Friday, December 31, 2010

Does Evo Morales 'Lead by Obeying'?

Former homies Evo Morales (center) and Oscar Olivera (right) in a photo that might be used to spark conversation in our next Study-into-Action group of the Challenging Male Supremacy Project

UPDATE Dec 31: One hour before the new year, Evo is forced by popular mobilization to repeal the massive fuel price hikes his administration imposed on Bolivia less than a week earlier... this is the first uprising from below against one of Latin America's "pink tide" governments.

Even some of their close allies and supporters were confused when the Zapatistas declined Evo Morales' invitation to attend his presidential inauguration in Bolivia at the dawn of 2006. Morales nevertheless concluded his acceptance speech with the following words: “I will keep my promise, as Subcomandante Marcos says, ‘to lead by obeying’. I will lead Bolivia obeying the Bolivian people.” In an interview later that year, Subcomandante Marcos explained their position: "… to go off to the inauguration of Evo Morales would...say that, yes, it is possible to change things from above. And later, we said that the [Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN)] doesn’t look toward...the Bolivia of above, but, rather, the Bolivia from below. And these are the values that are taken into account: those of the popular movement that caused Bolivia to crash and opened the possibility that the government of Evo could decide for one side or the other." The open letter below, released just yesterday by prominent ex-labor leader and social activist Oscar Olivera and others, suggests the Zapatistas may have made the right choice when they stayed in Mexico in January of 2006 to drive forward the Other Campaign rather than travel to Bolivia to watch Evo Morales ascend to the presidency.

Happy New Years Zapagringo Readers! Before we get to the open letter... Abahlali baseMjondolo (the South African Shackdweller's Movement) mentions S'bu Zikode's meeting with Raúl Zibechi here in NYC in a recent communique. That sure feels good to see! Here's video from one of Zikode's presentations and here's audio of one of Zibechi's. And, lastly, here's a list of the 10 Most Hopeful Stories of 2010, which begins with a reference to the Peoples' Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth hosted in Bolivia by the Morales government earlier this year ;-)

Open Letter to Evo Morales and Álvaro García Against the Gasolinazo and for the Self Governance of Our People
The People Come First, not Numbers nor Statistics

By Oscar Olivera Foronda, Marcelo Rojas, Abraham Grandydier, Aniceto Hinojosa Vásquez and Carlos Oropeza
Republished from The Narco News Bulletin

Cochabamba (La Llajta), Bolivia
December 30, 2010

Evo Morales Ayma and
Alvaro García Linera
La Paz.-

We speak to you through this open letter although it probably won't be read because you don't hear of it or because it doesn't interest you. However, although you may ignore it, although it may not exist, we want to tell you how we, like many of our people, feel today. We tell you, Sirs, because years ago you ceased being our brothers and compañeros, you distanced yourselves from the people, and thus you don't know what happens down here, below. Your defects - and not your virtues - that we know have multiplied ten times in a worrisome, indignant and sad manner.

Oscar Olivera (wearing baseball cap, interviewed by reporters) with Evo Morales (in the green shirt, to the right of Oscar) during the 2000 "Water War" in Cochabamba.

We still remember when we marched, together with you, Evo, for our people, when we campaigned to get Alvaro out of prison; when the ancient textile workers' building in Cochabamba became our headquarters to conspire against the bad governments that today look a lot like yours: BAD GOVERNMENT.

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