Adriana Salvatierra: “We’re not Going to Elections on Oblivion and Impunity.”

By Marta Dillon on November 29, 2019

Photo: Pablo Aneli

Lucid and determined, she has no doubt that her leader is Evo Morales and what happened was a coup d’état. Nor does she doubt the need to ensure that the victims are not forgotten or that the perpetrators go unpunished.

Adriana Salvatierra, 30, a political scientist of Santa Cruz origin, embraces Victor Borda in the anteroom of the stands for the press and diplomatic and government personnel from where the session of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly can be followed. She was the president of the Bolivian Senate and resigned almost at the same time as former president Evo Morales, Borda presided over the Chamber of Deputies and also resigned. It was a release after days of tension that included once again returning to the legislature with clothing destroyed by demonstrators related to the occupation government of Jeanine Áñez and constant threats that she will be arrested if she ever sets foot in Sana Cruz again. In spite of her fatigue, which is noticeable, she remains lucid and determined. There is no doubt, her leader is Evo Morales and what happened was a coup d’état. There is no doubt about the forgotten victims and the impunity of the perpetrators, the process of extraordinary elections will not be legitimate and that is why they will continue to promote the law of guarantees, which, after the approval of the regulations for the application of the law of extraordinary elections, has no processing date.

Why aren’t you in the room for deliberation on the sanctioning of the regulation of the law of extraordinary elections?

It is for a formal matter, incumbents and substitutes of the benches alternate the presence in the precinct and this time it was my turn to be outside.

Would you like to be inside?

Not really. Because the bench is united and an institutional solution is needed to this coup d’état that we have suffered, but one cannot go to elections on the basis of political persecution and above all on the 33 deaths left by the repression, the more than 700 wounded who are still hospitalized, and thousands of detainees. Today they have just repealed Supreme Decree 4078, but yesterday Áñez met with the Armed Forces and agreed on a series of regulations for their benefit. And no criminal proceedings have been initiated for the deaths and this is impunity, which is finally the effect of the supreme decree: to leave a margin of time in which the Armed Forces were exempted from responsibility. This means there is impunity.

You choose not to talk about the government, obviously.

I don’t agree with calling this transitional administration “government”. We cannot recognize this occupation as a government because, in addition to continuing to rely on the tanks, they are making decisions that are structural and are not authorized for that. Like expelling diplomatic personnel from Venezuela and Cuba and appointing an ambassador to the United States when relations with that embassy were only business and not intervention. These political decisions are serious. In addition, they not only continue to empower the armed and security forces to maintain impunity for repression, they also fail to act, and on the contrary, protect, armed paramilitary groups that have persecuted, wounded and tortured our Mayoress in Vinto, for example, but many other mayors’ offices. They have burned down houses, libraries, and are protected by the transitional administration.

Do these different ways of naming the de facto government speak of different strategies within the MAS structure?

They are not different strategies and we do not want to subscribe to the idea that there is a dialogue sector and a hard sector. MAS has a presence in the 339 municipalities and indigenous governments. It is made up of the Confederación Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia, the women’s organizations, students, indigenous women Bartolina Sissa, the confederation of intercultural entities, the conamac, the conasil, and the 34 nations of eastern Bolivia. We are in all the regions, it is an electoral party machinery but it also recognizes Evo Morales’ leadership; later this electoral machinery that also takes decisions with its bases in a regional way and in expanded national will be able to elect its candidates for the next elections. There are three different elements in our organization: one is the party -the structure-, the leadership of Evo, and the program that we carry out from the rank and file. Everyone has a responsibility to rearm our structure after this coup. But what we can certainly not do is advance in the elections on the basis of impunity and oblivion. We cannot allow that. There is no negotiation over the dead and wounded.

Do you agree that there will be no justice in this country for those deaths, that it will not be possible to investigate how the events took place?

In addition to the repeal of the decree that enables the armed and security forces to repress without any restraint or danger of being held criminally responsible, an exhaustive investigation of what happened in all the acts of repression but fundamentally in which the participation of the army, which has different ways of acting to those of the police, we insist that there can be no progress in the institutional solution to oblivion and impunity.

With such a large and diverse structure as the one that integrates the Movement to Socialism, Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of Peoples (MAS-IPSP), couldn’t an electoral change be found for this period that would safeguard the process they were implementing?

It is what we are doing now.

But there has already been a coup d’état.

The coup d’état was not because of that! It is true that a slogan was generated after the plebiscite with the 21F that brought together sectors that do not tolerate what we did in terms of rights. But in 2008 we had an attempted coup d’état! This is a coup against the contempt for neoliberalism, against a form of government that has managed to reduce poverty by more than half, 38 percent in 2005 to 15 percent in 2018. And in addition to that, it managed to reduce inequality in an extraordinary way. The issue is a model in which the forces that are now in the administration believe that the State must be suffocated and that power must be given to companies and those of us who believe that the State is the tool to administer and redistribute resources.

However, there is also a demand from indigenous sectors and other sectors of the population about extractivism, which is a problem that affects all of Latin America.

Look, it is a transversal demand from the right and from the left, yes, let’s be clear. But I would return the question about how they think we could have transformed social indices without our natural resources. Of course it is necessary to migrate towards a knowledge-based economy; but we need gas, lithium, our resources used in a balanced way and with State control and administration.

And the middle classes have benefited greatly from this process over the past 14 years, however, they are now the most reactive to what Evo Morales’ administration has done.

Human development has been measured on the basis of indications of consumption and not on the basis of rights c obtained. We have paradigms that go beyond consumption. It is true that things have changed and many have had access to consumer products and other ways of living. But we, I say again, won rights. I’ll tell you something that at first I didn’t see as clearly but that is impressive because it brought about access to food supplements for women during pregnancy. Before, only those with formal and registered work had access to benefits. The peasants, the informal workers, those who worked at home did not have access and what was the result? Widespread malnutrition. That food aid became universal and things changed radically.

Is it mass inclusion that bothers the white middle class? Or that it is not recognized as being of any indigenous origin.

In our region, no one can say that they do not have an indigenous origin. But look around you (her hand is extended to cover the room where miners from the north of Potosí circulate with their helmets on, deputies and senators, peasant leaders; a diversity of origins, clothes, colors that are not usually seen in the hall of lost steps); many of these people did not have documents ten years ago! This is what is not tolerated, and it is our greatest gain, a legacy of the political decision of President Evo Morales. Like women’s participation in politics, we are among the top three countries in the world in terms of women’s political representation. And we are unique in the region.

Well, Argentina has also grown a lot in women’s political participation and other non-heterosexual identities.

Yes, but look what happened to the demand for the legalization of abortion: immense mobilizations, street pressure. But without the support of the government, the law did not materialize.

Are you going to be part of the race in the next elections?

I don’t think so, but it’s not a personal decision. In any case, I believe that I have already fulfilled my institutional tasks. My militancy will continue in the street.

Source: Pagina 12, translation by Internationalist 360º