Speech to the recent Solidarity with Bolivia Meeting in London by Marcus Barnett, International Officer of Young Labour. Bolivian trade unionist Manuel Bueno will be speaking at the at the Adelante Latin America 2019 Conference Sat 23 Nov – get your ticket here: bit.ly/la19ticket
Comrades and friends, thank you for the honour of having me today.
We meet as Bolivia goes to the polls, with Evo Morales stood as a firm front runner. But we also share a growing concern that the Trump administration’s manoeuvres towards Morales are hotly intensifying.
America has never made a secret of its hostility towards Evo and what he represents. This began back to 2006 when he won with 53.7% of the vote – a mandate for real change.
It only grew in 2009, when he was re-elected with 64.2% of the vote and again in 2014 with 61.3%.
According to polling taken earlier this year, 64% of people are happy with Morales, and 45% intend to vote for him .
What does this tell us? It tells us that Bolivians aren’t biting Trump’s narrative war. Bolivia is a country whose people are overwhelmingly happy with progressive governance.
People want a government which has tripled health spending, while slashing poverty in half in 13 years.
People want a government where the community controls the production of goods, where everyone can participate in democratic structures, where the major utilities are run by the people, and where foreign multinational corporations come a distant second to the interests of the people.
You only have to look at America’s dog in this race, Carlos Mesa, to recognise the threat to this positive vision.
What ordinary Bolivian can truly invest any faith in this man, who was responsible for the death of over 60 Bolivians in Black October? Who served alongside Sanchez de Lozada, who fled by helicopter to Miami in 2003 to escape the economic crisis that he caused – a crisis which caused so much misery to so many ordinary people.
It is this through this gang of sharks – alongside the various fake NGOs, youth fronts and US-funded pseudo aid projects – that American imperialism attempts to undermine Bolivia’s attempts to build a democratic socialism for the 21st century.
Whether it is the American right pumping anti-socialist propaganda into indigenous communities, or American congressmen shamefully attempting to use their clout to isolate Morales internationally, we in the British labour movement have to be very clear.
America has absolutely no right to intervene in the democratic processes of the Bolivian people.
The internal affairs of the Bolivian people are theirs – and theirs alone.
In the event that Trump attempts to trigger a coup in Bolivia, we must be ready to mobilise on the streets, pressure our political representatives to speak out, and stand shoulder to shoulder with our Bolivian comrades.
And on behalf of Young Labour, an organisation of 100,000 young socialists which proudly made Lula its honorary president earlier this year, I say to all young comrades here, Bolivian or not – join us in building this struggle.
Our fight is your fight.
Our mass movement will do our most to defend Evo Morales and the Bolivian people in their struggle for progress against the forces of neo-colonialism and reaction.
Hopefully, we can soon elect a socialist government led by Jeremy Corbyn that could not only break our country’s slavish relationship with Trump’s America, but may also help to build the forces of socialism across the planet, and create an international order built on respect, self-determination and democracy for all peoples.
This is the vision that we fight for. it is one that the whole world deserves. And for that reason, we will win.
Viva Evo! Venceremos!