Bolivia: the center of the current political crisis is in the elections
The Bolivian President, Jeanine Añez, resigned as presidential candidate in/for the upcoming national elections in Bolivia, and made a dramatic call to the right: «if we don’t unite, (Evo) Morales will come back.» Her statement follows a poll for the announced elections –which take place October 18- which indicate that Luis Arce, MAS candidate, would be in the first place with 40.3% and, Carlos Mesa, candidate for Comunidad Ciudadana, would come in second with a distance of almost 15 points (26.2%). The survey shows that the fascist and racist candidate of the “Creemos” alliance, Luis Camacho, would come in third place with 14.4%. The same survey projects President Añez (candidate for the “Juntos” alliance) with 10.6%.
With these projections, the MAS candidate would win in the first round. The electoral law in force dictates the winner to be whoever obtains more than 40% of the votes with a difference of 10 points over the second candidate. This would be the case. Other subsequent polls continue to indicate the MAS coming in the first place, although some suggest that it would count with less than 10 points of difference from the second candidate, in which case it would be necessary to go through a second round (between the two most voted candidates.) The desperate call of President Añez intends to unite the right-wing forces (with the implied resignation of Camacho and others) to force this second round.
The center of the present national crisis is, objectively, represented by this electoral battle, and this is how Bolivian masses perceive it.
A return of the MAS through the elections, after being ousted from power by a coup ten months ago, would mean a massive blow for the Bolivian, Latin American and international right.
Time and again the coup government postponed the election call. Each postponement – with different arguments – was due to the trend that gave the MAS electoral victory. In essence, the electoral date ended up being imposed by an intervention of the masses.
This manipulation of the coup government, added to the evidence of the strong corruption of its ministers in this period, and the worsening of the health and social crisis, led to a 12-day general strike with roadblocks, which forced to set a fiixed date for the elections.
The tension in Bolivia is both latent and developing. Añez’s government minister, Arturo Murillo, made a surprise trip to the United States, claiming that he was going to meet with authorities from the Inter-American Bank (where a Trump man has just taken command).
It is clear that he went to meet with the U.S. State Department to discuss how to face the electoral emergency and prevent (or limit) the probable victory of the MAS.
Thus, Murillo’s declaration that the security services -which he himself controls– have informed him that violent actions are being prepared, is no coincidence and further proof of the coup government’s intention of ignoring the electoral result.
They are fabricating provocations.
At the same time, in the next few days, the ‘justice’ must rule whether it makes place, or not, to dozens of criminal complaints seeking the annulment of Arce’s candidacy and even his banning.
The continuity of the coup government is not guaranteeing democratic elections and there are true reports of fraud preparations.
Right wing manipulations
This is evident even in Argentina. The right-wing Peronist governor of Córdoba, Juan Schiaretti, denies voting centers for the Bolivian community based in his province. This has led to important mobilizations, which our Partido Obrero not only supported, but also actively helped to organize. Complaints of this nature are replicating in Capital Federal and Santa Cruz.
If these manipulations are taking place abroad, the complaints within Bolivia should be read with utmost alarm.
The slogan «Out with Añez» raised by the masses mobilized in the Bolivian general strike, proves to be legitimate even on this level. With Añez, Murillo and the coup plotters, the electoral process is endangered by a possible self-coup, an electoral fraud, and other proscriptive and undemocratic variants. Only the fall of the coup government would have ensured the possibility of elections with democratic guarantees. But Evo Morales opposed from the beginning to lift this slogan, voted at the roadblocks, the massive mobilizations, and many other mass organizations. Evo reached an agreement – supported by most of the MAS leadership but made behind the backs of the fighting masses– to promote the general strike with the setting of an electoral date as the only gain. In numerous assemblies the MAS leaders were accused of having betrayed the strike, ending the struggle without consulting the masses and, thus, saving the skin of Añez and Murillo.
Although this policy of pacification encouraged by the MAS managed to stop the rise of revolutionary traits of the mass upheaval, calling for the electoral exit set for October 18, radicalization and anger is increasing. The ten months of the coup government were a supreme display of surrender of Bolivian national interests, repression, right-wing ideology, racism, and corruption. Although there are right-wing and coup government sectors that intend to outlaw MAS, organize a ‘patriotic fraud’ against it and even produce a new coup to prevent it from winning the elections and / or, eventually, taking office, the electoral process is developing.
In this scenario, the left has been unable to open an alternative channel in the face of the crisis. This is also expressed in the electoral contest: there is no independent candidacy against the political representatives of the right and bourgeois nationalism. There is no alternative that enables the left to channel the legitimate mistrust in the MAS present in the ranks of the exploited Bolivians. Nor is there a policy or a line of action that guides workers on how to intervene and how to speak out against the vote and use it according to their own interests. What prevails is an ostrich policy or a passive attitude, which implies leaving the masses defenseless against the manipulation exercised by the reigning bourgeois parties and, especially, the MAS itself.
However, there is no way to escape the fact that the elections are concentrating the political crisis. The electoral result will NOT be indifferent for the future of the class struggle in Bolivia, as the Bolivian POR and some late-night leftists claim to vote blank or null and fold their arms. But only foggy glasses prevent seeing that the political crisis is still open. The right conspires and tries to prevent the victory of the MAS, which would mean a disaster for the coup leaders. And the masses are looking for a way to defeat the right-wing coup that is maneuvering to legitimize itself through rigged elections.
Bolivia’s convulsive scenario poses an active fight against fraud that is ongoing. It is necessary to organize -as we promote and do in Argentina- the mobilization in a united front, to defeat the maneuvers of the government, the right wing, the ban and any attempt at self-coup. Faced with the absence of an independent candidacy, the vote for MAS must be used as a way to develop the mobilization against the coup, opposing a revolutionary policy to its policy of conciliation and commitment to the coup plotters and imperialism. This must go hand in hand with the denunciation of «pacification» based on reconciling with the coup, promoted by Evo Morales, and the raising of a transitional program that enlarges the perspective of a workers ‘and peasants’ government.
At the same time, the revolutionary left has to intervene with a program against the concrete struggles that are posed to the masses: prohibition of dismissals, reincorporation, occupation of companies that lay off; emergency salary increase, bonus for the unemployed; nationalization of the health system and its management by health professionals and workers; nationalization of oil, mining and strategic resources under workers’ management, as well as of banking and foreign trade; non-payment of the foreign debt, progressive taxes on big capital and expropriation of the landed oligarchy in favor of the peasantry: a program of transitional demands in the face of the crisis.
Setting clear boundaries with bourgeois nationalism is crucial for Bolivia and for Latin America. A new MAS government will not mean the continuation of past “conquests” Those who surrendered twice (resigning and demobilizing in the November coup and, at the same time, stopping the general strike so that Añez does not fall) will once again frustrate the illusions and expectations of the working masses. MAS will try to close the cracks in the current political crisis and, also, the one that may emerge as a result of its eventual electoral victory.
The events in Bolivia make the need to set up a party of the working class a red-hot urgency, to allow its independent intervention. But that party will only be able to break through, by actively intervening and waging battles in every area of the class struggle that has been developing in Bolivia.