[Marxism] Bolivia – From colonialism to Indianism

james daly james.irldaly at ntlworld.com
Sun May 13 03:25:51 MDT 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Fred Fuentes" <fred.fuentes at gmail.com>
To: "Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition" 
<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2007 6:04 PM
Subject: [Marxism] Bolivia – From colonialism to Indianism

Thank you very much to Richard Fidler for translating this very important
and interesting article on the dynamics of the Bolivian revolution and the
centrality of the indigenous question, something that even today most
marxist outside of Bolivia just simply do not get.  I am posting the very
good introduction written by *Charles-André Udry for* the article which can
be read in its entirety at

Bolivia – From colonialism to
*Christian Rudel

The analytical tradition of the European or Argentine radical left on "the
social and political situation" in Bolivia — reinforced in part by the work
of Guillermo Lora, the Bolivian Marxist — is marked by a unilateral or
skewed approach.

Its image of the Bolivian miner was simply of a proletarian and not a
proletarianized "Indian"; that is, a Quechua or Aymara who was "mobilized"
by the descendants of Francisco Pizarro (the 16th century conquistador) and
by the "national bourgeoisie" in formation beginning in the 19th century, to
spill its blood in the extraction of tin and silver. And to be executed by
the army when he revolted.

This interpretation was all the more dominant in that the authoritative
written references tended to confirm the spin by those who supplied this
expurgated "workerist" analysis. For example, the Theses of Pulacayo —
drafted in 1946 by Guillermo Lora under the influence of European
revolutionary Marxists — were presented as the direct, authentic product of
the miners who belonged to the Federation of Miners Unions of Bolivia. Such
was not the case.

Furthermore, a sort of Trotsky-izing sub-culture was widespread in the
leading circles — fairly restricted and not very "Indianized" — of the
militant Marxist political forces. They were in fact active and played a not
insignificant role in the history of Bolivia's class struggle.

However, under the impact, on the one hand, of the social and demographic
decline of the miners since the mid-1980s, due in large part to the crisis
of the tin and silver mines, and on the other hand the long and complex wave
of indigenist mobilizations, linked in part to the depth of the
socio-economic crisis and the decentralization of state structures
characteristic of structural adjustment plans, a dual status came to assert
itself. That of "Indian", having fought in extremely varied forms for the
reappropriation of the land and against exploitation and oppression, and
that of working men and women, the abjectly pauperized.

We publish below an article by Christian Rudel. Any political and analytical
approach entails some risks, and the risk here is to underemphasize the
political and economic issues raised not only in Bolivia's recent history
but also in the international context and the policies of the imperialisms
of the countries of the "centre", as well as the economic forces dominant in

Nevertheless, it is through attempting to approach in the most respectful
manner possible the protean day-to-day struggles aimed at "transforming"
Bolivia that we can best grasp the process now under way, which does not
adhere strictly to the institutional timescales analyzed by political
scientists. This article is a contribution to that task.

*-- Charles-André Udry*
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