Evo Morales and the Phallic Decolonization of the Bolivian State

The Law of Convocation to the Constitutional Assembly: Society didn’t propose a change of government.

In Bolivia there are hundreds of thousands of Evos, in each public high school, on each neighborhood soccer team, in each little workers union, from the taxi drivers to the ice cream vendors.  There are intuitive Evos, with beautifully dark complexions, casual and unorthodox in terms of cultural identity.  They are Evos as modern as they are indigenous but, above all audacious in their use of words and careless and macho in sex and love.   They use ponchos, suits or sports jackets and they choose their clothes with the liberty that patriarchal societies prohibit women, and above all those that are called ‘indigenous’ and who, for that reason, have to carry their cultural identity on their hips and backs, undrawing their curves in the use of masculine mandates. 

This Evo whose face is an immediate and magical social mirror did not receive just a presidential mandate in the past elections, he received a historic mandate that, moreover, consisted of the nationalization of the hydrocarbons and the sentencing of Sanchez de Losada, in the convocation of a constitutional assembly that would permit the redesign of the Bolivian political system.  An assembly that was past of an agenda installed by the social movements and not the political parties, an assembly that marked Bolivian society’s need not for a change of government, but instead for a historic meeting at which to redesign the bases that had created crisis together with the neoliberal model. 

Due to that clear responsibility and his ‘indigenous’ condition, the hope existed that Evo would convoke an assembly that was open to all possible forms of participation.

However, though the Law of Convocation created by the government of Evo Morales, with the direct responsibility of Alvaro García Linera, promulgates a law that:

– Restitutes the legitimacy of the political parties defeated by the revolt in October of 2003, including those that committed genocide against the people of El Alto. 

– Closes all possibility of direct representation of social movements, which has obligated many movements to seek out alliances with MAS in order to be able to propose candidacies or opt to stay out of the assembly and therefore the socio-political discussion that this has unleashed in Bolivian society.  

– Ratifies the technocratic neoliberal criteria of representation of women as a biological quota within political parties, with the addition of the ‘otherness’ which inhibits all form of alliance between women by needing to alternate each woman with a man. 

 – Leaves out the important sector of ‘neoliberal exiles’ who are a migrant population in countries like Argentina, Brazil, U.S. and Spain.  This population has grown steeply in past years and now constitutes a quarter of the economic support of our society. 

– Closes the character of the constitutional assembly to session during a year in a framework that addresses powers already constituted, with which the assembly converts itself into a mere constitutional reform. 

With this exclusion and weakening of social movements, Evo Morales and his indigenist-leftist government has the security of obtaining an absolute majority within the assembly.  This permits him to co-opt social sectors like clients of the party, to carry out a plebecite in place of assembly elections and to rewrite the text of the constitution from a place of executive power.  So the project plans to annihilate spaces of dissidence and political autonomy in respect to the party of the government. 

With this assembly then, we witness the silencing of the social movements in our society.   We also witness a re-accommodation of the social movements from the role of being the forces of the veto and the Bolivian social mobilization, to being the cheap clients of a liberal state.  They are left to be rats tricked by state power.  It isn’t the silencing of the bullet, and it isn’t the silencing of censure, but rather a cynical exclusion.  A silencing as could only come from ‘one of ours’ (in quotes): an ex prisoner who took up arms, like Alvaro García Linera and an indigenous union member, like Evo.  In this way, the assembly converts itself in the scenario for the substitution of liberal representative democracy that we defeated in the streets, hundreds of thousands ,without leaders or parties, in unheard of mobilizations, to substitute this for a mono-partied democracy that offers us MAS as an alternative without alternative.  In this way, the magic Evo, the Evo who wakes up identities, can convert himself into an identitive antidote that inaugurates a regime closed around its leaders. 

‘I don’t want to campaign for a candidate, I want to vomit:’ The electoral campaign. 

It is not casual chance that the most conservative sectors have taken enthusiastically to the electoral campaign as a chance to make ridiculous reparations that will allow them to prolong their agonizing mediocrity by displaying gargantuan portraits of themselves which are unmistakable invitations to vomiting. 

Other sectors that are taking advantage of the occasion are the great proliferation of Churches and Evangelical sects.  They have presented their own candidates, thanks to thousands and thousands of their faithful, to defend their interests in the assembly and, like all churches, to go on eating the pieces of social life. 

The military, which today enjoys important attributes in the present constitution, and which is not disposed to lose even the obligatory military service with which it installs in our youth its model of chauvinist virility, have also proposed their own candidates, borrowed and rented in all of their varieties.  They range from pro-government to the extreme right, all coinciding in defense of their corporate interests. 

Even the Catholic Church, using its intuitive instincts for the accumulation of power, has suffered an unexpected love-affair with MAS in order to put the brakes on the process toward a Secular State.  Their campaign is characterized by efforts to delay, restrain, and confuse the processes of political recreation that a society as dynamic as Bolivia had proposed. 

We, the Mujeres Creando [Women Creating], are street agitators, autonomous, self-summoned to all of life.  We are women who have questioned representative democracy and the vision of equality proposed by the gender technocracy.  We have proposed a candidacy, and so with our queerness, are entering a terrain that is a farce of representation. Our almost tiny candidacy has entered through a crack in the law, in the institution and the system, like rainwater that filters itself by simultaneously seeking and creating leaks.  A crack in the roof of the houses, of the Palace and the institutions from where we let our dissidence leak.   

To say that women are a political subject that for centuries was denied the right to speak, with which they emptied us of our own contents whether with arguments of complementariness, of submission, of exclusion or inclusion.  In the end, all women come to the same end, women are ahistorical, apolitical and invisible.  And all social pacts are pacts are made between categories of men according to the culture they pertain to, their skin color, the social class they pertain to or the ideology they subscribe to. And this social pact signifies a convivial pact regarding the interests of categories of men about hegemonic projects in which some are above others. 

Today in Bolivia, Indigenism and Leftism repeat themselves and find themselves next to neoliberalism in the same phallic, patriarchal posture, a posture that ratifies the confusion between social projects and ‘power’ projects, the control of society, the submission of the ‘other,’  as the only interest around which history and politics should revolve. 

‘I’m not native, I’m original’:

The colonial character versus the patriarchal character of the Bolivian State

As feminists we want to be neither underneath nor on top of anyone. That is why we will not find our own place in this process.  As quasi undesirable tenants of the candidacy that we postulate, we use this space to affirm that the decolonization of the State is not possible without its depatriarcalization. 

We affirm that the ‘social pact’ rests on a sexual contract that has expropriated from women the sovereignty over our own bodies.  And that this is a phenomenon of all political systems, of all ideologies and all cultures.  A renovation of this social pact that does not question the sexual contract that sustains it can only reiterate forms of colonial and patriarchal submission at the same time.  And looking at ‘supposedly’ original cultures is not the mechanism that will permit us to decolonize our society, nor make it fuller, more livable or freer. 

The demand for ‘the original culture’ as pure, as the culture that will build the nation, the project of power and then nationalism will only drive us to the patriarchal and colonial renovation of power, where power simply exercises power with a mere change of actors. 

A sample of this today is the ‘andinocentrism’ with which one expects to reinterpret Bolivian society.  Our society is not a society of pure, original, indigenous people versus undesirable mestizo white-oids.  It is much more complex than that; ours is a society of disobediences and cultural mutations in which the technological revolution is sugar to the soul of all kids who, thanks to piracy, conquer it in their quotidian chatting and navigating with the world.  It is a society like all societies of the world where we as social actors also construct culture and thus we can talk about youth culture, about an urban culture, about this, that and the other culture, about  a culture of queers and a culture of the street and the street venders and who culturally transform the meaning of the street and public space, for example. 

We are not ‘obedient originals’ and for that reason and because we put in question cultural mandates, starting with clothing and ending with pleasures.  Due to and thanks to this disobedience which makes us happy, we propose a decolonizing and depatriarchalizing societal project that has the rise of nationalisms as a principal question. 

They want to substitute the project of the united Nation State for a project of autonomous plurinationalisms in order to open an eternal struggle for land, for resources, for power and control.  We want to be neither on top nor underneath and so we challenge this project with our body and our skin, sensitive and open to sin. 

‘The only fight you lose is the fight you abandon’:

The strategy of concrete proposals. 

We have also developed a handful of concrete proposals that matter to us because they are born of our daily life:

            Our Father if you are in heaven liberate us from the power of the Church:

Today the Bolivian State has an official religion, which is Catholicism.  Freedom of worship is guaranteed but the secular character of social matters is not.  In this way the Church has confabulated with State Power in everything.  We have religion class in all public schools, the Church exercises a mountain of non ecclesiastical activities, and worst, we have inherited the Judeo-Christian concept of family in our constitution and in all judicial law.  

That is why to propose a secular State is to recuperate an hour of class time in schools from religion and to put it, for example, to the service of a secular sexual education, and to our right to know our bodies through school and the classroom. Beyond that, our proposal separates the concept of family from the patriarchal Judeo-Christian vision, reconceptualizing the family, honoring all the complex forms that this has in our society.  This opens the doors the recognition of all forms of ‘free union’ that occur beyond the state, these pretty and unusual forms that make freedom possible in love and in the construction of affectionate and supportive coexistence.   Of course this includes couples made of men and women, community unions, houses of mothers and daughters, sons, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, until complexity widens it without impositions, without models and, above all, without imposing suffering nor shortages, nor absences who have the right to grow and live in sympathy and liberty.

            Che and Evo are the same Irresponsible Fathers:

Society has expropriated maternity from women, it values and protects reproduction at the same time it imposes maternity as a reason for living for women.  However, it subordinates maternity to the existence of a father who gives it legitimacy.  While the women give life, the fathers have the power to grant social space, and so convert the act of giving life into a secondary act.  That is what invents the concept of the single mother, to whom society grants the burden of condemnation in some cases, in others the burden of the fate of the abandoned mother.  Mothers’ recuperation of their maternity is a cultural theme, but it also addresses the legal act of the paternal last name, which in our society is the first [of the two last names], the one that counts and, at the same time, is a mechanism of recognition or ignorance that every man has regarding his sons and daughters.  That is why we propose maternal filiation, which is to say that boys and girls should carry the last name of their mothers first.  This recuperates the place of the mothers, where women change from being objects of reproduction to subjects of maternity.  It also recuperates the daughters’ place in the family, a place that all statistics show us is not valued in comparison to their brothers’. 

This act also will have consequences in all family jurisprudence, in so much as what is called patria-potestad, which is a concept of patriarchal authority over sons and daughters. 

Sovereignty in my country and in my body:

They have also expropriated from us, the women, the right to make decisions about our bodies, and this is presented in legal rulings in various situations, one of them is the penalization of abortion.  The recuperation of women’s sovereignty over their bodies is a wider concept than the mere depenalization of abortion.  This is why we consider it fundamental to insert within the special constitiutional regimes, one that concretely carries the title of ‘women’s constitutional regime.’  This has to do with a chapter that would permit all of those fundamental rights to be concentrated and, as the principal of all rights, a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her body.

Every political party is a weapon loaded with blood, machismo and corruption:

We propose to break the monopoly that the political parties have in respect to political representation though the aperture of the exercise of direct representation of all forms of social representation that exist in Bolivian society.  In respect to the representation of women, for us it is fundamental to challenge the quotas that were introduced during the neoliberal period and ratified by the Indigenist-Left.  This quota converts the political representation of women into a biological quota, empty of content, in which any woman, due to her biological condition of being female, is representative of all women in a situation of non-ideological representation.   This quota has been moreover reinforced in its non-ideologization though the concept of alternity, alternity that has as effect the negation of the political alliance between women.  Both are mechanisms that deny women political autonomy, which is to say, the sense of organizing from themselves, outside of political parties and mixed organizations. 

Long live the deserters, the so-called cowards and all youth who object to the use of weapons

These days military service is obligatory for men, and the gender technocracy has motivated the creation of voluntary military service for women, giving power to one of the densest nuclei of patriarchal culture in our society.  Military service in Bolivia has constituted itself as the school of macho virility and the mechanism for the acquisition of manliness.  That is why the young men who come back from military service acquire authority in their communities and are celebrated for it. 

Conscientious objection is the door that allows the value of the use of weapons and the very existence of an army in society to be questioned.  It is a fundamental right for all young men to be able to object to this sense of virility and the possibility of substituting this service for social service allows us to repropose to young men the logic of service to society and the place and sense of ‘masculinity.’

Give the Constitutional Assembly back to society, opening deliberative spaces from the Assembly itself

The Assembly is crossed by a series of themes that are axes for Bolivian society.   It is a historic irresponsibility to leave it in hands of the political parties that, moreover, have filled the majority of the lists with characters that in many cases do not even correspond to social sectors.  There are all kinds of candidates fulfilling even marital quotas, like that of the Mayor of the city of La Paz´s wife. 

In other cases, the candidates are making proposals that have nothing to do with the constitutional scenario because, if they are elected, they will simply respond to postures that will be cut up into other spaces.  ON the other hand, the complexity of the themes converts itself into a species of mosaic that is impossible to assemble from a single perspective.  This is why we consider that the scenario of the assembly raises, above all, a methodological challenge that can gather together the knowledge and visions of the actors and protagonists of each theme. 

This is why it is urgent that, once the elections take place, departmental, regional and thematic  pre-constitutional assemblies are opened by social actors.  We have posed to ourselves the proposition of convoking a pre-constitutional assembly of women as a complex political subject.




We, the Mujeres Creando, have a self-managed house that is located at:

2060, calle 20 de octubre

Between Apiazu and J.J. Perez, Tel. 2413764, La Paz, Bolivia.

Our house is named ‘Virgen de los deseos’ [Virgen of Desires]

There you will find:

A market, a dining room, lodging, an audiovisual hall, classrooms for workshops, Solidarity, feminist culture in all its forms

And a universe of Indians, bitches and lesbians,

Restless assemblies and sisterhoods. 

Our website is:



Our email is:


Translated from Spanish by April Howard, an editor at UpsideDownWorld.org

Photo from Indymedia.org