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The Internationalist
20 November 2019

Down with Stalinist Exclusion!

From Berlin: For Proletarian Opposition to the Coup in Bolivia

Demonstrator with the wiphala, flag of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia, which has been burned by the golpistas, as police blocked entry of indigenous protesters into La Paz, November 15.  (Photo: Natacha Pisarenko / AP)

On Sunday, November 10, a coup d’état was carried out in Bolivia led by far-right forces, triggered by the police and military, ousting president Evo Morales. The Internationalistische Gruppe (IG), German section of the League for the Fourth International, joined in protests against this coup as a part of international mobilizations of sections of the LFI.

The “civic-military-police” golpe was instigated by ultra-rightist, even fascistic, elements, whose leaders were photographed kneeling before the Bible resting on the Bolivian flag in the parliament following the coup. Led by the ultra-reactionary bourgeois elite of the eastern Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, this religious right is viciously racist toward the indigenous peoples who are a majority of the country’s population and the main base of Morales’ populist Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS).

The racist nature of the coup was underlined by videos showing golpistas burning the wiphala, the multicolored flag representing the multi-ethnic population, which was made a co-equal official flag of the Plurinational Republic of Bolivia in 2009. The attacks on the wiphala sparked marches by thousands of enraged Indians, from El Alto down to La Paz and in Cochabamba, Morales’ home region. There they were mowed down by military forces, leaving at least nine dead and scores wounded. The “interim government” has now given the green light to more massacres with a decree exempting the military from any responsibility for such crimes.

The coup plotters’ proclamation of the ultra-racist Jeanine Áñez as “president” is being hailed by Washington as the first step toward seizing power in Venezuela. Those forces (including the head of  Organization of American States, who accused Morales of electoral fraud, and top officials of the imperialist European Union, who offered to “mediate”) that pretend that this is anything other than a coup are in fact accomplices of this racist seizure of power and of U.S. imperialism, which was up to its neck in the plotting. The LFI emphasized this in calling for “Yankee Imperialism Out of Bolivia and Latin America!”

On Wednesday, November 13, members of the Internationalistische Gruppe attended a protest called by the Anti-NATO Gruppe Berlin-Brandenburg in front of the Bolivian embassy in Berlin to oppose the right-wing Bolivia coup. IG supporters held signs calling for “Bolivian Workers: Smash the Coup!” “For Worker-Peasant-Indigenous Self-Defense Against Racist Rightist Attacks” and to oppose the coup with revolutionary working-class politics independent of all bourgeois parties, including the MAS. The IG called for the unconditional defense of anti-coup protesters, including the members of the MAS, against the attacks by the golpistas.

At this protest, members of the Anti-NATO Gruppe linked to the German Communist Party (DKP) immediately set upon IG supporters to accuse them of being counter-protestors in support of the coup, attempting to expel them from the demonstration. This was a deliberate move to exclude Trotskyists who oppose the coup with proletarian-internationalist rather than bourgeois-nationalist politics. The IG supporters were physically expelled from the demonstration amid slanderous accusations of being racists because we give no political support to the MAS – a particularly vile slander given our call for worker-peasant-indigenous self-defense and for a workers, peasants and Indian government.

In a subsequent demonstration against the coup in Bolivia, held on Saturday, November 16 in front of the Brandenburg Gate, members of the Anti-NATO Gruppe and DKP approached the IG contingent yet again to say that they were “not welcome” at the publicly advertised protest. The self-described organizer of the demonstration began to physically push members of the contingent away from the demo and threatened multiple times to call the police if they did not leave the area.

The Trotskyist Internationalistische Gruppe was slandered and pushed out of a November 15 demonstration in Berlin against the coup in Bolivia as we called for a revolutionary workers, peasants and Indian government.  (Photo: Janis Garnet)

After much shoving and shouting on the part of the organizers, the IG contingent was pushed to the side of the protest, while we explained our revolutionary program to defeat the coup to onlookers and distributed our leaflets. A member of the group organizing the demonstration grabbed these leaflets out of an IG supporter’s hands and ripped them up. This act of censorship by the demonstration organizers, inviting a police intervention, actually opened up all members of the left present, not to mention anyone not a German citizen, to bourgeois state repression.

This episode is just one more example of cynical class collaboration. The organizers are ostensibly against NATO, but they do not shy away from running to the German bourgeoisie’s police – which includes not a few actual fascists – to expel other left groups from their events. They justified this by saying this was no time for criticism of the MAS. But they were not calling for unity in action against the coup but rather for political support to the ousted government. They are always against left opposition to the bourgeois nationalists. The sort of “unity” these Stalinists want is a popular front; that is, chaining the working class to the bourgeoisie.

Such popular-frontist and populist politics are exactly what opens the way to such coups. The submission of Evo Morales and his vice president, Álvaro García Linera, to the dictates of the OAS, also known as the “Yankee Ministry of Colonies,” shows the danger this poses to the oppressed. The followers of the MAS were abandoned by their leaders. And although Evo enjoys wide support among the indigenous population of Bolivia, he has also attacked workers’ struggles, as in his 2013 repression of the mobilization of miners, factory workers and workers in the health and education sectors.

In fact, from the moment he assumed office in 2006, Morales preached treacherous “unity” with the military and police. On his arrival in exile in Mexico, he noted that he had given the police 25 helicopters where they only had one before, and those helicopters are now firing on indigenous protesters. And while breaking with the International Monetary Fund, Morales in no way broke with capitalism (García Linera called for “Andean capitalism”).

Moreover, facing the hostility of U.S. imperialism, the Bolivian president sought support from other imperialists. Notably, he struck a deal with a German company ACI Systems (ACISA), backed by the government of Angela Merkel, to build a 51% state-owned battery plant to industrialize lithium, a vital metal of which Bolivia has the largest reserves in the world. Under pressure from the right (which wanted a privately owned plant so that it could feed off royalties), on the eve of the coup Morales announced he was canceling the contract.

Against the far-right mass murderers, a return to the populist policies that spawned them is no way out. The League for the Fourth International stands for revolutionary class-struggle politics against popular-frontist class collaboration. The coup poses a life-or-death threat to workers, peasants and indigenous peoples. What’s needed to smash the ultra-rightist “interim government” is to fight for socialist revolution, led by a Leninist-Trotskyist vanguard party and extending from semi-colonial countries to the imperialist centers. ■

–Internationalistische Gruppe, German section of the League for the Fourth International
Berlin, 20 November 2019