IPS Editions has just published the book Workers’ revolution in Bolivia – 1952. Crisis, war and insurrection in the heart of South America, by Eduardo Molina. In his radio program Historia Nocturna which is broadcast on Tuesdays from 8pm to 10pm on AM 1270, Sergio Wischñevsky interviewed Javo Ferreira, member of the Editorial Board of La Izquierda Diario de Bolivia and leader of the Revolutionary Workers League-Fourth International (LOR-CI ).

In the talk, Javo Ferreira highlighted that the insurrection of April 9, 1952 can be considered the most relevant event in Bolivian history of the 20th century that imprinted the fundamental socio-political features of today’s Bolivia. The Revolution established the universal vote that until then was limited to those who knew how to read and write, and the ruling classes insisted that the great exploited and oppressed majorities did not know how to do so. The Revolution ended “pongueaje”, a form of servile, semi-slave work, from which the landowners of the white-mestizo caste obtained free labor from the Aymara and Quechua indigenous communities.

Furthermore, he pointed out that the Revolution of 1952 was also the great event that shaped a way of doing politics, a very particular political culture, with many spontaneist traits, with a strong tendency to occupy the streets. Eduardo Molina’s book – which will have its presentation in Bolivia this September 13 in the Auditorium of the University of San Andrés (La Paz) – is an effort to recover that historical feat that is little known in Latin America, with the exception of Bolivia, but always disputed in political terms. Molina introduces a reflection on a third conception of the revolutionary process. The 1952 revolution is known primarily as the “National Revolution” because it was led by the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR), something similar to Peronism in Argentina.

From this, there has been an effort to devalue the contradictory aspects that developed in the heat of the revolution and the role that the working class played as an independent social and political subject. The 1952 Revolution was a coup d’état that had failed and when the main leaders of the MNR were preparing to flee into exile, the workers of the mining centers transformed that defeat into a great victorious proletarian insurrection. The Bolivian army was destroyed to the point that the only effective power in the 1950s in Bolivia were the unions and their worker militias.
Ferreira concluded that for all this Eduardo Molina believed it was necessary to recover that experience for the new generations. The work does not have an academic or merely historiographical dimension, but is put at the service of reflecting on the combats of the present.

When asked how to explain the contradiction of a workers’ revolution that did not end in a workers’ government, Ferreira pointed out that this is one of the key discussions of great importance for the present. The role of the MNR, immediately assumed by the “revolutionary” government, was to launch the reconstruction of a new Army. General Barrientos, who would later carry out the Coup d’état ending the process in 1964, is one of the first officers to go to West Point (United States) to receive training and rebuild that army. Since the first day of the triumph of April 9, there has been a dispute over the reconstruction of an entire bourgeois institutionality, to use Marxist terminology, which was completely threatened by the workers in arms. There is a political evolution of the MNR from a leftism forced by the masses in 1952, to an open counterrevolutionary and anti-worker role in the last years of the process. And this is a lesson for the present. One sees, for example, the political evolution of Latin American progressivism where the tendency is not to turn left, but increasingly, in a crisis situation, they are guarantors and appliers of adjustment plans.

Wischñevsky then recalled the 2019 Coup d’état led by Jeanine Áñez against President Evo Morales and was interested in knowing if there is a tradition of resistance against Coups d’état among the Bolivian working people and in Ferreira’s critical stance on Evo Morales and his government. Ferreira pointed out that he is indeed critical of the Government of Evo Morales from a socialist, working-class and revolutionary perspective. The minimal concessions that he gave during his government were actually the product of the great mobilizations that Bolivia experienced between 2000 and 2008 where there were 4 national uprisings, one of them of an openly insurrectional nature in the city of El Alto in 2003, attempts civil war, etc.

Evo Morales was the byproduct of that relationship of forces established by the people in the streets. What his government achieved through some important reforms, but of a constitutional and legal nature, was to passivize those rebellious masses that had changed the history of Bolivia since the “water war” of the year 2000. And this allowed The dominant classes begin to rebuild not only economic power but also the will to regain control of the State, which ended up being expressed in the 2019 coup d’état that, although it partially maintained the democratic form, due to the collaboration of the parliamentarians of the MORE than they kept Parliament open, the truth is that it was quite bloody, with 38 dead, hundreds of gunshot wounds and thousands of detainees, many tortured. Ferreira ended by highlighting that this spontaneous worker and popular resistance against the counterrevolution is, to a certain extent, a legacy of the political culture founded in 1952.

You can get the book on the Ediciones IPS website or at the bookstore located at Riobamba 144 – CABA.

Source: www.laizquierdadiario.com

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