Tuesday, December 22, 2009


leftist Congressman Gustavo Torrico,
Torrico was meeting with members of the Bolivian Workers Center, one of the largest unions in the country.
one of the key reasons for the success of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), the party he and indigenous President Evo Morales helped construct.
"We choose political ideas from below and move those politics upward,"
"Social organizations are important to us because they are our essence. Without social organizations, we would not exist."

he said.
this dynamic relationship with
powerful unions, social organizations and movements that led to the December 6 re-election of Morales with 63 percent of the vote,
MAS more than two-thirds control of both houses of Congress,
coming months
to "accelerate the process of change."
first four years
various indigenous,
movements were pivotal in defeating
right-wing destabilization efforts, passing land reform legislation, radicalizing government policy and ushering in a new progressive Constitution.

At the same time, defending the MAS against the oligarchy and right wing often took precedence over self-criticism and internal debate; those who seriously questioned the MAS were sometimes labeled allies of the right and sidelined.
with opposition parties extremely weak and divided,
internal censorship will, hopefully, be swept aside to allow for more vigorous analysis of the MAS from the inside out.
Bolivian sociologist Oscar Vega
state-run newspaper Cambio (Change)
"It's no longer a matter of supporting and defending the [MAS] vision of change, but democratically constructing the change through participation, debate and consultation."
demands from party members
calls to radicalize economic measures, make the management of ministries more participatory and delegate power away from Morales and toward a less centralized system of decision-making.
landslide victory
two-thirds majority in Congress will allow
new legislation
by the right during
first term
to pass 100 new laws

to apply a broad spectrum of changes in the new Constitution--a document rewritten in a constituent assembly and passed in a national referendum in January.
but land reform, expansion of indigenous rights and participation in government, and the fight against corruption
securing more state control over natural resource development and exploitation and directly redistributing the wealth from nationalized gas reserves to impoverished sectors of the population through such programs as stipends to students, mothers and the elderly. New revenue from state-run industries will also enable the MAS to continue improving roads and expanding access to basic services, education and healthcare.
three days after election day, the government seized a forty-eight-square-mile ranch from right-wing political opponent Branko Marinkovic.
National Agrarian Tribunal asserted
land had been fraudulently obtained from the Guarayo indigenous communities
it will be returned to the Guarayo

The Constitution mandates
pass five key initiatives within the first nine months of its operation,
Kathryn Ledebur, director of the Andean Information Network in Cochabamba,
"These include regulation of the electoral court and policy, a framework to implement autonomy and decentralization measures, and defining the role of the Judiciary and Constitutional Tribunal." Decentralizing and granting autonomy to right-wing-led departments will likely remain controversial, even considering the weakness of the right.
"The Morales government will face significant obstacles
As an umbrella for social movements, unions and other interest groups with diverse and often conflicting demands, the MAS government will be under considerable pressure from its supporters to make key concessions denied for decades, and sometimes even centuries. There is no guarantee that these groups will give blanket support to MAS legal proposals."
more complex issues

"law to reconcile indigenous 'community' justice systems and the traditional legal system and determine jurisdiction."
the enormous process of decolonization--reversing 500 years of exploitation and marginalization of indigenous people and culture--could take decades of work.
implications of Morales's re-election can't be understated
given the current political climate in Latin America
cooling of US-Latin American relations under the Obama administration
signing of a deal to establish seven new US military bases in Colombia and Washington's devastating role in the coup and electoral farce in Honduras, the re-election of Morales is a signal that the leftward shift
unlikely to dissipate anytime soon.
Morales's re-election bolsters the left alliance
includes Hugo Chávez
Rafael Correa
more moderate leaders in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay--which, in turn, strengthens the pushback against the Washington Consensus and US military aims in the region.

"The historic landslide election in Bolivia has to be seen in relation to the coup in Honduras,"
"The right tried nearly the same exact destabilization campaign against Morales in 2008 that they then executed against Manuel Zelaya in 2009--with exact opposite results."
Morales denounced a violent right-wing civic coup attempt against his government in 2008,
Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup on June 28 of this year.
"The fact that Morales not only withstood the onslaught but recovered with a resounding win at the polls--leaving the opposition shattered--has to serve as a warning to those who see Honduras as the first step in a larger push to use undemocratic means to roll back the democratic left."
economic analyst Carlos Arce of the Center for the Study of Labor and Agrarian Development, told me that the MAS is turning itself into the new Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, a political party that came to power during the transformative revolution of 1952
for twenty years

"This 60 percent support in the elections is mathematically the same number of people who identify with the MAS in the national census," Arce said, referring to the roughly 60 percent of the population that identifies as indigenous and around the same percentage that lives under the poverty line. "The MAS could stay in power as long as the population doesn't change."

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