Uprisings Bring Political Changes in the History of Our America

By Paula Klachko on November 5, 2019

It’s not mechanical and there are not prearranged times but it seems to be consistent, when analyzing the history of our people especially in the most recent history that changes occurred in social and political relationship of forces in the management of the State following people’s rebellions. This can be seen in Ecuador (2000 and 2006), Bolivia (2003) and Argentina (2001). It occurred at certain times in every place with their corresponding coordination, contradictions, failures and defeats. But, inevitably, when people massively express their disposition for struggle, it’s not possible for the political order in force to keep unaltered like nothing happened.

Ten years before in Venezuela, in 1989, a people’s rebellion took place as well against the plans of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which included adjustments on revenues and people’s living conditions. It took years for that process to find its political catalyst, as well as big sacrifices amidst harassment by a repressive state that imprisoned, killed, and tortured its opponents. But a young soldier came from the armed forces and rebelled in 1992, knitting together claims of abandonment and several old injustices to make his way through the huge political and representative crisis of the dominant classes up to the Administration of the State on February 1999.

In the rebel Ecuador, the betrayal of its current unmentionable President (it’s a real historic sin that he has such a name) has a recent precedent in Lucio Gutierrez; a soldier who disguised himself like a Hugo Chavez and headed an interesting and significant alliance developed from a people’s rebellion, with indigenous organizations. After taking office, he rapidly betrayed his own government program and assumed the IMF’s plans, siding with the United States and tried to sign an agreement with local oligarchies to guarantee their impunity. He didn’t last long. The “uprising of the outlaws” that followed forced him to escape from the Carondelet Presidential Palace in a helicopter on April 20, 2005. Then, in 2006, the Pais Alliance won elections through a different political arrangement in a corrupt system. The Citizen Revolution headed by Rafael Correa develops as a result of a hegemonic crisis. In other words, the 2000 uprising against President Jorge Jamil Mahuad is only shaped into a government in 2006.

Also, very important demonstrations and people’s struggles took place in Bolivia by the end of the nineties, through at least two people’s rebellions in 2000 (“war on water”) and in 2003 (“war on gas”). Then by the end of 2005, with Evo Morales as a great coordinator resumed people’s main claims and demands — nationalizing hydrocarbons again and through a Constituent Assembly they won presidential elections, taking office on January 2006.

In Argentina, following the 2001 people’s rebellion, a transition attempted to go from convertibility and financial valorization of capital towards a more productive-exporting model but also based on adjusting the living conditions of the “most competitive” workers. The alliance named Kirchnerism led state-run policies starting from 2003 to meet the main demands that came from the 2001 insurrection.

So, as we can see, every country has its own path, but those uprisings and changes in the correlation of forces have led to changes in political structures.

Insurrectionary and mass processes of the kind have not developed in our America after that because it was the so-called progressive or post-neoliberal cycle, establishing public policies from many of the people’s demands expressed during the 1990 decade of uprisings. What we have seen are protests from a —minority — part of the population against grassroots governments, trying to follow people’s uprisings but finally showing their higher allegiance to elegant white middle classes, global corporate media of psychological manipulation, hoisting in the end the United States flag or mingling with their top leaders (as in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and now in Bolivia).

During the progressive cycle, just as in other historic moments when alliances between the working class and other sectors of the population became government under the capitalist model, other contradictions appeared and strengthened, together with other pending issues and some mistakes made led to a new path of struggles and political polarization.

The Right came back in most of those cases with coup d’états to oust people’s governments from the State, except in Argentina. But starting in 2015, with a change in the correlation of forces and a new push of the progressive cycle, people’s struggle developed against social disasters that resulted from the concentration of capitalist policies. There was no longer an offensive struggle to improve living conditions already improved under people’s governments — as the strikes against the “tax on incomes” under Cristina Fernandez’s second term in Argentina —, struggles became defensive; defending wages, living conditions and workers, looking to halt policies aimed at destroying our social achievements and policies adopted into law. Defensive struggles gathered more and more of the masses. In Argentina, against structural reforms that were not possible to be implemented by the CEOcracy thanks to the presence of major unions, workers and social movements in the streets. In Chile, through movements such as students, No More AFP, women, and the Mapuche indigenous people. In Ecuador, through people in general and indigenous in particular against the IMF policies, agency at the front of the economy as in Argentina. In Haiti, with actions over a year ago against the multi-national colonial cruelty trying to control the disobedient island. And in Honduras, against the dictatorship that began and continued since the coup against Zelaya in 2009.

Today, insurrectionary processes are appearing again in our region in those countries governed by the Right and presented as models to follow by oligarchic presidents and puppets from Washington. A clear example is the speech given by Argentina’s Mauricio Macri when he lost primary elections last August. He was mad at the population for voting “wrong” and making him lose against an electoral option with a perspective of the country different and alternative to the systematic looting headed by the outgoing president and his CEOcracy, instead of doing it like Chile, Peru and Colombia, where they voted different options to continue with the same economic models and the same state policies, coinciding with what the “market” — their god — dictated.

The Argentinean people instead, with sound social and political coordination, said “it’s enough” to neoliberalism through the votes. In Chile, 46 years of accumulated anger has now erupted into a complete rebellion. The repeated, brave, and extraordinary images of bodies facing bullets were evidence that the youth of Chile have lost the fear imposed by Pinochet’s genocide. In Ecuador, as well, the rebellion reveals that people’s fresh memory of living in better conditions about two years ago and choosing to continue with that better life through a person who as soon as he took office began to betray each of his promises and the program he was voted for, and who now sides with media corporations, big entrepreneurs, and Washington’s foreign policy. That fresh memory springs together with the older memory of knowing how to dismiss presidents when they do not meet their promises.

All those governments gathering as the U.S. puppets under the Lima Group to attack Venezuela, which was and is the vanguard of progressive and revolutionary changes of our time in our America, are now clinging to their presidential seats even following weeks of people’s uprisings. This would be a difference to some uprising experiences in the nineties, when presidents Fernando De La Rua (Argentina, 2001), Jamil Mahuad (Ecuador, 2000) and Lucio Gutierrez (Ecuador, 2005) resigned after a couple of intense days of rebellion. Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada (Bolivia, 2003) lasted a bit more, who after nine days of insurrection and 60 casualties escaped to hide out in the U.S. Carlos Mesa, then vice-president, became President and so accomplice of those killings and he is now leading or pretending to lead Bolivia’s counter-revolution and covering his hands with the people’s blood.

Ecuador’s Moreno and Chile’s Piñera are so far clinging to their presidential seats because Washington needs them for real. Struggle is growing and reviving in Our America, and the progressive wave with it. People’s governments are coming back regardless of accusatory maneuvers and persecutions on behalf of the hegemonic media and the ruling class’ legal bodies.

The progressive air brought by the change in Mexico and now in Argentina — and let’s hope it continues in Uruguay — is accompanied by resistance in Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. Again, as it was five years ago, a strong anti-imperialist core and a second progressive loop bet on rebuilding the amount of integration and regional unity achieved up until 2015. Even with contradictions and disputes expressed in different international agencies, such as the Puebla Group, the Sao Paulo Forum or ALBA, and even some organizations, this represents a strategic shift to neutralize the wars of siege and suffocation against that revolutionary group.

Unfortunately, Washington’s aggressive policies have found today a favorable place in the huge Brazil. But they will find obstacles for sure in Latin America, with the moral reservoir of the humanity’s struggle.

No one can tell how and when the sister nations’ people rising against right-wing governments will be able to coordinate social and political forces to oust transnational capital’s partners from their governments. But it will doubtlessly happen. When the masses express their willingness to fight, no colorful mirrors will numb them. If they are not numbed by the bullets, even less by charity and false promises. In Chile, the Table for Social Unity will manage to come up with leaders to pave the way for the necessary Constituent Assembly. The Ecuadorean traitor’s obstinacy to continue with the IMF plans will strengthen a scenario of struggles in which the grassroots will achieve cohesion between the indigenous sector and political leaders, most of them from the previous people’s government. They will manage as well to consolidate new leaderships to express people’s strength as in politics as in the electoral structure. In Bolivia, the Government of social movements and their grassroots will manage not only to confront sacrifices but also the privileged people’s offensive the same as they did during the 2008 pro-imperialist, secessionist, coup attempts. Despite the power of capital, Venezuela and Cuba are illuminating us with their example. The class struggle is strengthening and becoming polarized. Nothing new under the sun. But the sun indeed will shine.