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Friday -- 06.14.13 -- Bolivian Social Movements and Assemblies: from where to where, a discussion with Oscar Olivera

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Friday -- 06.14.13 -- Bolivian Social Movements and Assemblies: from where to where, a discussion with Oscar Olivera

0. About Friday Night
1. Some Questions
2. About Oscar Olivera

En Español
3. Sobre viernes por la noche
4. Algunas de las preguntas
5. Sobre Oscar Olivera

la conversación será
en ingles y español

0. About Friday Night

What: Discussion with Oscar Olivera
When: Friday June 14th 7:00pm
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
Who: Free and open to all, the conversation will be in English and Spanish

Bolivian Social Movements and Assemblies: from where to where

Cochabamba, Bolivia is known for its victory against the privatization of its water, for kicking out the transnational Bechtel, and giving “birth” to Bolivia’s Left Turn and Evo Morales. But this victory did not springfrom
nothing and the form it took we find repeated in the takings of squares from Tahir to
Zucotti to Taksim.

Much of the organization and action in the Water Wars emerged from the Plaza Principal. This central square provided space for interaction and popular education. Also located in the square were the offices of the Fabriles, and this helped spur the formation of the Coordinadora de Defensa del Agua y de la Vida (Coalition in Defense of Water and Life).

The square became the focus of the Toma de Cochabamba (one of the first mobilizations against the privatization) as social movement, union workers, and ordinary people converged from the four points—north, south, east, and west. It was there that some of the fiercest battles were fought and the popular
assemblies evolved, gatherings of 50,000 people to deliberate and decide the demands of the movement.

Over a year ago, we organized in the 9 day intensive, a conversation with Marcela Olivera who was also integral in this struggle. Many questions were opened up and yet many remained to be articulated and elaborated, so we are very pleased to be joined by Oscar and to have Marcela also present to help anchor the discussion.

In the context of the movement of the squares, this history and continuing struggle against the state and global economic interests remains a valuable point of reference for potential afterlives and lessons of today's various global struggles. We hope you will join us for what should be a special evening.

1. Some questions to be discussed

How did this happen? What was the history of popular action in Bolivia that enabled this? How did assemblies of 50,000 people function? How did the rejection of the privatization of water become a demand for a Constituent Assembly? How did the call for a Constituent Assembly end up as a vote on a new constitution and what has this meant for social movements? How are issues of autonomy indigenous movements being addressed in the TIPNIS and elsewhere? What is the current relationship between the state and social movements?

2. About Oscar Olivera

“We discovered in the Coordinadora that meetings, assemblies, and barricades were the main instruments for struggle and liberation. Through these activities and events, we learned not only that we could reclaim our dignity and recover our voices, but also that the impoverished conditions of our existence resulted from, among other things, the huge shameless theft known as privatization. Thus the Coordinadora became a place where humble and simple people—ordinary working people—proved that by organizing, and by creating solidarity and mutual trust, people can lose their sense of fear and give a real content to democracy. Only in this way could we regain what was ours. Only in this way could we seek
to transform our own situation, our own reality.” (Oscar Olivera, Cochabamba, p.29
(South End Press, 2004))

Oscar Olivera, a spokesperson for the Coordinadora, was the president of the. Fabriles (the Cochabamba Federation of Factory Workers) and a co-founder of the Primero de Mayo, an open school for organizing.

En Español

3. Sobre viernes por la noche

Qué: Discusión con Oscar Olivera
Cuándo: Viernes 14 de junio, 7:00pm
Dónde: 16 Beaver Street, 4to. piso
Quiénes: Libre y abierto a todos y todas, la conversación será en ingles y español

Movimientos Sociales Bolivianos y asambleas: de Donde a Donde

Cochabamba, Bolivia es conocida por su victoria contra la privatización del agua, por expulsar a la transnacional Bechtel, y dar un giro a la “izquierda” de Evo Morales. Pero esta victoria no surgió de la nada y la forma que tomó se encuentra repetida en las tomas de las plazas de Tahir a Zucotti y luego a Taksim.

Gran parte de la organización y acción en la Guerra del Agua surgió en la Plaza Principal. Esta plaza proporcionó el espacio para la interacción y la educación popular. En la plaza también se encontraba la oficina de los Fabriles, y esto ayudó a impulsar la formación de la Coordinadora de Defensa del Agua y de la Vida.

La plaza se convirtió en el centro al que los movimientos sociales, trabajadores sindicalizados, y la gente común buscaba llegar desde los cuatro puntos cardinales en la llamada Toma de Cochabamba (una de las primeras movilizaciones contra la privatización del agua). Fue allí donde se libraron algunas de las más feroces batallas y las asambleas populares evolucionaron, hasta llegar a reunir a mas de 50.000 personas para deliberar y decidir las demandas del movimiento.

4. Algunas de las preguntas que se debatirán son:

¿Cómo sucedió esto? ¿Cuál fue la historia de acción popular en Bolivia que permitió esto? ¿Cómo asambleas de 50.000 personas funcionaron? ¿Cómo el rechazo a la privatización del agua se convirtió en una demanda para una Asamblea Constituyente? ¿Cómo fue que la convocatoria a esta Asamblea Constituyente terminó como una nueva constitución y que ha significado esto para los movimientos sociales? ¿Cómo la autonomía indígena en el TIPNIS y otros lugares esta siendo abordada? ¿Cuál es la relación actual entre los movimientos sociales y el estado?

5. Sobre Oscar Olivera

“Descubrimos en la Coordinadora que las reuniones, asambleas, y las barricadas fueron los principales instrumentos de lucha y liberación. A través de estas actividades y movilizaciones, no solo descubrimos que podemos recuperar nuestra dignidad y recuperar nuestra voz, sino también que las condiciones de pobreza de nuestra existencia se debían, entre otras cosas, al descarado robo llamado privatización. Así, la Coordinadora se convirtió en un lugar de trabajo donde la gente humilde y sencilla, la gente común, demostró que mediante la organización, y la creación de la solidaridad y la confianza mutua, la gente puede perder el miedo y dar un contenido real a la democracia. Sólo de esta manera podemos recuperar lo que es nuestro. Sólo de esta manera podemos tratar de transformar nuestra situación, nuestra propia realidad ". (Oscar Olivera, Cochabamba, p.29 (South End Press, 2004)

Oscar Olivera, el portavoz de la Coordinadora, fue el Secretario Ejecutivo de los Fabriles (la federación de trabajadores fabriles de Cochabamba) y co-fundador de la escuela de organizadores Primero de Mayo.

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16 Beaver Street, 4th fl.
New York, NY 10004

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