Evo Morales and the MST in Bolivia: Continuities and Discontinuities in Agrarian Reform

Brabazon, Honor and Webber, Jeffery R.. 2013. Evo Morales and the MST in Bolivia: Continuities and Discontinuities in Agrarian Reform. Journal of Agrarian Change, 14(3), pp. 435-465. ISSN 1471-0358 [Article]

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There is a widespread understanding in critical scholarly literature that the government of Evo Morales is fundamentally challenging the neoliberal order in Bolivia. The empirical record of Morales' first five years in office, however, illustrates significant neoliberal continuities in the country's political economy. At the same time, the most important social movements that resisted neoliberalism prior to Morales' election have been considerably demobilized in its wake. This gives rise to the critique that the Morales government has merely implemented a more politically stable version of the model of accumulation it inherited. This paper draws on recent field research in Bolivia to make a contribution to this broader research agenda on reconstituted neoliberalism. Our focus is twofold. On the one hand, the paper examines the continuities of agrarian class relations from the INRA law at the height of neoliberalism in 1996 to the various agrarian reform initiatives introduced since Morales assumed office in 2006. On the other hand, the paper traces the mobilization of the Bolivian Landless Peasants' Movement (MST) in response to the failure of the 1996 neoliberal agrarian reform, followed by the movement's demobilization after Morales' 2006 agrarian reform initiative. The paper explores this demobilization in the context of agrarian relations that have remained largely unchanged in the same period. Finally, the paper draws on recent reflections by MST members who, to varying degrees, seem to be growing critical of Morales' failure to fundamentally alter rural class relations, and the difficulties of remobilizing their movement at the present time.

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16 September 2013Published

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07 Feb 2019 16:42

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07 Feb 2019 16:42

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