Articles from Quatrième Internationale

Insurrection in Bolivia

February-April 1952

On April 9, the National Revolutionary Movement, the petty-bourgeois nationalist organization which had obtained the majority in the last elections but had been prevented by a military coup from forming the government, began an insurrection. After three days of civil war, the revolutionaries conquered power with the aid of the armed people, which in several places disarmed the armed forces remaining loyal to the military junta.

The POR (Bolivian section of the Fourth International) declared itself, at the time of the last session of its Central Committee, for the legalization by the country of the transfer of power to the MNR, in order to respect the popular will expressed in the last elections. The April 9 coup d'état initiated a great revolutionary movement. The masses will mobilize themselves, seeking to realize their aspirations.

The MNR finds the country facing two great questions: the accentuation of imperialist oppression unfolding out of past arrangements with the United Nations concerning technical assistance to the country, and the crying misery of the people as well as the destruction of all democratic freedoms. The first governmental team already reflects the struggle between the right wing and the left wing of the MNR. The majority of this government represents the reactionary leadership which will capitulate soon enough before imperialism. It will be unable to nationalize the mines and divide up the land. It will busy itself with pursuing and destroying the parties of the left, notably the POR. The pressure of the masses during the first coming months will be reflected in the left wing of the government, which will seek to destroy the economic power of the property-owning classes.

The POR, which is strongly linked to the working class, has the duty of mobilizing the exploited masses around a revolutionary program and of aiding, in addition, the struggle of the left wing of the MNR against the right wing.

The government will have to undergo pressure from Yankee imperialism and the native feudo-bourgeoisie. In such conditions the Bolivian Trotskyists will mobilize the masses to defend this government of the petty bourgeoisie and prevent by every means a new “July 21,” that is, a popular rising led and taken advantage of by imperialism. But at no time will the POR abandon its criticism of the petty-bourgeois leadership of the MNR, and it will always show the masses the path to their true liberation and the necessity of forming a workers’ and peasants’ government.

Tension Between Government and Masses

November 1953

In the face of this situation in the country, in the face of the right-wing and capitulatory policy [toward imperialism] of the MNR government, the POR – Bolivian section of the Fourth International – calls on the masses to mount an ever greater vigilance in order to stop a policy which undermines the future of the Bolivian revolution, to reinforce their own organizations and press the Revolution forward.

The echo which the POR finds among the masses is so strong that President Paz Estenssoro thought he had to deflect it by warning that a “Trotskyist government” that the masses might possibly dream of would not be viable (!) in Bolivia because it would be an “extremist government.”(!!)

However, it was the “extremist” masses that he was addressing on that occasion.

In the face of these new conditions, the POR has no choice but to accentuate its policies based on the following central slogans:

No confidence in the government which capitulates to reaction and imperialism!

Long live the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government!

The left wing of the MNR must break with the capitulationist right wing and take the road to a true Workers’ and Peasants’ Government!

Last August 2nd President Paz Estenssoro signed the decree on agrarian reform. This decree is strongly limited and, moreover, based on indemnification for expropriated lands. Even so, it has already led to lively discussions within the MNR government, whose left wing considers it insufficient if not in fact contrary to the promises made to the peasants by the party in power.

The peasant masses, however, have interpreted the agrarian reform in their own way; in many provinces they have occupied lands, going beyond the restrictive provisions of the decree. As is customary in such cases, the spontaneous action of the masses has been presented by the government as the work of “agitators,” above all Trotskyists! The authorities then unleashed a repression in diverse and combined forms: “persuasive” intervention by union officials among the peasant masses; the ouster of vanguard elements from leadership posts; acting to break the unity of the peasant unions by the formation of new unions; and finally, intervention by police and armed MNR groups against the occupiers of the land.