The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
General Hugo Banzer Suárez, Sinclair Thomson, 2018. "The Military-Peasant Pact", The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics, Sinclair Thomson, Rossana Barragán, Xavier Albó, Seemin Qayum, Mark Goodale
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When General Hugo Banzer Suárez met with peasant leaders at the Presidential Palace in 1974, he encouraged them to cooperate with the right-wing military regime’s campaign to crush his opponents. The following extract from his speech illustrates not only state violence in the Cold War period, but the so-called Military-Peasant Pact that had prevailed since the dictatorship of General René Barrientos in the 1960s. Under the pact, the state would guarantee peasant control over the land, or distribute new plots, in return for political loyalty. Strategically, the state sought to prevent the broad alliance between peasants, workers, and the left that had made possible the revolution in the early 1950s. The speech was given shortly after the so-called Massacre in the Valley, in which the government killed at least seventy peasants, who were protesting deteriorating economic conditions, while trying to disperse their road blockades in the Cochabamba towns of Tolata and Epizana. The massacre shattered the legitimacy of the pact among highland Aymara peasants influenced by katarista radicalism, although the pact retained more force in other peasant sectors.