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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.134

How Bolivia’s struggle for radical democracy became institutionalized


  • Dr. Thomas GRISAFFI

Primary authors


What happens to an anti-systemic movement that takes power? This paper analyses the Bolivian Movement for Socialism (MAS) party as it transformed from being a radical agricultural union criminalised by US drug war policies, into a ruling party responsible for governing the country. When coca union leader Evo Morales became president in 2005 grassroots members expressed hope at the new forms of political engagement that were now open to them. But with 10 years elapsed since that momentous day, increasingly critical voices can be heard from within the ranks. The main cleavage is coca, which transformed from being a potent symbol of anti-imperial resistance to a dangerous threat that the government had to control from the top down. The South American case study provides broader insights into the difficulties of reconciling revolutionary struggles with attempts to be in formal government.