I really liked the opinion of Álvaro García published today by La Jornada: The hatred towards the indigenous. I think that translating it from Spanish to English would be a nice first contribution from my part.
Like a thick nocturnal fog, the hatred runs voraciously along the urban traditional middle class neighborhoods of Bolivia. Their eyes overflow in wrath. Not yelling, spiting; Not claiming, imposing. Their chants are not of hope or brotherhood, they are chants of contempt and discrimination against the "indios" or indigenous. They mount their motorbikes, get onto their pickup trucks, they group up around their carnival fraternities and private universities and hunt for raised indians, indians that dared to take power away from them.
In the case of Santa Cruz (T.N: one of the city bastions for the coup which name literally translates to Holy Cross ) they (the urban traditional middle class) organize motorized hordes of 4×4 with club in hand to punish the indians, calling them "collas", this indians live in the marginalized zones and markets. Chanting slogans to "kill collas", if they find in their way an indigenous woman they beat and threaten her into moving out of their territory. In Cochabamba they organize convoys to impose the radical supremacy on the south zone, where the lower classes live, and charge like a cavalry detachment against thousands of peasant women that march asking for peace. They have in hand baseball bats, chains, gas grenades and fire arms. The female is their favorite victim, they grab a mayoress from a peasant community, drag her thru the street, humiliate her, beat her, urinate on her when she falls to the floor and when they realize that they are being filmed throw red paint onto her, symbolizing what they will do to her blood.
In La Paz they are suspicious of their employees (the house help) and wont talk when food is being brought to the table, deep down they fear them, but they also despise them. Latter on they go out to the streets to chant insults to Evo and in his name all this indians that dared to build intercultural democracy with equality. When they are plenty, proceed to drag the whipala, the indigenous flag, spit on it, step on it, cut it and burn it. Its a visceral rage that is unloaded on this symbol of indians, symbol that they would extinguish from this earth together with all of those that recognize themselves in it.
Racial hatred is the political language of this traditional middle class. Their academic tittles, trips and faith are of no use; because at the end everything is diluted before the linage. Deep down the imagined lineage is stronger and appears adhered to the spontaneous language of the skin it hates, its visceral gestures and corrupt morals.
Everything "exploded" Sunday 20th when Evo Morales won the elections with more than 10 points of difference, but no longer with the overwhelming majority as before nor the 51 percent of the votes. That was the signal that the regressive forces were waiting for, from the timorous opposition liberal candidate, the ultra-conservative political forces, the OAS and the ineffable traditional middle class. Evo had won again, but not with 60 percent of the electorate, he was weaker, they needed to get at him. The loser (Carlos Mesa) didn't recognize the defeat. The OAS talked about clean elections but a diminished victory and asked for a second round of voting, advising to go against the constitution that points out that if a candidate has more than 40 percent of the votes and more than 10 points of difference against the second candidate, he is the elected candidate.
And the middle class went on the hunt for the indians. On the Monday night of the 21, five of the nine electoral organs were burnt including the ballot papers. The city of Santa Cruz decreed a civic strike that articulated the population of central zones of the city, branching out on the strikes of the residential zones of La Paz and Cochabamba. It was then when terror broke out.
Paramilitary bands started to siege institutions, burn union headquarters and homes of candidates and political leaders of the government party, in the end even the private home of the president was looted and destroyed; on other places the families, including sons, where kidnapped and threatened of being flagellated and immolated if their minister parent or union leader didn't renounce his charge. A long night of long knives had broke out, and fascism showed its ears.
When the popular forces, mobilized to resist this civil coup, started to retake territorial control of the cities with the presence of workers, miners, farmers, indigenous and urban residents, and when the balance of the correlation of forces was leaning to the side of the popular forces, came the military coup.
The police for weeks had shown their indolence and ineptitude to protect the poorest people when they were beaten and pursued by fascistoid bands; but from Friday and onward, without the acknowledgment of the civic power, many of them would show extraordinary ability to attack, detain, torture and kill popular protesters. Of course, before the task was to contain the sons of the middle class and supposedly they had no recourse or capacity, but now that it revolved around repressing the revolting indians, the deployment, potency and repressive fury was monumental. The same happened with the armed forces (military). During all our management (Evo's government) we never allowed the repression against civic protests, not even against the first civic coup of 2008. Now in the midst of convulsion, without anyone asking, they said that there were not enough anti-riots elements and that in order to make presence in the streets to dissuade the riots it was required a presidential decree. However they didn't doubt about asking-imposing the president Evo for his renounce, breaking constitutional order; they did their best to kidnap him when he was heading to Chapare; and when the coup was established they went out to the street to shoot live ammunition, to militarize the cities, to assassinate peasants. Everything without presidential decree. Obviously, to protect the indians decree is required. To repress and kill indians it is enough to obey what racial and class hatred commanded. In five days there is already more than 18 deaths and 120 injured by live ammunition; of course, all of them indigenous.
The question we must all try to answer is, how is it possible that this traditional middle class could incubate so much hatred and resentment to the indigenous, leading it to embrace a racialized fascism focused on an indigenous as the enemy? how did it irradiate its class frustrations to the police and military and become the social base for this "fascistization", state regression and moral degeneration?
It was the rejection towards equality, the rejection to the fundamentals for substantial democracy.
The past 14 years of government, the social movements have had as principal characteristic the process of social equalization, abrupt reduction of extreme poverty (from 38 to 15 percent), amplification of rights for everyone (universal access to health care, education and social security), "indianization" of the state (more than 50 percent of public workers of the administration have indigenous identity, new national narrative surrounding indigenous trunk), reduction of economic disparities (from 130 to 45 the income breach between the wealthiest and the poorest), that is to say, the systematic democratization of wealth, access to public goods, opportunities and state power. The economy has grown from 9 billion USD to 42 billion, the market and internal saving grew, that allowed access to own housing and betterment of work activity. But this has lead to the fact that if in a certain decade the percentage of the people from the so called "middle class, middle in income" has gone from 35 percent to 60 percent, the majority coming from popular indigenous sectors. It's about a process of democratization of social goods through the construction of material equality, but that inevitably has lead to a devaluation of the economic, educative and politic capitals possessed by the traditional middle class. If before a notorious last name or the monopoly of the legitimate opinion or the set of parental relationships, typical of the middle class, allowed them access to public administration seats, obtain credits, bid on public works or scholarships, today the quantity of people competing for such seats or opportunities not only has duplicated, reducing by half the possibilities to get access to this goods; On top of that the new middle class, of indigenous origin, has a new set of capitals (indigenous language, union links) of higher value and state recognition to bid for the available public goods.
It is therefore about a collapse of what used to be characteristic of colonial society, the ethnicity as capital, it is to say, the imaginary fundamental of the historic superiority of the middle class to the subordinate social classes, because here in Bolivia the social class is only comprehensible and visualized thru the form of racial hierarchies. The fact that the sons of this traditional middle class have been the shock force of the reactionary insurgency is the violent scream of a new generation that sees how the heritage of the linage and skin color is vanishing before the force of the democratization of goods. Although they fly flags for democracy understood as vote, in reality they have revolted against democracy understood as equalization and distribution of the riches. That is why the overflow of hatred, the waste of violence, because the racial supremacy is not something rationalized; it is lived as a primary impulse of the body, as a tattoo of colonial history on the skin. From there that fascism is not only the expression of failed revolution, but also, paradoxically, on postcolonial societies, the success of material democratization achieved.
Because of that, it is of no surprise that while the indians pick up the bodies of close to a score of dead people assassinated with bullets, their material and moral victims narrate that they have done it to safeguard democracy. But in reality they know that what has been done is protect the skin law.
But racial hatred can only destroy; it is not an horizon, but a primitive vengeance of an historic class that is morally decaying, that demonstrates that behind every mediocre liberal there is hidden coup-ist ready to strike.
Álvaro García Linera, Bolivia vice president in exile.