LA PAZ, Bolivia, Sept. 15 — This Andean country is on the verge of a racist civil war as the governors of the “Half Moon” (in the eastern plains of the country) are in open rebellion against the central government of Evo Morales. There is a real threat of the country breaking apart. Right now, there are two governments: one led by Morales in the Andean region and the other led by the “autonomist” governors of the eastern plains. The gas and oil fields there are at stake, as well as the agricultural wealth of the “Half Moon.” The openly fascist governors — supported by the U.S. embassy — don’t want to share this wealth with the central government, particularly since Evo Morales is an ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador last week, accusing him of meeting with the “autonomists.” Ambassador Goldberg was a U.S. diplomat in the former Yugoslavia in the mid 1990s when it was ridden by imperialist-caused nationalist civil wars.
The “autonomists” are openly fascist and racist. When their attempted putsch began last week in the state of Pando, with open support from the local governor, neo-Nazi goons from the youth group Juventud Cruceñista targeted what they call the “damn Indian race.” They killed 30 indigenous workers and peasants. These thugs attacked central government offices, took over an airport, gas and oil fields, cutting off gas supplies to Brazil (which get 50% of their gas from Bolivia) and Argentina.
Evo Morales has mass support, winning 67% of the votes in an August referendum. Since then, the aim of the pro-U.S. fascists has been to provoke a military coup (Bolivia has a long history of putsches). But, Morales so far has the support of army since he put some of his loyal officers in control. Most soldiers are recruits and Indigenous (most upper and middle class white youth use their families’ economic power to avoid the draft.) Chávez threatened to send troops to Bolivia to help Morales, and even expelled the U.S. ambassador to Caracas in solidarity when he accused Venezuelan military officers of conspiring to kill him.
Given the growing instability in the region, the powerhouse of South America – the Brazilian ruling class — decided it doesn’t want the U.S. oil companies to control the gas and oil fields of Bolivia (because they will compete with Brazil’s Petrobras). So Brazil’s President Lula put his foot down and stated that Brazil will not tolerate the break-up of its neighbor, Bolivia. (El País, Madrid, 9/14). This led to a regional rulers meeting — excluding the U.S. — which came out in support of Morales.
But, the contradictions between the secessionists and Morales continue since the anti-Morales bosses don’t want the national government to cut into their share of the revenues (taxes) they get from the oil-gas profits. Also, the rivalry between the U.S. imperialists and Brazil and Venezuela is growing. And the inter-imperialist dogfight will sharpen as Russia’s Gazprom is in negotiation with YPFB (the state-owned Bolivian energy company) a $2 billion investment.
As far as workers and their allies are concerned, the solution doesn’t lie in the 21st Century socialism (state capitalism) of Chávez or its Morales’ version of Andean capitalism. Morales continues attempts to negotiate a deal with the open fascists, demoralizing workers and peasants who have illusions about his government. The only solution is to build an anti-imperialist and anti-racist movement to fight for a society without any form of capitalism: communism.