Category Archives: Latin America

Ecuador: the PCMLE in the face of the proclamation of Moreno

A scandalous electoral fraud is under way to ignore the popular will expressed today at the polls. The CNE, a few minutes ago, officially gave the victory to the candidacy of Lenin Moreno with 51.07% of votes.

We DO NOT RECOGNIZE these results, they are the result of a fraudulent action. It is not possible to proclaim official results with “94% of the ballots counted” but, above all, this scrutiny has been done without transparency: the citizenship has not been able to keep track of that process because they hid the information by disabling their website. Other elements, such as the exit poll of Citizen Participation, were already raised in the previous communiqué.

In addition to not recognizing these results, we must demand that a vote-by-vote count be produced for each of the polls.

We insist on mobilizing all our forces to respect the popular will and to reject fraud.

Quito, April 2, 2017.

Central Committee Secretariat

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Notes on the history of the Communist Party of Colombia (M-L)

The founding of the Communist Party of Colombia Marxist-Leninist was the culmination of a process of political differentiation that allowed a significant contingent of principled revolutionaries, in the early 1960s, to draw lines of demarcation with reformism, pacifism and Khrushchevite revisionism, which were dominant in those years as the main lines of political action of the organizations that, at that time, made up the people’s camp.

It was a time of great economic, social and political tensions. At that time, in the world, the inter-imperialist confrontation between the US and the so-called Soviet Union resulted in a “Cold War” of great dimensions that was devastating for the life of continents. At the same time, the revolutionary struggles raging in Vietnam,* in the Congo** and in different countries, and the revolutions in China (1949) and Cuba (1959) had a great influence on us. And in 1948, our country was the scene of a tragedy: after the assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan on April 9, 1948, the Liberals and Conservatives unleashed a civil war, which they used to try to bury the democratic aspirations of the people. In 1958, they pushed though a referendum by which the two parties would alternate in the government for a period of 12 years, with a strictly equal distribution of public offices, including ministries, institutes, elected bodies and the judicial system.

* The military coup fostered by the U.S. against Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam, in 1963, and the massive bombing subsequently ordered by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson against North Vietnam in 1964, were the beginning of a long period of war in that country that lasted until 1975, when the United States was decisively defeated by the anti-imperialist forces and forced to leave the country.

** The world will not forget the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister and independence leader of the Congo, on January 17, 1961, in an action carried out by the CIA and putschist Colonel Joseph Mobutu to further the interests of U.S. multinationals in that country.

This was how the so-called “National Front” was born, that the traditional parties imposed as a strategy: on the one hand, to make the guerrilla forces surrender, forces that had evolved from liberalism to the defense of anti-imperialist ideas, and that were expanding strongly throughout the country, thus endangering the power of the bourgeoisie and landlords. On the other hand, to impose a bipartisan system of government and political control that excluded the constitutional and legal possibility that other political forces would arise or that parties other than the Liberals and Conservatives could take office even if they obtained the majority votes as required by law. The widespread repression, the constant bombardment of the guerrilla zones*, the assassination of trade union, social and political leaders marked a regime of terror that also spared no effort to use the carrot of populism to re-legitimize the ruling classes in the country.

* Also called “Red Zones”.

From the economic point of view, this urge to re-legitimize the ruling classes was in clear accordance with a model that called for protecting the prices in the coffee industry from collapse, promoting the export of non-traditional products, especially industrial products, improving productivity, expanding industry, expanding State capital through the construction of infrastructure in roads, energy and public services.

The main political discussions

The future of the country, amidst a rather complex economic, political and social reality, as well as the program and role of the various political organizations, were the topics of great controversy that galvanized the revolutionaries of that time. But to be able to move from such debates to transformative political actions necessitated an ideological and political unity and/or identity that could only be built by deepening the ideological struggle and practical commitment.

In the Communist Party of Colombia*, especially since its 5th Congress held in 1947, the target of the ideological struggle included the theses of Browderism, defended first by Augusto Duran**, the leader of the port workers and until then General Secretary of the Party, and then by Mr. Gilberto Vieira White*** who, like his predecessor, did not hesitate to propose a rapprochement and unity with those sectors of the bourgeoisie that they considered democratic and/or progressive, as a condition to advance and defeat the reactionary sectors present in the State and government. That line was initially the perfect excuse invented by these gentlemen to adopt a policy of collaboration with the bourgeois governments of that time, in effect making the Communist Party an appendage of the tactics and strategy of the traditional parties. It is undeniable that they laid bare the true content of the calls for coexistence and cohabitation with the establishment that this organization had promoted since the 1940s.

* In 1979 the party changed its name, coming to be called the Colombian Communist Party.

** Augusto Duran was elected General Secretary at the 3rd Congress of the PCC held in 1938; like Browder he promoted changing the name of the party, calling it the Democratic Socialist Party (PSD). The PSD was characterized by a reformist political line that supported the government policies of that time. So backward was the policy promoted by this political leader that he even opposed the entry of intellectuals into the Party. 

*** Gilberto Vieira White was elected General Secretary of the PCC at its 5th Congress in 1947.

It should be noted that the consistent leaders promptly rejected that line of conduct of the leading clique of the Communist Party of Colombia, and maintained the clear idea of transcending and demarcating lines with Browderism, making a great effort to provide the Colombian working class and people with a really Marxist-Leninist organization. This would really confront imperialism and the bourgeoisie, which are truly responsible for the dependence, backwardness, marginalization, poverty and lack of rights existing in the country.

The ideological struggle also targeted the Bernsteinian theses that promoted parliamentarism and electoral participation as the only way to achieve power. Both imperialism and the bourgeoisie knew that these positions, promoted by the agents of revisionism and social democracy internationally, were an immense support for them. In that sense, they did not hesitate to protect and provide advantages to the organizations and leaders who defended those positions, claiming at the same time how anti-historical and counterproductive for democracy and the development of countries are revolutions through violent means. Our history knows of the shameless work that most of the leaders of the CTC* and UTC** developed. Together and in very close collaboration with the various factions of the Liberal and Conservative parties, as well as the Catholic Church, they maintained that evolution by means of trade unionism and peaceful political action were among the most consistent actions to eliminate class privileges and ensure equality among individuals.

* CTC: Federation of Colombian Workers.

** UTC: Union of Workers of Colombia.

To these positions, one must add those of the Declaration of Havana of 1960. The Communist Party of Colombia, a signatory and promoter of that declaration, accepted its positions as a general line on the struggle for world peace, the coexistence between capitalism and the countries of the socialist camp, the peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism and the seizure of power by the parliamentary road. Revolutionaries both inside and outside the party made many criticisms of it, insisting on pointing out the relevance of combining all forms of struggle, the role of violence as the midwife of history, and the leading role of the masses in social change, principles that are broadly expounded by Marxism-Leninism.

The ideological struggle also targeted the internal life and its rules. Matters of great importance did not escape the debates, such as the character of the organizations, the admission requirements, the organizational principles and the role of different organizations. Democratic centralism had been adopted as a principle and backbone of the Communist Party of Colombia since it was founded, in 1930 as a section of the Third International (Comintern). But this had become notoriously only a formal matter in the party, since the latter had become a debating society, deprived of any revolutionary spirit. In many of its documents, “freedom of criticism” was confused with “ideological and political pluralism” and was advocated by those who supported the coexistence of various points of view within the party. In this scenario, we could point out many other aspects of the political discussion of that time, about which it is important to remember many other points of view. Besides the above-mentioned discussion, we cannot ignore the state of the forces of the Communist Party in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which was characterized by its unquestionable anachronism and state of decay.

Motivated by the need to advance in the building of a vanguard organization, cadres and members of different organizations held wide discussions, in which they examined many proposals and projects of important sectors of the working class, the organized workers, peasants, students , intellectuals, youth and women, who were interested in achieving an accurate assessment of the national and international situation, of Colombian society, the State, the mass movement, the revolutionary movement and its perspective. All these aspects were analyzed without forgetting to stress the most important role to be performed by the real revolutionary forces, both at the national and international levels.

Khrushchevism

The building of the Party was preceded by events that would be crucial to strengthen its ideological and political positions. In 1956, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) held its 20th Congress in Moscow under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, at which fundamental changes were introduced to the policies that were supposed to guide the International Communist Movement. In a period in which imperialism, headed by the United States, rigorously imposed the policy and practices of the Cold War, the leadership of the CPSU decided that, due to advances of the Soviet Union, it was correct to transform the State of the working class into the “State of the whole people” and to convert the Communist Party into a “party of the whole people”. In accordance with these changes, peaceful coexistence, peaceful competition and peaceful transition were established as valid, thus invalidating at one stroke the practice of the class struggle. To promote these policies and practices, which were contrary to Marxism-Leninism, the leadership of the CPSU focused its efforts on sullying the contributions and work of Stalin in the building of socialism. For this reason, they accused him of fostering a “cult of personality,” trying to discredit him before public opinion. Some important documents of the 20th Congress against Stalin were dealt with in secret, which showed that the leaders of the CPSU intended to renounce the highest interests of the working class and to abandon the path of proletarian revolution.

The conclusions of the 20th Congress of the CPSU caused a huge shock within the International Communist Movement and the Communist Parties; they stimulated debates on issues of great relevance, such as the prospect of the revolution and the role of the communists in the struggle for the achievement of the objectives of the working class. The depth of the contradictions caused an inevitable split, while various parties and leaders of the time waged an unwavering and courageous defense of the principles of scientific theory taught by teachers of the proletariat. As a result of the inevitable demarcation, the foundations for the building of the new International Marxist-Leninist Communist Movement and for the rise of Marxist- Leninist organizations in various countries were laid.

The Founding of the Party

In Colombia, the debate was pushed forward in order to clarify the true nature of the Party, the objective of the revolution and the role that communists must fulfill to realize it. During this period, some of the cadres and members arose who made possible the building of the new Party. Pedro Vasquez Rendon had been a member of the Communist Party since the early 1950s and also a fighter with the guerrillas who were formed to defend themselves from the offensive that the government had unleashed against the people. Incidentally, it was comrade Pedro Vasquez Rendon who gave Pedro Antonio Marin the name of Manuel Marulanda, after a course given at the School of the Communist Party in 1952. Other cadres of that period were Pedro Leon Arboleda, a philosopher and journalist; Francisco Garnica, a prominent leader of the Communist Youth, as well as Ricardo Torres and Carlos Alberto Morales, who were killed by the national army in Cali, after having been captured in Guacari, in the Department of Valle del Cauca. Libardo Mora Toro, a labor lawyer and also an outstanding athletic champion, was killed in combat as a leader of the EPL (Popular Liberation Army). It should be noted that other leaders of the Communist Party, and especially of the Communist Youth, more than 70% of whose members went over to the new Party, had been expelled by the revisionist clique of Gilberto Vieira White in 1962.

These bases were fundamental in building the pillars of what would be the organization of the Party, which became a reality with the contributions and efforts of cadres who arose from the revolutionary struggle in different organizations. It is correct to state that leaders, cadres and selected members of almost all the forces interested in building a new society came together into the Party under the impulse of the working class and the leadership of the Party as its vanguard. It is of course impossible to mention them all, but it is worth remembering Elohim Grajales, a renowned economist and a socialist leader; Francisco Caraballo, a leader of the National Command of the JMRL (Youths of the Liberal Revolutionary Movement), Aldemar Londono, a doctor and social leader in the coffee zone, Bernardo Ferreira Grandet, among others.

In the early 1960s, Colombia experienced a great revolutionary fervor resulting from the violence that affected society in the 1950s, the imposition of exclusive norms of the National Front and the need to fight for changes in the reality of the country. The objective conditions were ripe to present proposals, to go to the grassroots, to organize and mobilize them to participate in the different forms of the struggle.

The subjective conditions for building the organizational structure were ripe to move forward. Therefore the decision was made to coordinate activities among the cadres who were able to build the new Marxist-Leninist party. In order to accomplish this task, in early 1964 a Committee of Integration of the Colombian Revolutionary Movements (CIMREC) was established, with a commitment to first hold the Constitutive Conference and then organize the Congress of the Party which, according to the plans, should be held within one year.* The Constitutive Conference was held in the municipality of La Ceja, in Antioquia, between March 5 and 8, 1964, with the presence of a great majority of delegates who reaffirmed their commitment to advance the building of the Party. At the Conference a central leadership of 23 members was elected, the drawing up of the central documents was agreed on in order to organize meetings in different regions of the country and to promote discussion as well as the rules for the election of delegates to the Founding Congress.

* Conclusions of the 10th Congress of the CP of C (M-L). July 17, 1965.

The steps achieved made possible the consolidation of relations with other parties that were advancing in the same direction. In the first place it is worth recalling the Communist Party of Spain Marxist-Leninist, with the unforgettable presence of comrades Raul Marco and Elena Odena; the Marxist Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador; and of course the Communist Party of China which, in that period, was in the forefront of the struggle against revisionism.

The Communist Party of Colombia Marxist-Leninist was founded on July 17, 1965, at the 10th Congress held near Bogota. It took up the principles of Marxism- Leninism as a guide for its revolutionary action, reaffirmed the class character of the Party as the vanguard of the proletariat, proposed as objectives of its struggles the patriotic, popular, anti-imperialist revolution on the road toward socialism and, as the way toward it, the armed revolutionary struggle, with the participation of the masses and under the political leadership of the Party. Consistent with this decision, the Party also took up the task of promoting the building of a Patriotic Liberation Front, looking to open the way to the unity of the people, that is, the worker, peasant and popular alliance. It is also decided to work for the building of its armed wing, the Popular Liberation Army, as an instrument to especially promote the armed struggle of the people and enable the Party to prepare the popular armed insurrection.

Regarding the ideological struggle with the revisionists, the 10th Congress decided to raise the ideological and political struggle against this opportunist current, unmasking its collaborationist and conciliatory work with U.S. imperialism and the local bourgeoisie.

Faced with the discussion of whether to declare the Congress as the 1st or the 10th, the Organization Bulletin adopted at the event clearly stated the following:

“The battle against revisionism is not just one more task but a key part of our action. Today we are in a position to strike a severe blow against this traitorous clique that, two years ago, maneuvered to have the 10th Congress rigged with an absolutely unconditional representation. This Congress is the Congress of the Colombian communists. This Congress has to be the 10th Congress of the CP, which the Vieira clique had not been able to hold despite having called it for this year, 1964. This Congress should announce to the country that the Colombian communists have abandoned the opportunist leadership in order to take up the revolutionary path; it must prevent and hinder the revisionist attempt to further deceive the masses by taking the glorious communist name with impunity. This Congress will radically change the situation in the fight against revisionism; the explanations, rectifications, the desperate cries, will be of those who would try to prove the illegitimacy of our meeting, but those laments will find in front of them the formidable barrier of the revolutionary conclusions of our Congress.

“To go against our Congress will mean to go against its revolutionary conclusions, and so the only thing that they would fully prove would be the kind of the cowardly traitors they are.

“This Congress is also part of the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and right opportunism and has to be useful to that struggle. All this will be done better if we declare this Congress to be the 10th Congress of the Communist Party of Colombia Marxist-Leninist.”*

* Conclusions of the 10th Congress of the Communist Party of Colombia Marxist-Leninist. July 17, 1965.

Comrade Raul Marco, delegate of the Communist Party of Spain Marxist-Leninist who attended this event, contributed his lessons on this important discussion, saying:

“The problem of whether to call this the 1st or the 10th Congress is not a minor one. If we state that this is the first congress, they will call us splitters. If we are the 10th Congress, the splitters will be those who try to call for another Congress over the heads of the majority of the party. The Party does not belong to those who, for a long time, took over its leadership to stifle its ability to fight, but to those who preserve and develop the revolutionary spirit of Marxism-Leninism.”*

* Ibid.

The relevance of our project

Today, just as yesterday, those who insist on saying that Marxism-Leninism has lost its relevance and that those of us who defend it are behind the times and lack a vision of the future are wrong; they have lost sight of the fact that what really failed was a false model of socialism that served as a step to follow a path toward capitalism, as the reality of present-day imperialist Russia has clearly shown.

This project of the party, created over 50 years ago, still preserves its political relevance and today we have the honor of carrying the communist banner that the heirs of Khrushchev have lowered worldwide.

For the communists today, the defense of Marxism-Leninism as the fundamental guide for the revolutionary struggle of the working class remains a task of the highest order, without which the perspective of building genuine socialism is obscured. This is why we will continue as a Party to strive to steel our forces, strengthen our unity, grow and participate actively, without hesitation, in the different forms of the class struggle.

At times when the social contradictions are being exacerbated and capitalism is showing its agony and inability to create development, well-being, social equality and freedom, the world bourgeoisie is reinforcing its offensive, opposing any change that threatens its interests and profits. That is why it insists on attacking Marxism-Leninism, ridiculing the socialist project and the communist future. The principal target of the bourgeois theorists and those who converted to their side at the last moment includes proletarian partisanship, which they are fiercely attacking, seeking its total elimination. There is no doubt that imperialism is pushing forward a multifaceted offensive, which combines strong ideological, political, organizational and military structures aimed at containing and defeating the resistance and struggle of the working class and peoples for their independence and self-determination. In this regard, we will continue to state that today, just as yesterday, we continue to take up the challenge of disrupting the offensive of imperialism and the bourgeoisie, of defeating their plans, a matter that calls on us to strengthen our parties, to show their importance and their historical and political relevance.

In that vein, we Party members fully take up the commitment to hold firm the banners that gave origin to our Party. We are and remain staunch defenders of Marxism-Leninism, of its historical and political relevance, of the interests of the proletariat and the Colombian people. It is obvious that the policies adopted by the Party at its 10th Congress have undergone substantial changes; in fact, the reality that we face is not the same as that of the 1960s, but the political foundations that support our organization are intact and much stronger as a result of our combat and loyalty to the interests of the working class and the people.

In December of 2011 we held our 17th Congress, and now we are preparing to hold our 18th Congress. What guides us is a current and relevant political line and program, subject to constant testing in the class struggle that highlights the important accumulated experience achieved by the Party.

We face the challenge of accelerating the upward path, winning new positions in the class struggle, and therefore we see the need to strengthen our unity, steel our role, raise the initiative and link ourselves better to the masses with an approach that allows us to grow qualitatively and quantitatively. To rationalize our experiences and the experiences of our fraternal parties and of the revolutionaries of the world will undoubtedly contribute to the objectives undertaken that, rather than deny, will reaffirm our banners, our basic tenets, principles and the historical legacy that we communists of the world have in various spheres.

We cannot ignore the fact that these have been 50 years of hard and tenacious struggle in all spheres, with important contributions to our revolutionary process, with a brilliant history of participation in the various scenarios of the national and international class struggle that are our heritage. Our history is based on the strength and conviction of the justness of our cause. This is the way the most outstanding leaders of our organizations have acted. Hundreds of leading cadres, members, fighters and supporters have stained the banner of the Party with blood in the struggle to crystallize its ideals. Many have gone and will go through harsh conditions of life and work in the prisons of the reactionary regime to keep unsullied their high communist aspirations.

Without Messianism of any kind, but with deep convictions, the best tribute that we can pay to those martyrs and heroes, to those selfless fighters, is to stay firm on course to consolidate and develop the Party and the organizations that it leads.

Communist thought maintains its solid foundations, and the world situation of today demolishes all the speeches that the bourgeoisie has advanced to bury its hated enemy and thus deprive the proletariat and the revolutionary classes of the weapon they need to destroy the capitalist system and “storm heaven by assault,” as Marx stated in regard to the Paris Commune. Marxism-Leninism is a theory able to achieve its own development, to assimilate the scientific advances, to renew itself without abandoning its nature and, on this theoretical basis, the members of our Party are convinced that the history of 50 years of struggle is not in its final chapter.

To the delight of the bourgeoisie, many converts have tried to write the requiem for our organizations, with great shows of scientism, but the facts are more stubborn than the vain aspirations of the deserters. Here we are immersed in the class struggle and with our heads high we are defending the ideals of communism, of scientific socialism and of revolution.

Many times they have given us up for dead and wanted to attend our funeral. However, despite our limitations, we are here. We represent a worthy and revolutionary point of view in the country. We have a structure and an influence in the mass movement. In contrast, all the factions that have attacked our Party have disappeared as political projects. The “Hopefuls*,” who sold out the majority of the EPL, are now gone, dissolved organizationally and politically; they abandoned their base and cadres to their fate, they joined social democratic organizations or parties of the bourgeoisie, they did not come up with a different alternative for change in the country, as they had touted, and some of their members bear the shame of having gone over to the ranks of the enemies of the revolution. The “Rectifiers”, as the faction headed by Danilo Trujillo and Gabriela Londono is known, who were expelled from our party in 1998, underwent the same fate and were even unable to design a serious political project for the country and the masses. Today we find them in the ranks of the bourgeoisie, collaborating with its projects.

* This is the term by which the members of the organization Hope, Peace and Freedom are known, a faction of the Party and the EPL in the years 1989 and 1990.

In defending the ideological, political and organizational integrity of the Party, we have undoubtedly made mistakes. But we have not lost the proletarian path and that is the essential point. Many valiant people who are not with us today have passed through our Party; there are various reasons for this. We want to increase our membership, as well as the environment surrounding the organization and its presence in the political life and among the various popular sectors.

The situation we have experienced, from the time of our restructuring based on Marxism-Leninism in 1965 until today, is rich in experience. It provides fundamental ideological, political and methodological elements. Many things have changed in the national environment and in the world context. Looking at things from that perspective, we must say that much remains to be corrected, that it is necessary to make updates and advances, and that the challenge today is different. It is no longer a matter of just reaffirming ourselves, or proclaiming that we exist, but of consolidating our ideological make-up, developing our ranks qualitatively and quantitatively, placing ourselves in a better and more scientific way among the masses and in the general political struggle and, finally, sharpening our tools to better confront imperialism and the bourgeoisie, revisionism and all sorts of enemies that are trying to halt the march of history. Our great challenge is still to be an alternative of power.

To enhance the struggle for popular power, we need the revolutionary historical memory of our people. To grow and strengthen the quality of our party we need to recover its true history, the life and struggles of those who forged it, the battles won and the setbacks we have had to face. In this way we will unmask the false histories that are told and written about us. In this way we paint the Marxist Leninist picture that is the reason for our existence and the pillar in order to win our objectives.

To mark these 50 years of communist life we want to salute the Parties and Organizations that claim this ideology and commit our efforts together with them to develop the current of thought that characterizes us. Similarly, we say to all the democrats and revolutionaries of Colombia and the world that they can count on us in the fight against the common enemy. To all the cadres and members suffering in the prisons of the regime, we bring our message of solidarity and commitment to honor in combat the history of 50 years of relentless struggle.

Long live the Communist Party of Colombia Marxist-Leninist!!

Long live, long live, long live!!

Fifty years of fighting together with the working class and the people!!

For Democracy and Socialism!!

Communist Party of Colombia (M-L)
Central Executive Committee
pcdcml@yahoo.com 
March 31, 2015

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Andy Beckett: The Forgotten Story of Chile’s ‘Socialist Internet’

The Operations Room (or Opsroom): a physical location where economic information was to be received, stored, and made available for speedy decision-making. It was designed in accordance with Gestalt principles in order to give users a platform that would enable them to absorb information in a simple but comprehensive way.

When Pinochet’s military overthrew the Chilean government 30 years ago, they discovered a revolutionary communication system, a ‘socialist internet’ connecting the whole country. Its creator? An eccentric scientist from Surrey. Andy Beckett on the forgotten story of Stafford Beer

During the early 70s, in the wealthy commuter backwater of West Byfleet in Surrey, a small but rather remarkable experiment took place. In the potting shed of a house called Firkins, a teenager named Simon Beer, using bits of radios and pieces of pink and green cardboard, built a series of electrical meters for measuring public opinion. His concept – users of his meters would turn a dial to indicate how happy or unhappy they were with any political proposal – was strange and ambitious enough. And it worked. Yet what was even more jolting was his intended market: not Britain, but Chile.

Unlike West Byfleet, Chile was in revolutionary ferment. In the capital Santiago, the beleaguered but radical marxist government of Salvador Allende, hungry for innovations of all kinds, was employing Simon Beer’s father, Stafford, to conduct a much larger technological experiment of which the meters were only a part. This was known as Project Cybersyn, and nothing like it had been tried before, or has been tried since.

Stafford Beer attempted, in his words, to “implant” an electronic “nervous system” in Chilean society. Voters, workplaces and the government were to be linked together by a new, interactive national communications network, which would transform their relationship into something profoundly more equal and responsive than before – a sort of socialist internet, decades ahead of its time.

When the Allende administration was deposed in a military coup, the 30th anniversary of which falls this Thursday, exactly how far Beer and his British and Chilean collaborators had got in constructing their hi-tech utopia was soon forgotten. In the many histories of the endlessly debated, frequently mythologised Allende period, Project Cybersyn hardly gets a footnote. Yet the personalities involved, the amount they achieved, the scheme’s optimism and ambition and perhaps, in the end, its impracticality, contain important truths about the most tantalising leftwing government of the late 20th century.

Stafford Beer, who died last year, was a restless and idealistic British adventurer who had long been drawn to Chile. Part scientist, part management guru, part social and political theorist, he had grown rich but increasingly frustrated in Britain during the 50s and 60s. His ideas about the similarities between biological and man-made systems, most famously expressed in his later book, The Brain of the Firm, made him an in-demand consultant with British businesses and politicians. Yet these clients did not adopt the solutions he recommended as often as he would have liked, so Beer began taking more contracts abroad.

In the early 60s, his company did some work for the Chilean railways. Beer did not go there himself, but one of the Chileans involved, an engineering student called Fernando Flores, began reading Beer’s books and was captivated by their originality and energy. By the time the Allende government was elected in 1970, a group of Beer disciples had formed in Chile. Flores became a minister in the new administration, with responsibility for nationalising great swathes of industry. As in many areas, the Allende government wanted to do things differently from traditional marxist regimes. “I was very much against the Soviet model of centralisation,” says Raul Espejo, one of Flores’s senior advisers and another Beer disciple. “My gut feeling was that it was unviable.”

But how should the Chilean economy be run instead? By 1971, the initial euphoria of Allende’s democratic, non-authoritarian revolution was beginning to fade; Flores and Espejo realised that their ministry had acquired a disorganised empire of mines and factories, some occupied by their employees, others still controlled by their original managers, few of them operating with complete efficiency. In July, they wrote to Beer for help.

They knew that he had leftwing sympathies, but also that he was very busy. “Our expectation was to hire someone from his team,” says Espejo. But after getting the letter, Beer quickly grew fascinated by the Chilean situation. He decided to drop his other contracts and fly there. In West Byfleet, the reaction was mixed: “We thought, ‘Stafford’s going mad again,’ ” says Simon Beer.

When Stafford arrived in Santiago, the Chileans were more impressed. “He was huge,” Espejo remembers, “and extraordinarily exuberant. From every pore of his skin you knew he was thinking big.” Beer asked for a daily fee of $500 – less than he usually charged, but an enormous sum for a government being starved of US dollars by its enemies in Washington – and a constant supply of chocolate, wine and cigars.

For the next two years, as subordinates searched for these amid the food shortages, and the local press compared him to Orson Welles and Socrates, Beer worked in Chile in frenetic bursts, returning every few months to England, where a British team was also labouring over Cybersyn. What this collaboration produced was startling: a new communications system reaching the whole spindly length of Chile, from the deserts of the north to the icy grasslands of the south, carrying daily information about the output of individual factories, about the flow of important raw materials, about rates of absenteeism and other economic problems.

Until now, obtaining and processing such valuable information – even in richer, more stable countries – had taken governments at least six months. But Project Cybersyn found ways round the technical obstacles. In a forgotten warehouse, 500 telex machines were discovered which had been bought by the previous Chilean government but left unused because nobody knew what to do with them. These were distributed to factories, and linked to two control rooms in Santiago. There a small staff gathered the economic statistics as they arrived, officially at five o’clock every afternoon, and boiled them down using a single precious computer into a briefing that was dropped off daily at La Moneda, the presidential palace.

Allende himself was enthusiastic about the scheme. Beer explained it to him on scraps of paper. Allende had once been a doctor and, Beer felt, instinctively understood his notions about the biological characteristics of networks and institutions. Just as significantly, the two men shared a belief that Cybersyn was not about the government spying on and controlling people. On the contrary, it was hoped that the system would allow workers to manage, or at least take part in the management of their workplaces, and that the daily exchange of information between the shop floor and Santiago would create trust and genuine cooperation – and the combination of individual freedom and collective achievement that had always been the political holy grail for many leftwing thinkers.

It did not always work out like that. “Some people I’ve talked to,” says Eden Miller, an American who is writing a PhD thesis partly about Cybersyn, “said it was like pulling teeth getting the factories to send these statistics.” In the feverish Chile of 1972 and 1973, with its shortages and strikes and jostling government initiatives, there were often other priorities. And often the workers were not willing or able to run their plants: “The people Beer’s scientists dealt with,” says Miller, “were primarily management.”

But there were successes. In many factories, Espejo says, “Workers started to allocate a space on their own shop floor to have the same kind of graphics that we had in Santiago.” Factories used their telexes to send requests and complaints back to the government, as well as vice versa. And in October 1972, when Allende faced his biggest crisis so far, Beer’s invention became vital.

Across Chile, with secret support from the CIA, conservative small businessmen went on strike. Food and fuel supplies threatened to run out. Then the government realised that Cybersyn offered a way of outflanking the strikers. The telexes could be used to obtain intelligence about where scarcities were worst, and where people were still working who could alleviate them. The control rooms in Santiago were staffed day and night. People slept in them – even government ministers. “The rooms came alive in the most extraordinary way,” says Espejo. “We felt that we were in the centre of the universe.” The strike failed to bring down Allende.

In some ways, this was the high point for Cybersyn. The following year, like the government in general, it began to encounter insoluble problems. By 1973, the sheer size of the project, involving somewhere between a quarter and half of the entire nationalised economy, meant that Beer’s original band of disciples had been diluted by other, less idealistic scientists. There was constant friction between the two groups. Meanwhile, Beer himself started to focus on other schemes: using painters and folk singers to publicise the principles of high-tech socialism; testing his son’s electrical public-opinion meters, which never actually saw service; and even organising anchovy-fishing expeditions to earn the government some desperately needed foreign currency.

All the while, the rightwing plotting against Allende grew more blatant and the economy began to suffocate as other countries, encouraged by the Americans, cut off aid and investment. Beer was accused in parts of the international press of creating a Big Brother-style system of administration in South America. “There was plenty of stress in Chile,” he wrote afterwards. “I could have pulled out at any time, and often considered doing so.”

In June 1973, after being advised to leave Santiago, he rented an anonymous house on the coast from a relative of Espejo. For a few weeks, he wrote and stared at the sea and travelled to government meetings under cover of darkness. On September 10, a room was measured in La Moneda for the installation of an updated Cybersyn control centre, complete with futuristic control panels in the arms of chairs and walls of winking screens. The next day, the palace was bombed by the coup’s plotters. Beer was in London, lobbying for the Chilean government, when he left his final meeting before intending to fly back to Santiago and saw a newspaper billboard that read, “Allende assassinated.”

The Chilean military found the Cybersyn network intact, and called in Espejo and others to explain it to them. But they found the open, egalitarian aspects of the system unattractive and destroyed it. Espejo fled. Some of his colleagues were not so lucky. Soon after the coup, Beer left West Byfleet, his wife, and most of his possessions to live in a cottage in Wales. “He had survivor guilt, unquestionably,” says Simon.

Cybersyn and Stafford’s subsequent, more esoteric inventions live on in obscure socialist websites and, more surprisingly, modern business school teachings about the importance of economic information and informal working practices. David Bowie, Brian Eno and Tony Blair’s new head of policy, Geoff Mulgan, have all cited Beer as an influence.

But perhaps more importantly, his work in Chile affected those who participated. Espejo has made a good career since as an inter- national management consultant. He has been settled in Britain for decades. He chuckles urbanely at the mention of Pinochet’s arrest in London five years ago. Yet when, after a long lunch in a pub near his home in Lincoln, I ask whether Cybersyn changed him, his playful, slightly professorial gaze turns quite serious. “Oh yes,” he says. “Completely.”

· Andy Beckett’s book Pinochet in Piccadilly is published by Faber.

Source

Fidel Castro on the Character of the Cuban Revolution

“At any rate, you wish to write that this is a socialist revolution, right? And write it, then… Yes, not only did we destroy a tyrannical system. We also destroyed the philoimperialistic bourgeois state apparatus, the bureaucracy, the police, and a mercenary army. We abolished privileges, annihilated the great landowners, threw out foreign monopolies for good, nationalized almost every industry, and collectivized the land. We are fighting now to liquidate once and for all the exploitation of man over man, and to build a completely new society, with a new class contents. The Americans (Cubans say just that, los americanos, to mean the United States) the Americans and the priests say that this is communism. We know very well that it is not. At any rates, the word does not frighten us. They can say whatever they wish. There is a song, which is popular among our peasants, that goes more or less like this: ‘Bird of ill omen — of treason and cowardice — that are throwing at my joy — the word: communism! — I know nothing about these ‘isms’ — Yet, if such a great welfare conquest — which can be been by my own eyes — is communism, then — you can even call me a communist!”

– Fidel Castro, “L’Unita Interview with Fidel Castro: The Nature of Cuban Socialism”

DPRK: Death of Fidel Castro Ruz Is Great Loss to Korean People

The death of Fidel Castro Ruz, an outstanding leader of the Cuban revolution, is a great loss to not only the Cuban people but also the Korean people fighting on the same front against the imperialists.

The Korean people have highly respected Fidel Castro Ruz as a national hero of Cuba, outstanding leader of the Cuban people and a prominent anti-imperialist fighter.

He was a close friend of the Korean people and an eternal revolutionary comrade-in-arms who had always kept in his mind the comradely relations with President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il and made all efforts to develop the friendly and cooperative relations between the parties, governments and peoples of the two countries and extended firm support and encouragement to Korea’s reunification and the cause of justice with invariable revolutionary principle and obligation.

He was an indomitable revolutionary fighter who defended the banner of socialism in the Western Hemisphere at a time when the red flags of socialism were lowered in different counties at the end of the 1980s and early in the 1990s and the U.S. imperialists escalated their moves to isolate and stifle Cuba.

During those days of hardship, the two countries stood firm in the same trench for socialism under the leadership of the great leaders and Fidel Castro Ruz, and the friendly and cooperative relations between the two parties, two governments and two peoples grew stronger.

Though he passed away, the precious feats he performed in developing the DPRK-Cuba friendship and the cause of socialism will be kept in the hearts of the two peoples and the progressives of the world forever.

The army and people of the DPRK will as ever invariably hold fast to the banner of socialism and get firmly united with the fraternal Cuban people and make all efforts to develop the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries.

Ra Myong Song

Statement of the Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) on the death of Fidel Castro

The Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) deeply regrets the death of Fidel Castro and expresses its solidarity with the government and the Cuban people in these difficult and painful moments.

Fidel Castro will always be remembered as a leader who dedicated his life to the revolution that transformed the economic and social structures of Cuba, in constant struggle against the aggression of US imperialism. The revolution that triumphed in 1959 aroused the enthusiasm of the masses in Latin America and worldwide. The Sierra Maestra fighters made the dream of liberation craved by Cubans and Latin American workers a reality.

Since that memorable date when the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista was defeated, Cuba began a titanic struggle for national independence, economic sovereignty and liberation from the yoke exerted on the country by the United States.

Literacy campaigns, nationalization of enterprises and plantations owned by US capital and the extraordinary development of education and public health brought Cuba from underdevelopment and turned the island into an example for the peoples of Latin America and the other continents.

Beyond the political and ideological discrepancies, our party has always shown its solidarity with the Cuban people, denouncing the US economic blockade, the terrorist attacks of emigrants and hostile actions advocated by the Popular Party.

Fidel Castro will always be remembered as the man, the leader and revolutionary who, with sacrifice and effort of all the Cuban people for his country, regained dignity and national sovereignty. His death is a great loss for the Cuban revolution, but the workers, peasants and intellectuals, all the people of Cuba will continue forward, continuing and improving its legacy.

The red flags of the Communists around the world are inclined with respect to honor his memory. The Cuban land will house a man who completed the work begun by Martí.

Madrid, November 26, 2016.

Executive Committee PCE (ml)

Courtesy: Alfonso Casal

Statement by the Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) on the death of Fidel Castro

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We, the Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan), convey condolences to the courageous workers and toilers of Cuba. Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, did not kneel down to the criminal bullying of the U.S. imperialists, the world biggest terrorists. For five decades, Fidel Castro resisted the monster, U.S. imperialism, and became a source of inspiration for the struggle of the people of Latin America against colonialism and despotism.

The Cuban Revolution, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, has been a thorn in the side of the U.S. imperialism. The joy expressed by the U.S. imperialists and their lackeys on the death of Fidel stems from their inhuman and exploitative nature of these criminals.

One must learn from the Cuban Revolution and its strength and weakness, learn from temporary setback of other revolutions, and rely on Marxism-Leninism to prepare for future socialist revolutions.

Long Live Revolution!

Death to Imperialism and its Lackeys!

Courtesy: Alfonso Casal

PCMLE: Fidel Castro Ruz: Comandante of the Cuban Revolution Has Died, We Honor His Memory!

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Communiqué of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador, PCMLE

On the night of November 25, Fidel Castro Ruz, Comandante of the Cuban Revolution, has died and the Cuban people, the peoples of Latin America and the world mourn his death.

Fidel, throughout his life, was an outstanding revolutionary leader, and along with his comrades such as Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and others, was at the head of the heroic process of the Cuban revolution, which confronted the aggressive designs of US imperialism, defeated the armed incursions, the plots and conspiracies that the world power financed and directed together with the reactionary circles, in an attempt to break the will of the Cuban people and their leaders.

With Fidel at its head, the courageous Cuban people, with arms in hand, were able to overthrow the infamous, criminal and pro-Yankee dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, who had handed over the Caribbean island’s resources, sovereignty and independence to the Yankees. This same people, based on their unity, promoting the struggle, has been advancing in their revolutionary process that achieved important and well-known social achievements in various fields such as education, health, social security and, despite the criminal imperialist blockade, managed to rise up and maintain those achievements, which earned them the recognition and solidarity of the peoples of the world.

For the peoples of Latin America, the victories achieved by the Cuban revolution have undoubtedly been an example that has influenced their anti-imperialist struggles and the struggle for social revolution. Cuba has been the example of how a small country, besieged by the major world power that has blocked it since the beginning of the revolution, was able to stand up and maintain its independence with dignity.

The Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador, its members and leaders, pay homage to the memory of Fidel Castro, Comandante of the Cuban Revolution; We express our heartfelt condolences to the people of Cuba and their leaders and we believe that all of Fidel’s courageous legacy in his revolutionary actions will be maintained and developed for the advance of their social achievements and social justice.

Political Bureau of the Central Committee

November 27, 2016

ICMLPO: Communiqué on the Death of Fidel Castro

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On January 1 1959 the Cuban revolution triumphed. Several years of guerrilla struggle waged in the mountains of the Island, courageous fights of the working class, youth and people developed in the cities culminated in victory. Ninety miles from Yankee imperialism, the Cuban revolutionaries broke with the thesis of “geographic fatalism” according to which, because of the proximity of the United States, It was not possible to make the revolution in Latin America.

The achievements of the Revolution, the agrarian reform, the nationalization of all the US enterprises, the eradication of illiteracy, the health care and education involved the working masses and the youth; these awakened the solidarity of the workers and peoples of the world, especially of Latin America. They pointed the way to the armed revolutionary struggle. But they also unleashed the hatred of international reaction, the war-like actions of the United States, the invasion of Playa Giron {Bay of Pigs] and hundreds of terrorist actions, the trade embargo, which failed, over almost sixty years, due to the heroic resistance of the Cuban people and revolutionaries.

The heroic deeds of the workers and peasants, of the Cuban youth was able to develop and led to victory with the defeat of the tyranny and the establishment of people’s power. It succeeded in promoting the achievements, social and economic transformations and resisting and overcoming all sorts of attacks by imperialism and reaction. All this was possible due to the formation and forging of a revolutionary party, the July 26th Movement, which was able to adopt correct and timely guidelines, which was able to lead the social and political forces to struggle and victory. Among the members of the revolutionary command were many political and military leaders, Camilo Cienfuegos, Che, Frank Pais, Raul Castro. Among all of them, Comandante FIDEL CASTRO stood out as the leader, who participated actively and directly from the first combats, playing the role of organizer, strategist, popular leader and head of state.

Social revolutions are the work of the masses, but they could not be possible without the guidance of the revolutionary leaders who arise in the heat of combat but who achieve dimensions that determine the course and development of the processes.

The workers and peasants, youth, revolutionaries, the “July 26” Movement, the revolutionary commanders and Comandante Fidel Castro led a popular revolution that took place in a small country that confronted the strongest power on the planet and was able to resist.

Fidel Castro died fulfilling his duties and responsibilities. His words and deeds throughout his long life as a combatant will endure, they constitute the testimony of the courage and tenacity of a people, they express the convictions and commitment of a revolutionary.

The Marxist Leninist Parties and Organizations integrated in the ICMLPO express their communist sentiments to the working class, the people and the Cuban revolutionaries.

November 2016
Coordinating Committee of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations, ICMLPO

ICMLPO: Solidarity with the Union of Educators of Ecuador (UNE)

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From the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations, we extend our solidarity with the National Union of the Educators of Ecuador (UNE), the largest trade union organism of the Ecuadorian teachers that in its history of more than 72 years has played a very important role for the conquering of the rights and freedoms for the people and has stood firm against the most heinous dictatorships that the Ecuador has seen.

Today, just like yesterday, UNE is subject of harassment and persecution on the part of the reaction that took shape in Rafael Correa government, which unmask itself as a servant that defends the interests of the imperialism and new groups of rich produced by the politics of modernization of the capitalism; a government that has made one of its more reactionary plan acting for the dissolution of an institution of great democratic prestige, struggle tradition and long history.

UNE has been subject to the reactionary politics of Correa and Alianza Pais party, because it has demonstrated in the practice to be consistent and unwavering in the defence of the popular interests; UNE, always maintaining the class political independence, and being a moral bastion in front of dictatorships and pseudo-democratic governments, always opposed to the plans of deepening the neoliberal politics of privatization of the education and labour flexibility, fighting for the rights of teachers, students and the peoples. For these reason it has the support and solidarity of the main trade unions of Ecuador, the sympathy and the backing of many trade union organizations of the teachers at international level.

From each of our trenches, we extend our greetings and encouragement so that the teachers and peoples struggle in Ecuador will develop their independent way building the popular unity that the working class and the peoples of Ecuador require for the construction of the new Motherland and Socialism.

Long live the teachers and Ecuadorian peoples struggle!
Long live internationalist solidarity!
 
October 2016
 
XXII PLENARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
OF MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES AND ORGANIZATION

ICMLPO: Let’s Extend Our Solidarity to the Workers and Youth of Brazil That Are Fighting For the Defense of their Rights and Freedoms of Expression and Organization

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The XXII Conference of the CIPOML gathered in Denmark, manifest its full solidarity to the growing protests of the working class and the youth of Brazil to reject to the parliamentary manoeuvre imposed by the most reactionary National Congress in the whole history of Brazil that responds to the miserable interests of the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo and to the oligarchy of the financial capital, which powered up the impeachment with the clear objective of loading on the shoulder of the working classes the terrible weight of the current economic crisis that corrode the dying capitalist economic system.

This is absolutely evident in all the measures taken by the illegitimate, antinational, corrupt government that have visible tendencies to the fascism, in its five months of existence.

Michel Temer government involved in the coup has already removed the exclusivity of PETROBRAS to explore the crude oil in the deep waters of the “Upresal” sea; it is implanting “The school without party” in the whole basic and secondary system that will be anymore obligatorily and free, as well as the university education. Furthermore, in the Chamber of Deputies was approved on October 11 the project of amendment of the Constitution (PEC 241), which removes the obligation of the Brazilian government to increase for the next 20 years the state budget in health, education and social aid. Therefore, there will be no wage increase in wage for teachers and medical doctors, neither contract for other public servants, with the aim to undermine the public services and to justify the privatization of these essential services. This great amount of money will go to the bankers through the perverse mechanism of the payment on the public debt that already reaches to the astronomical value of R$ 3 trillions 936 billions 680 millions, 962 thousand and 32 real.

The result of this situation will be a real social catastrophe, with more than 12 million unemployed workers, a number that increases every day, and with 800 schools occupied in protest by the secondary students; for this reason the main central trade unions, the two fronts of social mobilization – “Brazil Popular” and “People Without Fear” – the left Party and the Organizations, are calling for a general strike on November 11.

We wish every success at these days, for the rich tradition of struggle of the Brazilian people that only with its mobilization and organization can overthrow the Temer government and to impede this tragedy, and in this way to open the road to establish the popular power and socialism, the unique system that will be able to solve effectively the problems of exploitation and oppression lasting several centuries.

October 2016.
XXII PLENARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
OF MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS

ICMLPO Resolution on Colombia

logo_mundo-copia-1The Parties and Organizations participating in the XXII International Plenary have carried out a detailed monitoring of the Colombian reality, especially of the activities that are realised today in this country for the peace.

Our Conference wants to take advantage of this occasion to reiterate its full support to the working class, the labourers and the people of Colombia, to their struggle for the achievement of a true peace with social justice.

The results of the plebiscite

Having known the results of the plebiscite held on October 2, we point out the high level of abstention that was registered in the country. On a total of 34.899.945 registered people in the electoral census in Colombia, only 13.066.047 voters, that represent the 37.43%, went to the polls. Along with the abstention, that reached the 62.57%, the results show the very low support received by the YES, that obtained only 6.377.482 votes (about 18.27%), and by the NOT with 6.431.376 votes (about 18.42%). These data reflect the government’s very low support, as well as the rejection of the agreements signed by the government of Juan Manuel Santos with the FARC-EP. The invalid and blank ballots, that are more than 257.000, are also an expression of dissent and protest against the politics of peace wanted by the government.

For our Conference, neither Santos, leader of the YES, nor Álvaro Uribe Vélez, boss of the NOT, acquired the support and the necessary legitimacy to continue on committing the State with the proposals and the politics that they defend. We highlight the results of the conflict, the will expressed by the people to reject the “Roman Peace”, as well as its demands and commitment with the democratic changes that will allow the overcoming of the injustice and social exclusion that characterizes the Colombia regime.

Having been not adopted the Havana agreements, and recognizing the deep desire of peace with social justice of the Colombian people, our Conference underline the obligation that has the Juan Manuel Santos government to provide to all the organizations, social and political forces, the necessary guarantees for the development of a wide national dialogue in order to discuss without obstacles the way out of the social, economic, politic and armed conflict that this nation lives for long years.

Optimists for the steps to be taken, we greet the activities and protest manifestations that spread out in the whole country, demanding the government not to reduce the dialogue, and neither the definitions about the peace in Colombia to what agreed the government, the parties of the National Unity, the Democratic Center and the FARC-EP. We express our support to the democratic social and political organizations that struggle in that perspective, in order to extend the conversations to the whole insurgency, including the ELN and EPL, as well as all the social, popular and political organizations of the country, in a clearing understanding that peace is a matter that concerns and commits to the totality of the Colombian nation.

We support the proposal to realise a National Constituent Assembly with a wide democratic character that will take up the task of approving a New Political Constitution and with it the bases of the peace with social justice that claim the majorities of Colombia.

The Nobel to Santos

In front of the international community, we express our concern for the erratic decisions of the Norwegian Nobel Committee regarding the peace in the world. In the same way we expressed our clearest rejection to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama, in this occasion we reject the prize that Juan Manuel Santos will receive on December of the present year with the same justification.

Mr. Santos can show neither administration of peace, nor concrete results in this matter; his commitment with the Pentagon, the imperialistic strategy of struggle against the world terrorism and the politics of national security applied in Colombia and Latin America will never be able to represent him as a leader of the peace of our peoples.

The defenders of such prize forget that Mr. Santos, in his function of Secretary of Defence in the government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, was responsible of the so-called “false positive”; he promoted the paramilitary groups, the famous “chuzadas” (illegal interception of communications) to the high Judicial Cortes and the attack to the sovereignty of the countries. They also forget the repressive action against the people in the years in which he acted as Chief of the State and of the government in Colombia; the constant violations of the human rights and the humanitarian international right; the indiscriminate bombings, the out of combat murder of the of guerrilla leaders’, as well as the disappearance of more than a hundred of popular leaders during its government. Furthermore, they also forget the linking of the Colombian armed forces, leaded by Santos, with the NATO, as well as its actions with the group of the allies against Iraq and Syria in the last years. For our Conference a war criminal like Santos will never be seen by the workers and peoples like a defender and fighter for peace.

Our support and solidarity

Finally, in accordance with the debated questions, the ICMLPO express its support and solidarity with the political action that the Communist Party of Colombia (marxistleninist) and the Popular Liberation Army (EPL) develop along with the working class and the people, against the fascistization and for the conquest of the democratic openness and the peace with social justice.

XXII PLENARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS (ICMLPO)
Denmark, October 2016

Final Declaration of the 25th International Anti-Fascist and Anti-imperialist Youth Camp

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On August 10, 2016, the 25th International Anti-Fascist and Anti-Imperialist Youth Camp (IAFAIYC) ended, which began on August 3 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, under the slogan: For solidarity, peace and freedom. Hundreds of democratic, progressive, environmentalist, leftist, feminist, anti-fascist, anti-imperialist and revolutionary youths met to analyze the realities of each people, coming from: Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Haiti, United States, Canada, Colombia, England, Venezuela, Turkey, Germany, Brazil, Mexico.

These were days of important work, of profound analysis on the issues dealt with that, together with cultural and sports activities, promoted the integration of the countries and peoples taking part.

An important part of the youth who are promoting changes in the world and are fighting in different continents and regions met in the Dominican Republic to discuss their realities, to make known their demands and to agree on the international tasks of the youths who desire profound transformations for their peoples. The 25th Camp demands from us a fundamental task, the work for the 26th IAFAIYC to be held in another corner of the planet in 2018 and that already demands our preparation and work.

The discussions taken up during the Camp reflect the common problems that we young people have in the world: unemployment, exploitation, lack of access to education, discrimination and criminalization, among others, which the capitalist system subjects us to permanently, as it does to other social sectors of each of our peoples.

The discussions taken up during the Camp show us that the enemies of the youths and peoples of the world are common: the ruling classes of each of our countries, the bourgeoisies; the imperialist powers that are trying at all times to secure the economic, cultural and political dependence of our peoples; the international monopolies that take over our territories to loot our natural resources and condemn the workers to low-paid work-days. We thus declare that the fundamental opponents of the rights and interests of the youths and peoples of the world are capitalism and imperialism.

In various countries, imperialism’s thirst for profit is promoting a tendency toward fascism in certain states and therefore they use the most reactionary violence, they promote the criminalization of social protest, terrorism, drug trafficking, para-militarism, and through these means of intimidation and oppression they are trying to contain the determined struggle that is being taken up in the different countries and these phenomena are being aggravated.

In this context, on October 10, 2015, in Ankara Turkey an attack took place on a demonstration of democratic sectors that rejected the repressive and anti-popular policy of the Erdogan regime. It left 245 injured and 95 dead, of whom four were young comrades who were part of the 24th IAFAIYC held in Izmir, Turkey, two years ago.

On February 3, 2014, a communist militant from the state of Morelos, Mexico, Gustavo Alejandro Salgado Delgado, who began his political action at the 19th IAFAIYC in Mexico, was assassinated by the state. Today the youth of the world are holding high the banners of justice for these fallen comrades, they are denouncing the repressive actions of these regimes and their moves toward fascism, which are a reflection of their weakness, because their institutions have lost their authority and are no longer able to continue ruling as they did before.

During the 25th IAFAIYC, the youths of Venezuela, the popular organizations and the sectors of the Left endured the forced disappearance and later assassination of comrade Julio Blanco, who attended and was one of the organizers of the 23rd International Camp held in that country in 2012.

For our comrades fallen in the midst of struggle, who together with us and thousands more men and women dreamed of a different world, in which we would all be truly free, we raise our voices and our fists demanding justice and prison for those responsible. We make a determined commitment to continue their battles in each of our countries until we achieve victory.

Those of us who attended the 25th IAFAIYC came from different corners of the planet and we discussed our struggles and battles. In Europe hundreds of thousands of young people have taken to the streets to reject the neoliberal labor reforms aimed at curtailing the rights of young workers, subjecting them to increasingly harsh work days, with ever-decreasing wages in a context in which the capitalist states are strengthening their adjustment policies, which are anti-worker, anti-people and they are trying to place this burden on the peoples and make its consequences fall on the peoples, workers and youths. In the Americas, banners are raised in defense of public, secular, quality and universal education against the ruling corrupt right-wing regimes, which discriminate against the youth. We demand a greater budget for social services; we reject the anti-popular laws and policies in different countries that curtail the rights and freedoms of youth. In all the corners of the planet we constantly dream and struggle to win a world radically different from the one that capitalism gives us and to which imperialism subjects us; we struggle for life and freedom, for a real democracy so that we who create the wealth are the ones who we can define the future of our peoples.

With the same force and intensity, we discussed our problems, we expressed our solidarity with the peoples struggling for their independence, for recognition of their territories such as Palestine and the Kurdish people, against forced displacement, against the discriminatory policies that legitimize wars and hunger to which capitalism and imperialism subject millions of men and women in countries such as Kenya, Somalia and Haiti.

We express our solidarity and support for the men and women of the world who have become refugees due to the aggression promoted by the imperialist powers, which are taking place in regions such as the Middle East. We condemn the imperialist wars that seek to plunder the resources of the peoples; we reject the interventions of the world powers that seek to expand their zones of influence and increase their degree of subjection; we want no more wars in which the young people are forced to become cannon fodder of the violence of the system, we demand peace and self-determination for the peoples of the world.

We emphasize the role of women as essential protagonists in the social transformations and the productive development of the peoples; we recognize and reject the conditions of super-exploitation and structural violence of which they are victims. We reject all forms of sexual discrimination and oppression as we condemn their patriarchal and misogynist character, a product of the imperialist-capitalist system.

The unity of the workers of the world is fundamental for our demands and aspirations to be met, to stop the policies of terror of the capitalist states; it is indispensable to strengthen the principle of internationalism, to promote solidarity among the youths of the world. We are building the unity of the youths, workers and peoples through the exchange of experiences, broad and democratic discussion of our problems, political accords that denounce the evils of capitalism and imperialism in all corners of the planet. We are following and supporting the struggles that are unfolding in different countries, and especially the struggle and mobilization that we are developing in each of our countries in defense of our rights and interests and those of our peoples. Only in this way can we stop the looting, war, fascism and the whole imperialist policy imposed on the broad majority subjected to and exploited by capitalism and imperialism.

This camp is a reflection of the joy and rebellion of the youths of the world, of the renewing character of those of us who feel angry and demand profound transformations in each of our countries. All the energies of the youths of the world, all the battles that we take up should be aimed in one direction, against capitalism and imperialism, in order to break the chains of exploitation, domination, oppression, discrimination and dependency to which we are subjected. hey must be directed toward profound changes, that will guarantee the victory of the emancipation of each of our peoples. The course that the young people of the planet who are struggling against capitalism, imperialism and fascism must take should be one of the revolution and the building of a new society, a socialist society.

Let us lift up our voices, our struggle and the unity of the anti-fascist and anti-imperialist youth of the world!

Santo Domingo Dominican Republic, August 10, 2016

Organizations that Signed the Resolutions of the 25th International Anti-Fascist and Anti-Imperialist Youth Camp:
Revolutionary Youth of Ecuador
National Student Coordinator – Mexico
Union of Revolutionary Youth of Mexico
Federation of Socialist Peasant Students of Mexico
Movement of Popular Organizations – Haiti
Union of Rebel Youth – Brazil
Delegation of Puerto Rico
Current of Anti-Fascist and Anti-Imperialist Youth – Venezuela
Caribbean Youth – Dominican Republic
Flavio Suero Student Front – Dominican Republic

The 25th International Camp discussed the particular problems of each of the participating countries; their debates allow us to affirm and endorse the present political agreements, which express the analysis and denunciation of their problems and the banners of struggle that the youths of each peoples are taking up in their respective territories.

Venezuela

Venezuela is facing an economic, political and social crisis. This is taking place in the context of the general crisis of capitalism, of the condition imposed by the continuing dependency and is now in a process of renegotiating its economy, affected mainly by the low price of oil and the sabotage by the bourgeoisie. It has a democratic and popular government, but one that has acted by conciliating the interests of the proletarian class as a solution to the crisis. All these factors, coupled with a strong imperialist offensive, are contributing to a sharpening of the contradictions of the class struggle in this country.

The different scenarios were presented, in which the bourgeoisie is seeking as soon as possible to retake full power in order to suppress the popular movement. Against this this revolutionary youth, together with the workers, peasants and community organization, is raising the banner of anti-imperialist revolutionary popular unity, UPRA, which is the platform that today calls on us to bring together a broad accumulation of all the popular, democratic and revolutionary forces against imperialist intervention and fascist reaction.
Ecuador

The 25th IAFAIYC held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, between August 3 and 10, 2016, expresses its solidarity with the youth, workers and peoples of Ecuador who are promoting unity and struggle in opposition to the government of Rafael Correa that, with a leftist discourse, is promoting reforms aimed at consolidating capitalism and affecting the popular sectors.

We representatives of the 12 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas join with the struggle taken up by the student movement against the government policy aimed at reserving education for the elite and imposing improvised reforms that threaten educational rights, as well as the repression against hundreds of students and social leaders. We support – in that sense – the demand for the dismissal of Education Minister Augusto Espinosa who is currently facing a political trial for incompetence; we stand in solidarity with Cotopaxi Technical, Andean and FLACSO [Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences] universities that are being attacked by the government. We reject the attempt to make illegal the historic teachers’ union, the National Union of Educators, a measure that is one more fruitless attempt by the regime to silence the voice of the largest union in Ecuador, the representative of the teachers and promoter of an emancipating education. Finally, we wish for the success of the National Accord for Change, a unitary candidacy based on the unity achieved among union sectors, the indigenous and social movements that, after defeating the government in the days of popular mobilization, is prepared to take part in the next electoral process and defeat the right-wing that is governing and the traditional sectors that seek to recover lost ground.

Haiti

Education has a multiple effect on human development, therefore in our country the lack of this tool forces us to accept the capitalist and imperialist propositions; in this regard, we are firm in our resolve to fight against the empire by means of Education.

Puerto Rico

As anti-imperialist youths, we understand that it is indispensable to support the struggle for the liberation of the peoples. That is why we express our full support for the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico. This is a necessity to weaken the imperial domination in the Caribbean region and our Americas. In addition, this will save our youth from the oppression of the empire that, besides expressing itself through its neoliberalism, is now taking on new intensity with Fiscal Control Board, established by the Congress of the United States. Similarly, we understand the importance of the political integration among the rank and file movements of our peoples. We propose an Antillean federation as a political tool to concretize and give strength to the struggle to expel the Yankee invader from our territories in the Caribbean.

Moreover, we demand the freedom of all political prisoners and prisoners of war in the Yankee jails. We must never leave behind our comrades in the dungeons. They are revolutionary comrades who understood the consequences of the revolutionary struggle and took it up with discipline and commitment.

France

The development of the policies in Europe is the result of the war in the Middle East and the refugee crisis. After the explosions in some European countries, a state of emergency was declared, as in France and Belgium, which is why many young people and the opposition have been confronted by force. The right-wing parties and organizations in Europe have used the explosions and refugees in order to spread their ideas.

Hundreds of young people have taken to the streets against such ideas with an anti-fascist struggle.

Moreover, the workers and youth in France are taking up the fight against the anti-democratic, labor law; for many months, the population has taken to the streets fighting for their future.

Turkey

Day by day fascism is gaining strength in Turkey, under the shadow of explosions and war; one single man, Erdogan, is increasing persecution and under him, a one-party dictatorship is being built. Due to this, the working class, the laboring people, youth and women are forced to live in a world of darkness and oppression. However, if they hide the sun from us we will fight in the darkness.

As youth of Turkey, we will continue our struggle for bread, peace, work and freedom. We say to the world that what we have done here we will bring back to our country in order to strengthen international solidarity.

Mexico

The regime’s offensive is against the youth and the whole Mexican people. The implementation of the 12 structural reforms is to ensure maximum profit and the plunder of our natural resources by imperialism, mainly U.S. imperialism.

To ensure this, the state is imposing measures with a fascist content; Mexico is now experiencing an arduous struggle due to the events of September 26 and 27, 2014, in Iguala, Guerrero, where the comrades of the Raul Isidro Burgos rural teacher’s college in Ayotzinapa were victims of one of the most shocking repressions in the country’s history. This led to the assassination of three student teachers by firearms with one of them being killed in the most brutal manner, with his face mutilated, and the arrest and disappearance of 43 student teachers by the state.

Also the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) is carrying out a nationwide strike calling for unity of all sectors of the country to combat the structural reforms, primarily the educational ones. Despite the repression that this process has undergone with a new massacre of 14 people in Nochixtlan, Oaxaca, last June 19, today we declare that the struggle against imperialism and its fascist violence should be taken up by the Mexican youth and people, defending in unity the rights we have gained and building a revolutionary process that will transform this system from its roots.

For the presentation alive of the 43 student teachers of Ayotzinapa 43 who have been detained-disappeared by the state!

Stop state terrorism; free the political prisoners!

Solidarity and struggle with the CNTE; down with the educational reforms and all the structural reforms!

Unity and struggle of all the anti-fascist and anti-imperialist youth!

Brazil

At the 25th IAFAIYC we state that we are living through a time of great political and economic backwardness in the country. This was no counter-revolution, because the 13 years of the Workers’ Party (PT) and its policy of class conciliation, called “coalition presidentialism,” in order to hide its actual content, never created any obstacles for the development of capitalism and the domination of the bourgeois class in the economy and politics of the country. This was done in order to protect the bosses of the workers and ensure the implementation of this policy. It is a fact that people had a number of guaranteed rights, particularly the right to demonstrate and in reality there were social programs that improved the living conditions of the poorest people, the real wage increase, the structural or deep transformation of the economy and politics. We are experiencing a period of great struggles of the youth, such as the more than 700 occupations of schools, the resistance in the universities against the cutbacks to student enrollment by the illegitimate government and the general strike of institutions and the demonstrations Temer Must Go that are now taking place at the Olympics.

The Brazilian youth have always taken part with all our energy in the main struggles of the country, in support of the workers and all our people. Today we continue to play the combative role on the road to major changes for solidarity, peace and freedom in the world; we are on the march towards socialism.
Colombia

The young people taking part in the 25th Anti-Imperialist and Anti-Fascist International Youth Camp, IAFAIYC-2016, held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from August 3 to 10, 2016, extend their embrace of solidarity and combat to the struggle of the Colombian people for their social liberation, for freedoms and rights and for the structural changes that the immense majority of the exploited and oppressed desire. In addition, we raise the banner of the importance of placing at the center of the debate the fight for a true peace with redistributive social justice, that is, a peace that challenges the profound relations of exploitation of man by man and the economic model that this entails.

These demands can only achieve the importance that they deserve, to the degree that a broad national dialogue on the situation in the country and the roots of the conflict is created, in order to begin the call for a National Constituent Assembly, of a democratic character and with full participation of the sectors and organizations that represent the people, analyzing all their demands and providing the conditions to choose a patriotic government of the people and for the people.

Long live the just struggles of the Colombian people!

Long live Peace with redistributive social justice!

National Constituent Assembly now!

Dominican Republic

The political system that prevails in the Dominican Republic excludes the youth from politics that are directed to the full development of their dreams and desires. The youth have been deprived of their right to study, to work and even sometimes their right to live, as a result of governments that have had as their main objective to keep our people steeped in ignorance and thus to perpetuate themselves in power without difficulty.

Equity and the inclusion in the decision-making of the state should have a wider participation of the youth. There must be guarantees for developing a program that truly represents us in all areas of the state, which is responsible for ensuring the people’s rights.

To summarize, organize and direct actions to take the power away from the ruling class is the most urgent task of the progressive and revolutionary youth of the Dominican Republic.

Long live the 25th International Anti-Fascist and Anti-Imperialist Youth Camp!!!
Long live the solidarity and unity of the peoples!!!

Michael Parenti: Is Nicaragua More Democratic Than the United States?

Nicaragua_DanielOrtega01_full

[From: Covert Action Information Bulletin, Number 26, Summer 1986]

To justify the policies of attack, encirclement, embargo, and destabilization directed against Nicaragua, the Reagan administration has charged that the Sandinista government is on the road to totalitarianism, that it denies religious and political freedom and is a threat to the security of its neighbors. The goal of U.S. policy, claims President Reagan, is to bring about a pluralistic open society in Nicaragua, a goal that never loomed very large during the fifty years of the Somoza dictatorship. More recently in a book on the Nicaraguan revolution. journalist Shirley Christian echoed this line, arguing that the contra war was a justifiable attempt ”to force the Sandinista Front into accepting major structural changes toward an open political society.”

In response to this position, supporters of the Sandinista revolution have argued that Nicaragua does have a pluralistic society, is attempting to make a better life for its people, has no aggressive designs upon its neighbors, and instead is itself being invaded along two of it borders. Others have shown that by every standard, Nicaragua’s elections have been more open and democratic than El Salvador’s and its society more humane than most others in Latin America.

Indeed it can be further argued that by every standard Nicaragua is a more democratic society than the one waging aggression against — and I do not mean Honduras. By every major democratic criterion, Nicaragua comes off looking better than the United States. Let us begin with a comparison of the national elections held in November 1984 in both the United States and Nicaragua [1]

Popular Participation

One crucial measure of an open political system is the degree of popular participation. Most voting studies in the United States and elsewhere find that nonvoters show a high degree of alienation from the political process; they believe voting is not a means of effecting changes, and they often fail to see a meaningful choice in the candidates presented to them. (This is the view also of a surprisingly large number of persons who vote in the United States.) Therefore a comparison of the respective rates of turnouts in the Nicaraguan and U.S. election might be worth pondering for a moment.

The turnout in the United States in the 1984 election was little less than 53 percent of the eligible voters, one of the lowest of any western nation. Yet the press took little note of this and instead treated Reagan’s reelection as a landslide victory and democratic mandate. In contrast, voter turnout was nearly 82 percent in Managua and 75.4 percent in Nicaragua as a whole. Yet this turnout was described in the U.S. press as “disappointing” because the Sandinistas had hoped for an 80 percent national turnout. (Left unmentioned was the fact that in Nicaragua the voting was voluntary, unlike most Latin American countries.)

Range of Political Choice

Elections that offer little choice are said to be wanting in democratic standards. The choice in Nicaragua was noticeably wider and more democratic than in the United States. Seven parties ran for seats in the national assembly and for the presidency, representing a broad ideological range: from those on the far left (who damned the FSLN for its moderate policies and for allegedly betraying the workers and peasants) to those on the center and right (who accused the FSLN of exercising a rigid control over the country, wrecking the economy and leading Nicaragua to war). All these charges and countercharges were reported and debated extensively in the public and private press in Nicaragua.

In the United States the choice was limited largely to Democrats and Republicans, who in many races are often hard to tell apart. True, there were a variety of minor parties but these were not accorded the same opportunity for participation as were the various opposition parties in Nicaragua, as we shall see.

Access to the Ballot

A variety of parties may compete in an election but if they are denied roughly equal conditions of competition or access to the ballot or shoved to the side of the political arena, it cannot be said that democratic competition exist. In the U.S. all fifty states have laws, written and enforced by Republican and Democratic officials, regulating party access to the ballot — often in ways restrictive enough to keep smaller parties from participating, thus depriving the electorate of the freedom to choose someone other than a Democrat or a Republican. Minor parties are often required to gather a large number of signatures on nominating petitions in a limited time. Thus in Pennsylvania third-party state-wide candidates must collect 36,000 signature in a three-week period; in Maryland candidates are required to collect over 55,000 signatures in a short time. Sometimes a 5 percent requirement for signatures has been interpreted to mean 5 percent of voters from every district within the state — an impossible task for a third party whose base might he confined to a few urban areas.

In some states votes who are registered with the major parties are not allowed to sign or circulate minor-party nominating petition. Petitions are sometimes thrown out by hostile officials on trivial and sometimes unlawful technicalities. (as happened to the Communist Party in Illinois and Connecticut in recent elections) compelling minor parties to pursue expensive court battles that further drain their financial resources.

In some states minor parties must pay exorbitant filing fees: $5,000 Louisiana for an independent candidate. To get on the ballot in all 50 states, a third party would have to expend an estimated $750,000 in filing fees and other expenses and collect 1.2 million signatures, a feat accomplished in 1984 by no third party. And the trend is toward less and less ballot access: in the last 12 years, sixteen states have tightened the restrictions. Between 1980 and 1984, for example, the states of Indiana and North Dakota quadrupled the number of signatures required to get on the ballot.

In Nicaragua, in striking contrast, the electoral law favors the smaller political parties. In 1984 any party could register to field candidates by merely presenting a national directorate and two representatives from each of the country’s nine regions. One of the parties that so registered, the Independent Liberal Party (PLI) asked to withdraw from the contest four days before election day. The Electoral Council ruled that it was too late for a party to pull out but that individual candidates could withdraw their names if they chose. None did so.

Accessibility to the Electorate

Being on the ballot does little good if the bulk of the voters have never heard of you or never hear *from* you. Third parties in the United States are given almost no national media coverage during campaigns. News media focus exclusively on the two major parties, failing even to report the votes that third parties get on election day (usually between one and two million all together), thus treating the minor parties as if they do not exist. Lacking the huge sums available to the major parties, especially the Republicans, the smaller parties are unable to buy major media time and space of their own. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974 finances the major parties, giving each tens of millions of dollars for their presidential campaigns, but the smaller parties can obtain federal funds only after they glean 5 percent of the national vote (about 4 million votes for any one party) In sum, they cannot get the money until they get the 5 percent, but they cannot yet the percent until they get the money.

In contrast, the Nicaraguan electoral law provided public financing of 9 million cordobas ($321,000) for each participating party *regardless of size* and guaranteed an equal amount of time each day on the state-run radio stations and television channels. Each party was also permitted to receive unlimited funds from private donors, including people and organizations outside Nicaragua, a provision that worked to the advantage of the centrist and rightist parties. As the campaign got under complaints from the participating parties led to changes in the electoral law, including an increase in radio and television time, an additional 3 million cordobas in government campaign funds for each party, and a lengthening of the campaign period. Parties were also guaranteed access to products in short supply in Nicaragua: paper. printing facilities, transportation and gasoline. The various parties also produced their own party newspapers, together with leaflets and billboards.

Absence of Coercion

Instances of coercion and harassment of candidates have not been an unusual occurrence in U.S. elections. In the United States third-party candidates especially those of a pronouncedly leftist hue have run into difficulties of this sort. Harassment may not be confined to the candidates themselves but may include their supporters and canvassers. In 1972 in Vermont persons who merely signed Communist Party ballot petitions found their names publicized by town clerks in an effort to embarrass them into withdrawing their signatures. Generally though, in modern times American elections have not been marked by violence nor by any serious degree of threat against candidates. The coercions are largely of the legal kind noted earlier which work well enough against third parties. In regard to individual voters, however, it should be noted that not every American citizen has the right to an uncoerced vote, as testified by the continuing need for a Civil Rights Voting Act, the renewal of which President Reagan opposed.

Turning to Nicaragua, we find there were serious acts of violence and murder in the 1984 election — all committed by the force supported by the Reagan administration. The contras killed the presidents of two polling stations and two volunteer workers involved in registration. In the Jinotega mountains, one polling station worker’s throat was cut by the contras in front of his wife and family. On election day a member of the electoral police was shot to death by contras in La Tronica. In all, twelve election workers lost their lives in assaults by counterrevolutionaries .

The election was less than flawless in its procedures, but the overall performance was one that the Nicaraguan democracy can be proud of. There was free and open campaigning in every area of the country except in some war zones. According to estimates by the Supreme Electoral Council, there were some 250 public rallies. In general the election was characterized by untrammeled and vigorous political debate. If the FSLN was instituting a totalitarian regime, it was going about it in the wrong way.

About five of the public rallies were marred by incidents of violence but no serious injuries were reported. During the first months of the campaign a number of parties also reported that their campaign workers had been harassed by members of the FSLN, or that their posters had been destroyed. The Sandinista leadership denounced these incidents and they seemed to diminish thereafter. In addition, several rallies held by the Nicaraguan Democratic Coordinating Committee (CDN). a coalition of conservative business-oriented parties that abstained from the election, were disrupted by fights between CDN supporters and Sandinista counterdemonstrators. These rallies were technically illegal since the CDN had refused to participate in the election and indeed spent its time during the campaign attacking the electoral system itself. Once the CDN decided to conduct what seemed like a sabotage of the electoral effort (in the eyes of FSLN supporters), clashes with counterdemonstrators were difficult to avoid.

Because of these incidents, Arturo Cruz claimed that he was attacked by ‘mobs’ and that free electoral competition did not exist. It should be recalled that the country is at war and that Cruz openly identified with the enemy and was not at any time functioning as a legal or serious candidate. When Cruz, a banker in Wellington, arrived in Managua five months before the election, the CDN suddenly announced he would be their unified presidential candidate. Without officially registering as a candidate, Cruz toured the country for several days, drawing small crowds As suddenly as he arrived, he left, announcing he would not run under the prevailing electoral conditions. Throughout this period the U.S. media and the U.S. government described him as the “major opposition candidate” and treated his nonparticipation as evidence that the election was an unfair and meaningless exercise. In conflict with this view is the one expressed in the report, cited herein, by U.S. citizens in Nicaragua:

In general, our perception of the electoral campaign period is that the harassment and fistfights were scattered incidents that did not affect the generally free atmosphere of the electoral process. We found our neighbors and co-workers unafraid to voice their opinions, and heard and read virulent criticism of the FSLN. We know of no pressure on Nicaraguan to vote for the Sandinista Front. In particular, we found no truth in the charge made by _La Prensa_ that the cards which entitle families to receive subsidized food allotments were controlled in a concerted effort to influence Nicaraguans” votes. We conclude that the electoral campaign provided Nicaraguans with abundant information on which to base a free decision about their vote.

A similar conclusion was reached by the 460 official observers from all over the world who were free to check out all aspects of the voting process and ballot counting. None of the eleven participating parties filed any charges of fraud.

System of Representation

The FSLN won 64.9% of the vote, a victory that was only a few percentage points higher than the one enjoyed by Ronald Reagan in 1984. The two runner-up parties, both center-rightist, won 13% and 9% respectively. The National Assembly seats were allocated according to proportional representation so that minority parties were assured of 35 of the 96 seats (including six seats that under the electoral law are allotted to the losing presidential candidates of each party). All this was dismissed by Reagan as “an electoral farce without any meaningful political opposition.”

In contrast, the single-member-district electoral system used in the United States is much less representative and therefore less democratic. The party that polls a plurality of the vote, be it 40, 50 or 60 percent, wins 100 percent of a district’s representation, while smaller parties, regardless of their vote, receive zero representation. Proportional representation provides a party with legislative seats roughly in accordance with the percentage of votes it wins, thus assuring minor parties of some parliamentary presence. But the single-member, winner-take-all system magnifies the strength of the major parties and leaves the minor parties with a percentage of seats (if any) that is far lower than its percentage of votes. The winner-take-all system deprives third parties not only of representation but eventually of voters too, since not many citizens wish to “waste” their ballots on a party that seems incapable of establishing a legislative presence

Minorities

There are other criteria by which the American and Nicaraguan democracies might he compared. For instance, there is the treatment of minorities. Much is made of the Sandinistas’ forced relocation of Miskito Indians during a time of serious border attack, a policy that quickly proved not only wrong but in some instances wrongful. Today Managua is now trying to undo its previous policy and resettle the Miskito on their lands, an approach that compares favorably with the U.S. treatment of Native American Indians, to say the least, and with the forced relocation of the Japanese into concentration camps during World War II, uprooting them from California communities, that — unlike Nicaragua — were never threatened by enemy invasion. Nor did the U.S. government ever compensate the Japanese for the losses they sustained in the way of homes, businesses and farms

Political Dissent

There is the more general question of Freedom of communication for dissenting ideas. La Prensa is not the only opposition voice in Nicaragua. About half of the radio and television stations in the country are privately owned and most of these give the government a daily ideological pounding that makes National Public Radio look like the tepid establishment mouthpiece it is. The various political parties also produced their own newspapers during the campaign. There is a war going on in Nicaragua. The country is encircled by hostile forces. has endured invasions on both of its borders and has suffered much loss of life and destruction of property. Yet the censorship imposed is no worse and probably less restrictive than what the U.S. government imposed during World War II, and Managua’s treatment of dissenters and collaborators has been far more tolerant and liberal than the treatment accorded Tory sympathizers during and immediately after the American revolution or dissenters who received long prison terms during World War I.

In the United States, dissenting views that go beyond the mainstream. or even much left of center, are rarely allowed time or space in the major media, but are consigned to small-circulation magazines that teeter on the edge of insolvency. In short, there is a greater plurality of ideas, ideologies, and debate in Nicaragua than in the United States. On this score Nicaragua is a more open, more pluralistic society. It may not always remain so however. Subject to enough threat and siege, assault and murder, the Nicaraguans will start tightening up, choosing security over dissent, survival over pluralism. Indeed, it is miraculous that they haven’t already done so. The signs are there; President Daniel Ortega has said: “In the hardest moments we have to convert the defeats into more ideological unity, more political unity … [and] more organization.” (Miami Herald, August 4, 1985).

If the U.S. Government were really interested in encouraging pluralistic dissent in Nicaragua it would pursue a policy quite the opposite of the one now in the saddle, offering Managua friendship and support and the hope for peaceful independence and security. Democracy is a delicate flower that does not do well when repeatedly stomped upon.

Religious Freedom

The Reagan administration has charged that there is religious persecution in Nicaragua. But the Catholic church is alive and well. Elements of its clergy and laity can be found playing prominent roles on both sides within Nicaragua, struggling hard to build — or destroy — the revolution. Religious practice is not interfered with. The Rev. Miguel Gray, a Nicaraguan Baptist minister, hailed the religious freedom enjoyed in that country and pointed to the building of 19 additional churches since 1979 in a desperately poor country where not too many buildings of any kind are going up.

The level of religious tolerance in the United States today is as good as might be found anywhere. But in recent years the disturbing intolerance manifested by such groups as the Moral Majority, and the President’s open association with the religious Right, including his announcement that “ours is a Christian nation,” might cause us to give more attention to the question of religious tolerance here at home.

Human Needs

If democracy means more than a set of procedures but implies something, about the substantive conditions of life, then here too poor Nicaragua looks better than rich America in the era of Ronald Reagan. Decades of colonialism, Somocista pillaging, earthquake, revolution and counterrevolution, have left Nicaragua with a legacy of extreme poverty, yet the very worst is not happening to the poor citizens of that country as it is to the poor on the streets in Washington D.C.; no one is starving and no one has been tossed aside like so much human refuse.

Finally, in comparing Nicaragua with the United States. we might consider the degree to which each country is interfering with the political development and security of the other. As Reagan himself aptly put it: “Democracies do not spend a lot of money on arms, build large armies or invade or destabilize their neighbors.” With typical Orwellian inversion he was aiming this remark at Nicaragua but it applies most perfectly to hi own administration, which spends more money on arms and more time destabilizing and invading neighbors than we could ever imagine Nicaragua doing. The truth is also inverted when Reagan calls the Sandinistas “terrorists.” To be sure, there is plenty of terrorism going on in Nicaragua and plenty being exported to other countries in Central America, but it is conducted by contra mercenaries and Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran death squads and military, all financed and advised by the U.S.

Those “democratic socialist” critics on the left, who give qualified and skittish support to Nicaragua, who are quick to point out how they have “problems” with some of the things the Sandinistas are doing, who impose flawless democratic standards upon a tiny country that is under mortal siege from the Yankee Colossus, those critics might want to consider the realities of the situation. It is the United States which should be the object of their professedly democratic concerns; it is the U.S. which falls so dismally short of practicing the democratic pluralism it preaches to others, exporting violence and terrorism and pummeling a smaller neighbor that is trying to develop a democratic society of its own.

If one criterion of democracy is that a country not act like a thug and aggressor in its dealings with another country even to the point of refusing to show up in (world) court to defend itself when so charged — then United States under Reagan comes off looking tar less fair, less open, and less democratic than Nicaragua.

(*) Michael Parenti writes and lectures frequently on U.S. domestic and foreign politics. His most recent book is _Inventing Reality: The Politics of the Mass Media_ (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1986).

Source

Michael Parenti: The Costs of Counterrevolution: Must We Ignore Imperialism?

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The following are excerpts from the book “The Sword and the Dollar: Imperialism, Revolution, and the Arms Race” by Michael Parenti, published by St. Martin’s Press, 1989.

The Costs of Counterrevolution

Throughout the 1980s, the counterrevolutionary mercenaries who have waged war against such countries as Nicaragua, Angola, and Mozambique, were described as “guerrillas.” In fact, they won little support from the people of those countries, which explains why they remained so utterly dependent upon aid from the United States and South Africa. In an attempt to destroy the revolutionary economy and thus increase popular distress and discontent, these counterrevolutionaries attacked farms, health workers, technicians, schools, and civilians. Unlike a guerrilla army that works with and draws support from the people, the counterrevolutionary mercenaries kidnap, rape, kill and in other ways terrorize the civilian population. These tactics have been termed “self-defeating,” but they have a logic symptomatic of the underlying class politics. Since the intent of the counterrevolutionaries is to destroy the revolution, and since the bulk of the people support the revolution, then the mercenaries target the people.

In Mozambique, for example, over a period of eight years the South African-financed rebels laid waste to croplands, reducing the nation’s cereal production enough to put almost 4 million people in danger of starvation. The rebels destroyed factories, rail and road links, and marketing posts, causing a sharp drop in Mozambique’s production and exports. They destroyed 40 percent of the rural schools and over 500 of the 1,222 rural health clinics built by the Marxist government. And they killed hundreds of unarmed men, women, and children. But they set up no “liberated” areas and introduced no program for the country; nor did they purport to have any ideology or social goals.

Likewise, the mercenary rebel force in Angola, financially supported throughout the 1980s by the apartheid regime in South Africa and looked favorably upon by the Reagan administration, devastated much of the Angolan economy, kidnapping and killing innocent civilians, displacing about 600,000 persons and causing widespread hunger and malnutrition. Assisted by White South African troops, the rebels destroyed at least half of Angola’s hospitals and clinics. White South African military forces, aided by jet fighters, engaged in direct combat on the side of the counterrevolutionaries. The rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi, offered no social program for Angola but was lavish in his praise of the apartheid rulers in Pretoria and critical of Black South African leaders.

So with the contra forces that repeatedly attacked Nicaragua from Honduras for some seven years. In all that time they were unable to secure a “liberated” zone nor any substantial support from the people. They represented a mercenary army that amounted to nothing much without US money-and nothing much with it, having failed to launch a significant military offensive for years at a time. Like other counterrevolutionary “guerrillas” they were quite good at trying to destabilize the existing system by hitting soft targets like schools and farm cooperatives and killing large numbers of civilians, including children. (While the US news media unfailingly reported that the Nicaraguans or Cubans had “Soviet-made weapons,” they said nothing about the American, British, and Israeli arms used by counterrevolutionaries to kill Angolans, Namibians, Black South Africans, Western Saharans, Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans.)

Like counterrevolutionaries in other countries, the Nicaraguan contras put forth no economic innovations or social programs other than some vague slogans. As the New York Times reported, when asked about “the importance of political action in the insurgency” the contra leaders “did not seem to assign this element of revolutionary warfare a high priority.” They did not because they were not waging a “revolution” but a counterrevolution. What kind of a program can counterrevolutionaries present? If they publicize their real agenda, which is to open the country once more to the domination of foreign investors and rich owners, they would reveal their imperialist hand.

Like most of the Third World, Nicaragua during the Somoza dictatorship was one of imperialism’s ecological disasters, with its unrestricted industrial and agribusiness pollution and deforestation. Upon coming to power, the Sandinistas initiated rain forest and wildlife conservation measures and alternative energy programs. The new government also adopted methods of cutting pesticides to a minimum, prohibiting the use of the deadlier organochlorides commonly applied in other countries. Nicaragua’s environmental efforts stand in marked contrast to its neighboring states. But throughout the 1980s, the program was severely hampered by contra attacks that killed more than thirty employees of Nicaragua’s environmental and state forestry agencies, and destroyed agricultural centers and reclamation projects.

The US government is ready to accept just about anyone who emigrates from a Communist country. In contrast, the hundreds of millions of Third World refugees from capitalism, who would like to come to this country because the conditions of their lives are so hopeless, are not allowed to come in …

*

Must We Ignore Imperialism?

Woodrow Wilson, 1907

Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.

Ronald Reagan

What I want to see above all else is that this country remains a country where someone can always be rich. That’s the thing we have that must be preserved.

Jeff McMahan

U.S. reasons for wanting to control the third world are to some extent circular. Thus third world resources are required in part to guarantee military production, and increased military production is required in part to maintain and expand U.S. control over third world resources …. Instrumental goals eventually come to be seen as ends in themselves. Initially the pursuit of overseas bases is justified by the need to maintain stability, defend friendly countries from communist aggression, and so on-in other words, to subjugate and control the third world; but eventually the need to establish and maintain overseas bases becomes one of the reasons for wanting to subjugate and control the third world.

Henry Kissinger, June 27, 1970 about Chile

I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.

*

Against Imperialism

The people who make US foreign policy are known to us – and they are well known to each other. Top policymakers and advisors are drawn predominantly from the major corporations and from policy groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Committee for Economic Development, the Trilateral Commission, the Business Roundtable, and the Business Council. Membership in these groups consists of financiers, business executives, and corporate lawyers. Some also have a sprinkling of foundation directors, news editors, university presidents, and academicians.

Most prominent is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Incorporated in 1921, the CFR numbered among its founders big financiers such as John D. Rockefeller, Nelson Aldrich, and J. P. Morgan. Since World War II, CFR members have included David Rockefeller, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (and erstwhile CFR president); Allen Dulles, Wall Street lawyer and longtime director of the CIA; and, in the 1970s, all the directors of Morgan Guaranty Trust; nine directors of Banker’s Trust; five directors of Tri-Continental holding company; eight directors of Chase Manhattan; and directors from each of the following: Mellon National Bank, Bank of America, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Standard Oil of New Jersey, General Electric, General Dynamics, Union Carbide, IBM, AT&T, ITT, and the New York Times (a partial listing).

One member of the Kennedy administration, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., described the decision-making establishment as “an arsenal of talent which had so long furnished a steady supply of always orthodox and often able people to Democratic as well as Republican administrations. President Kennedy’s secretary of state was Dean Rusk, president of the Rockefeller Foundation and member of the CFR; his secretary of defense was Robert McNamara, president of Ford Motor Company; his secretary of the treasury was C. Douglas Dillon, head of a prominent Wall Street banking firm and member of the CFR. Nixon’s secretary of state was Henry Kissinger, a Nelson Rockefeller protégé who also served as President Ford’s secretary of state. Ford appointed fourteen CFR members to his administration. Seventeen top members of Carter’s administration were participants of the Rockefeller-created Trilateral Commission, including Carter himself and Vice President Walter Mondale. Carter’s secretary of state was Cyrus Vance, Wall Street lawyer, director of several corporations, trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and member of the CFR.

Reagan’s first secretary of state was Alexander Haig, former general and aide to President Nixon, president of United Technologies, director of several corporations including Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank, and member of the CFR. Reagan’s next secretary of state was George Shultz, president of Bechtel Corporation, director of Morgan Guaranty Trust, director of the CFR, and advisor of the Committee for Economic Development (CED). Reagan’s secretary of defense was Caspar Weinberger, vice president of Bechtel, director of other large corporations, and member of the Trilateral Commission. The secretary of treasury and later chief of staff was Donald Regan, chief executive officer of Merrill, Lynch, trustee of the CED, member of the CFR and of the Business Roundtable. Reagan’s CIA director, William Casey, was director of the ExportImport Bank, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission under Nixon, and partner in a prominent Wall Street law firm. At least a dozen of Reagan’s top administrators and some thirty advisors were CFR members.

Members of groups like the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission have served in just about every top executive position, including most cabinet and subcabinet slots, and have at times virtually monopolized the membership of the National Security Council, the nation’s highest official policymaking body.’ The reader can decide whether they compose (1) a conspiratorial elite, (2) the politically active members of a ruling class, or (3) a selection of policy experts and specialists in the service of pluralistic democracy.

These policymakers are drawn from overlapping corporate circles and policy groups that have a capacity unmatched by any other interest groups in the United States to fill top government posts with persons from their ranks. While supposedly selected to serve in government because they are experts and specialists, they really are usually amateurs and “generalists.” Being president of a giant construction firm and director of a bank did not qualify George Shultz to be Nixon’s secretary of labor nor his secretary of the treasury. Nor did Shultz bring years of expert experience in foreign affairs to his subsequent position as Reagan’s secretary of state. But he did bring a proven capacity to serve well the common interests of corporate America.

Rather than acting as special-interest lobbies for particular firms, policy groups look after the class-wide concerns of the capitalist system. This is in keeping with the function of the capitalist state itself. While not indifferent to the fate of the overseas operations of particular US firms, the state’s primary task is to protect capitalism as a system, bolstering client states and opposing revolutionary or radically reformist ones.

Far from being powerless, the pressure of democratic opinion in this country and abroad has been about the only thing that has restrained US leaders from using nuclear weapons in Vietnam, and intervening with US forces in Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere. How best to pursue policies that lack popular support is a constant preoccupation of White House policymakers. President Reagan’s refusal to negotiate with the Soviets in the early 1980s provoked the largest peace demonstrations in the history of the United States. Eventually he had to offer an appearance of peace by agreeing to negotiate. To give this appearance credibility, he actually had to negotiate and even reluctantly arrive at unavoidable agreement on some issues, including the 1987 INF treaty.

Evidence of the importance of mass democratic opinion is found in the remarkable fact that the United States has not invaded Nicaragua. Even though the US had a firepower and striking force many times more powerful than the ones used in the previous eleven invasions of Nicaragua, and a president (Reagan) more eager than any previous president to invade, the invasion did not happen. Not because it would have been too costly in lives but because it would have been politically too costly. President Reagan would not have balked at killing tens of thousands of Nicaraguans and losing say 5,000 Americans to smash the Red Menace in Central America. When Marines were blown away in one afternoon in Lebanon, Reagan was ready to escalate his involvement in that country. Only the pressure of democratic forces in the USA and elsewhere caused him to leave Lebanon and refrain from invading Nicaragua. He did not have the political support to do otherwise. Invasion was politically too costly because it was militarily too costly even though logistically possible. It would have caused too much of an uproar at home and throughout Latin America and would have lost him, his party, and his policies I too much support.

The policies pursued by US leaders have delivered misfortune upon countless innocents, generating wrongs more horrendous than any they allegedly combat. The people of this country and other nations are becoming increasingly aware of this. The people know that nuclear weapons bring no security to anyone and that interventions on the side of privileged autocracies and reactionary governments bring no justice. They also seem to know that they pay most of the costs of the arms race and many of the costs of imperialism. From South Korea to South Africa, from Central America to the Western Sahara, from Europe to North America, people are fighting back, some because they have no choice, others because they would choose no other course but the one that leads to peace and justice.

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