The (im) possible revolution : ideology, framing and historical events in the making of the Bolivian Popular Assembly of 1971
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During June and July of 1971, representatives of Bolivian union and left-wing political organizations from across the nation gathered in the Legislative Palace with the objective of installing the Popular Assembly. In the absence of a democratically elected parliament the newly formed power organ of the proletariat attempted to formulate a strategy that would lead the country towards socialism. President Gen. Juan José Torres, a member of progressive sectors of the army that followed a national-popular agenda, supported the Assembly in a moment of high political instability amidst permanent threats from conservative factions of the army to seize power. With a majority of representatives from labor organizations and a preeminent role of mining workers, the Assembly followed the example of the Russian Revolution of 1917. The 'first soviet of Latin America', as it was called both by supporters and detractors, was the outcome of the particular twenty-five year political trajectory of the labor movement that combined a set of ideological principles and core framing tasks. The Popular Assembly came to a sudden end in 1971 when Gen. Torres’ presidency was cut short by a coup that brought a conservative military to power. Though it was never able to achieve its main political objectives, the case of an abortive social revolution allows a better understanding the role of ideology, collective action frames and historical events in explaining the outcomes of social revolutions and the actions of social movements.