Encyclopedia of Trotskyism OnLine: Revolutionary History: Volume 4, No. 3, Bolivian Revolution, 1953: IEC of the Fourth International Draft Resolution
Submitted for the Approval of the Twelfth Plenum of
This resolution has been added to illustrate the wholehearted support of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International for the politics of the POR during the 1952 crisis, and has been reprinted here from ‘Bolivia—Draft Resolution’, Section Four of the International Information Bulletin of the Socialist Workers Party (USA), of January 1953. It is dated to October 1952.
The result of the crisis was to cause a major split and the disintegration of the POR in 1954. The greater part, including Edwin Moller and Lidia Gueiler, and the majority of those who had already secured positions in the miners ’union, the COB or the administration, simply passed over to the MNR. Gueiler, who later wrote a book on the experience of women in the revolution (Lidia Gueiler Tejada, La Mujer y la Revolución , La Paz, 1959), subsequently became President of Bolivia, but was overthrown in 1980 by her cousin, Luis García Meza (James Painter, ‘Bolivians Put Coup Leader On Trial’, The lndependent , 9 September 1989). Another group, led by Hugo González Moscoso, who had been the POR’s delegate to the August 1951 ‘Third World Congress ’of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International led by Pablo, Frank and Mandel, and in Latin America represented by Juan Posadas (Homero Cristalli), remained loyal to that body and became its Bolivian section, publishing first of all Lucha Obrera and then Combate . Lora’s group remained for a long time without any European affiliation until it briefly united with the Moscoso group, but split away again over the attitude to be taken to Cuban-style guerrilla warfare (J Rose, ‘Trotskyism in Bolivia’, Vanguard Newsletter (USA), Volume 3, no 8, September 1971; ‘Guillermo Lora and the POR’, International Correspondence , Volume 1, no 9, 8 June 1967, p122; and The Moscoso Affair: A Case History Of Revisionism, SLL pamphlet , nd) whilst publishing the paper Masas .
Some material exists that allows us to trace the evolution of the Moscoso group’s initial implantation and activity within the workers ’and peasants ’movement in Fourth International , nos 2-10, Spring 1958-Summer 1960; The Intemationalist , Volume 4, nos 4-6, 15 February-15 March 1960; Information Bulletin , Volume 1, no 7, 15 May 1958; and International Bulletin , Volume 1, no 15, 19 March 1962, of the International Secretariat; International Faction Bulletin , no 2, mid-August 1961; Red Flag , Volume 1, no 7, April 1964; and International Socialist Review , Volume 26, no 1, Winter 1965, pp24-7.
But the cult of the Cuban Revolution steadily gained ground within the United Secretariat in the 1960s, and the same orientation was imposed on the Combate group with predictable results (J Hansen, The Lesson of Bolivia, International Internal Discussion Bulleti n, Volume 10, no 1, January 1973, reprinted in the Leninist Strategy of Party Building , New York, 1979, pp226-53; Nahuel Moreno, ‘A Scandalous Document—A Reply to Germain’, International Internal Discussion Bulletin , Volume 11, no 4, January 1974, pp1-32; cf the IMG statement, ‘Bolivia; A Reply to Healyite Slanders’, International , Volume 3, no 3, March 1970, pp5-6). The strong advocacy of a policy of ‘foquismo ’for the Bolivian Trotskyists by the USFI leader Livio Maitan earned for him the nickname of ‘Bolivio ’throughout Latin America, and even beyond.
Heated exchanges continued to pass between the POR-Combate (Moscoso) and the POR-Masas (Lora) over the strategy to be adopted in the Popular Assembly during the upsurge of 1971, and some of the flavour of which can be gained by consulting Teresa Hayter, ‘The Meeting of the Popular Assembly ’and ‘Interview With Hugo González Moscoso’, International (IMG), Volume 1, no 6, September-October 1971 pp51-69; ‘Bolivie: Vive le Combat du People le 21 Août’, Quatrième Internationale , new series, no 3, 15 July 1972, pp18-26; Nahuel Moreno, ‘The Anti-lmperialist Front in Bolivia ’and ‘Statement of the Bolivian Revolutionary Workers Party’, International Socialist Review , Volume 34, no 2, February 1973, pp30-43. The subsequent evolution of the Moscoso group through the disturbances of 1979-81 and up to recently can be traced in Intercontinental Press , 16 April 1979, 21 January 1980, 1 September 1980; Socialist Challenge , 29 November 1979 and 12 February 1981; and the report of the Eighth Congress of the COB by Hugo González Moscoso in International Viewpoint , no 76, 25 December 1989, pp24-7.
The way the POR (Revolutionary Workers Party) has acted up to now is generally correct, and corresponds to objective realities as well as to the real forces of the party.
Ideologically prepared in advance for the events of 9 April, the POR was not surprised by them, and above all did not fail to interpret them correctly and to adjust its own policy adequately.
The POR participated thoroughly in the April insurrection and avoided isolating itself from the broad masses polarised in action by the MNR. Its policy was then aimed to continue not being isolated from the masses over whom the MNR still has a strong influence, especially not to isolate itself from the ranks of the left wing of the MNR while giving an impulse to revolutionary action and the independent organisation of the masses.
This two-fold preoccupation is concretised in the critical support granted [to] the MNR government, accompanied by direct revolutionary activity among the masses, for the purpose of exercising and reinforcing their pressure and developing their independent organisations in the trade unions and in the militias.
The organisation and the strengthening of the Bolivian Workers Centre (COB — Centro Obrera Boliviana) has assumed the significance and the dynamism of a distinct proletarian power objectively constituting a counterweight to the MNR government. This achievement constitutes by far the most important conquest thus far of the Bolivian Revolution, as well as the greatest achievement of the fruitful activity of the POR, which has in large part been able to determine the ideological orientation and the dynamism of the Workers Centre.
The principle political task which is now posed to the POR is to find the bridge: a) between its present slogans and transitional slogans concretising for the broad masses their own forms of political power toward which the revolution must be more firmly oriented; b) the concrete organisational forms which will make this political power possible and will aid the consciousness of broad masses in its necessity.
In every revolution, and in the Bolivian revolution as well, it is necessary to start from what has been achieved up to now, however limited the gains of the proletarian revolutionary activity of the masses may be, and to develop them to their final conclusions, to avoid attempting to force the revolutionary process by the application of slogans as organisational forms of an essentially doctrinaire or programmatic nature.
The worth of a revolutionary leadership is manifested among other things by its capacity to discern and then adequately to utilise every slogan and every organisational form indicated or even suggested by the revolutionary activity of the masses of the country themselves, in a word to seize upon the characteristics and the peculiar national processes of the revolution.
From this point of view, it appears to us that the principal point of departure from which the POR should operate to lead the revolution to a higher level is precisely the COB and its congress, which is scheduled for January 1953.
The COB is already established in the revolutionary movement of the Bolivian masses as the embryonic representative of their own power which has been developing in the country since April. It is not only a trade union federation concerning itself with economic and elementary democratic demands of the masses, but much more, a particular form of Soviet organisation of the masses, a kind of workers ’counter-parliament and a distinct political power. These characteristics are expressed in the scope of the programme and the ideological orientation of the COB, as well as in its practical revolutionary activity: organisation of militias, demonstrations, agitation and organisation of the present masses.
Obviously the COB must be taken as the point of departure, in what it already represents for the workers, and in its dynamism, in order to generalise a Soviet organisation of the worker, peasant and urban petit-bourgeois masses, and in order for such an organisation then to give rise to the need for a workers ’and peasats ’government which will appear as the almost automatic emanation of such an organisation, on which finally this government will base itself.
That is to say, the COB should serve to polarise the working masses around itself and to keep them under its own influence, distinct from that of the MNR government, and to initiate a propaganda and agitation campaign directed toward peasant and urban petit-bourgeois strata, which will aim to draw the latter into a Soviet form of organisation. This campaign can only be based on the slogan of a National Congress of the Workers and Peasants. This slogan, already contained in the programme of political orientation of the COB, could include in this form the content of a Constituent Assembly, mobilising and organising both the worker, peasant and urban petit-bourgeois masses.
The Congress of the COB by issuing this slogan, rounded out by the slogan of committees in which workers, peasants and urban petit-bourgeois participate for the convening of such a Congress, will signify in reality the mobilisation and the organisation of the masses allied to the proletariat for Soviet power.
The success of the campaign for the National Congress of Workers and Peasants will determine the possibility of going over from the present stage of the revolution to the stage of a workers ’and peasants ’government emerging from the committees of workers, peasants and urban petit-bourgeoisie, and from their National Assembly, and basing itself upon them. This will be the government of the political majority of the committees and of their National Assembly. The slogan of the National Congress should now be placed within this perspective.
The mobilisation and organisation of the Bolivian working masses is the work of the COB itself. The COB is already engaged in this work, and its Congress, which is now scheduled, constitutes the most powerful lever for this purpose. But after the Congress of the COB, mobilisation for the National Congress of Workers and Peasants will succeed only if it is successful in adapting its concrete programme to the most profound needs and aspirations of the peasant and urban petit-bourgeois strata.
So far as the peasant masses are concerned, the concretisation of the meaning of the agrarian revolution is evidently the most powerful lever toward this end. This concretisation should keep in mind political imperatives and not strictly economic or doctrinaire considerations.
It should aim to promise an immediate solution to the peasants corresponding to their needs and to their immediate desires so as to arouse their enthusiasm and to solidify their alliance with the worker masses.
So far as the urban petit-bourgeois masses are concerned, the emphasis, outside of their own economic demands, should probably be put on a programme of genuine democratisation of the regime and on concrete perspectives for proletarian power in Bolivia.
This latter point, which is also very important for all other social strata, should be treated along the lines of the idea set forth in the international report presented to the recent Congress of the POR: trade agreements and commerce primarily with neighbouring countries, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and eventually with Brazil and Uruguay; trade agreements and commerce with all other countries of Latin America and of the World, including the nations of the Soviet bloc and China; planning and the rational development of the resources of the country itself.
A commission of the POR should now occupy itself with the aim of arriving at conclusions and concrete proposals on the agrarian question, as well as on the above-mentioned questions, after a thoroughgoing examination of the realities of Bolivia and of the neighbouring Latin American countries. The POR should seek to concretise its present policy in the sense indicated above for the purpose of raising of the revolutionary movement of the masses to a higher level. Such an orientation will permit it to find the road toward a Soviet organisation, not only of the worker masses but also of the peasant and urban petit-bourgeois masses, as well as to pose the question of power in a concrete, transitional form which is presented neither as a POR government, nor as a workers ’and peasants ’government suspended in mid-air which the masses are unable to understand or to support.
Another alternative which may arise, and whose entire importance should naturally be understood and basically exploited, is the possibility of consummating the split between the right and the left of the MNR, the latter succeeding in winning the majority of the MNR or of separating itself from the party and constituting a separate party. In both cases, the POR could envisage the possibility of a workers ’and peasants ’government formed by the coalition of the two parties on the basis of a common minimum programme — a brief stage on the road toward a genuine government of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In any case, if this eventually arises, it should naturally not prevent the POR from continuing its propaganda and its agitation for a Soviet organisation of the masses through an identical road such as that we have already indicated above.
Resolutions 1. Bolivia
The draft resolution will serve as a recommendation rather than a directive to the POR. (Unanimously adopted.)
The Plenum decided that all continental European sections will carry on a campaign to collect funds among their members and sympathisers to aid the Bolivian section.
Updated by ETOL: 12 February 2009