since they have failed to reach any agreement on the demand for a retirement pension of 8000 bolivianos for miners and 5000 bolivianos for the rest of the workers against the Government's proposal of a pension on the basis of a 70% of the highest salaries.

In the midst of this situation of crisis and attacks of employers and the bourgeoisie to the entire workforce, and despite and against the policy of the collaborationist bureaucracy of the COB, most combative sectors have come to the fight, as the manufacturing plant workers that were mobilized (and now threaten to paralyze factories beginning on Wednesday, May 15), teachers and health workers who organized a blockade in Cochabamba and a rally in La Paz, to which the Government responded with repression and tear gas, tearing down such blockades by force. Once these were released the teachers in La Paz began a strike on Wednesday and shutting down schools. In Potosi the cooperative miners also blocked the roads and came out in a march with their own demands as well as the issue of retirement.  

Then on Wednesday, May 8, the miners came out in Huanuni, armed with their dynamite they blocked the route in Caihuasi and blew up the main bridge connecting Oruro with the path to the Department of Cochabamba. This heroic advance of the miners to blockade, was made by the leadership of the Union – the POR - entirely independently of the mobilizations of the rest of the working class sectors: industrial workers, teachers, etc. and for this reason the Government met the miners with the brutal repression of Morales’ police, with rubber bullets, tear gas and taking prisoner more than 400 miners. At the same time miners and housewives took hostage a couple of policemen whom they used to negotiate the release of the imprisoned miners.


After returning to Huanuni, the miners carried out a general Assembly on Saturday 11, in which the 4700 miners decided to rally to the Capital city of La Paz to march together with the COB. Thus the Huanuni miners begin to respond to the deepening of the capitalist crisis expressing itself in the fall in the prices of minerals that threaten to hit openly this branch of production.

For its part, Morales' Government responds to the request of the COB with brutal repression of the workers in struggle, deepening the attacks and throwing the costs of the crisis over the shoulders of the whole of the exploited in Bolivia. So this "Bolivarian" Government answers the demands of the workers and peasants worse than the FTA Government of PiƱera in Chile or Humala in Peru: with repression, militarization, imprisonment and killings of the workers vanguard to guarantee that the transnationals can plunder the natural resources that in Bolivia have been mortgaged by Morales for 20 years, as a guarantee of repayment of the debt through the sale of State bonds to the Big Banks and Wall Street
  • For bread, a decent wage, a dignified retirement, jobs for every unemployed person, free and quality education and health for our children... To give land to poor farmers... All of us are the TIPNIS!
  • It is urgent to break definitively with the Morales Government. Down with the boards of negotiation of the COB and the Government! Out of the COB the alleged "Working-class" Ministers, accomplices of the Government!
  • Huanuni miners must convene a CONGRESS OF RANK AND FILE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE COB, ONE EVERY 100, OF WORKERS, POOR PEASANTS AND MILITANT STUDENTS to change the list of “demands for crumbs” of the bureaucracy for a real fighting plan and prepare a real revolutionary General Strike!
  • The worker-peasant Alliance must be welded again on the streets to defeat the Government and the infamous Pact between Morales and the fascist Media Luna!

COB collaborationist bureaucracy seeks to erode the energy of the workers and lead the vanguard of the mineworkers to a defeat  

The leadership of the COB has finally called an “intermission” in the strike, to continue negotiating with the Government and its ministers and meanwhile they have called the workers to stay in a "state of emergency" and "stay awake" - yielding to the conditions of the Government to lift any measure of pressure and strike to be able to resume the negotiation. The collaborationist bureaucracy, without losing time, sent their leaders to lift the blockades that the rural teachers were keeping. Meanwhile the miners in Huanuni who arrived in La Paz were left marching alone, without their sticks of dynamite, separated from the teachers that were carried by the leadership of the POR to sporadic blockades at different times, a far cry from the miners. This perfidious policy of the leaderships of the COB and the SMTMH [miners union of Huanuni] (the latter led by the POR), is part of the plan of the collaborationist bureaucracy of the COB, while it is still negotiating with the Government; leading the miners to go on foot to La Paz, it separated them from the rest of the workers in order to wear out the energies and will to struggle of the whole Bolivian working class: miners, teachers, industrial workers and the rest of the workers in struggle.  

What the collaborationist leadership of the COB is seeking is to defeat the mineworkers vanguard, taking them to fight in an uncoordinated way, systematically isolated from the rest of the workers, leaving them alone in the roadblocks to be a prey for the brutal repression of the Government, so that the miners draw the conclusion that the rest of the workers does not support them. So the bureaucrats think, not only to wear down the forces of the miners, leaving them alone before the brutal repression Government prepares for them, but they also seek to demoralize them by making them think that “it is of no use to fight”, “we did everything and not get anything..”. In a word, the leaderships wants to get the miners prompt to only "give the fight through elections" entering the trap of the Worker's Party [PT] mounted by the collaborationist bureaucracy of the COB.  

The tragedy of the mining proletariat is that the collaborationist bureaucracy of the COB has managed to dissolve the revolutionary Alliance of workers and poor peasants which was welded during the revolutionary fighting in the 2003-05 and with which we defeated the Government of Goni and then Carlos Mesa; and in the same way they were able to break this revolutionary Alliance of workers and poor peasants which sought to be welded again in the strike of 2010 against the "gasolinazo” (brutal increase of the gasoline and fuel prices, N. T.) of Morales.  

The tragedy of the working class and its vanguard the mineworkers is that in 2011 the poor farmers of the TIPNIS were marching with the industrial workers, the teachers, the health workers, etc. imposing a real revolutionary strike against the Government of Morales and the imperialist MNCs and their plan to build the highway for looting; the peasant and worker fighters marched shouting "Let's crush the transnationals!" and "all of us are the TIPNIS!". There the workers vanguard and poor farmers put on the order of the day the revolutionary fall of Morales's Government; but this perspective was thwarted by the leadership of the COB, the FSTMB and the POR, all of which imposed on the mineworkers submission and subordination to the Government of Morales taking as a truth his false promise of "nationalization of the mines", so preventing the mineworkers from being the vanguard of the whole of the exploited.

Today Huanuni miners come to the fight against the Government and for their demands - after years of subjugation-, albeit without raising the demands of the whole of the workers and peasants, when already the poor farmers have been taken out of the scene. Stop fighting divided! Out of the COB the "worker" Ministers in the government, accomplices of Morales and his attacks on the whole of the working class! Miners must raise the demands of our sisters and brothers in the countryside and of all the workers, in that way they will return to be the vanguard of the proletariat, welding again in the streets the revolutionary Alliance of workers and poor peasants, the only way to defeat the Government and their attacks, and winning each of the demands of the workers and all sectors in struggle.  

The class collaborationist bureaucracy and all the reformists as the POR, want to prevent the mineworkers and the rest of the workers to regain the class leadership of the poor farmers who have begun a path of rupture with the Government of Morales. Both the collaborationist bureaucracy, sustained by the POR and other reformists (the electoral front called by Felipe Quispe and the PT of Solares), try to channel the breaking of poor farmers with the Government towards an impotent “protest vote” against the Government, leading everything along the way to the electoral trap and the PT. This is the counter-revolutionary program planned from the "World Social Forum" to continue backing the Government of the popular front of Morales. [See Note below]  

Meanwhile the reformists as the LOR-CI /PTS claim that the brutal repression of Morales is explained by having them launched the shamefacedly electoral PT with the bureaucracy of the COB, so making believe it was a true fighting policy and strengthening the position of the bureaucracy and its mockery of a PT.[see Note below] While the POR denunciation and ranting against the bureaucracy of the COB, they do not explain their role in defeating the two great general strikes against the Government and the MNCs, ensuring the mineworkers did not intervene through the subjugation of the Huanuni mineworkers to Morales' Government from the 31st Congress of the FSTMB; a Congress that the POR in its time congratulated as "radical and anti ruling party". This is the role of the "popular front of combat", put in place between the POR – which is still holding its old reformist politics of the Anti-imperialist United Front-, Solares, Quispe and former Trotskyists of the LOR-CI, LIT-CI, PO, etc., which have divided among themselves the tasks to support from the “left” the popular front of Morales.
 


In order to conquer our demands: jobs, wages, free education and health… to give the land to the poor peasants:
  • We must set up again the revolutionary Alliance of workers and poor peasants to defeat Morales’ government which is a servant of Wall Street and Morgan Bank
  • Congress of delegates from COB, one every 100 workers, militant students and poor peasants to vote a fight plan and revolutionary general strike
The militant miners, factory workers and teachers must call to set up in Huanuni a big Congress of rank and file delegates from COB, one every 100 workers, poor peasants and militant students, to change the begging for crumbs by the bureaucracy to a real fight plan and to prepare a real revolutionary general strike conquering workers and peasants alliance to defeat the government and the infamous pact of Morales and fascist Media Luna!
 

For the return of the 2003-2005 revolution to be led to the triumph establishing a workers and peasants government of COB based on direct democracy and its militias, which is the only one that can guarantee all our demands! Whether proletarian revolution returns with its militias from COB in ’52 o there will be more defeats for the submission to the bourgeoisie, whether by the PT for the elections of the bureaucracy with the RAF of the fake Trotskyists called POR!  
Out with exploiters! Expropriation of imperialist TNCs, without compensation and under worker control to conquer pensions, jobs, wages, health and education! Decent pensions for all the workers! Wage increase for all workers, based in the cost of living and changing according to the inflation! Decent jobs for all, sliding scale of job and hours!
 

Neither 30% nor 50%! [state-owned share must be 100%] Nationalization without compensation and under worker control of all natural sources! Expropriation without compensation of landowners to give to all poor peasants of Bolivia! Expropriation of the banks without compensation to give cheap credits to the poor peasants!
  • Down with the reactionary pact of Morales and fascist Media Luna! Expropriation without compensation of landowners of the fascist oligarchy, to give the land to the poor peasants of Bolivia!
  • No more payment of the foreign debt and the bonus of Wall Street!
  • Down with the electoral trap of the Labour Party of COB bureaucracy and the renegades of Trotskyism! We will defeat Morales in the streets as we did with Goni and Mesa, not with ballot boxes!
 Against the reformist policy of POR of calling their “police friends” to join the struggle of workers, we, the workers, must fight for:
  • Dissolution of the police! Against the repression of the government and its hunt dogs of the police: let’s set up Self-Defense committees as a step to forming workers and peasant militias based on destroying the murderous officer caste and setting up Rank and file Soldiers Committees.
  • For worker and popular courts to judge and punish all the killers of workers and poor peasants in October 2003.
  • Immediate freedom and end of prosecution to all miners, teachers and factory workers prosecuted for Morales’ government! End of prosecutions of the oil workers of Las Heras! Liberty to the prisoners of Ayo Ayo, Guantanamo and all political prisoners of the world!
  • Down with the capitalist restoration of Cuba imposed by the Bolivarian Castroist bourgeoisie which is lackey of US imperialism!

In order to triumph: we must fight as the miners of Marikana, Libya and the entire Northern Africa and Middle East! We must re-take the path to the revolution of 2003-05 and this time lead to the triumph imposing a revolutionary government of COB, based on their workers and peasants militias! Only this government can break with imperialism and will carry on a real agrarian reform.  

The working class and its vanguard must call their class brothers all over the continent and particularly to the miners of Peru, Chile and Argentina, so they can face the same class enemy together that over exploit us and plunder our nations: imperialism and TNCs. For a continental fight against imperialism, TNCs and their lackeys “Bolivarian” and the FTA governments. They are all guarantors of selling out our national sources to the imperialist voracity.
 

The Miners vanguard of Huanuni have been deepening the process of breaking with Morales’ government and they are now fighting again in the streets, with dynamites in their hands. This way of fighting that they retook was anticipated by the events in Colquiri and cost the life of Hector Choque in hands of the cooperativist bosses. It was also anticipated by the unions elections early this year, where miners voted for the Green List headed by leaders of POR and 600 miners voted for the program of Trotskyism expressed in the Blue List. However, miners and all workers don’t have a revolutionary internationalist leadership that can lead them to the victory, as they didn’t have this leadership in 2003/05. To win we must set up this revolutionary leadership, we must refound Trotskyism, the one of the 4th International, which in 1946 gave the miners the program to win and to take power expressed in the Pulacayo Theses. This is the party that the working class needs and deserves as part of the fight to refound the 4th International of 1938.  
13 May 2013 

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Note: the PT [same as the IPT - Workers Political Tool] is the tactic of the COB bureaucracy that has to feint to the left as the MAS has exposed its weakness in winning concessions from the popular front as Morales is under pressure from the imperialists to attack the workers and peasants. To head off workers breaking from the bureaucracy, it revives its proposal for a COB political party. The PT has been promoted by the left COB bureaucrats like Solares and has met already. Once founded, we agree with the position of the AMR on the necessity of fighting inside the PT for a revolutionary workers party to prevent it from becoming a new 'shadow' of the popular front, tying the hands of workers to parliament, and diverting them from the task of forming soviets and workers' and peasants' militias with a program for the seizure of power. 

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