Activists should get hold of a copy of Basta! to show to their union branch or student union. It is a short film by Mariette Heres about the Bolivian gas and water wars. It will be shown at the No Sweat conference on 26 November.
Basta! deals with the political crisis in Bolivia created by the struggle over Bolivia’s enormous gas and oil reserves. We also see the overthrow of President Sanchez de Lozada in October 2003, following strikes, demonstrations and blockades. The film ends in 2004, before the fall — in similar circumstances — of his replacement, Carlos Mesa.
Mesa resigned on 6 June and the new President, Eduardo Rodriguez, has promised elections in December, and a referendum on regional autonomy in July 2006.
Bolivia is a country of nine million, where 60% live on less than a dollar a day. The existence of huge natural wealth should enable the state to abolish poverty. Instead it has led to enormous popular mobilisations demanding the nationalisation of the energy sector.
The film presents a selection of views. On the right Teresa Paz, an MP from Lozada’s party, justifies the sale of gas as good “for the country.”
A spokesman from one of the NGOs regrets the conflict and Bolivia’s endemic racism, directed at the two-thirds of the population who are poor and indigenous. However his political message is directed against the leaders of the popular movement and the unions. These people, he warns, are a threat to democracy; they are authoritarians who dream of the past in response to globalisation. He urges the poor to have “infinite patience” and to recognise change will be slow.
For the left protest leader Roberto de la Cruz demands bread and work. He wants money currently going to the transnationals to be used for the welfare of the people. Jaime Solares from the COB union federation demands nationalisation.