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The Most Radical Conservative Regime: Bolivia under Evo Morales (James Petras, 2013)

8 Novembre 2016 , Rédigé par POC

Introduction: Significant changes in Latin America have mystified writers, journalists, academics and policy-makers who purport to comment on developments in Latin America. The case of Bolivia and two term President Evo Morales (2006 – 2014) is illustrative of the utter confusion in political labelling.


The Morales regime has successfully imposed a political economic model which has generated an unprecedented decade of political and social stability and a growth rate between 4% and 6%. He has secured joint ventures and investments from over fifty of the biggest multi-national corporations and is in good standing with the international financial organizations. Morales has received financial aid from both leftist (Venezuela) and rightist regimes (European Union). The Morales regime has sec ured an ever increasing percentage of votes, over the past decade, ensuring the continuity of policies, personnel, institutions and the class structure. Morales has successfully co-opted formerly militant trade unionists and peasant leaders, through radical rhetoric, stipends and subsidies. He has successfully converted them into “guardians of the status quo”. He has converted Santa Cruz oligarchs into political allies. Morales has isolated and stigmatized dissident peasant organizations and environmental groups protesting infrastructure and agro-mining projects devastating the environment as “tools of imperialism”. Even as he invites imperial MNC to take over natural resources.

Morales has been a master, without peer in Latin America, at justifying orthodox, reactionary policies with radical rhetoric. In defense of extractive capitalist depredation he cites Pachamama the Indian goddess of the Mother Earth;in defence of the exploitation of child labor he claims work inculcates social consciousness and contributes to family income. He provides a ‘bonus’ for school children while more than a third are out of school slaving at below minimum wage jobs (and achieving a “social conscience”). He provides a minimum pension that does not even cover basic survival living while he boasts of budget surpluses, a stable currency and the addition of billions annually to foreign reserves. He speaks to anti-imperialism yet embraces their neo-liberal economic orthodoxy. He describes his regime as a “government of workers and the poor” while his economic and social policies favor the top10%.

Evo Morales has secured a political-economic formula which has succeeded in gaining the support of the left and right, Fidel Castro and the IMF, the Santa Cruz agro-oligarchy and the Indian peasant coca farmers. He has defeated US destabilization and intervention by expelling AID and the DEA and strengthened the capitalist state and increased capitalist profits.

The Morales model of ‘radical conservatism’ is probably not for export to other ruling classes in Latin America. After all how many Indian presidents with a mass following and orthodox economic policies are there in the world? How many leaders can proclaim a “plurinational decentralized state” and centralize political power and economic decision-making in the hands of a small mestizo technocratic elite?

There is no doubt that Evo Morales is an exceptional leader, his multi-faceted politics reflect his genius as a political manipulator. He is not a social revolutionary or even a consequential social reformer. His regime is certainly not a government of workers and the poor. But Evo Morales is Bolivia’s most successful democratic capitalist ruler and he is still expanding his electoral base. The question is how long the “other 50%” will swallow his political chicanery.?

James Petras

Article complet: http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=1968

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