Fifteen years ago this month the people of Cochabamba, Bolivia were victorious in their now-famous showdown with one of the most powerful multinational corporations in the world, in what has come to be known as the Cochabamba Water Revolt.
Following defeats for Evo Morales’ MAS party in Bolivian regional elections, new checks and balances to MAS power from a variety of political positions may continue to open up spaces of dissent, debate and contestation that will deepen Bolivia’s wider process of change, a process that the MAS doesn’t, nor did it ever, completely control.
Bolivia’s road toward decolonization is a rocky and contested one. But, as Bolivia’s Vice Minister of Decolonization Félix Cárdenas argues below, in a bleak world full of capitalist tyrants, bloody wars and racist exploitation, the country’s Process of Change under President Evo Morales continues to shine as an alternative to the dominant global order.
Elisa Vega Sillo, a member of Bolivia’s Vice Ministry of Decolonization, speaks about the unique work of the Vice Ministry, the role of historical memory in the country’s radical politics, and the importance of decolonizing Bolivia’s history of indigenous resistance.
There is a long history in Bolivia of couching politics of liberation within the deeper story of colonialism and indigenous resistance. The MAS party of Evo Morales doesn’t have a monopoly on the uses of Bolivia’s rebel past, but it’s incredibly savvy in its deployment of historical consciousness as an ideological and political tool.
Thousands of people marched in El Alto, Bolivia on Friday, October 17th to demand justice for the 2003 massacre of over 60 people during the country’s Gas War under the Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada administration.
The sun shone brightly in La Paz, Bolivia on election day this past Sunday. The cars and buses that usually fill the winding streets were prohibited for the day in order to prevent people from voting more than once in different locations.
Today Bolivia went to the polls for a general election which is expected to grant victories to President Evo Morales and many other politicians in his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) political party. (Update: Evo Morales has declared victory for a third term in office.) Here is a collection of brief interviews conducted today with voters from middle and working class neighborhoods in La Paz, Bolivia on how they voted and what they think of the MAS government.
Evo Morales’ victory at the polls this Sunday is likely because of the progressive changes his government has brought about, as well as its ability to co-opt certain social movements and expand controversial but lucrative extractivist industries. This victory is all but assured in spite of these contradictions and tensions, but also because of them.