Evo Morales on Hunger Strike to defend democracy in Bolivia
Evo Morales, President of Bolivia went on a hunger strike last Thursday to pressure the Senate to pass the new constitution. Despite the more than 60% majority in a referendum approving the new constitution that founds a non-colonial, non-neoliberal Bolivia, the right-wing dominated Senate is blocking the new electoral law bill through Congress. Evo has consistently used non-violent and legal means to oppose the relentless and sometimes violent attacks of the right. By coincidence my book launch in Vancouver on Thursday April 16 at 7 pm Robson Square will focus on Bolivia and what we can learn from their extraordinary democratic revolution.
This extraordinary gesture puts Evo firmly in the long history of militant non-violent action by Bolivia's movements. My friend Susan Harvie who lived in Bolvia for nine years tells me; 'Hunger strikes have a very dramatic history in Bolivia beginning when 3 mining women started a hunger strike in the cathedral in La Paz which was joined by thousands in churches all over the country and finally brought down the Banzer dictatorship in about 1977. " Hopefully this one will be as successful and bring down the stubborn right-wing opposition to the advancement of democracy and indigenous rights in Bolivia. There has been little coverage in North America but BBC, and Al Jazeera have good articles
Yesterday Noam Chomsky in conversation with Amy Goodman from Democracy NOW called Bolivia, the most democratic country on earth and I couldn't agree more.
"So there was a very interesting case last September, when President Morales in Bolivia—Bolivia is, in my opinion at least, probably the most democratic country in the world. Nobody says that, but if you look at what happened in the last couple of years, there were huge, popular, mass organizations of the most repressed population in the hemisphere, the indigenous population, which for the first time ever has entered the political arena significantly and were able to elect a president from their own ranks and one who doesn’t give instructions to his army, but who’s following policies that were largely produced by the population. So he’s their representative, in a sense in which democracy is supposed to work.
And they know the issues. It’s not like our elections. They know the issues. They’re serious issues: control over resources, economic justice, cultural rights, and so on. You can say they’re right or wrong, but at least it’s functioning.
Now, the elites that have traditionally ruled the country, of course, don’t like it. And they’re threatening virtual secession. And, of course, the United States is backing them, as the media are. And it got to the point last summer, I suppose, where it led to real violence. "
It did get to the point of violence but instead of using the army against the right-wing thugs who murdered peasants in the Pando region of Bolivia, Evo used the rule of law, arrested the perpetrators. He has also expelled several US diplomats for supporting these right-wing terrorists. All of this is possible because of the solidarity across Latin America with Bolivia. Keep posted for further developments. For more information on Bolvia check out the Bolivia chapter