By Juan Carlos Zambrana Marchetti (*)
On Thursday, May 31, 2012, I had the opportunity to attend a conference on the premises of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). The topic was “Bolivia: Current Context and Process of Change.”
The speaker, Rafael Bautista, was introduced as a Bolivian analyst, professor, musician and philosopher, recently arrived in Washington thanks to Ms. Chris Krueger of Red Bolivia Mundo. Bautista had come from presenting his latest work at the University of Pittsburgh and at the annual conference of the Latin America Studies Association (LASA), held this year in San Francisco, California.
His political-philosophical discussion lasted one hour, but the heart of the message seemed to be that Evo Morales is not the process of change, and that, in defending a government that is going astray, we Bolivians are losing a process that began with Tupac Katari, and that the process must be understood as something dynamic in which all is transitory. Like Simon Yampara, a Katarist thinker linked to City Hall in La Paz, who came to the United States with the Cruzan theologian Nelson Jordan and invited by the same institution, Bautista spoke of the civilizing roots as the compass to orient the process of change. He criticized Morales’ government for saying that the solution to the problems of the country is to expel the external enemies, when in reality the enemies are the Bolivians themselves, and said that the solution called for resolving the contradictions without eliminating any of the opposing forces.
Bautista stressed the transition from “leading by command” to “leading by obeying.” I asked myself, whom would Morales have to obey? the Trostkyists? Stalinists? Katarists? Pachamamists? MNR-ists? MSM-ists? Reyesvillaists? Fascists of Santa Cruz? transnational oil companies that hand out money to the Guarani to control the oil industry? USAID, with its geopolitical interests, financing the eastern indigenous leaders who already made a political deal with the extreme Right of the governor of Santa Cruz? Or perhaps with the legion of NGOs that have moved in, falsifying reality and creating conflicts and divisions? This list is not arbitrary, because it represents the power groups that already control important spaces in the voice of the people whose civilizing root should be the compass of change, according to Bautista’s vision.
A student of Political Science, René Balderas Abolnik, asked him how he would apply in Bolivia the Hegelian principle that social consciousness changes the superstructure, when the superstructure of the Bolivian East has shown clearly a will to separate from that of the West, in order to create its own nationalism that is not communitarian. ¿How could he apply that at the national level without first achieving a basic unity of Bolivian nationality? ¿Would we not have to establish first a Bolivian nationalism?
Bautista said that it was not true that Living Well was the exclusive heritage of the Andean cosmic vision, because from Alaska to Patagonia all indigenous people have a communitarian relationship with the Earth; that in Guarani there is a concept of Living Well, and that it was for that reason that there was an accord of dignity among the indigenous people of East and West. He stated that, unlike Hegel, he considers history to be the basis of consciousness.
To what history does he refer? I asked myself. I spoke out to say that, in the first place, going back to his point about the suggested absence of a foreign enemy, the anti-imperialism of President Morales has a reason for being, for, without a doubt, United States not only stole the leading role of the indigenous in 1952, through its control of bourgeois “representativeness,” but also manipulated their will through assistance programs. I pointed out that the word “camba” (indigenous person from the eastern lowlands) was used by the white landowner to insult the eastern original peoples, but that Washington promoted the oligarchy in order to steal the representativeness of the latter’s political space. From that moment, the word became in the Bolivian East a political decoration for the rich, to the point that today the “cambas” are the millionaires disguised with Chiquitanian shirts with indigenous ornaments.
Furthermore, the United States in fact divided the country in 1958 when it provoked the visceral hate for the colla (indigenous person from the Andean highlands), which some people still today cannot leave behind. The separatism of the Half Moon was not born overnight, for the main source of the exacerbated social consciousness of the Cruzan is the taboo of that revolution, which, because it demanded the royalties from the oil companies that were already earmarked for Santa Cruz’s development, Washington’s puppet government sent the indigenous people of Ucureña, in Cochabamba, to repress the Cruzan youth.
The hidden history tells us that USAID was in Santa Cruz promoting capitalist-style agricultural and cattle-raising programs of development. The Committee of Public Works was already at work designing and regulating the development, which was expected to be explosive. The United States had completed the Santa Cruz-Cochabamba highway. The transnational Gulf Oil Co. was drilling and discovering important deposits, and, the following year, when the young Unionists (members of the Unión Juvenil Cruceña) decided to escape from the government’s forces, they did so in a caravan of 42 vehicles, most of which were from USAID.
The truth is that Bolivia was totally dependent on economic aid, Washington imposed its conditions for granting it, and its objective was the struggle against anti-imperialism, clearly established in its anti-communist continental plan. The progress of Santa Cruz, which the anti-imperialist president Germán Busch had ensured 20 years earlier, was never at risk: he had granted the department the royalties of 11 percent from its oil production. Progress was delayed simply because Washington was forming in Santa Cruz the new ruling class, subservient to its interests, that was to administer that fortune. To ensure that it would be so, it caused a rupture of nationality, in fact creating enmity between two regions of a country that it controlled absolutely.
The campesinos from Ucureña, originators or at least defenders of agrarian reform, were stirred up by telling them that the Cruzan oligarchy had impeded the implementation of the agrarian reform. A group of them was made drunk with alcohol and sent to join in the repression, side by side with the Army. The Cruzans, on the other hand, were never told the undeniable truth that those indigenous men from Ucureña were sent by a puppet government that was obeying an anti-communist continental plan of the United States.
From that hidden history it may be seen that the eastern indigenous people of Bolivia have been trampled historically by the Cruzan oligarchy, the national governments, and the geopolitical interests of the United States. It was the latter that stole the indigenous identity in order to impose a new indigenous pseudo-identity as an accessory to colonial interests. That is proven by the fact that, at present, the Cidob, despite its original purposes, is so connected to USAID and has reached a political accord with the extreme Right led by Costas, for whom the cosmic vision of the camba is progress, able to make alliances with the Katarist cosmic vision linked to the opposition to Morales. ¿Is this the much-mentioned civilizing root?
Neither is the notion true that this process of change comes from Tupac Katari, and that Evo is simply a transitional link in the chain. While it is true that there existed earlier a revolutionary process, it was always defeated and massacred until the day when Evo managed to capture the people’s imagination, unify the people around the desire for emancipation, propose the change, and put together sufficient political power to make it a reality.
The truth is that history shows us that external enemies do exist, and that regrettably they have been aided by Bolivians who come to Washington to provide the enemy with tools. That was shown in the case of the diplomat Enrique Sánchez de Lozada, who came to alert Nelson Rockefeller at the Department of State about the need to manipulate the indigenous Bolivians; and similarly in the case of Victor Andrade, the celebrated indigenous ambassador of president Villaroel, who, while the United States was hanging the Bolivian president by means of a well-orchestrated plot, was giving himself over to Rockefeller. The latter, using the ambassador in the name of Latin American indigenism, was able to make the entire continent vote as a bloc in favor of Washington’s proposals regarding the formation of the United Nations, establishing the policy of the bloc and a doglike obedience to the United States that we still find it hard to give up.
It seems to me wrong and dangerous that some Bolivians travel around to formulate severe criticisms of a president who has achieved so much for his country, all the more so when the only valid philosophy in the United States is pragmatism, according to which, ideas are true only and as long as they are of practical use in life. It is dangerous because the United States will always find in these complaints something “of practical use in life,” but useful in the “life of the U.S. elites, not in the life of the peoples of Bolivia.”
Bautista said that he criticized in order to help, and that Evo also does not like yes-men. He illustrated his idea with the movie 13 Days, which dramatizes the way in which president Kennedy managed the missile crisis.
Bautista said that Kennedy had to retain a counselor to tell him that “you’re wrong about this.” According to history, to the contrary, Kenny O’Donnell was a personal friend of the Kennedy brothers, and accompanied them long before the crisis. He was a trustworthy man, but he knew his place and never criticized the president, far less in public. He respected Kennedy, admired him, did not seek to undermine his authority, and, much to the contrary, his job was to protect him by investigating and giving the president points of view in support of his wish to avoid war. Bautista’s attitude toward president Morales is in no way like the loyalty of Kenny O’Donnell toward the Kennedy brothers.
(*) Correspondent for Cambio in the United States