President Evo Morales of Bolivia won a thumping victory in the presidential elections held recently.Morales,an IIma herder turned political activist who found the Movement for Socialism(MAS) ,who was elected president of Bolivia in 2005 was the first indigenous Indian to ascend to presidency.Morales and MAS was in the forefront of agitations against the neo-liberal measures adopted by the successive regimes of Bolivia,throughout the early half of this decade.He lead a Government which carried out programs including the limited nationalization of the enormous reserves of Bolivia's natural resources and a decisive end to the privatization of essential services.The measures adopted for poverty eradication,improving public health care,literacy campaigns and a slew of other social security measures made him one of the most popular political leaders of Latin America.
Morales regime increased the minimum wages and salaries,took affirmative action against corruption Also the process of rewriting the Bolivian constitution was initiated and these measures along with the staunch anti-imperialist foreign policy lead to the sharp polarization of Bolivian society and the events took a serious turn when the right wing opposition started to demand regional autonomy for the eastern regions,dominated by the wealthiest land owners of the country.(On the foreign policy side,Morales stood as a vocal critic of US imperialism and Boliva started to play a leading role in the anti-imperialist struggle in Latin America and promoted regional integration through particiaption in ALBA).In the wake of a new constitution which proposed a redistribution of wealth,through measures which included land reforms,the right wing forces fully backed by the US imperialism,developed the call for autonomy into a reactionary movement for the secession of eastern regions,in which the lion share of the nation's gas reserves were concentrated.The right wing did dream about a political as well as economic sabotage which would cripple the nascent process of transformation.
Morales weathered these storms albeit with the slowing down of radical reforms.Álvaro García Linera,the Vice President elect and one of the chief strategists of Morales regime,has acknowledged as back as in 2005 that the regime would be in pursiut of Andean Capitalism.The administrative measures taken by the regime suffer from this "moderate" vision.The new constitution which was ratified in the referendum had provisions for land acquisition but the land ceiling limit was still set as a whopping 5000 hectares.Also the ambiguous clause pertaining to "unproductive land",the terms set for exemption from expropriation and redistribution and the provisions for compensation were not aligned with the interests of the people's movement.The new legislation forbids retroactive implementation of the land reforms as well,which would only help the ranchers who have huge tracts of land holdings at present.Even the nationalization drive was marred with reluctance to extend total control over the hydrocarbon and mineral wealth of Bolivia,the Government instead asserted the public control over natural resources and negotiated more favorable terms with MNCs,inviting more MNC investment in the agro-mineral front on the other hand.The left wing critiques of Morales regime,like James Petras puts forward a valid proposition that the praxis of the so called "21st century socialism" in Bolivia,is carried out with an on emphasis on the “cultural and political” aspects,without attempts to bring fundamental transformations in the production relations.According to Petras
"Morales economic strategy is based on a triple alliance between agro-mineral multi-nationals, small and medium size capitalists and the Indian and trade union movements. Morales has poured millions in subsidies to so-called “cooperatives” which are in reality private small and medium size mine owners who exploit wage labor at or below standard wages of miners in larger operations"
The resounding electoral victory of Morales regime is a reassertion of the people's desire to further the radical reforms.MAS,which is a multi-class allliance would have to take a decisive leftward turn to dismantle the still powerful agro-mineral elites and the right wing resistance to reforms.
The electoral victory of MAS is yet another blow to the US interests in Latin America.The Bolivian people needs the solidarity of the progressive forces across the world in its anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggle in the face on an ever looming threat of imperialist intervention to destabilize the Morales government.