Notes on the Bolivian experience

Image: Paulinho Fluxuz_


Those defeated in the Bolivian elections seek to rearticulate the feeling of hatred for the MAS


The electoral results of the last elections in Bolivia are still being matured by the losers and may generate still imponderable social and political processes. The right, conservative and coup-mongering, started to talk about “scientific fraud” in the elections, something that nobody knows what it means and that they themselves do not explain, while evangelical pastors argue that “there was a spell over the electoral ballot boxes”[I]. The defeated seek, as possible, to rearticulate the feeling of hatred towards the MAS, the Socialism Movement, the political party of former President Evo Morales and President Luis Arce, elected on October 18th, and the party's spokesman, Sebastián Michel, denounced an attack that took place on November 6 against the headquarters of the party, during a meeting that included the participation of Arce. In that attack, a stick of dynamite would have been thrown against the building, but without leaving any injuries.[ii].

The news that reaches us from Bolivia speaks of movements that, even having recognized the electoral victory of the MAS, began to incite violence and disorganization with a view to preventing the inauguration of those elected. Paramilitary and extremist groups arm themselves, right-wing articulators begin to speak through dubious formulas, such as “mobilized freedom of expression” and “military coordination”, as reported by sociologist Pinto Quintanilla, who also argues that, despite the resounding electoral victory of the MAS, there is a coup in progress and mobilized[iii].

I start from this assessment, following what has been written about the current Bolivian process, to make some observations about this conjuncture of democratic obstruction that haunts not only the neighboring country but many spaces in Latin America and that is forged by hybridizing social hatred, repositioning of classes , racism, violence and irrationality.

The elections held in Bolivia on Sunday, October 18th suggest a return to democracy, fixing the institutional rupture imposed by the November 2019 coup d'état. of national refoundation built over 14 years by MAS – the Movement to Socialism – and its supporters, may or may not be resumed.

In view of this event, I would like to make some notes on various elements that gravitate around the situation: the MAS experience, its successes and failures; the hatred that elites and sectors of the middle classes have produced against him in recent years; the political difficulties of, at the same time, governing and reforming a State so marked by social and ethnic differences; the similarities and differences in relation to other leftist movements and parties in Latin America, particularly the PT, in Brazil and the conditions of governance in such a polarized society and, above all, in the face of the institutional rupture of the last year.

The MAS government can be described as a community socialism structured-on and structuring-a process of national refoundation – of pluriethnic refoundation of nationality. It is a political movement that largely renews the world left and if there is one thing that these elections in Bolivia demonstrate, it is the strength, importance and capacity for invention of the MAS. Incidentally, as noted by sociologist Atillio A. Boron[iv], these elections demonstrated that the MAS is the only existing social force in all of Bolivia.

In a victory that was much wider than expected, the party that elected Evo Morales and, now, Luis Arce, has a peasant social base and was formed in the 1990s. Bolivian indigenous movement, very important. The support of the proletariat and the urban middle classes came with the excellent economic results of the Evo government, but at the same time it aroused a strong political polarization and a cultural phenomenon of political hatred very similar to the one existing, in Brazil, in relation to the PT.

Not that there is an immediate proximity between the MAS and the PT. Evidently there are similar commitments between the Bolivian “movement” and the Brazilian party, but the differences are also many. The purpose of this text is not to address these differences, but, in a way, I would like to point out some common points between the sociocultural fabrics that produce hatred of left-wing policies in these two Latin American countries, and also some similarities between the challenges and mistakes of the two parties in government.

The MAS in government

Historically speaking, Bolivia is an extremely vulnerable country. Both to international politics and to the class interests of its nationals. From independence, in 1825, to 1982, when the democratic period interrupted by last year's coup began and is expected to be resumed with these elections, Bolivia faced no less than 193 coups d'état - although the candidate defeated by the MAS in the last elections, historian Carlos Mesa counts only 23 in one of his books[v]. In any case, of its 84 political regimes, 32 were headed by dictators.

MAS emerged as a resistance movement of populations cocaleras, in the Chapare region, department of Cochabamba, in the first half of the 1990s. It quickly added other social movements, notably peasants, and later also indigenous people, who, in 1995, held an Assembly for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (ASP), of great political repercussions. Evo Morales emerged as one of the main leaders of this process and ran in the 1997 elections for the Izquierda Unida (IU) party, being elected deputy to the National Assembly. Two years later, he took charge of the Movimiento al Socialismo-Unzanguista (MAS-U), a group that had been created by a businessman, David Añez Pedraza, in 1987 and had taken a sinuous course from right to left.

For the MAS, Evo Morales contested the presidential elections of 2002, achieving the second highest vote in that election and the party won 27 of the 130 seats in Parliament. At that time, Bolivia was experiencing a process of consolidation of the role of the left, who emerged greatly strengthened from the situation of social upheaval known as the Water War, which had occurred two years earlier in Cochabamba. This war, a popular rebellion against the privatization of the municipal water management system, was motivated by the abusive increase in fees charged by the company Aguas del Tunari, belonging to the North American group Brechtel. The rebellion reached such an extent that President Hugo Banzer declared a state of siege and ordered the arrest of movement leaders and several radio stations. In response, popular forces were more present in the streets and managed to annul the privatization contract. This social movement had the effect of bringing together different sectors of civil society, from peasant associations and urban workers' unions, from indigenous populations to sectors of the middle class.

With this process, the rupture of political stability known as “agreed democracy” began.[vi], the period that began with the Paz Estensoro government in 1985 and ended in 2005 with the election of Evo Morales. In that year's elections Morales was elected president, receiving 53,7% of the votes, being reappointed to office in 2009, with 64,2%, and again in 2014, with 61,4% of the votes. In all these elections, the MAS also received a significant number of parliamentary seats, 72 out of 130 deputies and 12 out of 27 senators in 2005; 88 out of 130 deputies and 26 out of 36 senators in 2009 and the same number of deputies and 25 out of 36 senators in 2014.

In the 14 years of government of Evo Morales, Bolivia has lived the longest period of political and economic stability since its independence. This was due to the Social, Community and Productive Economic Model, solidly elaborated by Luis Arce – Minister of Economy under Morales and current president-elect of Bolivia – together with a group of socialist intellectuals and economists since 1999. Arce, at that moment, he was a university professor and the basis of his project was a process of nationalization of natural resources and reorganization of the productive base. The implemented model diversified the productive base, notably stimulating the industrial, agrarian and tourism sectors and, on the other hand, creating mechanisms for the social distribution of wealth.

When Morales took office, Bolivia had a GDP of 5 billion dollars. In just one year of government, the GDP was around 9 billion dollars and, in 2018, just 14 years later, the GDP of his country was 40,8 billion dollars. In 14 years, the Evo government multiplied the country's GDP by eight times. During this period, Bolivia grew at a rate of 4% per year and per capita GDP grew from US$900 to US$4.

Why did this happen? Basically because the previous governments – to use the local expression, the “landlord” governments – that used the State to further accumulate wealth for themselves, that used the State to exclude and steal the living conditions of the poorest, were removed, away from the center of power. They lost their position of controlling the production flow.

And how did that happen? First, because there was a firm decision by the government of Evo Morales to modify the Bolivian State's treatment of natural resources. Evo promoted a transformation in the agricultural, mining, energy and hydrocarbon sectors. How did you do it? Nationalizing, recovering in the hands of the interest of the common people of Bolivia, the control and profits of the strategic companies. At the same time, the Bolivian State began a process of participation in the economic life of small and medium-sized companies, consistently investing in them, injecting capital to allow these companies to grow and to stand in opposition to big international capital.

The cornerstone of the process was the nationalization of the energy sector, particularly in the natural gas production sector. And in addition to nationalization, the MAS government taxed private companies that exploited this resource with taxes ranging from 50% to 85% of their income.

This policy generated a surplus, also corroborated by similar actions in the mining and agricultural sectors, which allowed for important investments in infrastructure, notably in export logistics, construction of highways, urban public transport and airports.

The Social, Community and Productive Economic Model also redistributed this surplus through social and employment policies that had an impact on reducing social inequality. With an average annual investment of US$ 7 billion in social programs, MAS achieved a significant reduction in extreme poverty rates, which went from 38,2% in 2005 to 17,2% in 2018, as well as a 4,2% unemployment – ​​an all-time low[vii].

Social mobility policies aimed at the poorest and most marginalized sectors produced important results in terms of the average wage of workers: the salary of a domestic worker or a worker in a small workshop was, for example, 50 dollars in 2005 when the MAS came to power. And it averaged $300 over the next 14 years. In turn, the basic worker, with medium training, accumulated an increase of 400% in 13 years. In the same period, inflation peaked at 50%[viii].

All this changed the very profile of the Bolivian State, making it move from the condition of a mere colonial State to the condition of a Plurinational State, that is, a State that took into account the interests of the ethnic populations, the indigenous movements and the political participation of minorities, expressively the political participation of women.

The political model of the MAS promoted, above all, a social seam, contributing to overcoming what René Zavaleta Mercado[ix], a well-known Bolivian sociologist, called society motley, that is, made with many patches sewn and superimposed on each other, intending to refer, with this idea, to the juxtaposition between different societies and modes of production that resulted in different fields of social and political struggle.

The fight against national elites: MAS political successes and mistakes

The conception of the State implemented by the MAS involved advanced policies of social justice, socio-environmental and cultural sustainability and the reintegration of the country's natural resources to the interests of national sovereignty. Evidently, this set of actions displeased the national elites and the international interests, generally related to them.

Nevertheless, a set of strategies of disorganization and disorientation of the conservative national forces was triggered by the MAS. First, a generally cohesive parliamentary action. Governing with a large parliamentary majority, the MAS maintained effective control of the legislature and allowed an efficient flow in its relationship with the executive.

With regard to the Bolivian elites, it must be said that the MAS governments positioned themselves, from the outset and frankly, openly and directly, against them.

And this position was not rudimentary or superficial: it was organized on discursive bases and on solid political practices, which deconstructed the historical positions of the elites with a discursive force centered on rationality and experience. Thus, for example, where the elites spoke of meritocracy and advocated more space for the “most capable”, the MAS leaders countered with arguments of egalitarianism and the policy of corporate sharing of positions among social movements.

A side effect of the corporate job-sharing policy was the tensions with the university circles that tended to support the MAS, but found themselves excluded from management spaces and processes and, consequently, removed from politics, which produced permanent tensions.

Another central point of the MAS policy was statism, marked by the progressive tax policy and the nationalization process. A side effect of this statism was the conflict of interests between the State and small private enterprises and, consequently, with the middle class, generally neglected by economic policy.

Some criticisms are constantly made to the MAS: the failure to carry out an agrarian reform (despite a small redistribution of vacant lands among the poorest) and the absence of a transforming policy for education, especially in the field of basic education and the confrontation of the monopoly of the elites in the field of private education.

Another important and constant criticism is due to the absence of a specific development policy for the Potosí region, despite the importance of its participation in the national production of lithium. No wonder the city of Potosí, one of the historic strongholds of the MAS, played an important role in the coup, supporting it.

The old problem of the left: how to govern and reform at the same time

The political difficulties of governing Bolivia are classic, from the point of view of socialist political theory: the old problem of contradictions present in proposals for the “socialist management” of capitalism. Difficulties similar to those experienced by most left-wing governments in Latin America, including, and perhaps especially, the PT in Brazil.

A problem that, although classic, is little debated. But as I believe that we permanently need to reflect on our own experience, I do not hesitate to say a few words here, noting that what is central to the Latin American experience is the great enigma of how to govern and reform, at the same time , having, on the one hand, dominant classes marked by an apparently ineradicable historical selfishness and, on the other hand, capitalist economies that are not simply “peripheral”, but, viscerally, unequal.

The debate about this arises from the reflection of the French socialist Léon Blum – prime minister elected by a broad leftist front, which brought together socialists, communists and radicals, in 1936 – on the difference between “conquest of power” and “exercise of power”.[X]. Blum's experience, in this sense, was dramatic. The first two times he was prime minister he was forced to resign when pressured by the right when he tried to send arms to the Spanish republicans.

His reflection deals with this great enigma concerning the possibility of a left-wing party democratically achieving power and working, “inside the machine”, for the reformulation of power structures. It is clear that Blum's reflection[xi] constitutes a non-revolutionary socialist proposition and that many other authors do not perceive any possibility of balance between the “conquest of power” and the “exercise of power” and, for this reason, indicate the revolutionary path as the only concrete possibility of transforming the bourgeois state.

Certainly we can and must aspire to more than that, but the socialist management of capitalism remains on the immediate horizon of the left in Latin America. For this very reason, in this not-so-revolutionary and, perhaps as a consequence, highly reactionary era, we need to formulate policy by producing continuity markers that are solid while allowing for renewals.

Blum's attempts at power failed, but they were seminal as a reflection, and they collaborated with many models. The models coming from the European experience are not very helpful in the case of Latin America, because, although the task of governing and reforming at the same time is always very difficult, the social, political and economic structures found there are quite different.

In any case, European experiences, solutions and models should always be remembered: the best-known successful experiences were countercyclical policies proposed by the Stockholm School of economics, centered on full employment and encouraging development, applied by Swedish social democrats in the 1930s. 1950; the model of “social pacts”, centered on the regulation of prices and wages, applied by the socialists of Austria, Belgium, Holland and by the British labor force in the immediate post-World War II period; the great model of the “welfare state”, built collectively by social democratic and labor parties and governments across Europe, between the late 1970s and XNUMXs; and the thesis of “organized state capitalism”, elaborated in great detail by the French Communist Party and which, although only partially implemented in France, had a great impact, theoretically, on the thinking of the Latin American left.

Returning to Latin America, this reflection takes on new dimensions and meanings, precisely because across the continent reactionary forces move against historical and often unprecedented experiences of the State's reach through democratic means. The case of Bolivia, in this sense, seems to be particularly interesting as an experience because, it seems to us, in the game between “conquest of power” and “exercise of power” there was the production of another strategic sphere, not present in the horizon of Blum's thought. or other left-wing government experiences, had its empirical dimension in the social organization of the MAS, original in many respects, and which had its political dimension in an equation referring to the democratic maintenance of power, a theme to which we will return later.

The 2019 coup

The concrete fact is that, in the October 20, 2019 elections, Evo Morales was re-elected with an advantage of more than 640 votes over the second-placed Carlos Mesa. According to Bolivian electoral rules, the MAS candidate won in the first round: he obtained 2% of the votes, against 47,08% for Mesa, from Comunidad Ciudadana; 36,51% from Chi Hyun Chung, from the Christian Democratic Party and 8,83% from Óscar Ortíz, from the Bolivia Dice No coalition, candidate centered in the province of Santa Cruz and supported by the United States.

However, the inappropriate performance of the OAS, Organization of American States, through its secretary general, the Uruguayan Luis Almagro, as is known, undermined the result. Certainly, the OAS acted at the service of the US government, interested in destabilizing the region both for political-ideological reasons and for economic reasons – in this case, access to Bolivia's natural resources. Although Almagro was Chancellor of Pepe Mujica's government in Uruguay, there were always strong suspicions that he had acted as a CIA agent.

As is known, this organization, increasingly distant from its Pan American objectives and increasingly a US political satellite, imposed an audit and concluded that “although without fraud, the process was inaccurate”. What does that mean? Translating the democratic euphemisms, it means “we do not recognize the victory of Evo Morales”.

His participation in the outcome of the coup that ousted Evo Morales was decisive. It is clear that Morales, with extreme naivety, accepted the recount of the votes proposed by the OAS, but the Uruguayan proceeded with extreme bad faith: even before the recount was concluded, he released a provisional report full of false data, insinuations and accusations. This fraud spurred the Bolivian right to precipitate the coup d'état.

The opposition to the MAS mobilized quickly and without control: houses of ministers and parliamentarians were set on fire, public humiliations, extreme violence in the streets, repression. The coup process began in Santa Cruz and spread throughout the country. The headquarters of the Departmental Electoral Court of Potosí were attacked and electoral judges were attacked in the cities of Tarija, Chuquisaca, Oruro and La Paz. The coup scenario was triggered: violence in the streets, countries in the region, with their conservative governments, declaring not to recognize the result of the elections, security forces and media taking political sides.

There were two major massacres in this coup process, that of Sacaba, in the city of El Alto, neighboring La Paz, and that of Senkata, Cochabamba, which took place, respectively, on November 15th and 19th, leaving 36 people dead and dozens injured. With the position of the military that "advised" the elected president to resign and Morales' departure from the country, the way was opened for the usurpation of power by coup senator Jeanine Áñez, establishing a government that, however, to minimally preserve the power, was forced to plan new elections, which currently took place.

For Garcia Linera, former vice president of Bolivia, the 2019 coup was a repudiation of equality, a mobilization against equality[xii]. Indeed, as in Brazil during the 2016 coup, one can see the dominance of a deep and rancorous class hatred, wanting to prevent the advancement of progressive processes and social inclusion.

MAS Opponents and the Bolivian Right

But let's take a closer look at the Bolivian right, the opponents of the MAS. Effectively, they are inconsistent opponents, with ambiguous proposals, without a social base, and who gravitate between generalist propositions accustomed to neoliberal recipes and nationalist rhetoric. Very similar inconsistencies, as can be seen, to those that are present in the Brazilian and Argentine right.

The most credible of these opponents is Carlos Mesa, representative of the country's intellectual elites and its old mining bourgeoisie – his parents were respectable academics and his family was always wealthy. However, even though “more credible”, Mesa is far from representing a real alternative of power. Neoliberal, his proposals always go through denationalization and the cacophonous music of the diminution of the State… Furthermore, Mesa is a great coward: he is the guy who resigned from the presidency of the republic in the middle of the 2005 crisis.

As in Brazil, as in Argentina, the Bolivian elites have not been able to build a minimally credible alternative or power project and remain supported, or supporting, the same groups as always: media companies, a weak and clumsy judiciary, neoconservative churches and extreme right movements.

Bolivian politics are very similar to the politics of other Latin American countries. First, there are the old conservative nationalists who have gone neoliberal, such as former president Tuto Quiroga and his party, the Acción Democrática Nacionalista (ADN), founded by old general Hugo Banzer – the same one who started the Water War in 2000.

Then there are social democrats, such as Samuel Doria Medina of the Frente de Unidad Nacional, who similarly lean toward neoliberalism. On another level, there is charismatic politics, represented by Luis Fernando Camacho, the structural agent of the 2019 coup. Around him there are a variety of political parties and movements, some with extensive relationships with Pentecostal churches, among which the Solidarity Civic Unit ( UCS), the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) and the Nationalist Democratic Action (ADN).

It is also possible to perceive, in this scene, the labor and neoconservative leaders who have been breaking with the MAS and adopting a conservative discourse, such as Marco Pumari, the president of the Civic Committee of Potosí, son of a miner and who broke with the MAS to demand more attention to Potosi.

As Atilio Boron put it, “building a right with solid foundations at the national level is an arduous task, which in Bolivia, even more so with the terrorist violence of its dictatorship, the complicity of judges and prosecutors and the support of the media cesspool in the service of the empire , proved to be a mission doomed to failure”[xiii].

In a recently published article, Jeferson Miola clearly describes what is in dispute in Bolivia: control of lithium, mineral wealth of high strategic and economic value, used in the manufacture of antidepressant drugs, cell phone batteries, electronic devices and automotive production.[xiv].

It is the dispute over this wealth of the present and the future that produces, in Bolivia, the opposing model, antagonistic to the MAS project, guided by denationalization and the delivery of this wealth to multinational groups.

The return of the MAS to power and its conditions of governance

As I said, in the face of the violence and excesses committed in the coup action last year, the Bolivian right did not find grounds that would justify, in the face of international public opinion but, above all, in the face of the correlation of forces interposed by social movements and Bolivian civil society, minimum conditions for permanence in power that were not sustained by calling new elections.

Due to the coronavirus, the elections were postponed twice. 7,3 million Bolivians went to the polls last October 18th and the result gave the MAS an expressive victory. Luiz Arce obtained 52% of the votes, against 31,5% for Carlos Mesa, 14,1% for Luis Camacho, 1,6% for Chi Hyun Chung and 0,4% for Feliciano Mamani. In the departmental executives, the MAS elected 6 of the 9 governors. In the Senate, he elected 19 senators, against 17 of the opposition. In the Legislative Assembly, he elected 73 of the 130 deputies.

The president-elect, Luis Alberto Arce Catacora is an economist from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, worked at the Central Bank of Bolivia between 1987 and 2006 and was Minister of Economy for 13 years in the Evo Morales government. He was primarily responsible for the economic policies that led Bolivia to the country's impressive growth during this period.

Arce’s running mate, David Choquehuanca, an Ayamará indigenous person, also participated in the Evo government: he was Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2006 and 2017 and also served as secretary general of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty.

The MAS victory was overwhelming. Both the opportunistic usurper Jeanine Áñez and the second-placed coup-plotter Carlos Mesa immediately conceded defeat. International observers and analysts also gave positive signals of support for the electoral process and its results.

However, considering the existing situation of political and social polarization, it is ponderable to inquire about the governance conditions of the MAS in the coming years. The MAS hate movement – ​​very similar to the PT hate movement in Brazilian society –

According to Molina[xv] (2020, p. 5), this feeling of hatred derives from a memory of the “damage” that would have been imposed on these elites in the 14 years of MAS management. Losses related to the income that would have ceased to be obtained from the sale of Bolivian natural resources and the loss of spaces of power due to the dissolution of the previously prevailing technocracy, and also related to the historical racism of these elites in relation to the traditional populations of the country.

In Melo's understanding[xvi], in addition to internal factors, there are external factors that tend to compromise governance in Bolivia during the new presidential term, among which are the interests and pressures produced around lithium, the liberalization of transgenic crops and the international demand for the privatization of sectors of Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos, the main state-owned company in the country, around which there is great pressure.

political lessons

The struggle of Bolivian indigenous, peasant and/or underprivileged populations is not just a struggle to preserve the country's natural resources. It is against agribusiness and the multinationals that represent it. There are no national, social or State projects at stake, but only a State project, built by the MAS, and the petty desire to profit, individually, delivering Bolivian riches to these multinationals.

I remember an article by the Argentine sociologist Atilio A. Boron in which he says that “no matter how the economy is managed in an exemplary manner, as Evo's government did, growth, redistribution, investment flows are guaranteed and all macro and microeconomic indicators are improved, the right and imperialism will never accept a government that does not serve their interests”[xvii].

In the same direction, Jeferson Miola wrote in his blog: “The coup in Bolivia attests that neoliberal capitalism does not accept and does not tolerate popular sovereignty. The coup confirms that neoliberalism is incompatible with democracy and with the manifestation of the majority will of the people”[xviii].

I believe these ideas explain everything, including the 2016 Brazilian coup, and are a lesson to always remember.

In the beautiful and moving interview he gave Mario Santucho, recently published, Álvaro García Linera[xx], former vice-president of Bolivia on the ticket of Evo Morales, stated that the MAS project “was not defeated, it was paralyzed. You defeat something when you take away its moral strength or its energy. And that did not happen (…) In this sense, the MAS project of social inclusion, economic growth and distribution of wealth continues to be the horizon of this new decade that is coming”. In his view, these elections also demonstrated that the MAS project was “capable of maintaining the source of its roots, its very popular backbone, and having the strength to change leaderships without this being the product of divisions or ruptures between a new generation and the previous one”.

For Linera, the Bolivian right, as elsewhere in Latin America, continues without a project, moved by “electric shocks of hatred, resentment, racism, and they end up obtaining a Frankenstein”, noting, also, that they will not succeed in “an organic project of society in that way”[xx]. In his understanding, the right was left without a “predictive” project:

“The predictive horizon is when you wake up, you know what you're going to do. And what your son is going to do, your wife and your brother, what you thought about the next day, or the next month, or the next six months. It is something concrete, not a philosophical abstraction: how people envision their immediate fate. When you fail to do that, as is happening now with conservative forces, this chaotic process takes place. Progressivism is a response to the exhaustion of the predictive horizon of neoliberalism”.

The MAS offered Bolivian society precisely a “predictive” project, composed of pragmatic idealism and centered on social inclusion. Many consider this political movement as the “left of the future”, and it is necessary to take this idea into account when one needs and wants to reinvent and mobilize progressive forces and stop everything that conforms to a repudiation of equality and democracy.

I believe we can say that these predictive horizons have a specific social form: social movements as maintenance agents and guarantees of the power project. In the task of balancing between the “conquest of power” and the “exercise of power”, we must also include the equation of “democratic maintenance of power”. That is, mechanisms of control and social guarantee. I believe that this is one of the social contributions of the MAS to socialist praxis: the production of social continuity mechanisms based on social organization.

Perceiving the political action of the MAS, I cannot help but remember that some of the most recurrent self-criticisms in the process of evaluating the PT's political errors concern the distancing of the party from social movements and even grassroots organizations in social life. A phenomenon that is related, on the one hand, to the much-discussed historical process of party bureaucratization and, on the other hand, to the entry into the scene of new political agents, associated with conservative churches and militias that ended up occupying the rhizomatic place that the PT possessed, years ago, the bases of social life.

Thinking about the recent phenomena of attacks of hatred and irrationalism against the left in Brazil – the 2016 coup, the lawfare against Lula, the partisan militantism of Lava Jato, Bolsonarist violence, etc – it seems evident that there has never been a lack of massive support to the PT and that, despite this, there were no political mechanisms that would allow for a social articulation that was resistant to all these abuses of power. Perhaps there was a lack of equating the democratic maintenance of power and in the power of progressive forces, perhaps there was a lack of predictive guarantees, predictive narratives regarding popular sovereignty.

* Fabio Fonseca de Castro, a sociologist, is a professor at the Graduate Program in Communication, Culture and the Amazon and at the Faculty of Communication at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA).



[I]PINTO QUINTANILLA, Juan Carlos. Against the coup d'état, organized popular power. In: Carta Maior. Available in: Published on 04/11/2020 and consulted on 05/11/2020.

[ii]Siete Digital page, reproduced on the Carta Maior portal. Vocero del MAS denounces a dynamite attack against Luis Arce.Available at: Published on 07/11/2020 and consulted on 07/11/2020.

[iii]PINTO QUINTANILLA, Juan Carlos, referred to above.

[iv]Bolivia: the return of the left. In: Page 12. Available at Published on 20/10/2020 and consulted on 23/10/2020

[v]MESA, Charles. Presidents of Bolivia, between ballot boxes and rifles. 1983.

[vi]OFMEISTER, Wilhelm. Bolivia: the construction of democracy and the evolution of the political process. In: OFMEISTER, W. (Org.). Political Reforms in Latin America. Rio de Janeiro, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 2004.

[vii]MELLO, Michele. Who is Luis Arce, favorite for the presidential elections in Bolivia? In: Brazil de Fato. Available in: Published on 17/10/2020 and consulted on: 22/10/2020.

[viii]GARCÍA LINERA, Álvaro. Interview with Álvaro García Linera: Bolivia's destiny is not guaranteed (interview given to Mario Santucho). Published on 24/10/2020 and consulted on 26/10/2020.

[ix]ZAVALETA MERCAO, René. Popular National Lo in Bolivia, 2a ed. La Paz, Plural Editores, 2008.

[X]I refer here to the debate initiated by José Luiz Fiori, in Jornal do Brasil, with the article The left and the government: its ideas and historical lessons, published in January of this year. Available in:–suas-ideias-e-licoes-historicas.html. Published on 28/01/2020 and consulted on 02/11/2020.

[xi]BLUM, Leon. Bolshevisme et socialisme. Paris: Librarie populaire du Parti socialiste, 1931.

[xii]GARCÍA LINERA, Álvaro. Interview with Álvaro García Linera: Bolivia's fate is not guaranteed (interview given to Mario Santucho) In: Carta Maior (originally published in Crisis). Available at Published on 24/10/2020 and consulted on 26/10/2020.

[xiii]BORON, Attilio A. Bolivia: the return of the left. In: Carta Maior (originally published on Page 12). Available in: Published on 22/10/2020 and consulted on 26/10/2020.

[xiv]MIOLA, Jefferson. Election in Bolivia will test the real commitment of the continental oligarchy and the US to democracy. Available in on 17/10/2020 and consulted on 28/10/2020.

[xv]MOLINA, Fernando. Where will the Bolivian crisis lead? Elections and political reconfigurations. Nueva Sociedad. Buenos Aires, no. 288, Jul.-Aug., 2020, p. 4-14. Conjuncture. Available in: on 27/10/2020.

[xvi]MELO, Marta Cerqueira. 2020 Presidential Elections in Bolivia and the Challenge of Post-Coup Governance. In: Website of the Center for International Studies and Analysis. Available in: on 26/10/2020 and consulted on 27/10/2020.

[xvii]BORON, Attilio A. The coup in Bolivia: five lessons. In: GGN newspaper. Available in: Published on 11/11/2019 and consulted on 27/10/2020.

[xviii]MIOLA, Jefferson. Coup in Bolivia and neoliberal capitalism. In: Blog de Jeferon Miola. Available in: Published on 19/10/2020 and consulted on 26/10/2020.

[xx]GARCÍA LINERA, Álvaro. Op. cit.

[xx]GARCÍA LINERA, Álvaro. Op. cit.

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