The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, May 02, 2004

Revolution in Bolivia: Kerensky 1 - Lenin 0

My interest in the otherwise eminently ignorable country was the chance that the rising of the masses last October, which unseated the then President Sánchez de Lozada, was merely the precursor to a bona fide old-style Red revolution, with all the consequent embarrassment for Bush and his Contra-loving cronies (Negroponte, Noriega, etc).

The replacement president, Carlos Mesa, had transition guy written all over him: an academic rather than a politician, estranged from the regular political parties, he seemed doomed to a policy of appeasement towards the ever-popular coca-growers leader Evo Morales and his allies, leading to a downward spiral of confidence in, and effectiveness of, institutions, leading to the implosion of the state apparatus and coming of government of the Indians by the Indians for the Indians.

Forget about it! Mesa is still in place six months later, and the peasants are panicking that they may have missed the bus - and not like Hitler in April 1940 [1].

A useful article in this week's Epoca describes - at around the right level of detail for intermittent kibitzers! - the current disarray of the various elements of the peasants' movement.

Hardliners like Felipe Quispe (CSUTCB) and Jaime Solares (COB) - both old friends of the blog: search for backstory - are mounting an indefinite general strike with blockades of key roads, just the tactics that brought success last October. But some, like miners working for private owners, who were allies then are not keen to repeat the performance.

Mesa, enjoying a 70% approval rating, apparently, will get the benefit of a sort of counter-demonstration in La Paz on May 9. But what is called una concentración por la paz y la dignidad is not exactly a partisan rally for Mesa - in the first place, he doesn't have a party! - but more a drutherful I'd like to teach the world to sing sort of deal.

Evo Morales' MAS party has, it seems, undergone a good deal of derechización in the last few months. He wasn't, as I recall, the hardest-line of the opposition leaders in October. Now, it seems, the fraught political situation - with a military coup not outside the bounds of possibility - has led MAS to cleave to the electoral path to glory. Which strategy rather requires Mesa and the institutions he heads to remain in place.

This seems like an internally consistent set of facts; whether they correspond with reality is quite another matter, of course. Some little effort would be required to get back up to what passed for speed round here. The holding pattern could hold for months, years, even [2] - and I'm disinclined to research on spec.

  1. For the Neville Chamberlain quote, my piece of January 27 2003.

  2. Reminds me of that essential refrain of (workers') paradise postponed:
    As soon as this pub closes,
    The revolution starts.

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