Interview: Raúl Prada – the October Agenda and the process of change
12 October 2011
Dario Kenner, La Paz
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[Raúl Prada is an intellectual and open critic of the Evo Morales government. He was a member of the Constituent Assembly that re-wrote the new Bolivian Constitution approved in January 2009. He was also Vice Minister of Planning in 2010 but resigned because he believed the Bolivian government was no longer implementing structural changes – Dario Kenner]
Has the MAS government fulfilled the October Agenda as as President Morales claimed in a speech on 12 October?
The agenda included nationalisation and industrialisation (adding value) of hydrocarbons resources, plus a writing a new Constitution.
Nationalisation of Hydrocarbons
The nationalisation process was started but not finished. Instead of finishing the nationalisation was reversed because technical control was given to the transnationals. YPFB (state hydrocarbons company) has nominal control but the transnationals have the effective control (economic and technical areas). When the transnationals take a technical decision they do not consult YPFB. In October 2003 a key part of the referendum was to begin a process where natural gas had to be industrialised (value added) inside Bolivia before being exported. The aim was to satisfy international consumption. But under the Morales government exports have increased to Argentina and Brazil while there has not been the industrialisation. YPFB does not have the technical capacity to take forward these industrialisation projects.
The only thing the “nationalisation” did was change the contracts with the transnationals so the state had 51% control (although this each contract is different so not always a 51/49% split). This has increased state funds that have been distributed to regional and local government.
Constituent Assembly to re-write the Constitution
The aim of the new Constitution is to build a Plurinational State. It is a tool for structural transformations but these have not happened. The new Constitution is an opportunity to build a new alternative model to capitalism called Vivir Bien. The October Agenda has not been completed because the Morales government has used the new Constitution to restore the nation state. It has not used the Constitution to implement transformations in the structure, management and practices of the state that would make it Plurinational. The new Constitution was based on proposals put forward by the main social movements through the Unity Pact (Pacto de Unidad). But the laws passed since restore the national state and so go against the Constitution (for a Plurinational state).
What do you think of the proposal to hold a debate in December about a new national development plan?
December is too late, this is a crisis. If the government had the will, honesty, transparency and understood how serious this crisis is they would hold the debate now. The debate has to be now when the indigenous TIPNIS march arrives in La Paz (detailed background on TIPNIS issue). A law or norm has to be passed that stops the road going through the TIPNIS. The arrival of the march is a moment to re-direct the process of change with a key role for the social movements. The participation of the populations of El Alto and La Paz will be crucial if this is to happen.
All debate and discussion is welcome as long as it is participatory, transparent and not just a show. There has to be a debate on development models across the country. We need to decide if we will continue with the extractive model that the government favours or if we will try to implement Vivir Bien.
Today´s march in La Paz was in defence of the process of change and the Evo Morales government. The indigenous TIPNIS march is also for the process of change. Are they the same process of change? If they are why are there divisions?
The Morales government sees itself as the process of change. It says it is the social movements. This is completely wrong. If we evaluate the laws approved there are huge contradictions. The government is against the process. The only ones who are defending the process are the indigenous peoples who defend the Constitution (ie. The pro- TIPNIS march).
It is all the other way round. Defence of the government is not defence of the process. The defence of the TIPNIS and a Plurinational vision is the real defence of the process of change.