Bolivian Former Vice President Op-Ed: I Hate the Indian

By Álvaro García Linera | CELAG | 12/03/19 |

Like a thick night fog, hatred rages through the neighborhoods of traditional urban middle classes in Bolivia. His eyes overflow with anger. They don’t shout, they spit; They don’t claim, they impose. Their songs are neither of hope nor of brotherhood, they are of contempt and discrimination against the Indians. They ride their motorcycles, get in their trucks, gather in their carnival fraternities and private universities and go on the hunt for raised Indians who dared to take away their power.

In the case of Santa Cruz, they organize 4 × 4 motorized hordes with clubs in hand to scare the Indians, whom they call “collas,” who live in slums and markets. They sing slogans that “you have to kill collas,” and if any woman from Pollera crosses them on the road, they beat her, threaten them and ask them to leave their territory. In Cochabamba they organize convoys to impose their racial supremacy in the southern zone, where the needy classes live, and charge – as if it were a cavalry detachment – over thousands of defenseless peasant women marching for peace. They carry baseball bats, chains, gas grenades; Some exhibit firearms. The woman is her favorite victim; they grab a mayor of a peasant population, humiliate her, drag her down the street, hit her, urinate her when she falls to the ground,

In La Paz they suspect their employees and do not speak when they bring food to the table. Deep down they fear them, but they also despise them. Later they go out to the streets to shout, they insult Evo and, with him, all these Indians who dared to build intercultural democracy with equality. When they are many, they drag the Wiphala, the indigenous flag, spit it, step on it, cut it, burn it. It is a visceral rage that is discharged on this symbol of the Indians who would like to extinguish the earth along with all those who recognize themselves in it.

Racial hatred is the political language of this traditional middle class. Your academic degrees, travel and faith are useless because, in the end, everything is diluted before the ancestor. Deep down, the imagined line is stronger and seems to adhere to the spontaneous language of the skin that it hates, the visceral gestures and its corrupted morals.

Everything exploded on Sunday 20, when Evo Morales won the elections with more than 10 points away from the second, but no longer with the immense advantage of before or 51% of the votes. It was the signal that the crouching regressive forces were waiting for: from the thymus liberal opposition candidate, the ultraconservative political forces, the OAS and the ineffable traditional middle class. Evo had won again but no longer had 60% of the electorate; He was weaker and had to go over him. The loser did not recognize his defeat. The OAS spoke of “clean elections” but of a diminished victory and asked for a second round, advising to go against the Constitution, which states that if a candidate has more than 40% of the votes and more than 10% of votes on the second He is the elected candidate. And the middle class went on the hunt for the Indians. On the night of Monday 21, 5 of the 9 electoral bodies were burned, including ballot papers. The city of Santa Cruz decreed a civic strike that articulated the inhabitants of the central areas of the city, branching the strike to the residential areas of La Paz and Cochabamba. And then the terror broke out.

Paramilitary bands began to besiege institutions, burn union headquarters, set fire to the homes of candidates and political leaders of the ruling party. Even the president’s own private home was ransacked; in other places, families, including children, were kidnapped and threatened to be scourged and burned if their father minister or union leader did not resign from his position. A long night of long knives had been unleashed, and fascism poked out his ears.

When the popular forces mobilized to resist this civil coup began to regain territorial control of cities with the presence of workers, mining workers, peasants, indigenous people and urban settlers – and the balance of the correlation of forces was leaning towards the side of the popular forces – the police mutiny came.

The policemen had shown for weeks a great indolence and ineptitude to protect humble people when they were beaten and persecuted by fascistoid gangs. But as of Friday, with ignorance of the civil command, many of them showed an extraordinary ability to attack, stop, torture and kill popular protesters. Of course, before you had to contain the children of the middle class and, supposedly, they had no capacity; However, now that it was about repressing revolting Indians, the deployment, arrogance and repressive fury were monumental. The same happened with the Armed Forces. Throughout our government administration we never allowed civil demonstrations to be repressed, even during the first civil coup of 2008. And now, in full convulsion and without our asking them anything, they stated that they had no riot elements, that they barely had 8 bullets per member and that to be present on the street in a dissuasive manner a presidential decree was required. However, they did not hesitate to ask / impose on President Evo his resignation breaking the constitutional order. They went out of their way to try to kidnap him when he went and was in the Chapare; and when the coup was consumed, they took to the streets to shoot thousands of bullets, to militarize the cities, to kill peasants. And all this without any presidential decree. To protect the Indian, a decree was required. To repress and kill Indians, it was only enough to obey what racial and class hatred ordered. And in just 5 days there are already more than 18 dead, 120 gunshot wounded. Of course,

The question that we all must answer is how is it that this traditional middle class was able to incubate so much hatred and resentment towards the people, leading it to embrace a racialized fascism centered on the Indian as an enemy? How did it radiate its class frustrations to the police and the FF. AA and be the social basis of this fascistization, of this state regression and moral degeneration?

It has been the rejection of equality, that is, the rejection of the very foundations of a substantial democracy.

The last 14 years of government of the social movements have had as main characteristic the process of social equalization, the abrupt reduction of extreme poverty (from 38 to 15%), the extension of rights for all (universal access to health, to education and social protection), the Indianization of the State (more than 50% of public administration officials have an indigenous identity, a new national narrative around the indigenous trunk), the reduction of economic inequalities (fall from 130 to 45 income difference between the richest and the poorest); that is, the systematic democratization of wealth, access to public goods, opportunities and state power. The economy has grown from 9,000 million dollars to 42,000, expanding the market and domestic savings,

But this led to the fact that in a decade the percentage of people in the so-called “middle class”, measured in income, has increased from 35% to 60%, mostly from popular, indigenous sectors. It is a process of democratization of social goods through the construction of material equality but that, inevitably, has led to a rapid devaluation of the economic, educational and political capitals owned by the traditional middle classes. If before a notable last name or the monopoly of legitimate knowledge or the set of parental ties typical of the traditional middle classes allowed them to access positions in the public administration, obtain credits, tender for works or scholarships,

It is, therefore, a collapse of what was a characteristic of colonial society: ethnicity as capital, that is, the imagined foundation of the historical superiority of the middle class over subaltern classes because here, in Bolivia, social class is only understandable and is visible in the form of racial hierarchies. The fact that the children of this middle class have been the shock force of the reactionary insurgency is the violent cry of a new generation that sees how the inheritance of the surname and the skin fades before the force of the democratization of goods. Thus, although they fly flags of democracy understood as a vote, they have actually rebelled against democracy understood as equalization and distribution of wealth. That is why the overflow of hate, the waste of violence; Because racial supremacy is something that is not rationalized, it is lived as the primary impulse of the body, as a tattoo of colonial history on the skin. Hence, fascism is not only the expression of a failed revolution but, paradoxically, also in post-colonial societies, the success of a material democratization achieved.

Therefore, it is not surprising that while the Indians collect the bodies of about twenty dead shot to death, their material and moral perpetrators narrate that they have done so to safeguard democracy. But in reality they know that what they have done is to protect the privilege of caste and surname.

Racial hatred can only destroy; it is not a horizon, it is nothing more than a primitive revenge of a historically and morally decadent class that demonstrates that, behind each mediocre liberal, an accomplished coupist crouches.


This op-ed was written by former Vice President of Bolivia Álvaro García Linera, and was originally published in the Latin American Strategic Center for Geopolitics on Nov. 16, 2019.

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