García Linera: To preserve the changes accomplished, we must further deepen them.
 Speech by Vice President of State Álvaro García Linera at the Opening Ceremony of the 20th Meeting of the São Paulo Forum, at Campo Ferial, La Paz.
Friday, August 29th, 2014.
Brothers and sisters, very good morning, my warmest, respectful, fraternal and revolutionary greetings to each one of the delegations from the progressive leftist revolutionary political parties present here, from our continent, from Europe, Asia, welcome to this land of simple and fighting, insurgent, revolutionary people called Bolivia, thank you very much for your presence here.
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A greeting to the working group here at the front, I would like to point out the presence of Mônica Valente, our São Paulo Forum executive secretary, of our brothers Jorge Machado, Jacinto Suárez, and Rodrigo Ca­bezas, and of  Nidia Díaz, always looking younger sister Nidia.
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To my brother Hugo Cabie­ces, to Fabián Solano, to the representative of the government of China, to the ambassadors, to the ambassadress of Venezuela, of Ecuador, Uruguay, and Argentina and my brothers, my wife Leo, she was not born Leo, she became a Leo during the battle, a lioness, a brave and fighting woman, it’s a pleasure to be by your side, my dear Leo.
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To my COB executive brothers, my brothers the oil workers, and my intercultural brothers, brother Eber, to our sisters from the intercultural women, Santa Cruz, all of Bolivia that is present here, Beni, La Paz, Cocha­bamba, Oruro, Potosí, Chuqui­saca, Pando.
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Allow me first to send you a most affectionate greeting from our Pre­sident Evo, from our brother Evo, who has his heart in the São Paulo Forum and who sends a most affectionate and fraternal greeting to all delegations.
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Twenty-four years ago, when the São Paulo Forum was born, the world we were living in was different, the Soviet Union had just crumbled before our eyes, an empire and a unipolar imperial structure imposed and consolidated itself, with the US economic, ideological, and military power at the forefront. Those were the days of Reagan and Thatcher in the world,  when the media, the universities, even labor, spread a planetary ideology, a planetary model called neoliberalism, which began to ride across the continent and the world in apparently triumphal manner.
At the time they spoke of the so-called end of history, history was apparently ending, nothing else could be done, just turn off the lights and submit resignedly to the unipolar empire, to neoliberalism, to the privatizations, to the Washington consensus. In our Latin America, things were not easy either, heroic Cuba, resilient, isolated, and bearing the most terrible criminal blockade in the history of humanity.
In Nicaragua we lost the elections, we cried over the defeat, in El Salvador the peace processes and agreements were beginning. And in all the other countries of Latin America, from Río Bravo to Patagonia, the so-called neoliberal model was imposed, companies were privatized, public funds accumulated over decades were surrendered, and private foreign investors arriving at our countries got off as in the days of Columbus to appropriate themselves of everything.
Twenty-four years have gone by and there is no doubt that the world today is much different from the one that gave rise to the São Paulo Forum. It has changed; the things and the structure, the deliberations and struggles that were pushed forward, deliberated, proposed have not been in vain. Today, at the 24th anniversary of the Forum, we are witnessing the slow but irreversible decadence of the “American hegemon”, the US is no longer the imperial power ruling the world. It is still dominant, but needs to do so by using its  gunboats, its special forces, its brutal interventionism in every region of the world.
Little by Little China and Europe are taking its economic leadership. We cannot speak of a multipolar world yet, but it is clear the single hegemon, the omnipotent and omnipresent United States is no longer today. It continues to be dominant, but on the basis of force, no longer on the basis of leadership, calls, and indisputable economic power. There is a kind of proliferation of micro regional powers worldwide and in Latin America as had never occurred in the history of our national makings. We are witnessing the appearance, the proliferation of progressive and revolutionary governments on the continent.
In little less than 15 years, neoliberalism and the aftermath of privatization, noncompliance with labor laws, surrender of public goods to foreigners, of submission to the Washington consensus’ financial bodies, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund in Latin America, like never before this is being dismantled.
Today we can say that a postneoliberal model has spread over Latin America in general, to speak of neoliberalism in Latin America is more and more like speaking of an archaism, it’s almost like speaking of a Jurassic park. Fifteen years ago, neoliberalism was the bible; today neoliberalism is an archaism we are throwing into the trash can of history, from where it should have never left.
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The world is another world, the world is another, history continues, the ideology and the false macro tale about the end of history has fallen before the emergence of struggles, projects, insurgencies that have expanded across the continent.
I would like to mention, as a result of these achievements, five achievements and five tasks to preserve, so as to deepen the revolutionary processes not only in the Latin-American continent, but also in Europe, Asia, Africa, the world in general.
The first lesson and the first achievement I would like to mention regarding this Latin-American insurgency, is democracy as revolutionary method. We used to construe democracy as a suspicious previous stage of the revolution, and we braced for it and for the circumstances of dictatorship and colonial domination, which created the conditions for viewing democracy this way, merely as a previous stage of an overarching process called revolution.
What Latin America has shown over these 15 years, over the last 10 years, is that democracy has changed and that it is possible to change it in the environment and cultural space of revolution itself, what we in Boli­via call democratic revolution.
That is, by changing citizenship powers, the rights to think, associate, organize, mobilize, in a fabric and network that have enabled the totality of the revolutionary and progressive governments of Latin America to rise to power. Yet this change to democracy as revolutionary method has not come as mere appropriation of the mutilated, fragmented view of democracy of the conservative and neoliberal governments; what happened in Latin America was the social appropriation of democracy as the propitious space for hegemony, understood in the Gramscian sense as intellectual leadership, cultural leadership, ideological leadership, political leadership.
What has happened in Latin America is that, with the social struggles, the emergence of social  urban and rural struggles, worker and peasant struggles, indigenous and youth struggles, popular struggles, democracy gradually transformed and enriched its content, as we left behind fossilized democracies, those of the ritualistic election every four or five years in our countries. Where there have triumphed progressive governments there has been a transformation and enriching of democracy understood as parti­cipation, understood as radicalization, understood as community, here we call it communitarian democracy, participatory democracy, while each country has its own defintiton.
More importantly is that, in face of fossilized democracies, where the conservative forces were entrenched, society itself has recreated, rebuilt, reinvented, and deepened democracy as participation, democracy as construction of collective identity, democracy as the place for increasingly more socialized, more communitarian decision making.
This is the first lesson, democracy as revolutionary method, not just as stage toward the revolution.
A second achievement of these 10 years, of these 14, 15 years of revolutionary struggle, is the concept of governability and legitimacy building on a dual content. Today, Latin-American societies and the revolutionary governments have achieved their stability and governability not by only staying attached to the mechanisms of electoral victory, the institutional mechanisms of Parliament, the Executive, and their institutions but to the other fundamental component of revolutionary governability, of revolutionary legitimacy, which is popular presence and social mobilization on the streets.
I make no mistake when I say the victories of the Latin-American left are the fruit of mobilization processes in the cultural and ideological sphere, but also in the social and organizational sphere. That is the case of Bolivia. The victory of our President Evo could not be thought of without the struggles, without the water war, the coca war, the gas war, without the popular mobilizations, which steadily created a strong fabric of participation, of social mobilization, which ensured not only the electoral victory, but also the stability of the revolutionary government and social capability to take on attempted coups, one after the other the rightwing conspiracies of the past years.
If we assume that the conquest of power in our countries can be seen as an electoral extension of mobilization and collective resistance capacity, the legitimacy of our countries comes therefore by way of electoral victory, but also by way of the permanent mobilization and collective action of the various social movements. In Bolivia this has been translated into the existence of a government of social movements
Today in Bolivia, more than a party, more than the MAS, and here I would like to quote the beautiful words of brother Damián Con­dori, from the CSUTCB, who used to say “We, as Peasant Confederation, we are not from the MAS, MAS is our creature, is our child”, and because of that they control the Party’s board, command, and strategic lines.
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This is a continent-wide contribution, the social organization, the diverse social structures as strength and power block that is translated electorally in political parties, in political organizations that fight for electoral victory in the elections.
The third achievement over these 14 years was the dismantling of neoliberalism. It is a pity to still see in countries of Europe that this ideology still prevails, this mechanism designed to draw human capacities and place them in a few private hands. And when we see the decisions being taken in Greece, in Ita­ly, in Spain, or in France, we already know how the story goes because we experienced it here 10 or 20 years ago: impoverished workers, debilitated State, a few companies getting much richer, loss of rights, that which still has not ended in some countries and regions of the world, in Latin America we have been dismantling it.
What did the dismantling of the neoliberal model and the entrance of what has been dubbed postneoliberalism mean? Firstly, the recovery of strategic companies, those State-owned companies where economic surplus is generated, because if a revolution has no economic surplus, how can it manage to consolidate its leadership and stability when there is a shortage of funds, it is indispensable, indispensable. A revolution and the revolutionary process fight their lives to hold an economic surplus capable of generating distribution processes.
The dismantling of neoliberalism in Bolivia and in Latin America has meant the recovery of strategic companies to be controlled by the State. Secondly, the broadening of common goods, the broadening of resources that belong to all and not just to a few. Thirdly, continuous redistribution of wealth – if the State is to concentrate a country’s vital surpluses it is not to generate a new business community but to redistribute them among the most excluded sectors.
Reconstitution and broadening of labor rights that were unknown during the neoliberal times. The postneoliberal processes in Latin American have meant autarkic processes and the moving away from the world economy circuits. The difference is that now positioning in regional and world circuits is done in a selective way and according to each country’s needs and not the needs of a company, as used to happen in the neoliberal days.
A fourth historical component achieved in these 14 years was the painstaking yet steadily increasing construction of a new body of ideas, of a new driving common sense. We mustn’t forget, my brothers and sisters, that politics is fundamentally the struggle for the direction of driving ideas, a society’s and a State’s mobilizing ideas, and that every revolutionary that fights for State power is half matter and half idea. Every State, the conservative and the progressive, the one that is established and the one that is in transition, is matter, institution, organization, correlation of forces, but it is also an idea, common sense, mobilizing force in the realm of ideology.
Peoples do not fight only because they suffer. Peoples fight and are willing to give their lives up because they know and because they believe there is hope the suffering will end. And when over these 14 years the left is capable of creating hope, a possibility of victory, a possibility of establishing everyday life, it has achieved so in minds and in hearts. From this moment on it has converted the strength of an idea into electoral strength, electoral strength into State strength, State strength into economic strength.
What are the components of these power ideas that are being reconstructed and expanded across the continent in a renewed manner over this last decade? First, plurality of identities; we have learned that collective identities are not rigid, that  they tend to be more flexible. There is a new workers’ movement that is not the workers’ movement that our parents knew, our grandchildren, of the big factory, the big industry, of the unionized and the established hierarchy. A new workers’ movement has emerged, fragmented, dispersed, majoritarian and young, yet with a more diffuse structure. And the political parties have to be able to connect with, to provide coordination spaces for this new workers’ movement, more fragmented materially yet stronger, larger in numbers than before.
The appearance of the peasant-indigenous identity as a transformative force of our countries. In Bolivia the peasant-indigenous movement is the main axis of the popular movement. It has been around the peasant-indigenous that the worker, the factory, the neighborhood, the student, the intellectual, the professional have found the center from where to articulate expectations, demands and to create a single front to take on the right and the neoliberal sectors.
Youth-led complex forms of urban, city organization in face of which the leftist parties must have the openness and skill to bring their forces together, understand their needs and create liberation, mobilization, and participation spaces around the core axes of the workers’ and indigenous-peasant movement.
A second element of these new power ideas, no doubt, is anti-imperialism and anticolonialism. Anti-imperialism understood not as rejection against the US people, one should never reject peoples, anti-imperialism understood as rejection of and resistance against the structures of domination of other countries, US and Europe, regarding our decisions. Latin America is ours and we will know what to do with our continent. No one needs to come here and tell us or give us lectures on how to produce better and think better.
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Anti-imperialism is the recognition of our own forces and it is a blessing that it should be up to us to decide our fates. Anti-imperialism is self-determination, the capacity of the peoples to choose their fates, without bosses, without kings, and without leaders — that is anti-imperialism.
Also, over these last 15 years socialist pluralism appeared, in some parties, in some countries, with greater intensity in some, not so intense in others, some construing it one way, others in another way. There is collective reflection about what it has to be and about the meaning of socialism. There is a renewed, and in the case of Bolivia, communitarian thought concerning the construction of a society that goes beyond not only neoliberalism, but also capitalism itself.
Lastly, a fifth achievement is renewed internationalism and expectation of regional integration. The founding of Alba, Unasur, Celac, are unprecedented constructions in the history of our continent. Twenty, thirty, fifty years ago continent-wide structures were created, yet all of them were directed, funded, and managed by the United States. These new structures are structures in which, we, Latin Americans, decide how to begin to build our unity. We do not need the United States
 
Legenda foto Mar da Bolívia
 
to have a sound economy, to be democratic, to have knowledge, and to improve living conditions, as Celac is that.
Latin America has to reflect about itself, about the need to unify its forces in order to build a continental State that will be plurinational and with financial and technological structures that may enable the passage from ideological and political unification to economic, material, and technological integration, which is the great challenge posed to Latin-Americans in this 21st century.
These are the five achievements; yet, now we have five tasks. We have advanced a lot here, the world has changed, Latin America has changed. However, neither the world, nor Latin America have changed enough, and the goal is that they change in a more radical way. Based on our experience in Bolivia, we believe that we, revolutionaries, social organizations, trade unions, communities, progressive governments, revolutionary governments, still have five goals ahead.
The first one is to defend and broaden the achievements made so far. It is not possible, and it would be terrible for the revolutionary emancipation processes, if there were to be a reversal. It is the duty of every revolutionary, of each person who thinks about their country, about their fatherland, about the poor, the humble, and about Latin-American unity, to stand up for what has been achieved here. Insufficient? Sure the advances made are insufficient; however, more achievements are not made by backsliding into the claws of neoliberalism and blackmail.
If we wish to move forward, we must preserve what we have achieved. If a revolution is halted, it slips back. In order to consolidate itself, a revolution must necessarily deepen further. For that, it is necessary to broaden, pursuant to the needs and possibilities of each country, each Government, each State, to broaden common goods today, distribute more wealth, expand sovereignty, and above all radiate this strength, this ideology, this experience to other countries across the continent that are, sadly, still under the claws of imperial interventionism and the ideology of neoliberal models.
A second goal, we need to broaden our economic achievements and stabilize the development model accomplished so far. Before we were the Government, what was essential was to have a project and mobilization capacity. But when you are the Government, what matters is to improve the economy, uphold and deepen the project, and ensure mobilization capacity. The conditions of struggle before we become the Government partly change when we are the Government. Mobilization has to be perpetual, as this is the guarantee for any resistance, victory, or defense against the right or the conservative forces.
The project must get constant feedback and enrich itself on a permanent basis. A revolution is always about the future. There will always be new horizons before society and with society that mobilize the soul, the spirit, the intelligence, the sacrifice of a society. But in Government, a third task must be added, that of ensuring economic growth, economic improvement, increased happiness for each one of the people, especially the weakest, the most in need, the most oppressed, and the most abandoned.
Every revolution in the world, since the days of Marx, has always had one quality: it always comes in waves. It is not an uninterrupted process of social rise. It comes and goes, comes and goes, comes and goes. This happened in Bolivia: in 2000, the first wave, the water war; another wave in 2003, the  gas war; ebbing tide, another wave in 2005, electoral victory; ebbing tide, another wave in 2008, the Constituent Assembly and the political and military defeat of the coup plotting right. All revolutions come in waves. There is the moment of social rise, the moment of the heroic community, the moment of full sacrifice, of retreat and slight social decline, the moment of meeting necessity.
Every revolutionary and every revolutionary party must learn how to move in both directions, at both moments, and soon another flow and ebb, and every revolutionary and every revolutionary party must learn to conduct and manage these two collective action logics.
A revolution is also economic management capability. We must share our countries’ experiences. There are revolutionary and progressive governments in Latin America, and we must share the achievements, what can and what can’t be done.
This is a long-term struggle that will last decades, and we must be prepared for moments of confrontation and of management, of ideological and spiritual radiation, and for the moments of meeting necessity.
Our third task is to strengthen everyday life communitarian and socialist trends. Today we are in a transition period, which we call postneoliberalism. But,in the long run, there are two options: to become a more humane, more social, and more participative form of capitalism, but ultimately, capitalism, or become postneoliberalism, a bridge toward postcapitalis­t society. This will not be easy and this will not be decided in one day. it will take decades for this postneoliberalism to define whether it will become one or the other.
We, the revolutionary, are here not to manage a good form of capitalism, but to ride capitalism toward its transformation and negation, toward a socialist, communitarian society.
There are two key elements for the promotion of the socialist, communitarian trends –broaden societal participation in the decision making. As we broaden societal participation, building on institutional mechanisms, building on organizational and social mechanisms, we are promoting the postcapitalist socialist trend; likewise, as we advance, and that’s the most difficult in the world, toward projects, toward productive structures in which the people produce together and decide about these shared earnings for the common good of society, we are building socialism.
As we manage to make necessity prevail over greed, as more and more people participate in the construction of productive, technological, associative networks, not only out of policy and demand, but rather to produce material wealth, we are promoting the socialist and communitarian trend. Ultimately, the fate of Latin America and the world is decided in this realm, participation, pro­duction; increasingly more participation in State decision making, in the more communitarian construction of material goods, production at the service of all. I believe that this summarizes the concept of integral State, with which Gramsci defined the construction of socialism and communism toward the future.
Our fourth task is to have the capacity to overcome the tensions emerging from a type of revolution arising from democratic processes. This kind of problem would not appear in the case of the Chinese revolution, the Bolshevik revolution, because they emerged from revolutionary wars. When a revolution triumphs within a democratic process, things get tougher, harder, more complicated. Still, we must take on whatever comes. One of the tensions we need to learn is how to build hegemony.
Hegemony in the Gramscian sense is not abuse, it is leadership, it is moral guidance, political, cultural, and spiritual guidance, for the social forces, a revolution must always broaden itself, spread to other sectors. Yet, if it spreads too thin, this will weaken the center and its essence is lost. If it concentrates on its core, it becomes isolated and then from its environs other leaders may emerge that lure the social classes against the revolution. So, one must always be able to constantly ponder between consolidating the fundamental worker, peasant, indigenous, popular core,  and spreading to other sectors.
Don’t forget, we must always bring Lenin and Gramsci together. The adversary must be defeated, that is Lenin. To Gramsci, the adversary must be incorporated. But you can’t incorporate an adversary as an organized adversary, but as a defeated adversary; so it is defeat and incorporate, defeat and incorporate.
A second tension that is typical in a revolutionary process, State and social movements. Every State is bound to concentrate decisions. That’s why it is the State, to make decisions, execute. While every social movement is deconcentration and democratization of decisions. If I only focus on the State, I am not a revolutionary State anymore, I’m efficient, but there is no more participatory or communitarian democracy. If I only focus on participation and de­liberation and lose executive capacity, then this Government won’t achieve results and our own people, over time, will demand results and the right wing can show up and claim to be the one who does actually deliver results with efficiency, and turn society around ideologically.
A revolutionary government must ride both things, must ride the broadening of deliberation, of participation by the social movement, and have executive capacity to make decisions and deliberative capacity to democratize these decisions. This is where its revolutionary condition and fate is decided.
Lastly, the third revolutionary tension of these days is the one that confronts development and defense of Mother Earth. Our experience in Bolivia, based on the cultural identity strength of the indigenous movement, is that we must generate wealth, meet necessities. And to do that we must produce, we must extract gas, minerals, create factories, and by doing so we affect Mother Earth.
But if we don’t affect Mother Earth and only concentrate on preserving Mother Earth, how can we meet necessities? With what money are we going to build the hospitals, improve the schools, and improve workers’ incomes? — it’s a tension. And the ability of a revolutionary government, which ultimately defines this Government as revolutionary, lies in the capacity of coordinating both, producing, yet without affecting the environment structure, not in a predatory way, but preserving nature while generating technological and managerial spaces to preserve wealth.
Some countries want Latin America to become a national park of Europe or the US, but we will not allow that.
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There are people who want the Latin-Americans to live like 300 years ago, while they have cars, televisions, refrigerators, Internet, no shortage of food, a couple of Indians, as they say, protect the woods for them. Not at all, we are going to protectthe woods for ourselves, not for them, not for their companies.
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This is a complicated and typical tension of the Latin-American revolutionary process that little by little is becoming the agenda of other revolutionary processes in the world.
Lastly, the fifth task is to push forward technical-productive integration processes. There is the will, the presidents have gathered, assembly members have gathered, the continent’s social organizations have gathered. We are all present here, unions have gathered before, our governments cooperate politically and ideologically with one another. Bolivia defeated a fascist coup against Pre­sident Evo in collaboration with Unasur and Alba, which put an international brake on the attempted coup d’état against our President Evo.
But we are failing in the economic integration and that is the material basis for any integration. While we delay economic integration on account of its difficulties, continental integration will show limitations. And that is the challenge: to go from political, ideological, and cultural integration to economic, material, and technological integration processes. We must do it, we must bet our lives, as no revolution and no country of Latin America will move forward alone. Either we all move forward or no one will.
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Brothers and sisters, this is our simple experience, our experience of a revolutionary process led by our President Evo and the social movements. We have come this far, we submit this experience and these concerns to the rest of our sister social organizations across the continent and the world. And we have also come here to listen and learn from your experiences because, together, we will be able to build a new communitarian and socialist world.
Thank you very much.
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