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Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia. Part I: Domestic Class Structure, Latin-American Trends, and Capitalist Imperialism

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This article, which will appear in three parts over three issues of Historical Materialism, presents a broad analysis of the political economy and dynamics of social change during the first year (January 2006–January 2007) of the Evo Morales government in Bolivia. It situates this analysis in the wider historical context of left-indigenous insurrection between 2000 and 2005, the class structure of the country, the changing character of contemporary capitalist imperialism, and the resurgence of anti-neoliberalism and anti-imperialism elsewhere in Latin America. It considers, at a general level, the overarching dilemmas of revolution and reform. These considerations are then grounded in analyses of the 2000–5 revolutionary epoch, the 18 December 2005 elections, the social origins and trajectory of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) as a party, the complexities of the relationship between indigenous liberation and socialist emancipation, the process of the Constituent Assembly, the political economy of natural gas and oil, the rise of an autonomist right-wing movement, US imperialism, and Bolivia's relations with Venezuela and Cuba. The central argument is that the economic policies of the new government exhibit important continuities with the inherited neoliberal model and that advancing the project of indigenous liberation and socialist emancipation will require renewed self-activity, self-organisation and strategic mobilisation of popular left-indigenous forces autonomous from the MAS government.

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto;, Email:


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