Burning the whiphalas–a flag that represents Indigenous people throughout the continent–of public institutions is a fascist act, but equally fascist is the categorizing of ideas, bodies and spaces under one flag or another.
Entering the Government Palace with a bible in your hand to kneel before cameras with no legitimacy from the people is a fascist act and an action coherent with a coup d’etat.
Burning the houses of members of Evo Morales’ government is fascism.
Burning the house of the dean of the Public University,San Andres, Waldo Albarracín, who has always been a defender of human rights, is a fascist act of social intimidation against anyone who dares to speak, or take a dissenting stance against Evo Morales, or question the electoral fraud.
These are some of the images that are flooding the screens of televisions and cell phones throughout the world.
I write in a torrential rain on a night that I have baptized as the Night of the Broken Crystals (Kristallnacht), because it’s aim is to sow fear, to open all the wounds of a racist, misogynist and homophobic colonial society. Revanchism has taken to the streets in search of blood, in search of enemies.
Today in Bolivia it is subversive to have hopes, the most subversive things are humor and disobedience, the most subversive choice is not to choose a side, and that is what we are betting on once again.
What is happening?
It is not easy to explain because the conflict is ongoing. It grew and metamorphosed over hours. The conflict emptied eyes, paralyzed three hearts and beat countless legs and heads until turning the streets of the city of La Paz into a war zone, which was only calmed down for a few hours during the police mutiny.
Evo has denounced to the international community that it is a coup d’etat promoted by the CIA and the fascist landowning oligarchy of Santa Cruz, and that is partly true, but it is only half of the conflict.
On October 20th we went to vote in the general election with the sweetness inherent to these lands, but both the polls and the ballots were wet and empty. Empty of real alternatives and wet with a fraud of a magnitude that has already been denounced by the Electoral Observation Commission of the Organization of American States and the Electoral Observation Commission of the European Union.
That is why this election represented the opening of a latent conflict in Bolivian society and in the region. The deep crisis of representative liberal democracy and the “party” structure as the exclusive and official way of doing politics.
False dispute between left and right
It tires me to have to repeat that the Movement to Socialism (MAS) is exporting to the world the idea that what is happening in Bolivia is a popular progressive bloc against an extreme and fundamentalist right. The government of Evo Morales was for many years responsible for dismantling of popular organizations by dividing them, corrupting them and imposing clientelist leadership, making pacts with the most conservative sectors of society including fundamentalist Christian sects to which he granted the fascist illegal candidacy of a Korean evangelical pastor, who was endorsed with the approval of the MAS.
At the same time Evo Morales was building himself up as the sole figurehead which has taken us as a country, and the MAS project itself, toward a dead end.
He has mistakenly converted himself into the sole figurehead, a symbol of the concentration of irreplaceable power. The figure bears the myth of the “Indigenous president” whose symbolic power is the color of his skin, which he carries with him, a government inhabited by a circle of corrupt of intellectuals and leaders who revere him because they need him as a mask, as Franz Fanon outlines in his book Black Skin, White Masks.
Evo is the figurehead and the mask, nothing more. All the populist content is merely rhetorical and that has led to the fact that today it is at the forefront of a political project that is exhausted and empty, and whose only possibility of continuity has been the destruction of all forms of dissent, criticism, debate, cultural or economic production . His model is neo-liberal consumerist, extractivist, ecocidal and clientelist.
It is for that reason that in the face of electoral fraud, repudiation emerged rapidly, concentrated in the generation of those under 25 years old, young and urban, that have been the protagonists of this resistance of almost 20 days.
The fascist turn: between two delusional leaders
In these days the word democracy has slowly been emptied of meaning and turned into a slogan of fascist and fundamentalist groups.
Evo Morales decided to exalt racist acts to position himself as a victim, using these acts in perverse ways, to the point that acts of racism committed during the general strike became part of government propaganda, amplifying this speech and making racist acts useful for the government itself. Since the movements criticizing them was and is exclusively urban, the government also exploited urban-rural contradictions, as if the conflict was between the two. The intention was to use both contradictions to disqualify criticism and gain time. They did not care about the social cost.
In the face of the delusional leadership of Evo, the Santa Cruz region produced another delusional, apparently antagonistic but at the same time complementary leader. A white man, entrepreneur, and president of a “civic” organization who uses religious fanaticism and an openly misogynist discourse that promises the men of society the recovery of their ability to control women. His right hand man, lawyer and advisor, is the legal defender of what in Bolivia has been called “the pack,” a group of men who raped their own friend on a night out on the town.
The religious fundamentalism of Fernando Camacho has sold the idea of the recovering the family, the nation and the persecution of “evil.” He disguised his racism as a national interest and his misogyny as an interest in the family. The apparent antagonism exacerbated the spirits of people and further polarized the conflict, he took arguments regarding democracy and turned them into scenes of macho wildfire. Young people began to parade with shields and when the police mutinied, they turned them from a repressive force to armed heroes and protectors of the conflict.
Today, with many millions of dollars involved, the army’s loyalty is being guaranteed for one of the two fronts in conflict: Evo Morales or Camacho.
In both cases the outcome is conservative. The fascist turn of this process has silenced civil society and has concentrated decision making on the bloodiest heights of Morales or Camacho.
What I am telling you happened in a few hours in a confusing and intense war of fake news, which has exacerbated all fears: fear of speaking, fear of taking a position, fear of having no side.
The peoples’ ability to process what is happening has been mutilated. There are no spaces for analysis or discussion. The discussion of an exit is again far from people and very confusing. No one without a weapon seems to have the right to speak.
That is why as part of an infinite series of actions taken by Mujeres Creando over the past days we have decided to open a deliberative space for women called the “Women’s Parliament,” where we can give voice to our hopes, where we can cultivate a climate of dialogue and discussion, which is what this fascist turn in the process is taking from us.
We are doing this in the middle of a climate that has become a struggle between two coups, between two fascisms, represents an effort to return to the original debate on democracy. We need to think, discuss and propose concrete solutions: that is the task that the Women’s Parliament takes up in these critical conditions, the proposal born in Cyprus Greece of and proposed by Paul Preciado.
Against the privatization of politics: the regional crisis
I am convinced that the conflicts in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Chile demonstrate, with different facets and under different contexts, the crisis of representative liberal democracy and the privatization of politics.
The entire neoliberal process has reduced the content of democracy to a bureaucratic act and election apparatus, and nothing more. This process has resulted in the elections having become legitimizing acts of the massive exclusion of the interests of society, of the interests of specific sectors, of the complex voices that make up a society in spectators legally excluded from the right to speak, think and decide.
I call that privatization of politics. Evo Morales, in his resignation, claimed to have nationalized natural resources in Bolivia, referring to the exploitation of natural gas. Although that nationalization is partial, one thing that has been done is to privatize the policy to the point that if you were not from his party you had no right to say anything, and if you were in the party you couldn’t opine either, since the decisions were and are handled by a closed circle. This created a giant democratic void, which is the space that fascism used to install a delusional leader model, that put frustrations on the plane of an insurmountable polarization that is only resolved by the way of the use of terror, of lies, according to the logic of the strongest.
The crisis in Chile, Peru and Ecuador has different characteristics, but basically it expels society and social struggles outside of “politics” and takes us away from the idea that the solutions are “political,” deliberative and based on agreements. A generalized fascist turn and terror is installed to convert legitimate solutions and social questions into scenarios of violent counterposition of forces. That is what I call the fascist phase of neoliberalism.
This is why Religion, in all these cases, acquires a preponderance: by denying politics the space of discourse it opens up fanaticism fuelled by “religious” visions, and the curtailing of sexual freedoms and women’s freedoms is the reward that these processes promise.
The stage is also filled with non-explicit, invisible forces that offer money and weapons, and strategically design painful scenarios and stories. Behind these are the interests of the Chinese, Russian and North American projects not just in Bolivia, but in the entire region. Also in dispute is the largest lithium deposit in the world, which is untapped and as yet unresolved in the Uyuni salt flats, in Potosí.
Control over Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua are in dispute in Bolivia, to say the least. So the protests have become the manipulated scenario of the forces that are using us.
Outcomes instead of solutions
In the Bolivian case there seems to be no solution: people are pressured to take a side according to fanatical identitarian processes, according to stories that have nothing to do with the facts, according to messianic and delirious narratives.
That is why we are concentrating our efforts on simple discussions, not wasting energy in trying to convince any of the fascist sectors that build their respective stories, but affirming the social spaces that we have been opening for decades.
We take back the space of our own bodies. That is why the word democracy, which arouses hopes, can be summoned to preserve what we have, the place we occupy, and the freedoms that we do in fact exert without any permission.
We are not only for the activation of ideas, but for the activation of emotions, from emotions. That is why humor, ironic as it may seem, social humor, the ability to make fun of fascist stories, has emerged with great force spontaneously from all corners.
They have turned our protest into a question of: Who is the most macho, who is the strongest? We therefore request a ring, in which all the actors in conflict fight each other in a duel to the death between each other and leave the rest of us in peace.
We are not cannon fodder.
Thank you to the anonymous translator who submitted this translation in solidarity with those in struggle in Bolivia. You can read the original in Spanish at La Vaca.
María Galindo is a Bolivian feminist and founder of Mujeres Creando.