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Juan Robles


Reaction Threatens Political Uprising

(5 April 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 14, 5 April 1948, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the revolution of July, 1946 the Bolivian people overthrew the native fascist dictatorship, hanging President Villaroel and his collaborators from the lampposts. Since the political revolution was not transformed into a social revolution and social reforms were not initiated, the reaction staged a quick comeback; first, in the form of Stalinist Bonapartist attempts, and afterwards in the collaboration between the Republican Union and Stalinist parties. As the reaction continued to take hold, the Stalinists themselves were eliminated from the government. The latest municipal elections revealed the resurgence of the defeated MNR (National Revolutionary Movement), this party gaining an absolute majority of undeniably working-class votes in the mining city of Potosi. Now, the MNR represents an imposing force of reactionary opposition, threatening new military uprisings and political overthrows. How did this happen?

The MNR is the party of the Bolivian middle class, discontented with the government of the traditional bourgeois parties. It is linked to, and supported by, the military lodge "Radepa" which consists of nationalist officers educated in the school of German Nazism which was directed personally by Captain Roehm and General Kundt. The civilian leaders of the MNR, Paz, Montenegro, Andrade, etc., are also disciples of the Nazi ministers.

Had there not been this Nazi influence in Bolivia, a middle class party of the Peruvian APRA type would have sprung up. The personal factors play an enormous role in the small South American countries. The course of history in Hispanic-America was many times decided by battles of thirty to fifty men. The MNR, formed in the Nazi school, always constituted a reactionary force in the middle class and among the workers, being directed first of all against revolutionary Socialism. On coming to power it counted on the support of Hitler and Peron, and served the capitalist enterprise of Patino and North American imperialism. Now, after the destruction of Nazism, the MNR does not seek an alliance with the APRA of Peru, but unconditionally serves the totalitarian reaction of Peron and his local sub-imperialism, which tries to subjugate the neighboring countries economically and politically.

Buttressed on All Sides

All the political forces in Bolivia collaborated in the growth and restoration of the MNR which had been condemned and punished by popular anger in the July revolution of 1946. In order to fight the Stalinists, the Republican Union of President Hertzog made agreements with the MNR and even encouraged its revival by tolerating its activities. The Stalinists of the PIR (Party of the Revolutionary Left) massacred the miners of Potosi while they were part of the governmental junta; thus, both the bourgeois right and the Stalinist left worked zealously towards the revival of the native fascists.

But the Fourth International forces are hardly without guilt. The official section of the Fourth, the POR, evaluated the MNR as a “reformist” force and not as counter-revolutionary. Starting from the premise of the democratic revolution as the immediate stage ahead, it considered a limited collaboration between the POR and the MNR to be possible. Although this collaboration was officially denied, its evident proof resides in the formation of the “miners bloc,” composed of the Trotskyist and Nationalist deputies in parliament. Although this tactic might have justification at a certain political stage, in order to facilitate the access of the POR to the miners dominated by the MNR, events prove that the MNR continues to control the mines and the Miners Federation, while the majority of the POR in the parliamentary fraction of the Miners Bloc is purely illusory, and only serves as a shield for the actions of the MNR. The best proof of this evaluation is afforded by the Potosi elections, where the workers voted en masse for the MNR and not the POR.

The false theory of the "democratic revolution" engenders a false political tactic, and this leads finally to the defeat of the revolutionary workers movement. Under the leadership of the deputy, Lora, the POR came to the political position of the Argentine "Octobrists," who counsel the Fourth International to support Peron as the realizer of the democratic revolution on the South American continent. Only the PSOB (Socialist Workers Party of Bolivia), in spite of all its errors, vacillations, and ineptitudes of organization, has always tenaciously fought the MNR and the erroneous concept of the democratic revolution in Bolivia.

Now the MNR threatens not only the Hertzog government with a military uprising, but the workers movement as well with the annihilation of its cadres and the introduction of state control of the unions. The Stalinists, of course, are interested in military coups and “revolutions” in America. The Nazi-Stalinist war cry of nationalizing the mines, under a capitalist regime, signifies the creation of a tremendous totalitarian power, better able to exploit and oppress the proletariat, and to hand Bolivia over to Peron.

Only socialist nationalization based on a continent-wide revolution under workers power can resolve this problem in accordance with the Marxist program. The proletariat can gain nothing from military seizures of power. Aside from the fact that it will have to bear the cost of such actions, it can only expect greater exploitation and oppression.

For this reason, it is necessary that the Fourth Internationalist movement clarify its program and revise its tactic, putting forward a completely independent political line of the proletariat. The POR must combat not only the bourgeois government but also the growing strength of the reaction, of the MNR. The time has arrived when the Miners Bloc must be dissolved and the POR must form its own parliamentary fraction without the participation of the nationalist deputies, organized members of the MNR. It is time to stop being a shield for the activities of the MNR.

Not only the Bolivian proletariat, but all of South America and the entire Fourth Internationalist movement is interested in this question. Happily, there are comrades in the POR who understand these errors and wish to force Lora to break with the nationalist deputies and revise his tactic, which is so harmful to the Fourth International and the workers movement in Bolivia.

The rapprochement between the left-wing of the POR and the PSOB will help resolve this question on the road of the third proletarian front.

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