PCE (M-L) Hamma Hammami Interview

PCOT headquarters

March 5, 2011. Tunisia

HAMM: About the events in my country we say we are half way to the revolution, that is, the revolution continues. On January 14 the people overthrew the dictator after a month of heroic struggle, we got rid of the dictator, but not the dictatorship that remains in reconstitution in the judicial bodies in the puppet parliament and the Senate, the state apparatus and all police, in short, all the bureaucratic apparatus. The Tunisian people have not been spared the social and economic suffocation exercised by a minority of comprador. That is, after the removal of Ben Ali, the government continued composed of elements of the apparatus and the party of the dictator, the government was extended with some reformist and liberal members of the opposition essentially two games, the former party revisionist had become a reformist party and came to work with Ben Ali and the other a pseudo-liberal party called the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

Members of the two parties involved in the self-styled government of “National Union.” That government tried to sabotage the revolution and reduced to a mere liberalization of the regime, by patching of some reforms. Faced with this situation, the town continued with the revolution, the fight continued with slogans like “do not want just to” large ” [2] Ben Ali, but is also awarded the dictatorship, we want to change the political system, build a new democratic regime … ”

So the struggle continued against the government of “National Union” led by former Prime Minister Ben Ali, Gannouchi. But the government could not resist the pull of popular struggle and fell about two weeks after the escape of Ben Ali.

The prime minister himself, Gannouchi, formed a new government, which were not part of some members of the old regime, and were replaced by other secondary. It was essentially a reactionary government tried to cover up with some reforms. A level of popular struggles, it made some areas of freedom of expression, assembly and demonstration. It was possible to bring down several officers, both national and local and regional, and across the country are succeeding in establishing people’s power centers, the “Assembly to safeguard the revolution.” These new powers are popular organizing more and more, and managed to impose some demands to the government. But real power remained in the hands of the reaction, responsible for Ben Ali regime. But, as Lenin said, in the revolution the key issue is power. Therefore, while the power is not in the hands of people can not say that this phase of the revolution is over.

And indeed, as you have seen, the continuous struggle against reaction that seeks to preserve the old regime “liberalizing.” In this maneuver, it must be said loud and clear, involving U.S. government, France, the European Union itself, trying to stop the movement, so that, as Sarkozy’s government, this movement does not exceed the bourgeois framework.

Moreover, the revolutionary movement, popular, radical and wants a democratic republic, in this context, the confrontation between popular movements and the provisional Government was accentuated, and launched the slogan “dégage, government, dégage” shouted slogan until the last corner of the country. The objectives of this phase of the struggle, were threefold: To overthrow the interim government, convening a constituent assembly, and move the democratic republic, parliament. These concentrations were multiplied slogans and rallies. The government was forced to make concessions, but managed to stay. It should be stressed that the reaction has tried to exploit weaknesses. If the revolution has not yet completed, has been due to lack of awareness and decision, which left us half way, with a weak government and a popular movement that drags weaknesses. We are in a more or less influenced by power. It’s a situation as you have pointed out, Comrade Marco, reminds us a bit 1917.

There is a political unit within the popular movement, they shout the same slogans, which can be summarized as “freedom and national dignity.” Unit slogans are left Tunisia, unity among our party, the TCO, and other leftist forces. It should be emphasized that the actions undertaken, there has been no sectarian slogans, religious, for example, or of a partisan nature. Always seek unitary political slogans, socio-economic and anti-imperialist.

I must say that the efforts of our Party and other opposition parties, for more than six years, have created a Committee for Freedom and Rights. Is a group in which there are liberals, Islamists, independents, and of course our party. Until late 2005, when the left was proposing something, Islamists boycotted it, and when the proposals came from the Islamists, it was the left that boycotted. That is, there was a clear division. After 2005, we achieved a common work around the axis of freedom for the political forces work together to reflect on the differences with the Islamists, women’s rights, freedom of conscience, on the design of a system democratic, or a regime based on popular sovereignty.

With the Islamists came to a very important result with commonalities that led to a democratic platform on the right of women, freedom of conscience, and created an intellectual and political climate favorable.

Since 2008, with the demonstrations in the mining area of ​​Gafza, ideological tensions subsided within Tunisian political opposition, to make way for agreements on political and socio-economic problems, in the revolt in the mining, all left opposition, all, including Islamists, supported the motion. From then on all issues of the Tunisian political scene, were reached with the Islamists, the liberal reformers, and so on., Which helped create a favorable climate.

A weak point has been the lack of a nationally unique address. It has been much speculation about the spontaneous nature of the revolution, but it was really something spontaneous in the sense of a lack of awareness or a total lack of organization. This revolution took a very broad popular character, and in each region and locality were political activists, trade unionists, human rights fighters … who have led and participated in the fighting, as did our party. There was a degree of awareness, organization, which has enabled the movement to resist repression, which has enabled the movement to find each time the appropriate instructions and forms needed. But again, at the national level that has been on the lack of a firmly established political force, and this applies to us and the other forces, as we are concerned by the severe repression suffered in recent years that we were hit hard.

Despite the efforts that our party has done to bring together the democratic opposition, there was a lack of will to achieve a common work in the country, a gap that has remained almost until the fall of Ben Ali. They were people of liberal and reformist forces, which relied more on measures to reform the Ben Ali regime in the revolutionary movement. The two most representative of the reformist parties continued until the last day without reporting to Ben Ali and continued to refuse to reform the penal code, which led to the democratic opposition forces not to sign the petition.

At the same time the revolution began to overcome their own weaknesses, for example, on the initiative of our party to launch from the first day the slogan of “constitution of a National Assembly,” for all local and regional parts of the system were escaped, the police fled, the National Guard as well. So we have launched the slogan be everywhere Popular Committee, and these assemblies, committees, etc. They took the security in their hands to deal with criminals and bandits, and the forces of counterrevolution.

In another area, the revolutionary movement has forced in practice left to join. With the collapse of Ben Ali, the revolutionary forces of the nationalist left and join in the “Front January 14.” Front brings together the forces that confront the Government, in varying degrees, political parties, nationalists, trade unions, then join us for the creation of the National Council for the Preservation of the Revolution. Since then, despite many problems, concessions had to be done, discussions, etc.., Discouraging the common work, it was possible to combine the forces of revolution and progress was made together and brought down the second provisional government. The government first called itself the “national unity” and it was not, was a government of Ben Ali a, so to speak. The 2 nd government, provisional, was an attempt to preserve, through reforms, essential aspects of former Prime Minister of that government, Mohamed Gannouchi, was against the creation of the Constituent Assembly, to the claim of the Constitution, but just about moments before he resigned, Gannouchi said: “This country needs a constitutional assembly” … He resigned after making a reaction save time to regroup, which they have done in the last month, those active forces of the counterrevolution, consist essentially of old party members Ben Ali, the political police and militia in the pay of the oligarchy, who have committed terrorist acts against civilians, acts of vandalism to terrorize the people and let them know that “or us or anarchy.”

This provisional government showed tolerance towards those counterrevolutionary groups, and when he had the arrests of some of his men, did the police let them go. They wanted to terrorize the population, suggested that there was a danger of military intervention, even from abroad, or beaten by Islamist or leftist forces … all with the purpose of terrorizing the people. That government had the clear support of the United States, whose representatives have come to Tunisia several times, also was supported by the European Union promised a large aid material, and particularly the government of Sarkozy, in addition to the governments of Spain, Zapatero, and Italy with Berlusconi. All of them supported Ben Ali to the last day.

The United States, perhaps more intelligent, they began to express some reluctance when captured that government could not maintain that his time was short. As I said, that government did allow time to reorganize counter-revolutionary forces again, despite this, the popular forces we get rid of the 2 nd interim government.

We are now in a new phase in which the forces of revolution we eliminate all vestiges of the dictatorship. This new phase has just begun with the appointment of another Prime Minister Beji Kaied Sebsi, who has promised to submit to the will of the Tunisian people, to elect a Constituent Assembly elections to be held on 26 July this year.

Ben Ali’s party has been legally dissolved, which is also a victory of the people. The Constitution no longer applies, have been recognized, authenticated, legalized political parties and organizations, and hopefully it is the TCO [3] in the coming days. Many of the former officials will be judged. The government is forced to make concessions, but remain elements of the dictatorship are still there, as the political police, administration, judiciary, which must be radically changed.

The  Sebsi Government is rushing to prepare for the elections to the Constituent Assembly, but not in a democratic setting, away from people without the direct involvement of the forces of revolution. The fight now, then, will deliver in this area. The revolutionary forces must prepare for the elections to the Constituent Assembly in a truly democratic environment, for which there is to dissolve the political police [4] , to repeal the existing laws, and when provisionally, pending a new structure for the country, determined the Constituent Assembly to take concrete action on the administration of justice, also on the media apparatus, to ensure democratize the process to the Constituent Assembly.

As to the disposition of forces, we can say that the revolutionary are mobilized, it is very important. The revolutionary forces are united, but we fear, though still unclear, a split within the National Committee for the Safeguarding of the Revolution, between the revolutionary forces and democratic and reformist forces that seek a compromise with the current government . Anyway, we will continue with our tactics to conserve and advocacy, to strengthen the structures that emerged from the revolution, both nationally and in the face January 14 and in the towns and regions with the revolutionary Assemblies, to strengthen them while popular, and prepare for elections to the Constituent Assembly.

The revolutionary forces act not only on political issues, but also in the area in which government intervenes to sow fear the threat of economic and social chaos. The liberal and radical reformers do not want economic and social changes in favor of the people also used the threat of chaos and call work to “save the economy and the country.”

If we characterize this revolution, we would say that is a petty revolution, democratic, because the working class, after the revolt of the mining area in 2008, was unable to take the decisive role in the revolution, has not been massively present, workers have participated at trade union, and individual level, but the working class was unable to take its leading role in this revolution. This is related to a backlog on the working class in Tunisia, and also by the dispersion caused by privatization and the negative role of domes union bureaucracy in our country, some of which are elements known for their ties to the dictatorship.

The working class, particularly some sectors have played a leading role in the years 70-80 in the public sector essentially. With privatization comes the work in precarious, part-time work with limited contracts and low wages. Workers in key sectors in the economy, have aristocratizado in a sense, compared to other workers who may charge up to 25% less than workers in transport, mining … The bourgeoisie has managed, somehow, divide the working class. To this we must add the great political repression that has weakened their struggle, and with little involvement in major sectors in Tunisia.

That also has to do with the weakening of our work, at times, the work of the left within the working class, particularly after the eighties, as a result of brutal repression that have severely beaten our Party . One factor that has intervened positively to level of consciousness and organizationally, has been (important) for employees of the petty bourgeoisie, such as teachers.

The revolution was launched against dictatorship, against the comprador big bourgeoisie that has sold the country to imperialism and ruined, you might say, the dignity of the Tunisian people. For example, the people could not speak freely to support the Palestinian resistance, or to denounce U.S. imperialism and French.

The social aspect of the revolution, his character also national reformist forces today denied the national character of the revolution.

We believe that the pre-revolutionary process is continuous, both the politician who leads us to the Constituent Assembly to be truly popular, and continue to strengthen the social character of this revolution, its popular character and national, as beat the economic and social base dictatorship. In this field, the relationship of forces is still not favorable to the people. We must continue and radicalize the struggle. You have to push the working class to take major steps to develop leaders for the revolution but the revolution will be under the threat of staying in the bourgeois and liberal limits.

You do not want is what the people do not want. People want rid of the regime wants is political power and popular power in the economic and social. People want to shake off the yoke of imperialism. Our job as a party and as Front January 14, goes some way to deepen the revolutionary process, both politically and economically and socially, relying on revolutionary structures are created in the country (both the TCO, as Front).

On the Army: Ben Ali’s dictatorship was a police dictatorship. The Army has always been marginalized, relegated from politics and coups in the Arab countries. The Tunisian army has about 35,000 men, which is nothing compared to the police has estimated about 140,000 agents. In fact, the Army has rarely played a role as such. Bourguiba in two or three times turned to the Army, with the police, maintain order.

In this revolution, the Tunisian people attacked police as it played a fiercely repressive, both civilian police, as the uniform. The people attacked police stations and National Guard. The government then wanted to use the Army. Army Chief refused orders to fire Ben Ali on the mass of demonstrators and it seems that the military chief said: “The army will not fire on innocent people.”

In the riots of the mining area of ​​Gafza in 2008, the Army did not intervene in the repression. When carried out the “sitting” in the Plaza of the Government, the Army did not intervene in the repression that followed. Army chief continually reaffirmed its attitude that the forces under his command would not exceed the limit, that the army would not intervene to suppress the people. The Army did play a role in stopping the looters, criminals linked to the former regime. It’s the army that has stopped them with the help of the population. The role played by the army has been greatly appreciated by the people. How different the role of the police! Recently, police distributed leaflets against the Army, leaflets whose origin is in the same police: “Tunisian, beware, the army wants to seize power.” And the Army was forced yesterday (day 3) to make public a statement denying the allegations. It should be noted that military commanders are trained in the United States. We know that the U.S. try to prevent revolutions. But so far the army has stayed out, and that goes for the revolutionary process.

Another aspect of this revolution is the extent you have in the Arab world, we might say, the Arab dimension. This revolution has played an important role and encouragement to the Arab peoples to revolt against dictatorial governments. When the Tunisian people rebelled, the bourgeoisie launched a campaign to spread the reactionary idea that the Arab peoples are indolent and indifferent, they will not do anything by themselves, who are disenchanted, etc. And if it changes, it can only come from outside, perhaps through France or the U.S., but the Arab peoples will do nothing for themselves … The Tunisian people’s revolution has denied these positions, has demonstrated that without U.S. aid, without the help of the French, the town has been liberated from a dictator, the strongest in the Arab world, which was supported by American, French and others, including Israel. I remember that the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, Ben Ali said that “Israel has lost a great friend in the region.”

This revolution has shown the way to other Arab peoples, the way forward. The Tunisian people got rid of Ben Ali on 14 January, and the Egyptian revolt began on 27 and is free of Mubarak, and even in Egypt have taken some experiences of what happened in Tunisia, have made contact online with our comrades , has agreed on the main slogans, the same methods, etc. It should be noted that in Egypt, the army is very strong, very politicized, and the U.S. are also there The Americans did not intervene openly in Tunisia, may have done surreptitiously, but in Egypt in the eastern cities, where large imperialist and Zionist interests have been very active.

After the demonstrations started in Yemen [5] where they continue, in Libya, Gaddafi has also made ​​the mistake of criticizing the Tunisian people by bringing down Ben Ali. Clearly said “if I had been Tunisian Ali Ben had supported.” Libya has already begun, I think that Qaddafi will resist some time. In Libya there is great danger of U.S. intervention, for oil among other things. Our party denounced all foreign interference in Libya. We call on the Tunisian people to show solidarity with the Libyan people, and we call on the Libyan revolutionary to be vigilant and not fall into the trap of siding with the Americans to overthrow Gaddafi. If you turn to the U.S. will be the end, because Americans will not go easily, they will stay a long time, their interests are not those of the Libyan people, but made with oil.

Other Arab countries that are “candidates” to the revolution. In Algeria has begun a movement, we can begin again in Morocco, which is very important, also in Jordan, and is also very important popular movement that has begun in Lebanon.

The international aspect of our revolution has caught the attention of many forces. In Europe, the revolutionary show your interest in our revolution. So far we have not heard back from the impact it may have had in Latin America.

On the role played by the TCO.

Our party, and not me or my party who say it, but the bourgeoisie, has played an important role in the fight against the dictatorship of Ben Ali since he took power in Tunisia. The TCO has been virtually alone refused to sign the so-called National Charter “. That is, that from the beginning we have fought (to Ben Ali and his dictatorship). Our Party has symbolized resistance against the dictator. Since the beginning of the revolution, our Party has been distinguished by his fairness, has been the only one who saw the arrival of the revolution, and the only one in this revolutionary process called from the beginning to overthrow Ben Ali.

We have constantly tried to join the movement without departing from the mood of the masses, not to impose the slogans of the movement, ie, not dictate what the masses could not assume, and promote at all times the appropriate instructions to the precise situation . In this area, I must say that the Party has met three times its Central Committee since June 2010, which was the first and the second in October of that year was very important because it saw that it was necessary to prepare for the popular uprising, action ideological, political and organizational for it. In analyzing the situation we saw that grassroots people do not want to live well, and we also saw that the political and trade union movement had a change of mind, and had splits and cracking of these structures, in the sense of a radicalization against power.

Last summer, there were popular revolts in some regions. We saw the revolution. In early January this year 2011, we analyze the situation and we had to prepare to take power, raised the question of power, that the overthrow of Ben Ali was linked to the arrival of the popular uprising in Tunisia . In that sense we work hard. And when the movement broke out on 8 January in the capital, the party called for the overthrow Ben Ali. Call we made on January 11, 14 Ben Ali fled. Anticipating this, discuss with other parties and we proved that we are not leftists. But some of those forces as they arrived was to ask Ben Ali some political reforms of the system. Immediately after the fall of Ben Ali, they all began to speak as revolutionaries, “the dictator has fallen, long live the revolution …” and so on.

The problem now arises for our Party is to continue to lead better organized politically and because everywhere there are many people who want to join the Party, especially workers. From all this we are discussing, we need a very broad framework appropriate to this phase of the democratic revolution, popular and national.

(Something about the role of religion, but it is incomprehensible)

In many cases, the religion (Islam) is not just religious but cultural. During the struggle against colonialism, religion was a cultural event. It is not going to say, has become identity, culture, defense of the Arabic language, all that must be taken into account, and we have tried to do it forever. Of course we defend secularism.

The reaction in the Arab countries use religion in the fight against Communism and the Communists, called for vigilance against the Communists because “they are atheists.” In the campaign they have launched against me, say things like that I called Mohammed (Mohammed) and I changed the name to Hamma, because I want to be identified with the prophet. It’s ridiculous, but some people are swayed. We discuss all the issues, and this one too.

We are preparing to build a great party and also its direction. The big lesson we learned is the correctness of our political line. As Lenin said, is to flee the dogmatism. The revolution has its own laws, we must take into account the history of peoples, their culture, that is, every revolution has its own specificity, and if we fail to grasp the specifics, we can not make a revolution, and is not is made with recipes. Things can change from one country to another. If our party foresaw the revolution is because it is linked to the masses, and we know our history. The Tunisian people are apparently docile, but its history has many revolts and uprisings, and we can not forget that Tunisia was the first country in the Arab world where unions were established and political parties.

In Tunisia abolished slavery in 1840, before the United States. It is a country where a Muslim reformer, in 1930, called for equality between women and men. It is a very combative people, very open. This is important, as we have just emerged from a dictatorship and that the bourgeoisie is anti spreads, there are also reactionary Islam. And despite all this, the party has played an important role and has become a popular game character.

Great are the tasks that lie ahead, and above all, the revolution is not over, nor will the Constituent Assembly. Let’s continue. At the popular level we do not only political democracy, we also call social democracy, ie a new economic and social system, the total independence of the country. The revolutionary process continues.

Our party is linked more and more to the masses, the revolution can become radicalized, and we will do to make it a popular revolution and national levels to facilitate the transition to socialism.

If the Party leading the working class does take power, it is easy to have a socialist sector under the leadership of the working class, and carry out an agrarian reform to win over the artisans, the urban petty bourgeoisie to attract progressive intellectuals, etc.

This is our job now to deepen the revolutionary process to get rid of the social basis of the dictatorship and install a democratic and popular power.

R. Marco, Tunisia, March 5, 2011

[1] Spokesperson of the Communist Party of Tunisian Workers (TCO).

[2] The cry of Ben Ali, “dégage” (get out) was echoed in every demonstration, assembly, meeting. When the dictator was overthrown, the cry “degage” was used in the protests in reference to the elimination of all members of the dictatorial apparatus.

[3] This interview took place on 5 March. The TCO has been legalized on 23 March. We must retain the significant data that the TCO being one of the few who fought against the dictatorship, have legalized some seventy matches exist at present, before the PCOT, set underground in January 1986.

[4] dissolved by government order, to public pressure, on 7 March.

[5] should be borne in mind that these statements H. Hammami, were made in full on March 5

Published by Victor Vaughn

Anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist, monarch of Latveria, owner, National Secretary of the American Party of Labor (APL) and operator of "The Espresso Stalinist" blog.

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