"Reactionary Rampage in Bolivia"

Will the Bolivian government increase the forcefulness of its response to opposition in the future? In his article "Reactionary Rampage in Bolivia," author and NACLA contributor Forrest Hylton critiques what he describes as Evo Morales' "weak" and "ex post facto" reaction to the September 11 tragedy in El Porvenir, Pando, in Bolivia's eastern lowlands, where 30 people were killed and 40 others went missing at the hands of regional officials in league with paramilitary gangs.

To understand the government's reaction, Hylton also tries to flesh out the diplomatic crisis (the latest being the September 10 expulsion of US ambassador Phillip Goldberg for alleged coup-plotting) and the realities of Bolivia's political climate.

For the benefit of US readers, Hylton uses an analogy that makes clear the internal dynamics playing out in the eastern lowlands. While acknowledging its limitations, Hylton compares the situation to the North/South dynamic in the US:

It may be helpful for U.S. readers to consider Bolivia’s eastern lowlands as analogous to Dixie. In the 1950s and 60s, working with governors and mayors of states and localities, white supremacist paramilitary groups terrorized African Americans. The campaign of terror was intended to preserve a status quo that benefited a tiny class of wealthy white landowners, against which the federal government—under Eisenhower and Kennedy—hesitated to act.

Imagine, though, that African Americans had comprised an overwhelming majority of the U.S. population, that Kennedy was Black, and that he had come to power on the back of serial insurrections led by African Americans. Imagine that, in response, white supremacists not only massacred Blacks, but also blockaded roads, blew up oil pipelines, and burned and looted federal government offices and installations.

Hylton then goes further back to the secessionist movement in the 1800s, comparing the mobilization of wealthy, white slave-holders to the wealthy, white minority in Bolivia challenging Morales' government.

While an overthrow is not likely by this wealthy minority, Hylton argues, the opposition nevertheless can make governing the country unstable and therefore difficult to govern. Read the full article here.

Image: LA Times

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  1. Anonymous2:50 PM

    really interesting post. I had not made that analogy before, and it really is a crime against humanity when things like this happen and continue to.


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