The persistence of the nation-state

Eileen Agar, Angel of Anarchy, 1936–40


The experience of a plurinational State has shown that it is more of the same, just a way of patching up institutions without legitimacy

The plurinationality proposal, which promotes the construction of a plurinational State, had broad support to resolve the asymmetries between the nation-state and the original nationalities and peoples. However, this current is in clear decline, while the other current that crosses peoples on the move, the autonomist current, continues its slow but steady growth.

The proposal was born in the 1980s by peasant-indigenous organizations in Bolivia and Ecuador, in the midst of struggle processes that showed how the State violently contained the claims and mobilizations of the original peoples. The plurinational State formula was considered sufficient to solve these problems, being adopted in the Ecuadorian 2008 and Bolivian 2009 constitutions.

However, until now it has not been adopted by the majority of peoples who demand territory and organize themselves to recover these living spaces. The decline of this current results from two processes: the growing weakness of the States in relation to capital and the concrete experience in the two countries mentioned, where the slightest refoundation of the State was not registered, showing in practice that they are colonial and patriarchal constructions.

The central problem is that plurinationality implies that the State recognizes the existence of different indigenous nationalities and cultures inhabiting the same territory. Proposals to move towards an administration of justice according to the ways of indigenous peoples have never worked, nor is it possible that they will, since the logic of the nation-state remains dominant.

Not to mention the armed and police forces, the hard core of the state apparatus, where the people's logic never took root. During 13 years in Bolivia and 10 years in Ecuador, when Evo Morales and Rafael Correa ruled, no substantial progress was registered in what was promised as the refoundation of the State. Therefore, the question arises: is it possible to refound a colonial and patriarchal institution?

Bolivians María Galindo and Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui agreed a year ago that if the armed forces are not disbanded, there will be no plurinational state. It was just a name change, they say, without any change in political, economic and symbolic power structures.

Currently, the issue of plurinationality is being debated by sectors of the peoples mapuche in Chile and Aymara in Bolivia.

The first Meeting of Intellectuals of the Nation aymara, carried out at the Public University of El Alto last July, concluded that the Political Constitution of the State, in force since 2009, is an instrument of the colonial State, which does not respond precisely to the reality and interests of the aymara. The declaration of the meeting states that the objective is the reconstruction of the nation Aymara and the original nations, under the principle of federalism and its own political system, based on communities (ayllus) and in the regions (headquarters e his), without the intervention of the precepts of the institutionalized democracy of the State.

This current included Felipe Quispe, who led the peasant-indigenous mobilization during the coup regime of Jeannine Áñez, which made it possible to call elections that the Movement for Socialism won. It also has the sympathy of vice-president David Choquehuanca, who supported the meeting of intellectuals aymara.

In Chile, the spokesperson for the Arauco Malleco Coordination (CAM), Héctor Llaitul, a Chilean state prisoner, said during the inauguration of a community center in Peñalolén (Santiago) on June 10 that, in the last 30 years, had seen a single poster mapuche asking for plurinationality, and reaffirmed that the demands are always based on territory. In an open letter from the CAM, dated August 8, it is stated that plurinationality, as a proposal for the cause mapuche, proves to be an empty measure of territorial strength and with no prospect of transformation, since it is rather an academic invention of an elite that seeks spaces and quotas of power without taking into account the reality of injustices or the real needs of our country. people.

One of the reasons that lead them to reject the creation of a plurinational State, and to insist on territorial recovery, is that the conditions of big capital and colonialism that acted to dispossess us of our territories have deepened in recent decades. This is a reality that operates throughout the Latin American region.

I believe that we are in the twilight of the plurinational states project. Experience has shown that it is more of the same, just a way of patching up institutions without legitimacy, but always without touching their hard core.

* Raúl Zibechi, journalist, is a columnist for the weekly Brecha (Uruguay).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

Originally published on the portal nodal.


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