Socialist Worker

Oscar Olivera to speak at Marxism 2006 conference

Issue No. 2005

Twice in recent years, in 2003 and in 2005, the people of Bolivia have risen up in mass struggles that have forced the country’s ruling elite onto the back foot.

Oscar Olivera, who will be travelling to London to speak at Marxism 2006, has been a central figure in these struggles.

Olivera was a machinist in a shoe factory when in 1999 the Bolivian government granted a subsidiary of US-based multinational Bechtel a 40 year contract to supply water to the region.

Through the Coordinator for the Defence of Water and Life, Olivera led a militant struggle that forced Bechtel to withdraw from the country.

The victory signalled a turning point in Bolivia’s history – leading up to the “gas wars” of 2003 and 2005 demanding the nationalisation of the country’s gas and oil reserves.

A strong advocate of change from below, he said in the wake of the 2005 uprising, “Politics, before anything else, is the capacity we have as a collective to change our lives.”

At Marxism 2006 he will join the debate about the battle against neo-liberalism and the possibility of revolutionary change in Latin America.

Marxism 2006 takes place from 6-10 July Central London.

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Sat 17 Jun 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2005
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