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New Left Review I/73, May-June 1972

René Zavaleta

Bolivia—Military Nationalism and the Popular Assembly

On 7 October 1970 President Ovando was overthrown by a triumvirate representing the three branches of the armed forces, headed by General Miranda. Then, in a remarkable political action, General Torres proclaimed resistance to this junta, called on the workers, and made himself President. The triumvirate managed to last only a few hours because the working class came on to the streets. Yet it is misleading to describe the October 1970 events in terms of an alliance between the working class and military nationalism. The word ‘alliance’ implies the existence of a deliberate pact, and in this case there was really a unilateral move by Torres which would not have been possible without the—equally unilateral—spontaneous support of the working class. Without the support of the workers, the small group of military nationalists would not have been able to reverse Miranda’s seizure of power. But, on their own, the workers would have failed to stop Miranda. The mass uprising was successful because it was sanctioned by the military, and the military nationalists, who were in the minority, would not have played a significant role had they not been able to call on the working class.

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Rene Zavaleta, ‘Bolivia: Military Nationalism and the Popular Assembly’, NLR I/73: £3

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