Parliament of Bodies

María Galindo

Burning the Whiphalas—flags that represent indigenous people throughout the continent—of all public institutions is a fascist act, but equally fascist is the categorizing of ideas, bodies and spaces under one flag or another. Entering the Government Palace with a bible in your hand to kneel before cameras with no legitimacy from the people is a fascist act and an action coherent with a coup d’état. Burning the houses of members of Evo Morales’ government is fascism. Burning the house of the dean of the Public University, San Andres, Waldo Albarracín, who has always been a defender of human rights, is a fascist act of social intimidation against anyone who dares to speak, or take a dissenting stance against Evo Morales or question the electoral fraud. These are some of the examples that are flooding the screens of televisions and cell phones throughout the world, a momentary surge in the coverage of Bolivia’s plight that does little to appease the situation on the ground.

I write in torrential rain on a night that I have already baptized as the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht), because its aim is to sow fear, to open all the wounds of a racist, misogynist and homophobic colonial society. Revanchism has taken to the streets in search of blood, in search of enemies. Today in Bolivia it is subversive to have hopes, the most subversive is humor and disobedience, the most subversive is not to have a side and that is what we are betting on once again.

What is happening?

It is not easy to explain because the conflict is ongoing. It grew and metamorphosed over hours. The conflict emptied eyes, paralyzed three hearts and beat countless legs and heads until turning the streets of the city of La Paz into a war zone. Which only managed to calm down for a few hours during the police mutiny.

Evo has denounced to the international community that it is a coup d’état promoted by the CIA and the fascist landowning oligarchy of Santa Cruz, and that is partly true, but it is only half of the conflict.

On October 20th we went to vote in the general election with the sweetness inherent to these lands, but both the polls and the ballots were wet and empty. Empty of real alternatives and wet with a fraud with a magnitude that has already been denounced by the Electoral Observation Commission of the Organization of American States and the Electoral Observation Commission of the European Union.

That is why this election represented the opening of a latent conflict in Bolivian society and in the region. Exposing the deep crisis of representative liberal democracy and the “party” structure as the exclusive and official way of doing politics.

False dispute between left and right

It wearies me to repeat that the Movement to Socialism (MAS) is exporting to the world the idea that what is happening in Bolivia is a popular progressive bloc against an extreme and fundamentalist right. The government of Evo Morales was for many years the instrument of dismantling of popular organizations by dividing them, turning them into corrupt and clientelist leadership, making pacts with the most conservative sectors of society, including fundamentalist Christian sects to which he gave the fascist illegal candidacy of a Korean evangelical pastor, who was endorsed with the approval of the MAS. At the same time Evo Morales was building himself up as the sole figurehead which has taken us as a country, and the MAS project itself, to a dead end. He has delusionally converted himself into the sole figurehead, a symbol of the concentration of irreplaceable power. The figure bears the myth of the “indigenous president” whose symbolic power is the color of his skin, since he carries with him, a government inhabited by a circle of corrupt intellectuals and leaders who revere him because they need him as a mask, as Frantz Fanon outlines in his book, Black Skin, White Masks. Evo is the figurehead and the mask, nothing more. All of MAS’s populist content is merely rhetorical and has led to the fact that today it is at the forefront of an exhausted and empty political project whose only possibility for continuity has been the destruction of all forms of dissent, criticism, debate, and cultural or economic production. This model is neoliberal consumerist, extractivist, ecocidal and clientelist. It is for that reason that in the face of electoral fraud, repudiation emerged rapidly, concentrated in the under 25 year old generation, very young and urban, that have been the protagonists of this current resistance of almost 20 days.

The fascistization of the process: between two delusional leaders

In these days the word democracy has slowly been emptied of meaning and turned into a slogan of fascist and fundamentalist groups.

Evo Morales decided to exalt racist acts to victimise the MAS itself, and use these acts in perverse ways, to the extent that acts of racism committed during the general strike became part of government propaganda, using them to amplify his speech and turn racism into a useful act for the government itself. Since the movements criticizing the MAS government was and is exclusively urban, the government also exploited urban-rural contradictions, as if the conflict was between them. The intention was to use both contradictions to disqualify criticism and gain time. The social cost did not matter to MAS. In the face of the delusional leadership of Evo, the Santa Cruz region presented another delusional, apparently antagonistic but at the same time complementary leader. A white man, entrepreneur, and president of a “civic” organization who uses religious fanaticism and an openly misogynist discourse that promises the men of society the recovery of control over women. To the point that his right hand man, lawyer and advisor, is the legal defender of what in Bolivia has been called “the pack,” a group of men who raped their own friend on a night out on the town. The religious fundamentalism of Camacho has sold the idea of recovering the family, the nation and the persecution of “evil”: he disguised his racism as a national interest and his misogyny as a family interest. The apparent antagonism exacerbated the spirits of people and further polarized the conflict, he took arguments regarding democracy and turned them into scenes of macho wildfire. Young people began to parade with shields and when the police mutinied, the protestors turned the previously repressive forces of the mutinous police into heroes of the conflict. Today, with many millions of dollars involved, the army’s loyalty is yet to be guaranteed for either of the two fronts in the conflict. Evo Morales or Camacho. In both cases the output is conservative. The fascistization of the process has silenced civil society, while the military’s choice of allegiance has been focussed on either of the bloodiest forces around Morales or Camacho.

María Galindo and Danitza Luna, from the series la piel de la lucha, la piel de la historia (the skin of the fight, the skin of history), 2019

Women’s Parliament

What I address now happened in just a few hours, in a confusing and intense war of fake news, which has exacerbated all fears: fear of speaking, fear of taking a position, fear of having no side. The population’s ability to process what is happening has been mutilated. There are no spaces for analysis or discussion. The discussion of where an exit from the crisis might lie is far from being in the hands of the people, and is very confusing. No one who does not have a weapon seems to have the right to speak.

That is why as part of an infinite series of actions taken by “Women Creating,” these days we have decided to open a deliberative space for women by calling it “Women’s Parliament,” where we can give voice to our hopes, where we can cultivate a climate of dialogue and discussion, which is what this fascistization is taking from us. We are doing this in the middle of a climate that has become a struggle between two coups, between two fascisms, it represents an effort to return to the original debate on democracy. We need to think, discuss and provide concrete solutions: that is the task of the Women’s Parliament, taking up in these critical conditions the proposal born in Cyprus and proposed by Paul B. Preciado.

Against the privatization of politics: the regional crisis

I am convinced that the conflicts in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile show, with different facets and under different contexts, the crisis of representative liberal democracy and the privatization of politics. The entire neoliberal process has reduced the content of democracy to a bureaucratic act and election apparatus, and nothing more. This process has resulted in elections having become legitimizing acts of the massive exclusion of the interests of society, of the interests of specific sectors, of the complex voices that make up society, turning those to whom they belong into spectators legally excluded from the right to speak, think and decide. I call that privatization of politics. Evo Morales, in his resignation speech, claimed to have nationalized natural resources in Bolivia, referring to the exploitation of natural gas. Although nationalization is partial, one thing that has been done is to privatize the policy to the point that if you were not of the party you had no right to say anything, and if you were of the party you couldn’t opine either, since the decisions were and are handled by a closed circle. This created a giant democratic void, which is the space that fascism used to install a delusional leader model, that puts the frustrations in the plane of an insurmountable polarization that is only resolved by way of the use of terror, of the lie, and from the logic of the strongest.

The crises in Chile, Peru, and Ecuador have different characteristics, but basically they expel society and social struggles to outside of “politics,” taking us away from the idea that the solutions are “political,” deliberative, and are based on agreements. Generalized fascistization and terror is installed to convert legitimate solutions and social questions into scenarios of violent counterposition of forces. That is what I call the fascist phase of neoliberalism. Religion therefore, in all cases, acquires an increasing position of power because by denying politics the space of discourse, it opens up a space for fanaticism fuelled by “religious” visions. The ending of sexual freedoms and women’s freedoms is the reward that these processes promise.

The Unseen

On the stage non-explicit invisible forces are at play, such as money, weapons, and strategically designed painful scenarios and stories. Behind these are the interests of the Chinese, Russian and North American projects not only effecting Bolivia, but the entire region. Also under dispute is the largest lithium deposit in the world, which is untapped and unresolved, in the Uyuni salt flat, in Potosí.

Who gains control over Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua is being disputed in Bolivia, to say the least, and the protests have become manipulated by the forces that are using all of us.

In the Bolivian case there seems to be no solution: people are pressured to

Outcomes instead of solutions assume a side according to fanatical identitarian processes, according to stories that have nothing to do with the facts, according to messianical and delirious narratives. That is why we are concentrating our efforts on the most basic discussion, not wasting energy in trying to convince any of the fascist rings that build their respective stories, but to affirm the social spaces that we have been opening for decades. Take back the space of our own bodies! That is why the word democracy, which arouses hopes, can be summoned to preserve what we have, the place we occupy, the freedoms that we do in fact exert without any permission. Not only for the activation of ideas, but for the activation of emotions, from emotions. That is why humor, ironic as it may seem, social humor, the ability to make fun of fascist stories, has emerged with great force spontaneously from all corners. If they have turned our protest into the question of who is the most macho, who is the strongest? We request a ring where all the actors in conflict grab each other in a duel to the death between themselves and leave us alone. We are not cannon fodder.

This text was written on November 10, 2019, between 2 and 6 in the morning during the deepest political crisis in Bolivian society. The police and the army had already mutinied and we were in our collective house The Virgin of Desires, taking care of it with the fear that some group would come to burn it down, in order to sow terror and silence society, using us as exemplary victims. Writing has been my way of staying calm. Although Bolivia has already emerged from its minimal presence in the world’s media, it has not solved the tragic moment it is going through and has entered a fascist period. It is a long-term political crisis, we ask the readers to take into account the speed of the changes that arise.

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  2. John Boskovich John Boskovich
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  7. Talking with Elizabeth Ravn Julia Jung
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