José Pimentel is a parliamentary deputy for the Potosí region and is on the executive of Evo Morales’s MAS party
‘Before the 2005 elections the political system was totally disregarded. People felt that political processes didn’t change anything. All you had were small political groups acting in their own interests, especially economic interests.
These small organisations clashed in elections, but to exercise some form of government they had to come together. This led to some unbelievable and opportunistic alliances.
The surge of support for MAS runs against that culture of opportunism. MAS candidates were not from other parties, but were from different social sectors.
The practical politics of MAS explains the change in people’s attitudes.
The political crisis in [May-June] 2005 showed the complete inability of the political leaders to defend the interests of the people. The one leader to stand out was Evo Morales. This helped him during the elections.
I think that the most important thing now is to achieve a mentality of independence. Bolivia is rich in material and human resources, but up to now we have been dominated by the imperialists.
Previous governments have exported our raw materials. We have been told that if we export we can get ahead, following the policies of the World Bank.
But now, as a result, we are importing food and clothes and in some cases these imports use the very materials that we have exported.
We have to control the gas industry. This will allow us to solve a number of problems, reducing our dependency on the US. This doesn’t mean expropriation but control over what is produced.
The new government will invest in the productive apparatus. That is the only way to generate wealth.
It is clear that there are going to be large conflicts with those with economic interests and it is important that we have the solidarity of the workers of the world.’
Miguel Zubiela is on the COB union federation executive in the Oruro region
‘COB organises all the workers in this area, including rural workers, the unemployed and even students. Our union president is a miner. We estimate that we have about 10 percent of the local population in our organisation – that is 38,000 members.
We are not affiliated to any political party. We plan to resist any moves by the right, and we want to see structural changes implemented.
We expect Evo to nationalise the country’s oil and gas with no compensation. We want to see the recovery of all our national resources.
We want to see the end of the old labour law which destroyed our basic employment rights. The people have fought for this programme and Evo came to power because of the struggle – he has to follow it.
The only hope of winning our agenda is to defeat the forces of the right and imperialism. Otherwise we will end up with a government of the right again.’
Protesters told Socialist Worker why they were marching