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J. Rey

Revolt in Bolivia

Nazi-Military Putsch Seen Doomed;
Masses Remain Quiescent

(August 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 38, 19 September 1949, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

AUGUST 28. – Yesterday a military conspiracy broke out in all the provinces of Bolivia. The power-hungry militarists have been temporarily halted by the local and provincial police in Sucre, Potosi, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz. Although the government succeeded in dislodging the rebels in Sucre and Potosi, in Cochabamba the military school under the command of General Pena Lillo captured the headquarters of the local and provincial police and the central plaza of that provincial capital. A provisional “junta” was established by the “revolutionaries” under the leadership of German Tapia. Up till now the rebellious military have maintained control of the central plaza; the government forces are concentrated in the vicinity of Parotani, near Cochabamba, awaiting reinforcements. Government aviators have wrecked the airfield and gasoline tanks to prevent their use by the rebels, who have still not surrendered.

This new military uprising is eminently totalitarian and Nazi in character. It is supported by two forces, the MNR (Revolutionary Nationalist Movement), the Nazi party that was ousted from power by the July, 1946 resolution, and the military lodge, “Radepa” composed of former pupils of the Nazi General Roehm, who was military instructor in Bolivia. The movement was synchronized, and broke out simultaneously in all the provincial capitals of Bolivia. Defeated on the field of social and political struggle, the MNR resorted to its military reserves, and renewed its old alliance with the military lodge, the “Radepa.”

The second characteristic of the rebellion is to be found in the neutrality and complete abstention of the working class. The workers learned during the recent Catavi events that they were struggling for an alien cause, and the unions are abstaining from all intervention, despite the continuous stream of proclamations aimed at the mining centers. Not only the miners, but the factory and railroad workers as well are keeping their distance from the Nazi-military movement. There is no strike, and work continues in a normal fashion.

The “barracks” revolution lacks all social support from the organized proletariat. The minority section of the Bolivian trade union movement, affiliated with the anti-Stalinist “democratic” continental federation, the CIT, has condemned the “Nazi-Fascist uprising” in a special resolution at its annual convention now being held in La Paz. There is no indication that the Stalinist party, the PIR (Party of the Revolutionary Left), is involved, although its bureau has not issued any statement so far. On the other hand, the POR, Bolivian section of the Fourth International, has issued a manifesto against the government, calling for the formation of an “anti-imperialist bloc” consisting of itself, the PIR, and the MNR.

Unsavory Complicity in Military Plot

The issuance of this manifesto on the outbreak of the military uprisingreveals the complicity of some leaders of the POR (Lora) in the Nazi-military plot. The POR has refrained from attacking Stalinism and Peronism, and proposes an alliance with the totalitarian parties in the struggle for the “proletarian revolution” and “nationalization of the mines,” a “workers-peasant government,” etc. With this manifesto, the POR placed itself frankly in the camp of the totalitarian and reactionary opposition, proposing a Nazi-Stalinist “anti-imperialist pact.” The class-conscious workers and Marxists of the entire continent must condemn this attitude as an open betrayal of the proletarian cause.

Since there has been no uprising in La Paz, Bolivia’s political capital, the government being in full control of the situation, it would seem to us that the military revolt is doomed to defeat. The government’s victory will undoubtedly be transformed into a victory of the capitalist Right, which will then have an almost free hand to install a military dictatorship. The only obstacle remains the workers movement and the decline in the prestige of the militarists. The workers’ movement has begun to separate itself from the totalitarian parties, and is seeking other roads for its political and social struggles.

From the international point of view, the military conspiracy was instigated by the Bonapartist expansion of Argentine Peronism, and nourished by the mutual support of the Nazis and Stalinists in South America, although until now there is no proof that the Bolivian Stalinists collaborated in this uprising.

The outstanding characteristic, we repeat, in the present situation is the abstention of the workers’ organizations. They have neither participated in nor supported the military revolt. But the persistence of the anti-governmental movements expresses the weakness of the present regime, and the discontent of the workers and the middle classes with the rightist course of the government.

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