Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/396/4505

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 June 2005

Bolivian workers fight privatisation and imperialism

Bolivian workers have been battling the vicious neo-liberal policies of their government backed by Western imperialism.
Over the last five years the struggle has overthrown one president and successfully defeated water privatisation.
Now the incumbent president, Carlos Mesa, has tendered his resignation.
Dave Carr reports on the current mass protest movement which is demanding nationalisation of the gas industry.

"PROTESTERS CHANTED, 'Mesa go home, power for the people,' as they marched through La Paz on Friday, clad in colourful ponchos and wielding whips and clubs." (BBC, 3/6/05)

Bolivia remains gripped in a deep political crisis. The beleaguered President Carlos Mesa, in a last ditch attempt to end the weeks of workers' and farmers' protests that have brought the country to a halt, announced elections to an assembly on 16 October.

The assembly would write a new constitution - the indigenous peoples who comprise 62% of the population are demanding more rights. On the same day as these elections a referendum would be held to decide on a demand (from a section of the capitalists) for more autonomy in the resource-rich regions.

However, this hasn't placated the protesters who are against the referendum and are demanding the nationalisation of the gas industry.

Neo-liberalism

THE REVOLT of the poor masses is against the 'neo-liberal' policies of the current president and his predecessors.

In October 2003, president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was overthrown by a mass movement and fled to Florida following a general strike organised by the COB (Bolivia's TUC). Lozada was planning to export natural gas to the USA, a move that would have benefited the multinational energy companies and the imperialist superpower. Vice-president Carlos Mesa was appointed president and promised a referendum about the oil and gas industry and a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution.

On 2 March 2005 a general strike was declared in El Alto (a desperately poor industrial and housing area of one million people adjoining La Paz) to demand the reversal of the water privatisation. Congress revoked the contract with French company Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux.

Suez was the major shareholder in a failed privatisation that had left 200,000 people without access to water whilst guaranteeing a 13% rate of return on the companies' investment. Countless others were unable to afford the $435 connection fees - almost eight times Bolivia's monthly minimum wage.

A similar struggle in Cochabamba in 2000 led to victory. As a result the US company Bechtel (currently enjoying profitable contracts in Iraq reconstruction) was thrown out. Bechtel then brought a $25 million lawsuit against Bolivia for cancelling!

Most recently, the strikes, street protests and blockades of the capital city La Paz have again been to demand the nationalisation of the highly profitable gas industry.

Mesa is defending the interests of the multinationals saying that the recent hydrocarbons law passed by the congress to increase taxation on the energy industry is "too punitive". He also rejects nationalisation.

Mass movement

THE SCALE and depth of the mass movement is of revolutionary proportions. The state and the ruling class have repeatedly lost control of the country and are unable to hold the masses back. When Mesa threatened Congress with resignation back in March 2005 he complained that there had been 820 national protests against him during his 18 months in office!

However, the leadership of the opposition party MAS and the COB isn't prepared to carry through a transformation of society. They are still wedded to capitalism.

Since the year 2000 popular movements in Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia have removed 'neo-liberal' presidents. Other radical and populist figures like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, have come to the forefront and won elections.

Unfortunately, in all these cases, these leaders have not broken with capitalism. What is needed is mass socialist and revolutionary parties that can lead the struggles to a conclusion, ie the abolition of capitalism and its replacement with a socialist system, where production is run democratically, according to people's needs, not for profit. Only then can the capitalism system of poverty, violence and oppression be broken.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 9 June 2005:

Join the G8 protests

Stop taking liberties!

Brown spins but won't end debt

Fight for the right to organise

Socialist students spearheads unionisation campaign in Leicester

Socialist Party gains on UNISON's NEC

Growing class struggles will increase tensions

Unions must fight Blair and Brown's plans

NATFHE members prepare for future battles

Pakistan: Strike resists Telecom privatisation

Bolivian workers fight privatisation and imperialism

Netherlands: An overwhelming 'No' vote to EU constitution

Largest union in Northern Ireland backs fight against water charges


 

Home   |   The Socialist 9 June 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Bolivia:

triangleBolivia: Right-wing coup ousts Morales

triangleVenezuela: resist the pro-imperialist coup!

triangle110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907

triangleChe Guevara 50 years on - revolutionary socialist and fighter

triangleIntimate insight into a revolutionary icon

Privatisation:

triangleHugo Pierre for Unison general secretary

triangleWater shortage warning: nationalise now!

triangleJohnson blames care workers for deaths

Nationalisation:

triangleNationalise Tata Steel to save jobs

triangleFight for our livelihoods... Fight for our lives!

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: The socialist case for nationalisation

Gas:

triangleNewham gas workers' strike threat

Capitalism:

triangleCWI rally: 80 years since the murder of Leon Trotsky

International

International

5/8/20

Cuba

Cuba: Covid-19 and the 60-year-old embargo

5/8/20

Nuclear weapons

Anniversary of nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

22/7/20

Iran

Iran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes

22/7/20

Israel

Israel: Nurses strike and win

8/7/20

Hong Kong

Hong Kong: The fight for democratic rights

24/6/20

South Africa

South Africa: Building jobs and living wage campaign

10/6/20

France

France: 20,000 rally against Paris's killer gendarmes

10/6/20

US

Black and white youth rise up against racism - US protester speaks to the Socialist

3/6/20

USA

USA - another cop killing of unarmed black man sparks widespread protests

31/5/20

US

Outrage spreads globally following US police murder of George Floyd

27/5/20

Hong Kong

Chinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests

27/5/20

Lebanon

Economic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon

20/5/20

US

Trump, coronavirus, capitalism, and the presidential race

6/5/20

India

India: Fighting the curse of capitalism and coronavirus

6/5/20

Trump

Trump puts profit before safety (again)

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999