Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History: Volume 4, No. 3, Bolivian Revolution, 1953: Juan Robles Trotskyism in Bolivia

Juan Robles

Trotskyism in Bolivia

The article below is intended to serve as an introduction to what follows, and first appeared in New International , (Volume 13, no 9, December 1947, pp.282-5), the theoretical journal of the Workers Party of the USA, led by Max Shachtman, which split away from the Socialist Workers Party, the US Trotskyist group, in 1940. It is part of a series of reports written from different parts of Latin America which appeared mainly in the Workers Party newspaper, Labor Action, with increasing regularity during the late 1940s and early 1950s over the pseudonyms of ‘Juan Robles ’and ‘Juan Rey’. Why the author saw fit to change his pen name is not at all clear, any more than his real identity. But it is almost certain that he was the Peruvian Trotskyist Emilio Adolfo Westfallen (Bestfalling), a founder of the GOM, which changed its name to the POR (Peru) in 1947, who was a supporter of Shachtman. The article was translated from Spanish by Abe Stein.

The material printed in Labor Action shows that his informant in Bolivia during the 1940s had been a supporter of the Bolivian Socialist Workers Party (PSOB), a split from the POR led by Tristan Marof in 1938, which, to begin with, had four parliamentary seats and considerable trade union support, but which by the mid-1940s had lost most of its influence because Marof had accepted office under President Hertzog. According to Lora, the PSOB was only able to bring out its paper at this time due to financial assistance from the United States, and this may explain why Rey/Robles is anxious to prove that the POR’s own alliance with the MNR (Revolu-tionary Nationalist Movement) was with a Fascist party (on the basis that the MNR gave its support to an attempt by Argentina to form a general organisation of Latin American trade unions on a Peronist basis), a charge rebutted in the American Militant of 21 October 1949.

Whatever the motive of Robles/Rey’s informant, we print this account here because it sets the scene for the drama of 1952 and introduces us to the main participants, apart from its remarkable prophecy that any alliance between the POR and the MNR could only result in a military dictatorship in the long run.

Updated by ETOL: 12 February 2009