Category Archives: Colombia

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!!!

ICMLPO (Unity & Struggle): Statement of the Meeting of Marxist-Leninist Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean: The Awakening of the Struggle of the Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean Demands a Revolutionary Leadership

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Latin America is the scene of a new wave of social protest. It is the response that the workers, the youth and the peoples are making to the unfulfilled promises, the anti-popular policies, the rampant corruption in the upper echelons of governments, the handing over of the natural resources to foreign capital, in short, to the old and new economic and political programmes that seek to affirm the rule of capital.

The current struggle overcomes the temporary state of decreased level of struggle of the peoples that occurred, particularly in those countries in which the so-called “progressive” governments emerged that generated expectations and hopes that things would change in favour of the workers and peoples, but after a few years we are witnessing processes that show them to be instruments in the service of one or another bourgeois faction and of foreign capital.

Not surprisingly, we find a kind of political agreement among virtually all governments in the region in key aspects of economic and political management as well as on the implementation of tax measures that punish the working classes with direct and indirect taxes, the support of extractive industry as the way to obtain economic resources, the implementation of reforms in various spheres such as labour that aim to legalize mechanisms of capitalist super-exploitation and to affect the right of the workers to free trade union organization.

They also agree on the implementation of measures of social control, through judicial reforms and the adoption and implementation of laws that, in the name of public security, essentially aim at the criminalization of social protest.

Through clearly neo-liberal programmes in some cases, and through “progressives” social programmes that even speak of revolution and socialism in others, the bourgeois factions in power are interested in pursuing a process of capitalist modernization in the region that would allow them to obtain higher levels of accumulation, and to count on better resources to intervene in the world capitalist market. In this process, we note the loss of political space by U.S. imperialism, which has traditionally considered Latin America and the Caribbean as its back yard, and we find the aggressive penetration of Chinese imperialist capital. Thus, in several countries, we are faced with a kind of renegotiation of foreign dependence.

In the midst of a severe economic crisis that shook the global economy, the countries in this region were able to avoid some of its effects due to high prices of raw materials produced here, as well as certain established tax policies that have allowed most of the governments to count on sufficient economic resources to develop a social and material project that, in the minds of broad sectors of the population, have created the fiction that we are indeed living in times of change, putting their spirit of protests and struggle to sleep.

However, this situation is changing. The repressed dissatisfaction and the desire for change in millions of workers, youths, women, peasants, etc. are making themselves felt and breaking out.

The struggle that the Brazilian youths and people have been carrying out these days, which in two weeks brought more than 2 million people into the streets and won victories in several states, shows us this. It is not the 20 cents [the increase in bus fare that sparked the Brazilian protests – translator’s note] that stimulates this whole fight! The people are fed up with corruption, low wages and the handing over of the oil resources to foreign capital; they want hospitals, jobs, schools and decent housing; they reject the policy of privatization; they repudiate the spending of millions of dollars on the World Cup from which small local groups and various foreign monopolies will reap huge profits. The youth took to the streets overcoming repression and the supposedly conciliatory discourse of the government and the warning to be careful because protest can lead to a coup and the right, by means of which the government wanted to prevent the right to protest.

For months, Chilean youth have been carrying on a massive and militant struggle. They are raising concrete demands around educational issues and at the same time they are clashing with the government of Sebastian Pinera. This fight has motivated other social sectors to fight for their own demands, causing a political crisis that forecasts the loss by the forces that are now in the government in the upcoming presidential election.

In Argentina the struggle of the urban and agricultural workers, the youth, the state employees and the unemployed is also gaining strength.

In several countries, such as Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia the fights against the extractive policies, particularly against open pit and large-scale mining that cause enormous damage to nature and the peoples of these regions and are a source of millions in profits to foreign capitalist enterprises, are taking shape and gaining strength. They are also demanding better living conditions, access to health care, education, continuation of democratic rights and are condemning the criminalization of social protest.

In Central America, the struggles of the peasants and residents of popular neighbourhoods (Honduras), of retirees (Nicaragua), of state employees (Costa Rica), etc. are also taking place.

In the Dominican Republic the struggle of teachers for the implementation of the state budget for education, as well as the popular mobilization against foreign mining companies that are taking the country’s wealth, and against the scandalous corruption at the highest levels of government, stand out.

The teachers, the student youth and the workers of several state companies in Mexico have been at the head of major combat actions against both the current and the former government, pawns of the neo-liberal IMF policies.

The political struggle in Venezuela, in which broad contingents of the masses are involved, is shown particularly in the defence of the gains achieved during the government of Hugo Chavez, in the confrontation with the right-wing that is trying to end the process taking place, and in the demand that deeper social and political measures be taken to benefit the workers and people.

The protest actions that are taking place in Latin America, together with those in Europe, in northern Africa and other parts of the world, show us a world in upheaval.

In these circumstances, we Marxist-Leninist communist parties present our policies and energies to build up revolutionary forces. In many of the fights described above we have been present, playing our role; however we are aware that we need to develop our abilities much further in order to lead those fights along the path that leads to the triumph of the revolution and socialism.

As a result of a major offensive promoted by imperialism, by various right-wing sectors, by revisionism and opportunism, the workers and peoples show a strong ideological acceptance that leads them to trust the discourse and social programmes that do not go beyond the scope of reformism and bourgeois democracy.

We are working to reverse this situation and to win the masses towards revolutionary politics, to strategic proposals and those that we are putting forward in the present situation. For that purpose we will increase our efforts in propaganda actions and mass work.

We will continue fighting together with our people, contending for political leadership and directing them towards new, higher struggles for their material and political demands, against imperialist interference and in order to play the role of the basic revolutionary force to which history has entrusted them.

We will provide the force to the movement promoting its unity, both in the social and popular movement, as well as at the level of political organizations of the left.

Our commitment to the revolution and socialism raises the need for us to more rapidly achieve the strengthening and development of our party structure. The political circumstances demand from our organizations greater skill in developing policies that will be embraced by the masses, but we also need sufficient force for their materialization. We are working for this, in order to establish our position as revolutionary vanguard.

The workers and the people of the Americas and the world are challenging the rulers, they are seeking change, they are fighting for it; we Marxist-Leninists have the responsibility to fight together with them and lead these changes to fruition, to the triumph of the revolution and socialism.

Quito, July 2013

Revolutionary Communist Party (Brazil)
Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist)
Communist Party of Labour – Dominican Republic
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador
Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist)
Peruvian Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela

En Marcha #1620
July 19-25, 2013

Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador (PCMLE): The Progressive Governments of Latin America

 

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From Unity & Struggle No. 25, Spring/Summer 2013

Ecuador

Progress is the evolution from the lower to the higher, from the simple to the complex, it is the upward march of the material and spiritual. It is the modernization of the country. Marxism-Leninism, the revolution and the left are genuine expressions of progressivism. Not everything progressive is leftist and revolutionary and much less Marxist Leninist.

“The existence in Latin America of several progressive governments is the result of the development and growth of the struggle of workers, the peoples and youth who overcame the ebb caused by the collapse of ‘actually existing socialism.’ It is a consequence of the recovery by the left-wing and revolutionary political organizations and parties, of the incorporation into these mobilizations of a part of the middle classes and strata, of the intelligentsia. That is, it is an expression of the strength of the working class, of the other laboring classes of the city and the countryside, of the left and the communists, but it also expresses the shortcomings and weaknesses of the mass movement, of the revolutionary left and, in Ecuador in particular, of the limitations of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. This party made the decision to become directly involved in the process, to contend inch by inch for a prominent place in the struggles, but it has lacked sufficient strength to influence more significantly the imagination, organization and action of the popular sectors that have fought and continue to fight. These limitations have allowed the result of these expressions to be channeled towards elections, to the formation of governments headed by personalities of the petty-bourgeoisie who proclaimed the change.”1

1 Pablo Miranda, “The Struggle of the Workers and the Peoples against Imperialism,” Unity and Struggle No. 23, October, 2011.

Since 1998, when Hugo Chavez won the presidency of Venezuela, Latin America has seen the election of several progressive governments, among them: Lula in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia, the Broad Front in Uruguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Correa in Ecuador, Funes in El Salvador, Lugo in Paraguay, Cristina Fernandez in Argentina.

To explain these new circumstances we must consider some historical and political events from the immediate past:

The revolutionary wave that shook the world and Latin America in the 1960s and ‘70s was followed by a furious onslaught of imperialism and reaction that used all their resources to put out the flames of the popular and national insurgency.

Neoliberalism – the policy of finance capital to overcome the economic crisis – devised the return to the classical principles of liberalism, “laissez faire,” full freedom of trade for the monopolies and the imperialist countries, with that aim it demanded the dismantling of the state sectors of the economy, the privatization of health care, education and social security, labor flexibility and further measures that would allow for the increase of the accumulation and concentration of wealth while disarming the movement and struggle of the workers and peoples.

The imposition of neoliberalism beyond the economies of the imperialist countries themselves took place violently in the great majority of the dependent countries; in Latin America, with the establishment of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, with sponsorship and support by the reactionary governments who docilely accepted its programs, with the subordination of the social-democratic governments that succumbed to these policies, some of them even modified their programs to put them in line with the imperialist proposals.

Since the 1980s, faced with the deepening economic crisis in most countries of Latin America and the world, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) imposed a series of measures that tried to ward off the crisis, but actually they sharpened it. These were the famous “structural adjustment programs” that ordered the elimination of subsidies for fuel prices and fares, the privatization of education, health care and social security, labor flexibility, the freedom to hire and fire workers, the limitation of union rights and restriction of the right to organize, etc.. They put into play the infamous “letters of intent,” under which the governments sought financial assistance and subordinated themselves to the IMF conditions.

The workers and popular movement, the left-wing and revolutionary political organizations, the Marxist-Leninist forces are facing this onslaught of capital with important social movements, general strikes, national work stoppages and struggles in the street. Each “adjustment program” was rejected head-on by the workers and people. In the cities and the countryside heroic battles took place, which were beaten by the “forces of order,” the police and armed forces. In the popular camp blows were received, the dead were buried, the wounded were healed, the persecuted were defended and there were fights for the freedom of the captured social activists.

New social actors who were actively involved in the struggle for general motives, for their rights and aspirations, reappeared and developed: ecologists and environmentalists, activists who defend nature from the depredations of capital, which was seen in almost all countries in a militant manner; to a large degree, these actions were added to the objectives and struggles of the workers. Various forms of the organization and fight of the women in defense of their rights gained strength and displayed initiatives, in opposition to gender discrimination. In various places their persistence in their protests and fights placed the most advanced sectors of the women as part of the forces of social emancipation.

The movement of the indigenous peoples, the struggle for their national rights and their participation in the political struggle broke out in various countries and assumed an important role in the struggle for social and national liberation. In Latin America the movement of the indigenous peoples and nationalities broke out across the board with the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by the Spanish. This is particularly important in Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Guatemala; it exists and is expressed in almost all countries; it continues to be an active part of the process of social and national liberation.

Towards the end of the 1980s the class struggle developed intermittently in every country in Latin America: the workers of the city and the countryside, the youth and the indigenous peoples were protagonists in the great battles against neoliberalism and the reactionary governments. In Venezuela the Caracazo took place that shook the government. In the Dominican Republic there were harsh battles against the bloodthirsty Balaguer government. In Argentina powerful workers’ strikes took place. In Colombia the armed struggle won important victories. In Ecuador combative strikes and nationwide work stoppages took place in opposition to the attempts to impose neoliberalism.

Signs of an ebb

The imposition of labor flexibility, the closures of enterprises due to the crisis, the anti-communist offensive of reaction and imperialism, the promotion of the economic and political theses of neoliberalism, the conciliatory and sell-out activities of revisionism and opportunism weakened and dispersed the workers and popular movement in all countries (obviously in an uneven manner).

The anti-communist offensive, the whole barrage of reactionary ideas that proclaimed the end of socialism and the defeat of the revolution, the end of history and ideologies, the invincibility of capitalism; the betrayal by the revisionists and the fall of the Berlin Wall had a negative effect on the movement of the workers and peoples; it impacted on the left-wing and revolutionary organizations; some of them dissolved and in general all were weakened, some guerrilla formations were defeated and others laid down their arms and renounced the revolutionary struggle.

This seemed to pave the road for triumphant imperialism.

But despite the adverse conditions, the blows received and the defeats suffered, the workers and popular movements never gave up, they continued to fight: at first they went over to resistance and gradually recovered.

The 1990s were characterized as an ebb in the social and revolutionary struggle; indeed there were major setbacks for the movement of the workers and peoples, for the revolutionary parties and organizations: the defeat of socialism in Albania, the peace accords signed by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador, the collapse of the USSR, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dirty war in Colombia; in general the movement of workers and peoples suffered a serious reversal.

The harshest impact was the result of the intense anti-communist ideological offensive: the preaching that socialism had shown itself to be a failure, that capitalism had shown itself to be a superior system, the futility of the revolution since the sacrifices that it cost only served to return to the same, the incompetence of the political parties and particularly of the communist party to fulfill the role of organizer and leader of the revolution, etc., etc.

Neoliberalism was imposed in almost the whole world, and Latin America was no exception. However, the attempt to use neoliberal policies to overcome the crisis in the international financial system were not fulfilled; rather, they suffered important blows as a result of the irresolvable contradictions of the capitalist system: the increasing socialization of production and the appropriation and concentration of the wealth created; free competition; the development of new monopolies and other imperialist countries, and of course, as a consequence of the resistance of the workers and peoples.

The victory songs of reaction and imperialism regarding the end of communism and of the revolutionary struggle clashed with reality, with the resistance of the workers and with the popular fights. In some countries the 1990s were the scene of the emergence of great social and political movements: the indigenous uprising in Ecuador in 1990, the removal of Collor de Melo as President of Brazil in 1992, major general strikes in France, Germany and Italy, the emergence of the Zapatista National Liberation Army in Mexico in 1994, the overthrow of Abdala Bucaram in Ecuador in 1996, the resistance to the despotism of Sanchez de Lozada in Bolivia, the electoral victory of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

The coming of the 21st century dawned with the popular uprising that overthrew President Mahuad in January 2000, which gave impetus to a new stage in the struggles of the masses in Ecuador.

The social and political situation in Latin America at the beginning of the new millennium

In all Latin American countries one can find two very important variables:

On the one side the exhaustion of neoliberalism, the failure of neoliberal monetarist measures to ward off the crisis. The adjustments demanded by the IMF were linked to more and more new measures and the economies of the countries deteriorated rapidly, public finances had greater deficits, the foreign debt grew and social spending was cut drastically.

At the same time, the ruling classes, institutions, governments, parliaments, the armed forces, the judiciary, the political parties, the personalities of politics and power rapidly used up their resources, they were quickly discredited before the working masses, the youth and democratic public opinion; they were trapped in the web of corruption and drug trafficking; they lost credibility; in some countries subjective conditions were created to replace them. The slogans of “get out,” “let them all go,” “put an end to the cliques,” “enough of the rings,” “away with the old parties,” “refound the country,” “new people,” “change already,” etc. were chanted everywhere.

On the other hand, the discontent and dissatisfaction of the working masses, the peoples and the youth were expressed in the increase in popular struggles, in a sustained increase in the struggle of the masses, which were shown unevenly in different countries of Latin America. To a large degree the consciousness of the masses about their own role in solving their problems is growing, the distrust of a significant sector of them in the institutions, in the bourgeois political parties, in the spokespersons and leaders of those on top. The search for alternatives to the situation went beyond the channel and content of the union struggle; the idea of fighting to take over the government advanced.

The political crisis is deepening to various degrees in all Latin American countries. The ruling classes and the reactionary and social-democratic political parties have shown themselves impotent to propose and pursue solutions that will enable them to resolve their problems and fully preserve their interests.

The working masses and the youth are seeking alternatives

Decades of confrontation in defense of their interests have failed to stem the onslaught of neoliberalism; strikes, marches, struggles in the street and work stoppages are expressions of courage and valor, but they have limits, they cannot stop the implementation of the “adjustment programs.” On the other hand, in several countries, the guerrilla struggle has been defeated, some of the revolutionary military formations have renounced the armed struggle, some have rejected that road; in any case, the revolutionary armed struggle is not seen as an immediate alternative by the peoples.

The great demonstrations of the social struggle that have taken place in almost all countries of Latin America are, to some extent, in advance of the decisions and abilities of the organizations and political parties of the revolutionary left. Every day the masses show a great potential for the creation and implementation of various forms of struggle, they are creative in the defensive and offensive in the various forms of strike struggle and street struggle.

The revisionist parties and other opportunist groups are active in the ideological disarming of the working class, the peoples and youth; they eagerly chant that the union organization has been overtaken by history, that “the unions do not work, the social movements are the new actors,” that the masses, their mobilization and action do not need political parties and organizations, that they are enough in themselves for the struggle for their liberation, they rail against “authoritarianism” and “lack of democracy,” against the great experiences of the proletariat in power, of socialism, of the communist party.

The Marxist-Leninist parties and other revolutionary organizations that have shown themselves to be consistent in their struggle against imperialism and capitalism suffer from weaknesses and limitations: they are small, weak, without sufficient links with the working masses and youth and, sometimes and in some places they lose the ability to show appropriate alternatives. Although they are involved in the new scenarios, they do not have the strength and skill to enable them to lead the discontent of the workers and peoples.

The working masses have struggled tirelessly for their immediate demands, for wages, stability, land, housing, etc. They have won partial victories and are continuing the social struggle. In the field of political confrontation, in the electoral disputes most working people were the object of ideological manipulation of the various forms of the ruling classes, their political parties, their political bosses and leaders. The great resources of the media are used (and continue to be) to propose change, the solution of their problems. The masses are seeking change and they “found” it in the bourgeois personality or party that could claim to satisfy those expectations more directly. Many of the workers and peoples were active in the union struggle and in the elections they voted for the bosses.

Under these conditions there has been a qualitative leap in the social and political behavior of the working masses of the city and the countryside, of the youth and the indigenous peoples.

The search for change takes different paths:

1. Popular uprisings have taken place seeking to overthrow corrupt governments: in Venezuela against Carlos Andres Perez, who was forced to resign; in Ecuador against Bucaram, Mahuad and Gutierrez, who were overthrown by the masses in the street; in Argentina against De la Rua and the various governments that tried to succeed him; in Bolivia against Sanchez de Lozada. The popular uprising against Mahuad in Ecuador aimed to bring down the President, Congress and the Court of Justice and managed to nominate a Board of Government of short duration. These actions show the strength of the workers, people and youth, their ability to overthrow the tyrants; but they also show their weaknesses that could be summed up in what is said in the streets of Quito. “We were able to overthrow the government but we could not put one of our own in the Presidency; they same ones as always returned.”

2. The discrediting of the traditional bourgeois parties, their leaders and programs put limits on the ability of ideological manipulation by the rulers, they open the roads to other alternatives. In some countries such as Venezuela, the pendulum that swung between social democracy and the social Christians, the corruption and repression practically eliminated COPEI [Political Electoral Independent Organization Committee, a social-Christian party] and AD [Democratic Action, a social-democratic party – translator’s note]. In Ecuador, the traditional bourgeois parties are called the “partidocracy,” they have lost prestige and were defeated.

3. Popular political parties and organizations that have been fighting in the social and electoral arena for decades are beginning to gain ground in the elections at the presidential level; previously they had significant achievements and experience in local governments; they are winning the vote of the workers, peasants and youth for their positions.

4. New political parties and organizations are being formed that claim to be “left-wing and revolutionary, democratic and open, anti-dogmatic and creative”; by their rebellious, and alternative discourse they lash out at the oligarchy and dependence, but also at the communist and socialist parties that have been fighting since the early decades of the 20th century.

5. The ideological offensive of reaction and imperialism that had targeted socialism and communism is complemented by criticism and questioning of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the revolution and socialism, with the proposals of “20th century socialism” and under the various names of the Bolivarian, Andean and citizen’s revolution.

6. The desire for change by the working masses and the youth is being channeled by political forces that are rebellious, progressive, “left social-democrats”, by political bosses and leaders of the trade union and peasant struggles, by personalities from academia that appear as “new.”

7. We, the Marxist-Leninist parties in Latin America have always been involved in the struggle of the masses, we have done our share in the organization and the strike struggle, in the popular uprisings, but we did not have the strength to channel the desire for change and the search for alternatives of the workers and peoples. We are involved in the processes seeking to deepen them and provide them a revolutionary direction

The rise of the progressive governments

As we noted above, various political forces and personalities came to power through elections and changed the political map of Latin America. The forms and expressions by which the various alternative governments came to the leadership of the State differ from one another, but obviously there are some commonalities, some constant elements that show that the phenomenon is not an isolated incident, but corresponds to an ideological and political current running throughout Latin America.

i. important and massive mobilization of the working masses, the peoples and the youth who questioned neoliberal policies and in some cases made them collapse.

ii. all the electoral platforms presented programs that are democratic, anti-neoliberal, anti-U.S., left-wing and for social and economic achievements to benefit the poor.

iii. an important social and political rhetoric that called itself left-wing and revolutionary, that criticized the partidocracy, the oligarchy and imperialism.

iv. the support and militant participation of leftist political parties and organizations who provided their ability and experience in the process of their coming into office and, in the first stage of these governments, strongly supported them.

v. these processes had the participation of the parties and organizations of the revolutionary left, of our Marxist-Leninist formations that fought in Latin America that supported them, but we could not lead them along the revolutionary path due to the relationship of forces and our weaknesses and limitations.

We have outlined some general issues, but we must emphasize that each process has its own nature, its own ideological and political characteristics which, while they are each different they form parts of a whole and for a certain time.

The space available and the limitations of our information only allow us to draw very broad brush strokes of each of these processes.

Brazil

In Brazil, after decades of political struggle against the military dictatorship, of large mobilizations of the working class for their rights, of the youth for alternatives for their progress and development, after several elections in which various sectors of the ruling classes imposed themselves in office, Lula’s election victory as President took place in 2003. To achieve this purpose for which he had struggled for years, Lula and the Workers Party (PT) made an alliance with a party of the right wing that took the Vice Presidency. The same thing happened in the second election.

An alternative of the “left,” a president from the working class, a union leader, fighter against the military dictatorship won the elections. That victory aroused great expectations among tens of millions of Brazilians and Latin Americans.

Lula governed for two presidential terms (2003-2010) and was able to push the victory of his successor, Dilma Russef, the current president. Both of them won great acclaim among Brazilians and apparently have the ability to win again in the next presidential elections.

Brazil’s economic structure has not changed; it is still a capitalist country. During this period the country has rapidly modernized, its industry has grown significantly, its agricultural sector has expanded greatly, to the detriment of the Amazon rainforest; the exploitation of minerals, especially iron, has increased; it has become self-sufficient in the production and utilization of petroleum. As a great country by the size of its territory and population, by the magnitude of its natural resources and its geostrategic position, Brazil has become the seventh largest world economy, one of the engines of capitalism, one of the emerging powers.

The old dream of the Brazilian big bourgeoisie to become a great power, in alliance with international big capital, Great Brazil is taking shape under a progressive government under the leadership of a union leader. The military could not take this step during their long dictatorship and the application of the IMF measures, none of the previous governments, of the right or of traditional social democracy were able to do this. It was achieved by a government that calls itself left-wing.

At the base of Brazilian society, nearly two hundred million people who form the toiling masses remain under capitalist exploitation and oppression, creating the wealth for the international monopolies and the big Brazilian businesses. At the same time, the country is facing a process of growing deindustrialization and denationalization of its economy. With the policy of high interests Brazil has received big investments from foreign capital, which ultimately contributed to the concentration and monopolization of wealth. Trade union rights are restricted, retirement pensions have been cut and the retirement age increased, millions of peasants are landless. Brazil remains one of the most unequal countries.

The proposals for change, for the liberation of the workers, of social equality, of socialism remain just words; the PT government is one more government that represents the interests of the big Brazilian bourgeoisie, the international monopolies and the imperialist countries.

In Brazil, as in all countries, the revolution and socialism are a historical necessity, they are an objective of the workers, people and youth.

Uruguay

In Uruguay, an alliance of the left with Christian democracy and political formations that broke away from the traditional parties, the Broad Front, formed in 1971 with a long history of trade union and electoral struggle, won the presidential elections in 2004. It broke the age-old rule of the bourgeois parties and raised expectations within and outside the country. The Front had the strength and ability to hold onto the government in 2009, with Jose Mujica, a former Tupamaro guerrilla.

In reality the progressive government of Uruguay has created an administration that essentially abides by neoliberal guidelines. The country remains subordinate to the IMF and the World Bank; it has opened the doors to foreign investment. Now there is a popular left-wing opposition that denounces the capitalist character of the Broad Front government and the violation of civil liberties and trade union rights.

In Uruguay the evils of capitalism continue to exist, the revolution and socialism are on the agenda.

Nicaragua

In Nicaragua in 1979 the popular revolution led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front overthrew the Somoza dictatorship. This event was identified as a new successful revolution in Latin America, twenty years after the Cuban Revolution.

The Sandinistas began to dismantle the dictatorial institutions and pushed through certain rather timid reforms. In reality the capitalist structure of the country remained. In presidential elections called under the pressure of U.S. imperialism and European social democracy, the Sandinistas were defeated. The expectations created by the victory of the armed uprising quickly went up in smoke.

The Sandinista Front decided to resort to the electoral path to regain the presidency of the republic and succeeded with a platform that proclaimed national reconciliation and peace, under Daniel Ortega in 2006. After one presidential term Ortega won reelection in 2011.

The progressive government of Nicaragua has carried out a major welfare policy that, compared with the administration of the openly right-wing governments of the immediate past has improved the living conditions of the Nicaraguans.

It is abundantly clear that capitalism, its structures and rules are still in force in Nicaragua.

El Salvador

The people of El Salvador have been waging a heroic struggle for social and material progress, freedom and democracy, and in their advanced sectors for the revolution and socialism.

In 1928 there was a large strike of banana workers against the United Fruit Company that was fiercely repressed, leaving more than a thousand dead among the strikers and the people who supported them. In 1932 a popular armed insurrection broke out led by the Communist Party and Comrade Farabundo Marti, who fought heroically but was defeated by the oligarchy and imperialism with a massacre of 30,000 martyrs.

In the 1970-80s the revolutionary armed struggle was begun again, leading to a major process of unity of the various fronts and alternatives, which proclaimed as its goal the establishment of socialism. The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front developed high levels of people’s war, confronting a ferocious dirty war unleashed by the bourgeoisie and imperialism, and it won major political and geographical openings that portended a popular victory.

These important actions of the Salvadoran people were negotiated by the Leadership of the FMLN, which agreed to a “peace” and the surrender of arms in January of 1992.

Since then the FMLN has become a political party and participated in several elections for the Presidency of the Republic, which it finally achieved with Mauricio Funes, a personality from outside its ranks, presented as an outsider in politics in 2009.

The Funes government, another one of the progressive governments in Latin America, soon distanced itself from the politics of the left, limiting itself to a welfare policy, leaving itself out of ALBA.

Clearly, the long and bloody struggle of the revolutionaries and the people of El Salvador for freedom and socialism has not achieved victory, which is still on the agenda.

Paraguay

Since Paraguay is landlocked, the war of the Triple Alliance of Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia allied against Paraguay, have led the country to a kind of isolation from the other countries of South America.

For a long period Paraguay was led by a nationalist and patriotic policy, headed by Dr. Francia. For more than 30 years it suffered the brutal, reactionary and anti-communist dictatorship of Stroessner. After the fall of the dictator, the Colorado Party continued to rule.

Paraguay has up to now been a country ruled by the landowners and agricultural exporters, with little industrial development. Under these conditions, the peasant movement, together with the teachers and youth, have been the main actors in the political struggle for social change.

In the presidential elections of 2008 an alternative candidate won who did not belong to any of the traditional parties. He came from long community work, from his position as a Catholic priest. In order to win the elections former Bishop Fernando Lugo formalized an alliance with the Authentic Radical Liberal Party, an opposition to the Colorado Party from other positions of the ruling classes.

In the present Latin American context of the existence of several progressive governments, Lugo’s victory was hailed as another one that joined the current. Lugo himself was incorporated into that sector. In fact the demands of the peasants and other popular sectors were pushed aside. The promise of land reform was shelved. The trade union and political freedoms remained restricted.

In June of 2112 Lugo was removed from office in a summary trial whose decision was accepted to the benefit of democracy and he was replaced by the Vice President. The experience of another of the progressive governments was ended in this manner, without much resistance.

In Paraguay a good part of the peasant movement and of the revolutionary left did not support Lugo; during his government he pursued a policy of demands and now the fight for social and national liberation continues.

Argentina

In 2002 the Argentinazo took place, an explosion of the workers, people and youth who threw out the Radical Party government of De la Rua, proclaiming the slogan “they should all go,” experimenting with the formation of Popular Assemblies and throwing out four governments that were created institutionally to defend the established order.

This great uprising of the working masses and youth had the strength and ability to throw out successive representatives of the bourgeoisie but it was unable to gain power.

Bourgeois democracy, immersed in a deep economic and political crisis caused by the abandonment of the “convertibility” of the peso, corruption and the discrediting of the political parties, the exhaustion of the neoliberal policies, still had the power to redirect the desire for change and popular struggle into elections.

In 2003, the progressive wing of Peronism led by Kirchner won the plurality with 22% of the votes. The withdrawal of Menen from the runoff led to his winning.

Progressive Peronism returned to office after more than 20 years and applied a government program that restored the subsidies and bought back the companies privatized by the same Peronism led by Menen. However he continued the policy of deindustrialization and the return to primary goods of the economy. This was favored by the high price of soy and to a great degree he could fix the fiscal crisis and put forward an intense welfare policy based on patronage. On the international level Argentina was aligned with the other progressive governments and sealed an alliance with the big Brazilian bourgeoisie in the framework of Mercosur.

Kirchner’s program was able to secure its social base, achieving continuity with the election of his wife Cristina Fernandez in 2007. After Kirchner’s death, Cristina became his heir and successor as president, winning reelection in 2011

Cristina has stated outright that she is seeking to carry out a “rational capitalism” and has used repression against the peasants and workers.

The progressive government of Fernandez is, by its own admission, a capitalist government; thus in Argentina the need for the revolution and socialism continues to be on the agenda.

Bolivia

Bolivia is a multinational state. The Spanish conquest could not crush or eliminate the indigenous nationalities and peoples. The Quechua and Aymara defended and preserved the essence of their culture, they have always been the majority of the population, there is a similar situation with the more than two dozen smaller nationalities that still exist; the Bolivian mestizos are a growing and developing people. The ruling classes, the landlords, the mine owners, bankers and businessmen have always come from the mestizos and through their economic and political power, they became the dominant nation.

The Bolivian workers in the mines and the fledgling industries, the peasants mostly from the indigenous peoples and nationalities, and also, of course, from the mestizos were and are the creators of the wealth. They were always at the bottom of the social pyramid, they were oppressed and exploited.

For centuries they have been the protagonists of great exploits in pursuit of freedom and democracy, their blood watered the struggle for independence from Spain, they carried out great struggles for the possession of the land, for the nationalization of the mines, in opposition to national discrimination, for freedom and democracy. In 1952 they lead a great democratic revolution that was taken over by the bourgeoisie. In the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s they fought heroically against a series of fascistic military dictatorships.

At the beginning of the 21st century they led the so-called water war and later overthrew the Sanchez de Lozada government.

Demanding the rights of the indigenous peoples, a trade union fighter who led the coca-cultivating peasants, Evo Morales led the indigenous and popular struggle into elections and on the second attempt he won the Presidency of the Republic in 2005.

There emerged a progressive alternative, meaning access to the government by the indigenous peoples; proposing the refounding of the country, the establishment of a multinational State, the nationalization of the mines and petroleum, health care and education and opposed to neoliberalism. The government of Evo Morales quickly aligned itself with the other progressive governments, it awakened great expectations among the working masses and the peoples of Bolivia and even abroad, among the workers and peoples and among the left and the revolutionaries.

After enacting a new constitution and a period of economic and social achievements aimed at the indigenous peoples who had been impoverished for centuries, he was re-elected in 2009.

The government of Evo Morales has been subjected to pressure from imperialism and the bourgeoisie, from the right; and to the demands of the workers and indigenous peoples, who have been forced to recreate the old forms of struggle, marches, street demonstrations, general strikes and hunger strikes opposing the neoliberal measures such as the gasolinazo in 2011, the devastation of the environment by the construction of roads, the shortage and high price of food.

In Bolivia the class struggle continues with the workers, peoples and youth taking the lead. The peoples of Bolivia are still poor in a country extremely rich in natural resources.

The Constitution has changed, important efforts have been made to build multiculturalism, but the economic and social structures remain private capitalist property. The social revolution and socialism are, as yesterday, a need and task of the workers.

Venezuela

In opposition to the social democratic and Christian socialist governments who took turns in power since the overthrow of the Perez Jimenez dictatorship in 1958, Venezuela was the scene of many battles by the workers and people, the student youth in opposition to widespread corruption, the alienation by the international monopolies of wealth generated by oil operations, waste and fanfare of the ruling cliques.

These struggles shook the streets and plazas of the Venezuelan cities; they increased the determination of the masses to overthrow the institutional structures. Political analysts spoke of thousands of protests that took place every year.

In 1989, there was the so-called Caracazo, a genuine popular uprising that aroused Caracas demanding the departure of the government and great social and economic demands. This great action led to the resignation of Carlos Andres Perez from the Presidency but it could not avoid the constitutional succession that let everything stay the same.

Earlier, in the 1960s in Venezuela there was a valiant guerrilla movement involving thousands of fighters, which was defeated because of insufficient ties to the life and struggle of the working masses and the student youth, to small armed group deviations and of course of the military superiority of the armed forces aided by imperialism. Those struggles resulted in the formation of important revolutionary political cadres.

In February of 1992 there was a military uprising led by Colonel Hugo Chavez, which was defeated by the military high command, but which showed that the discontent and dissatisfaction had penetrated the barracks. The rebels were sentenced to prison and later pardoned.

In 1998 Hugo Chavez led an electoral alternative of the left, very powerful and militant against the domination of the traditional parties, the social democrats and social Christians; he brought together the sense of dissatisfaction of the majority of Venezuelans, which led him to victory in the first round.

Since then Chavez has been heading a democratic government that has used the vast oil resources for the benefit of the poorest sectors of society; with the people of the slums, he has in fact created a parallel State with so-called “missions” that are carrying through an aggressive welfare policy, that is providing education, health care and welfare for the masses. He is pushing forward major social reforms to benefit those on pensions, the workers and peasants. He pushed the State to take over the whole oil industry, although recently he has made concessions to the Chinese. He has nationalized a large number of industrial and trading companies, and major mass media.

Chavez has been promoting a forceful ideological offensive that is letting him form and preserve a significant social base that has given him successive electoral victories. He has been reelected three times and has a popular mandate until 2019, almost 20 years. This offensive promotes Chavez’s personal leadership; it proclaims 21st century socialism, the “Bolivarian revolution” and the role of the masses. It is the only progressive government that relies on the mobilization of the masses.

However basically, the banks and big capitalist enterprises remain intact, as do the U.S. foreign investments and those of other imperialist countries. The social revolution has not yet taken place in Venezuela.

Ecuador

The long struggle of the workers and peoples, the expectations and mobilization of the youth in opposition to neoliberalism and the oligarchic governments goes back a long way, since the last century; it goes hand in hand with workers strikes, peasant struggles for land, fights of the youth for education and freedom, the fight against the dictatorship and against the neoliberal governments, the uprisings of the indigenous peoples that have shown that they have strength at the national level since the indigenous uprising of 1990 (before then the indigenous mobilizations were partial and isolated). They continue with the popular uprisings that overthrew the governments of Bucaram in 1997, Mahuad in 2000 and Gutierrez in 2005; they are advancing by way of the electoral participation together with the left and the indigenous movement.

In 2006 they supported the candidacy of Correa and led it to victory. Before, they had supported Gutierrez and when he betrayed them they learned how to fight and overthrow him.

Correa’s victory was made possible by the growth of the masses’ desire for change, by the discrediting of the bourgeois parties, by the search for alternatives in the electoral arena, by the stance of a new candidate who promoted change, who developed a patriotic and left-wing discourse.

Since then the government developed a welfare policy in favor of the poorest sectors of the city and countryside, the Human Development Bonus was raised to $35 from the $12 set by the previous governments, he proclaimed free education and has carried this out to a large degree, similarly with health care. He aligned himself with the progressive governments in Latin America, joined ALBA and preaches a nationalist discourse with leadership qualities.

Under the government of Correa, who was re-elected after the adoption of the new Constitution in 2009 and who is now running for a third term in February of 2013, the big bankers and businessmen, though they have not directly run the government, have obtained the biggest profits in history; the rich have become richer and the poor remain poor (Correa began his government by distributing the poverty bonus to one million people, now he distributes it to nearly two million, since the poor have increased in number). Private ownership of the means of production continues unchanged and by the admission of the President himself this will continue to be respected.

The ideological offensive of the Correa government is massive and persistent, he monopolizes the whole media, based on the President’s media image, he spouts demagogic verbiage, diatribes and insults against his opponents. He proclaims the “citizens’ revolution,” “socialism of the 21st century” and that “the country now belongs to everyone.” In words he condemns the oligarchy and imperialism and he persecutes and condemns the social activists. The criminalization of the social struggle is developing to a greater degree than under all the previous governments, hundreds of rank-and-file leaders are prosecuted, accused of sabotage and terrorism, and more than two dozen militants of the left are in prison, convicted of terrorism.

Correa quickly changed course, his initial progressive and leftist proposals went “straight to the right.” He now rules for the bankers and businessmen, for the major exporters and importers.

Obviously the old partidocracy wants to return to office and is leading the bourgeois opposition, to replace him through elections.

In this scenario, the social organizations and movements, the left-wing political organizations and parties denounced in a timely manner the move to the right and they formed the popular opposition, defending the interests of the workers, indigenous peoples and youth. They are following the electoral path; they have come together in the Multinational Coordinator of the Left and are prepared for a tough battle in the next election.

Against all predictions that Correa is the favorite, the popular and left-wing alterative is advancing and following a path to victory.

The evolution of the progressive governments in Latin America

Earlier we pointed out that each of the progressive governments of Latin America has its own essence and characteristics, it follows its own course. We also said that there are common elements that distinguish them from the other bourgeois governments in Latin America and that have allowed them to play a role in the international arena.

They have agreed on proposals and approaches at the OAS (Organization of American States), the UN and other international forums.

Venezuela, because of the significant surpluses produced by high oil prices, has developed a trade and aid policy favorable to the other countries.

Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines have formed ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) that is seeking trade integration, but fundamentally a political orientation on the continent. ALBA has not been able to integrate all the progressive governments precisely because of political differences.

All the progressive governments emerged as alternative and left-wing proposals, they base themselves on the desire for change by the masses and in their early period they fulfilled some of their campaign promises and therefore they received successive support.

They emerged under favorable international conditions, when U.S. imperialism was bogged down in the Middle East. The economic crisis that shook the capitalist imperialist world did not affect them substantially; they have been favored by rising prices of petroleum, iron and other raw materials, by the high prices for agricultural products that have allowed them to have significant cash resources to promote public works and an aggressive welfare policy. However, the direction of the economy of the respective countries continues on the paths of neoliberalism. They all base their economy on extractive industries and agriculture, in all the countries the policies of deindustrialization continue.

On the one hand they were subjected to pressure from imperialism, mainly U.S. imperialism, from the native oligarchies and the political right-wing and, on the other hand to the demands of the working masses, the peoples, youth and left-wing political organizations and parties to fulfill their promises, to advances on the patriotic and democratic path.

At one point, they were all governments in dispute, they were in the center of the storm. That situation was circumstantial, in most of the countries these governments succumbed to the pressure of imperialism and the bourgeoisie, they renounced their patriotic and democratic projects, they adapted to the interests of the businessmen and bankers and the international monopolies and carried out their policies. They moved to the right. The exception is Hugo Chavez’s government that, in essence, continues on the path of social reforms.

This metamorphosis of the various alternative governments is expressed in different ways: some changed quickly, others later, some adopted repressive policies against social and left-wing activists. However, they all continue with a left-wing verbiage, preaching a double standard. They are essentially demagogic, populist governments, embodied in a charismatic political boss.

The question is whether the existence of these governments is a step forward or backward in the process of accumulation of forces in the task of organizing and making the revolution. The answer, which we will elaborate, is both yes and no.

In the context of the ebb at the end of the 20th century, the emergence of these governments is objectively an advance; viewed in their development they put forward new problems for the revolutionaries, they attract a social base among the working classes and youth, they are a diversionary factor.

Pablo Miranda

Bibliography:

1. Thirteenth Seminar “Problems of the Revolution in Latin America,” 2011 to 2012.

2. Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR) – Brazil.

3. Averdade newspaper, Organ of the PCR – Brazil.

4. Political Line of the PCMLV, Marxist-Leninist Party Communist Party of Venezuela.

5. Politics and Theory, Journal of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Argentina.

6. The Capitalist System and the Struggle of the Workers and Peoples, Unity and Struggle No. 23, October 2011.

7. Latin America and the Social Revolution of the Proletariat, Pablo Miranda, March 2007.

Source

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on Simón Bolivar

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Bolívar, Simón

Born July 24, 1783, in Caracas, Venezuela; died Dec. 17, 1830, near Santa Marta, Colombia. One of the leaders of the independence struggle of the Spanish colonies in America. Born into a noble Creole family.

Bolívar spent his youth in Europe, in Spain, France, and Italy. Returning to his homeland, he took an active part in the overthrow of Spanish rule in Venezuela (1810) and in its proclamation as a republic (1811). After the latter was smashed by the Spanish, Bolívar settled down in New Granada (now Colombia). In 1813 his troops occupied Caracas; the second Venezuelan republic, headed by Bolívar, was established. However, he was defeated in 1814 and was forced to leave his homeland. A band led by Bolívar once again settled on the shores of Venezuela in 1816. The abolition of slavery (1816) and the decree allocating land to soldiers of the liberation army (1817) helped him obtain the support of the broad masses. In 1819 his troops liberated New Granada, and he was chosen president of the republic of Gran Colombia, which included Venezuela and New Granada. Concluding the rout of the major Spanish forces in Venezuela (1821), Bolivar’s army liberated the province of Quito (present-day Ecuador) in 1822, which was subsequently joined to Gran Colombia. In 1824 he smashed the Spanish forces on the territory of Peru, and in 1825 he became head of the republic of Bolivia—so-named in his honor—which was forming in upper Peru. In the effort to rally and unite the new states of Latin America, Bolívar called a continental congress in Panama (1826). However, he did not succeed in realizing his plans. The separatist actions that began led to the overthrow of Bolivar’s regime in Peru and Bolivia, and they threatened to separate Venezuela and Quito from Colombia. Bolívar retired at the beginning of 1830.

Bolivar’s activity, which aimed at the liquidation of the colonial regime with its characteristic feudal features, objectively furthered the bourgeois development of the countries of South America.

WORKS

Obras completas, vols. 1–2. Havana, 1947.

REFERENCES

Marx, K. “Bolivar-i-Ponte.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 14.
Lavretskii, I. R. Bolivar, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966. (Bibliography.)

M. S. AL’PEROVICH

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Awakening of the Struggle of the Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean Demands a Revolutionary Leadership

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Statement of the Meeting of Marxist-Leninist Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America is the scene of a new wave of social protest. It is the response that the workers, the youth and the peoples are making to the unfulfilled promises, the anti-popular policies, the rampant corruption in the upper echelons of governments, the handing over of the natural resources to foreign capital, in short, to the old and new economic and political programs that seek to affirm the rule of capital.

The current struggle overcomes the temporary state of decreased level of struggle of the peoples that occurred, particularly in those countries in which the so-called “progressive” governments emerged that generated expectations and hopes that things would change in favor of the workers and peoples, but after a few years we are witnessing processes that show them to be instruments in the service of one or another bourgeois faction and of foreign capital.

Not surprisingly, we find a kind of political agreement among virtually all governments in the region in key aspects of economic and political management as well as on the implementation of tax measures that punish the working classes with direct and indirect taxes, the support of extractive industry as the way to obtain economic resources, the implementation of reforms in various spheres such as labor that aim to legalize mechanisms of capitalist super-exploitation and to affect the right of the workers to free trade union organization.

They also agree on the implementation of measures of social control, through judicial reforms and the adoption and implementation of laws that, in the name of public security, essentially aim at the criminalization of social protest.

Through clearly neoliberal programs in some cases, and through “progressives” social programs that even speak of revolution and socialism in others, the bourgeois factions in power are interested in pursuing a process of capitalist modernization in the region that would allow them to obtain higher levels of accumulation, and to count on better resources to intervene in the world capitalist market. In this process, we note the loss of political space by U.S. imperialism, which has traditionally considered Latin America and the Caribbean as its back yard, and we find the aggressive penetration of Chinese imperialist capital. Thus, in several countries, we are faced with a kind of renegotiation of foreign dependence.

In the midst of a severe economic crisis that shook the global economy, the countries in this region were able to avoid some of its effects due to high prices of raw materials produced here, as well as certain established tax policies that have allowed most of the governments to count on sufficient economic resources to develop a social and material project that, in the minds of broad sectors of the population, have created the fiction that we are indeed living in times of change, putting their spirit of protests and struggle to sleep.

However, this situation is changing. The repressed dissatisfaction and the desire for change in millions of workers, youths, women, peasants, etc. are making themselves felt and breaking out.

The struggle that the Brazilian youths and people have been carrying out these days, which in two weeks brought more than 2 million people into the streets and won victories in several states, shows us this. It is not the 20 cents [the increase in bus fare that sparked the Brazilian protests – translator’s note] that stimulates this whole fight! The people are fed up with corruption, low wages and the handing over of the oil resources to foreign capital; they want hospitals, jobs, schools and decent housing; they reject the policy of privatization; they repudiate the spending of millions of dollars on the World Cup from which small local groups and various foreign monopolies will reap huge profits. The youth took to the streets overcoming repression and the supposedly conciliatory discourse of the government and the warning to be careful because protest can lead to a coup and the right, by means of which the government wanted to prevent the right to protest.

For months, Chilean youth have been carrying on a massive and militant struggle. They are raising concrete demands around educational issues and at the same time they are clashing with the government of Sebastian Piñera. This fight has motivated other social sectors to fight for their own demands, causing a political crisis that forecasts the loss by the forces that are now in the government in the upcoming presidential election.

In Argentina the struggle of the urban and agricultural workers, the youth, the state employees and the unemployed is also gaining strength.

In several countries, such as Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia the fights against the extractive policies, particularly against open pit and large-scale mining that cause enormous damage to nature and the peoples of these regions and are a source of millions in profits to foreign capitalist enterprises, are taking shape and gaining strength. They are also demanding better living conditions, access to health care, education, continuation of democratic rights and are condemning the criminalization of social protest.

In Central America, the struggles of the peasants and residents of popular neighborhoods (Honduras), of retirees (Nicaragua), of state employees (Costa Rica), etc. are also taking place.

In the Dominican Republic the struggle of teachers for the implementation of the state budget for education, as well as the popular mobilization against foreign mining companies that are taking the country’s wealth, and against the scandalous corruption at the highest levels of government, stand out.

The teachers, the student youth and the workers of several state companies in Mexico have been at the head of major combat actions against both the current and the former government, pawns of the neoliberal IMF policies.

The political struggle in Venezuela, in which broad contingents of the masses are involved, is shown particularly in the defense of the gains achieved during the government of Hugo Chavez, in the confrontation with the right-wing that is trying to end the process taking place, and in the demand that deeper social and political measures be taken to benefit the workers and people.

The protest actions that are taking place in Latin America, together with those in Europe, in northern Africa and other parts of the world, show us a world in upheaval.

In these circumstances, we Marxist-Leninist communist parties present our policies and energies to build up revolutionary forces. In many of the fights described above we have been present, playing our role; however we are aware that we need to develop our abilities much further in order to lead those fights along the path that leads to the triumph of the revolution and socialism.

As a result of a major offensive promoted by imperialism, by various right-wing sectors, by revisionism and opportunism, the workers and peoples show a strong ideological acceptance that leads them to trust the discourse and social programs that do not go beyond the scope of reformism and bourgeois democracy.

We are working to reverse this situation and to win the masses towards revolutionary politics, to strategic proposals and those that we are putting forward in the present situation. For that purpose we will increase our efforts in propaganda actions and mass work.

We will continue fighting together with our people, contending for political leadership and directing them towards new, higher struggles for their material and political demands, against imperialist interference and in order to play the role of the basic revolutionary force to which history has entrusted them.

We will provide the force to the movement promoting its unity, both in the social and popular movement, as well as at the level of political organizations of the left.

Our commitment to the revolution and socialism raises the need for us to more rapidly achieve the strengthening and development of our party structure. The political circumstances demand from our organizations greater skill in developing policies that will be embraced by the masses, but we also need sufficient force for their materialization. We are working for this, in order to establish our position as revolutionary vanguard.

The workers and the people of the Americas and the world are challenging the rulers, they are seeking change, they are fighting for it; we Marxist-Leninists have the responsibility to fight together with them and lead these changes to fruition, to the triumph of the revolution and socialism.

Quito, July 2013

Revolutionary Communist Party (Brazil)
Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist)
Communist Party of Labor – Dominican Republic
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador
Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist)
Peruvian Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela

En Marcha #1620
July 19-25, 2013

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Marxist–Leninist Communist Party (Turkey): Freedom for Francisco Caraballo!

Manuel Pérez, ELN, Manuel Marulanda, FARC-EP y Francisco Caraballo, EPL

Manuel Pérez, ELN, Manuel Marulanda, FARC-EP y
Francisco Caraballo, EPL

April 2005

Capitalist system applies all sorts of violence against its opponents, especially the communists all over the world. Because, the communists are building the future and the exploiters know this very well. The torture and prisons also cannot change the advancing of the history and the revolutionary wills of the political prisoners: “I believe socialism presents the necessary perspective for the revolutionary change of the society. Socialism is the future of the mankind, there is no doubt from it.” These words belong to Francisco Caraballo, the President of Colombia Communist Party (ML) and the Commander of People’s Liberation Army (EPL). EPL gives armed struggle for socialism under the leadership of CCP (ML) against the reactionary power in Colombia since 1967. Francisco Caraballo was captured by the enemy on 22nd of June 1994, and still in prison since than.

He was kept in the BogotE1 Military Prison together with his wife and son, who was 16 years old, until a criminal attempt against him by the army had brought to open. As the result of solidarity campaign carried out for him both in the country and on the international arena, the Government transferred him from military prison to Itagui-Antiochia Prision, a high security prison near to Medellin. He stays there under solitary confinement and without security of life. The Colombian State is not accepting him as a political prisoner, and also prevents the treatment of his illness.

Comrade Francisco Caraballo is in prison for more than 10 years. Although he has to be freed according to the Colombian Penal Code because of serving the penalty, when it comes to protection of the power of the ruling classes, the reactionary State of Colombia is not implementing even its own laws, and continuing to keep him in prison.

We, as MLCP, state that we are in solidarity with Francisco Caraballo and urge his immediate release. We, at the same time, call upon all communists, revolutionaries and progressives to defend Francisco Caraballo and to protest Colombian State.

Source

Interview with Francisco Caraballo: “Socialism Is the Future of Humanity”

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From January 2004

Translation from A Verdade, Brazil

A Verdade is the exclusive publisher in Brazil of this interview with Francisco Caraballo, leader of the Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist) and of the Popular Army of Liberation (EPL). He was condemned by the Colombian courts of ‘justice’ to a sentence of 40 years in prison. For ten years, he has been held in a maximum-security prison guarded by the army, where he is receiving cruel and inhuman treatment, to the point where he is denied access to medical services and to the medication necessity for his illness.

In this interview, Caraballo denounces the Plan Colombia, the interference of the United States in his country and in Latin America in general, he defends the unity of the revolutionary guerrilla forces of Colombia and affirms that the majority of Colombians are not in favour of the violence that the State is carrying out against the people, nor of the subordination to the demands of the IMF.

Francisco Caraballo is an example of ideological steadfastness and of the valour that characterises the Marxist-Leninist communists. The brutal repression that he faces has not undermined his revolutionary morale nor his conviction in the triumph of the social revolution of the proletariat in his country and on a world scale. At the present time, the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations is unfolding a worldwide campaign for the freedom of Comrade Francisco Caraballo and of solidarity with the working class and people of Colombia and their heroic struggle.

Luiz Falcão

A Verdade: Why are you in prison?

F.C.: I have been involved in revolutionary activity continuously for 43 years. I participated in the foundation of the Communist Party of Colombia (M-L) and of the Popular Army of Liberation. I have fought consistently for profound transformations in the political and social reality of the country. That is why I took part in various forms of revolutionary activity. As a rebel I have expressed in theory and practice the contradiction with the established social system and the State that defends it. For many years I was subjected to rabid persecution by the State’s repressive apparatus. On several occasions news of my death was published and rewards were offered for capture, dead or alive, in the manner of the Wild West. For 10 years I have been in prison, first in the installations of the Army Artillery School, then in the Military Police Battalion in Bogotá, and finally I was transferred to the Maximum Security Penitentiary in Itagüi-Antioquia. According to the norms of the Penal Code, I have already completed my sentence; however, I have been condemned to 40 years in prison. This shows that the State is violating its own laws and that justice is subordinate to the interests of the struggle between those who defend the status quo and those who seek to change it radically.

A Verdade: Colombia has vast riches, but its people live in misery. What are the causes of the poverty in Colombia?

F.C.: Colombia is inhabited by 44 million people, of whom 67% are less than 30 years old. It has an area of 1,338,000 sq. km. [514,000 sq. mi], with a very varied topography and climate. The agricultural and livestock sectors are the bases of the economy, with coffee as the main export product. It produces a variety of products in all climates and has favorable conditions for raising livestock and fishing, although these have been downplayed in favor of imports. The subsoil contains oil, which makes up 30% of exports, coal, which represents 40% of the reserves of Latin America, natural gas, emeralds, gold, silver, platinum, iron, nickel, uranium and cobalt. Its territory has an important biological heritage. Industry, which contributes 20% of the GNP, produces textiles, food, chemicals and metallurgy among other things.

Despite such a promising reality, while a narrow elite enjoys all the privileges and benefits, the immense majority of Colombians are forced into misery and are marginalized. The oligarchy, tied to big transnational capital, is responsible for the most serious problems of the country, the backwardness and poverty, because those in power have persisted in fulfilling the dictates of the IMF and World Bank, in applying the neo-liberal model and “economic opening” that has reduced agricultural, livestock and industrial production, besides promoting the increased exploitation of labor and the privatization of public enterprises at the cost of the living and working conditions of the workers.

Imperialist domination, the advances in the concentration and centralization of production and capital, the application of neo-liberal policies, the strengthening of the financial sector, have widened the chasm between broad sectors of society and a small group of large capitalists. It is this group which is the most responsible for the backwardness, misery and violence from which the majority of Colombians suffers.

A Verdade: What are the changes that your Party calls for in Colombia?

F.C.: The Communist Party of Colombia Marxist-Leninist proposes, as its strategic objective, the realization of a process of democratic, anti-imperialist revolution oriented towards socialism. Socialist construction is understood as a complex and long task that logically requires fundamental changes in political consciousness, in the correlation of forces confronting each other and in the accumulation of experiences in the various forms of class confrontation. It is necessary to remove the obstacles which are opposed to social progress, to the exercise of a genuine democracy and to the improvement of the conditions of life of the majorities who have been excluded.

On the level of tactics, the Party demands:

To struggle for the defense of national sovereignty, to contribute to the unity of the Latin American peoples and to internationalism among the workers; all this has to be seen as related to the mobilizations against the interference of the United States government in the affairs that are only the concern of our people.

To reject the neo-liberal policies and, of course, to contribute to defending and improving the conditions of life of the workers.

To promote actions for a genuine democracy, the right to life, liberty, dignity and human rights; against State terrorism, paramilitaries and all kinds of repression against the people’s fighters.

To promote unity on different social levels, as an indispensable condition to carry out the great transformations that Colombia needs.

All the political or social actions that the Party promotes are oriented towards creating conditions for the changes that conform to the character of the revolution.

A Verdade: Recently the Uribe government suffered a big defeat in the referendum. Why did the Colombian people say No to Uribe and the policies of the IMF?

F.C.: It is useful to remember that after his victory in the presidential elections of 2002, the big media, the most important economic groups and some political and social sectors spread the idea that Colombians unanimously supported all the policies of President Alvaro Uribe, and he certainly believed that. But the majority of Colombians are not in favor of the violence that the State is increasingly using against the people, nor in supporting further intervention of the Bush government in the internal affairs of Colombia, nor do they agree to be subordinated to the demands of the IMF. The Colombian people reject the policy of hunger and repression of the present government. That explains why, after fourteen months in the government, President Uribe has suffered successive failures, including the rejection of the referendum. It was a matter of the militarization of national life and the policy of “democratic security,” which has given free reign to all forms of arbitrariness. President Uribe showed his bankruptcy on important matters: he failed to organize a pro-Uribe party and did not receive support for his proposal for presidential reelection, by means of which he intended to prolong his term; he has lost his unanimous support in the big media; he failed to revive the idea of a referendum by means of political maneuvers; he did not receive endorsement for the Special Treaty of Protection for Colombian immigrants in the United States. As consequence of all these factors, the dissatisfaction with and criticism of the main policies of the Uribe government has grown, opening enormous possibilities for the people’s struggles, keeping in mind that this year new measures have been announced that will affect large groups of the population.

A Verdade: What is the Plan Colombia? What is the Andean Regional Initiative?

F.C.: Plan Colombia is part of the strategy of the United States to strengthen its domination in the Americas. This imperialist policy has its precedents in the strategy of the cold war and the doctrine of “national security,” which influences determining factors of the reality of Latin America and of Colombia in particular, given its importance from a geopolitical point of view. In December of 1998, President Andres Pastrana presented Plan Colombia under the guise of a “Change to Build Peace,” which tried to disguise its true intentions. Initially the emphasis was put, formally, on the fight against drug trafficking, but a year later its military content was made clear, that it was to justify the restructuring, strengthening and modernization of the military forces. Together with these measures, the presence of military troops has increased, and intelligence and technical personnel as well as elite Pentagon troops are operating on Colombian territory. The United States government has reinforced its “air interdiction” and has installed radar at various sites in the country. After September 11, under the guise of the fight against terrorism declared by Mr. Bush, that activity has noticeably increased.

Besides the military element, which is the primary element in their plans, Plan Colombia has other components: on the economic plane it is connected to the interests of important oil companies in the United States and Great Britain to take over the energy resources of the country; they took part in drawing up the documents of the Plan and made huge investments in the protection of these resources through agreements with the paramilitary groups. On the political level, repressive measures have been put in place aimed at striking against the forces opposed to or fighting against the government. Recently the Congress approved the Anti-Terrorist Law, which will undoubtedly increase the arbitrary measures against the population. Today the balance is negative and these are dangerous tendencies not only for Colombia but for the whole region.

It is clear that the United States and the transnational companies have increased their efforts to control the resources of the Andean region, not only in relation to the exploitation of oil. As an example, consider the plan for an inter-oceanic corridor between Tumaco, Manaos and Belem do Para, the plan for an inter-oceanic canal between Atrato and Truando and the control of the Amazon River. Their primary interest is in the control of the Amazon region, which is vital for the future of humanity; it produces 40% of the world’s oxygen supply, contains the greatest biodiversity on the planet and is also a huge source of fresh water. But above all, one must consider the extraordinary oil reserves in this region. For oil is linked with the wars that the United States is carrying out.

The Andean Regional Initiative is the second phase of Plan Colombia. It was initially presented as a strategy for Colombia, but subsequently it was presented in its true dimensions. This shows to a certain extent the reality and objectives of the United States government. What began under the guise of the fight against drug trafficking has been transformed into a fight against the peoples and against those who are opposed to the intervention and domination of the United States in these countries. President Bus h is taking advantage of any pretext for aggression and war. In relation to the military component of Plan Colombia one must remember that President Uribe, as a faithful agent of the United States government, is justifying and supporting Bush’s policies; thus he has said that Colombia’s problem is a common enemy for the democracies of the continent and that the Colombian violent groups have a destabilizing potential for all the democracies in the region.

For us this is a warning of the Pentagon’s intention to convert the military base at Alcántara, in the North East of Brazil, into a center of military operations at the service of the United States; the stationing of U.S. troops at the military base of Manta in Ecuador; the reinforcement of the land, air, and sea points of control in the region; the intention of the Southern Command to involve the states bordering Colombia in its plan for a counter-insurgency war, violating the national sovereignty and the self-determination of the peoples.

In response to the policies that the United States government is applying in Latin America, in the first place it is necessary to unite the forces and struggles of the Latin-American peoples for sovereignty, genuine democracy and human dignity.

A Verdade: The E.P.L. [People’s Liberation Army], E.L.N. [Army of National Liberation] and the F.A.R.C. [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] are the main guerrilla forces in Colombia. Is it possible to unite these forces around a program?

F.C.: I think that it is not only possible but indispensable, since it is necessary for the progress of the revolutionary movement. Only by means of unity will there be a greater strength in the forces fighting for the revolutionary transformation of the reality of the country towards a better future for the Colombians. I am convinced that all the organizations wish to advance towards greater levels of unity, keeping in mind that we face the same enemies and we have common strategic objectives, basically oriented by the same ideals. But one must recognize that there is a difference between wishes and practice; that is the truth….

A Verdade: How can you fight for freedom as a prisoner condemned to more than forty years in prison?

F.C.: I think it is possible to fight for freedom, to a greater or lesser degree, whatever the difficulties that one faces. The main thing is the will to do it…. The sentence that the Colombian State has imposed on me is an expression of its revenge; for that reason in my case the State has violated its own norms; in my case, it is not a legal but a political situation; the judges have understood it this way and it has been clear from the moment when they refused to subject me to this farce and I have denounce the immorality of the State and the incapacity of the courts to judge my conduct and my revolutionary activity. Understanding this has helped me face the situation and learn to act in accordance with my circumstances. My main interest has been not to remain on the sidelines of political reality or of my activity as a revolutionary. This requires continuous efforts to overcome the many and permanent obstacles. I am clear that the fight for my freedom is linked to the struggle that is being carried out outside of these bars by large numbers of men and women for their real freedom….

A Verdade: In November we will be commemorating 86 years since the Great Russian Socialist Revolution. In your opinion, is socialism the future of humanity?

F.C.: A Verdade has given me the opportunity to refer to two aspects of this question:

1) The disaster that took place in the Soviet Union was a very important historical fact, which some theoreticians and historians have jubilantly proclaimed as the “end of history,” as the final victory of the capitalist system over socialism. In fact, what we have seen is the complete failure of a model of society and State whose decadence was foreseeable, that it has had nothing to do with socialism for a long time. Since before the sixties, when new Marxist-Leninists organizations began to form and the division of the International Communist Movement became evident, the deviations into which the Soviet leaders had fallen were denounced, and the irreversible process of degeneration of the so-called Soviet model, as actually happened, was noted. From the moment when the end of contradictions and of the class struggle was proclaimed; when the “State of the whole people” was established; when the exercise of liberal democracy was affirmed, which drowned genuine democracy with workers’ participation; when a leading clique was installed in State power on the backs of the interests of the people; when impositions and abuses were carried out against the Communist Movement, in contradiction to proletarian internationalism, the road to the decay of the socialist system and the Soviet State was opened. The rest came as a logical consequence and did not take place from one moment to another, but over a prolonged period. The present reality shows the deep crisis of the capitalist system, the aggravation of the economic situation which continues to worsen the situation of the “developing” countries; the deepening of the social problems including more hunger, unemployment, marginalization, etc.; the proliferation of wars and armed conflicts in various regions of the planet.

2) Marxist-Leninist theory, as a scientific theory, continues its relevance, despite those who have tried and are trying to deny it or distort it, which amount to the same thing. I believe without any doubt in Marxism to orient revolutionary actions that transform society; that is to say in Marxism as guide or reference point for our actions, not as a formula or prescription. I am convinced that socialism signals a definite perspective for revolutionary changes in society. Socialism is the future of humanity, without a doubt.

Many thanks.

Francisco Caraballo

(Further information on the revolutionary life and work of Francisco Caraballo may be found in the document ‘I Am a Conscious Rebel, a Revolutionist in Consequence and a Convinced Communist’ in Revolutionary Democracy Volume III, Number 1, April 1997).

Courtesy: ‘A Verdade’, journal of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Brazil published from Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, February, 2004.

Translated from the original interview in Spanish by George Gruenthal.

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International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO): On the International Situation

The most significant development in the world capitalist economy, since the last meeting of our Conference is undoubtedly the intensification of the symptoms that prove the trend toward a new recession in all fields, after a certain rise in the second quarter of 2009, followed by a period of stagnation. Despite the trend towards a rise in the second quarter, world industrial production shrank 6.6% in 2009 and rose 10% in 2010. The industrial production of June 2010 exceeded its previous level before the crisis of 2008. But starting from the first quarter of 2011, the growth lost momentum and fell to 0.4% in the last quarter of that year. In 2011, world industrial production declined by half (5.4%) compared to the previous year. In the first quarter of 2012, after a weak rise, the growth declined. The growth was 1.8% in the first quarter, 0% in the second and 4% in the last quarter of 20l2. All the data show that, despite fluctuations, a decline persists that began in the first quarter of 2011, which led to zero level in the middle of this year [2012] and is heading for a new period of decline.

Industrial production in the European Union, which is a larger economic power than the U.S.; in Japan, which is third largest world economic power; in India, one of the largest economies in Asia, have had consecutive declines in the third quarter of 2011 and in the first two quarters of 2012 compared to the same period last year. Industrial production in Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, has also entered into decline in the last two quarters. North African countries like Tunisia and Egypt, and other countries such as Argentina, Colombia and Peru, are in similar situations.

The rate of growth of industrial production in China, in the first and second quarters of 2012, was 11.6% and 9.5%, while it was 14.4% in 2010 and 13.8% in 2011. The downward trend continued in July, 9.2% and in August, 8.9%. China, which grew by 12.9% and 12.3% in the crisis years (2008 and 2009), was, along with India, one of the factors that prevented a further sharpening of the crisis and that allowed the world economy to enter into a new period of growth. The situation in that country has changed considerably. Now it is a country that is accumulating stockpiles in the steel industry, which is facing a slowdown in the construction sector, which has important holes in the financial sector. Those countries that saw lower growth rates despite the stimulus measures to revive the domestic market, are now unable to play the same role as before. The industrial production of Mexico and the Confederation of Independent States (CIS), including Russia, continues to grow. However, while the industrial production in the major countries and the volume of international trade are falling, for these countries also, a decrease is expected.

Unlike simple commodity production, a more rapid growth in the production of the means of production, compared to consumer goods, is a condition for expanded reproduction. But with the capitalist mode of production producing for an unknown market, with the sole purpose of obtaining profits, a consistent development of the two sectors is impossible and this is one of the factors that makes crises inevitable. In the last three years, as well as before, these two sectors have not developed consistently. In the first sector, demand has fallen, the volume of growth has fallen, stockpiles are accumulating and capacity utilization has fallen. In 2010 and 2011 the steel industry, an important component of the production of means of production, grew faster than the consumer goods sector. According to data from the World Steel Union, the growth rate in production was 15% in 2010 compared to the previous year, but in 2011 the figure fell to 6.2%. In January raw steel production saw a sharp drop to 8%, and it has stayed at 0.8% in the period from January to May of 2012. In August of 2012 raw steel production fell 1% in relation to 2011. In the same period, raw steel production rose 3.3% in Japan (a significant increase if one takes into account the major fall due to the tsunami) and 2.6% in India. It has fallen by 1.7% in China, 3.8% in the U.S., 4.4% in the EU, 7.1% in Germany, 15.5% in Italy and 3.8% in the Confederation of Independent States (CIS). The iron stockpiles in Chinese ports reached 98.15 million tons (an increase of 2.9%) belonging to the steel complexes. And stockpiles of Chinese coal are at their highest level in the last three years.

In manufacturing, a very important element of the production of the means of production, production and demand have declined in many countries. This decline has been one of the reasons for the cooling of industrial production in Germany, for example. In the capitalist mode of production, the agricultural sector, by its level of development and its technical basis, is always behind industry. Agricultural production is largely affected by the natural conditions, climate changes, droughts, storms and other natural catastrophes. Agricultural production is increasingly under the control of the monopolies and the speculative maneuvers of finance capital. In 2010 world agricultural production, including the production of cereals, has shrunk due to various factors such as bad weather or the expansion of plots reserved for bio-fuel production. On the other hand, in 2011, agricultural production has progressed thanks to better weather conditions, and also to increased demand and higher prices due to speculation. For example, wheat production increased by about 6%.

In 2009 the volume of world trade has declined 12.7%. According to data from the World Trade Organization (WTO), that volume registered a growth of 13.8% in 2010, and only 5% in 2011 (according to figures from the CPL, the growth was 15.2% in 2010, and 5.8% in 2011). The volume of world trade has grown by 0.5% in the final quarter of last year, and by 0.9% and 0.5% in the first and second quarter of 2012 respectively. During the first two months of the third quarter (June and July), the volume of world trade recorded a negative growth of -1.5% and -0.2% compared to the previous months.

World industrial production reached and surpassed the pre-crisis level of 2008, in June 2010, while the volume of international trade did not surpass this until November 2011. If we compare the data of July 2012 with the level reached before the crisis of 2008 (that is, April 2008), we see an increase of 9.5% in world industrial production and an increase of 5% in the total volume of growth in world trade.

The data on the increase of the volume of world trade is one of the most important that shows an evolutionary trend, although it does not exactly reflect the volume of growth of world trade. These data show that for the last three years, the world capitalist production has increased rapidly and that the capitalist world is once again facing the problem of overproduction, which is the source of all its crises. Decreased production, closing or reduction in work capacity of enterprises, rising unemployment and poverty; needs in abundance and the restriction of markets are the inevitable consequences of overproduction. The sharp slowdown in world industrial production has been shown above. The events in North Africa and the austerity measures taken in countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, etc., are factors that are aggravating this process and its consequences.

Towards a New Financial Crisis

The crisis of 2008 broke out as a financial crisis, at the same time as the crisis deepened in other sectors, such as industry and trade, it developed with contacts in the finance sector with serious consequences for the following period. The most destructive consequences for the monopolies and the eventual collapse of the financial sector were avoided by transferring of billions of dollars into the coffers of the monopolies by the capitalist States. This rescue operation was only possible by accepting a debt to financial markets with very high interest rates, and the issuance of money into the markets. The end result is an extreme State debt, an increase in the debt and interest burden, a rise in the price of gold and the loss of value (devaluation) of almost all currencies.

Countries at different levels have entered a vicious circle that has elements of new currency and financial crises, in which they can finance their budget deficit, their debts and interests, having to borrow again. The capitalist world began a period of growth starting in the second quarter of 2009, with the weight inherited from the 2008 crisis. However, this period of growth has enabled recipient countries to breathe a little, turn the wheel that was on the verge of suffocating them. The growth of the world economy stopped and even lowered the price of gold for a moment. In some countries, such as China that had a significant growth rate, the ratio of the public debt to GDP decreased. But in other countries, such as Japan and the U.S., a substantial debt has continued, even during the period of growth of the capitalist world economy. The U.S. public debt represents the sum of $16 billion (the debt of Germany, which grew until the second half of this year, is 8 billion). Other capitalist countries are in a similar situation. The increasing debt is almost the condition of financial sustainability and economic growth. And this is the path that is leading directly to a new financial crisis that may profoundly affect all sectors of the economy.

The highly indebted countries have not been able to achieve a period of growth after the financial crisis and the fall in world industrial production that took place between the second quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2009; this period has led to a financial crisis that has affected the other sectors of the economy that has led them to bankruptcy. The first example of this process was in Greece, where the weakness was such that the industry, very weak, was largely liquidated when it joined the EU. After the 2008 crisis, in 2009, the economy of this country did not grow, and by the end of the year it was on the verge of bankruptcy. This country, followed by others such as Portugal, Spain, Hungary, etc., has not been able to get out of the crisis and stagnation. However, important differences should be noted in its debt in relation to the GDP.

Austerity measures never seen before, except in times of war or crisis as deep as 1929, have been imposed on the indebted countries. The result of these measures has been to impoverish the people, destroy the economy and reduce the internal market and foreign trade. These austerity plans have been applied (despite the opposition and struggle of the working class and peoples) under the control of the creditor imperialist powers, the international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and European Union, and above all with the support of the collaborator monopoly bourgeoisie and its representatives, these enemies of the people. They have transferred billions of dollars to foreign banks, completely betraying the national interests. The national pride of the people, their right to sovereignty and independence have been trampled upon. A country like Britain that had a strong financial sector, but since mid-2011 has seen its industrial production and its economy reduced, has been forced to march along with the countries implementing austerity measures.

The significant decrease in the volume of growth of world industrial production, which began in the second quarter of 2011, is developing the elements of a new international financial crisis and is contributing to the degradation of the situation of the highly indebted countries. They failed to enter a period of growth parallel to the process of growth of the world capitalist economy following the crisis of 2008-2009. While the debate over the future of the Euro and the European Union is sharpening, the communiqués on the economic trends of the advanced capitalist countries and the indebted countries have sown confusion in the stock markets, barometers of the capitalist economy. Although world industrial and agricultural production and the volume of international -trade have exceeded the highest level before the crisis of 2008, the indices of the most influential stock markets remain below that level.

Although we are not yet experiencing the outbreak of a financial crisis of major proportions, everything makes it appear that the process is advancing towards such an eventuality. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank (FED) has announced that it will not raise interest rates and that it will start a process of purchasing bonds for an amount of $2,000 billion dollars, at the rate of $40 billion per month. Japan has announced a similar measure and has begun a program of buying bonds to the tune of $695 billion.

Germany has had to relax its rigid policy towards the indebted countries and the European fund for the intervention in countries facing difficulties has increased. China, along with measures of revival that it has already applied, announced a new investment package to renovate its infrastructure. The price of gold is rising again. In 2008, the intense intervention of the capitalist States began after the outbreak of the crisis. Now, however, the capitalist States have gone into action before the shocks and bankruptcies at the same level as in 2008 start in the major capitalist countries and worldwide. However, these interventions, which can have some influence on the process of development, cannot change the orientation and the inevitable outcome.

The Sharpening of the Inter-Imperialist Contradictions and the Growing Danger of Conflicts

Uneven, unbalanced development is the absolute law of capitalist development. This process after the crisis of 2008 was not balanced, it deepened the antagonistic contradictions in the evolution and development of the relations between sectors, countries, regions, production and markets, etc. The industrial production of the advanced capitalist countries, including the U.S. and Japan, except Germany (ignoring the high level of 2008), did not reach the level of 2005. Germany, which has exceeded the pre-crisis level and has had a growth in industrial production of 11.5% in 2010 and 9% in 2011, has consolidated its position within the European Union and the Euro zone. Without separating itself from the bloc led by the United States, it has penetrated into new markets, new fields of investment, sources of raw materials, basing itself on its economic and financial strength, and above all, on its technical superiority in the industry of machine construction.

As in previous years, China, both because of its industrial production and its economy in general, was the country that had the most significant growth among major economies. It has modernized and increased the technical basis of its industry, and it continues to reduce the difference in its level of development with the other imperialist powers. Russia is going through a similar process. For the United States and its allies, these two countries, one considered as a vast market and production area with a trained and cheap work force, and the other a solid country, appear today as their main rivals to fight against.

The inevitable result of the change in the balance of power is the great demand for a piece of the pie by the emerging forces, using all means to get it and a new redivision of the world according the new balance of power. The recent development of the world economy is another factor that exacerbates the contradictions and the struggles among the major imperialist powers. Last year in the Middle East, in Africa and the whole world, the rivalry and struggle to expand their sphere of influence has accelerated. The production of weapons, the arms race is intensifying. China and Russia have renewed the technical basis of their arms industry. According to a report by the Congress of the United States, arms sales by these countries have tripled in 2011.

China, which increasingly needs more raw materials, energy and fields of investment for its growing economy, and Russia, which is slowly recovering, are intensifying their expansionist desires and their efforts to get their piece of the pie. Therefore, it is a top priority for the U.S. and its allies to prevent China, a young imperialist power in full development, and Russia, from achieving new markets in the field of energy and raw materials. When the Obama administration states that beginning next year the priority strategic objective for the United States will be Asia, and that the deployment of the U.S. military will be renewed according to the new situation, this is merely affirming that reality. The crisis of the archipelagos shows the level of tension between Japan and China; Japan has declared its intention to improve its military capability. The military maneuvers in the region have intensified.

The consequences of the change in the balance of power in the world have been clearly visible since last year. Russia and China were forced to accept Western imperialist intervention in Libya, even though that intervention was contrary to their interests. The intervention ended with the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, the near collapse of the country, the destruction of its economy, the degradation of working and living conditions, the transfer of the country’s wealth into the hands of the Western imperialist States, etc. Russia and China lost a good part of their positions, including their oil agreements. After the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Mali has been dragged into war and divided. But the main objective is Syria. The attempts by the Western imperialist powers to topple the Syrian regime and put in a puppet government to fully control the country are intensifying. The United States and its allies have mobilized all their forces within Syria and outside of it in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They are stirring up the religious contradictions, they use and manipulate the popular discontent towards the regime and they try to prepare the ground for a military intervention as in Libya. Meanwhile Russia is arming Syria, strengthening its military base located in that country and sending more warships to the Mediterranean.

To bring down the Syrian regime, put in place a puppet government, dominate the oil-rich Middle East, control the eastern Mediterranean, block the expansion of China and Russia in the region and expel them as they did in Libya, to encircle Iran, weaken its influence and liquidate its closest allies, are very important objectives. Syria is the only country in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean where Russia has a military base. This small country has become a place of intense struggle between Russia and China on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. The Middle East is a powder keg on the verge of religious conflicts.

Contrary to what they did in Libya, Russia and China are opposing a military intervention that would alter the balance in the Middle East and result in the domination of the United States and its allies over Syria. But they have left the door open for a possible compromise that would guarantee their interests and renew the Syrian regime which is having more and more difficulties to survive.

As the case of Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Libya show, the imperialist interventions that have had the support of the liberal “defenders” of freedom and democracy, of the pseudo-socialist parties that emerged from the former revisionist parties, have resulted in increased military budgets at the expense of the workers, in the destruction of the productive forces of those countries, in many disasters, the impoverishment and decline in all social aspects. The aspiration of the peoples for the right to sovereignty and national independence, democracy and freedom has never been the concern of the occupiers. Their objective was to further prolong their system maintained by the defeat inflicted on the working class in the middle of the last century, a defeat that guaranteed their super-profits, the expansion of their spheres of influence and the weakening of their rivals. The imperialist powers, which are using all means to achieve this goal, do not lack in demagoguery and low maneuvers to disorient the people’s anger.

Now a period of sharpening of inter-imperialist contradictions is beginning, which economic-financial and political-military interventions will multiply. It is increasingly important to fight against such intervention, to develop the united fight of the workers and peoples, in both the advanced and backward countries,.

Organize the Resistance of the Workers in the New Stormy Period

The army of unemployed is growing on the world level, especially in countries in total-debt crisis, in the countries in which the economy is declining, stagnating or is in crisis. In Greece and Spain, unemployment has reached 25%. In these countries, unemployment among the youths, including college graduates, reached 50%. In the Euro zone in the second quarter of 2012, the level of unemployment reached 11.2%, according to official figures. In countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, where manufacturing has fallen from 9.6% to 7.5% in the first quarter of this year (2012), the number of unemployed continues to grow. In South Africa, the most developed country on the continent, the unemployment rate exceeds 25%.

In the current period, in almost all fields, from education to health care, drastic measures have been taken, the retirement age has been delayed and pensions have fallen. The gains of the working class worldwide are targeted for cuts or elimination. While direct taxes on the workers are increasing, no measures are taken to disturb the local and international monopolies, when even within the framework of this system one could increase taxes on the banks and the local and foreign monopolies. Wages continue to fall, etc. Many countries are suffering from a process of absolute impoverishment.

In recent years practices have been imposed worldwide such as sub-contracting labor, precarious and part-time work, an increase in the age for retirement, etc. In Germany, for example, one of the most developed countries in the world that has had significant growth rates in industrial production, according to the Federal Administration of Statistics, 15.6% of the population lives below the poverty line, a figure that rises to 26% among the immigrant population.

Last year, on a world scale and in each country, the workers and peoples movement has developed with various demands, in different forms and also at different levels. The struggles carried out in those countries with a “debt crisis” have been outstanding for their broad social base, for their responses and the experiences gained. The miners’ strike in South Africa, the youth movement and the strikes in Chile, the popular movements in Tunisia and Egypt, etc. are powerful examples of the workers and peoples struggles.

Starting with Greece, Spain and Italy, in various countries with a “debt crisis,” strikes, general strikes and huge demonstrations have taken place. In Greece and Spain, hundreds of thousands of people have expressed their anger in front of the parliaments on the days when these were voting for austerity measures. But the workers and peoples movement, despite some more advanced attempts, has remained within the framework of peaceful demonstrations, general strikes of one or two days and limited resistance. The strikes of long duration, the resistance or occupation of factories, have been limited to one enterprise or one sector.

The austerity measures have affected not only the proletariat and semi-proletarian masses of the cities and countryside; they have also affected the petty bourgeoisie and non-monopoly bourgeois strata. Even the less dynamic strata, the traditional base of the bourgeois parties, have been mobilized given the current situation. The social base of the struggle against the bourgeoisie in Power and against imperialism has expanded, to the point where in some dependent countries the mobilization has taken the character of a movement of the whole nation, except for a handful of monopolists. The conditions are maturing for the working class and its revolutionary parties, as representatives and the vanguard of the nation, to decide to organize and advance the movement and the united front of the people.

But despite the great movement, the groups of international finance capital and the local monopoly bourgeoisies have not given in (except in the recent delay of the austerity measures in Portugal). They have decided to implement these measures even at the cost of demeaning the image of the parliaments and weakening their social base. However, the masses are realizing through their own experience the impossibility of repelling the attacks with one or two day strikes or through peaceful demonstrations. Sharper forms of struggle and unlimited general strike are beginning to be considered by the more advanced strata.

It is clear that the bourgeoisie in Power, with their hostile character towards the people, is assuming a position of national betrayal. The traditional parties of the bourgeoisie and parliaments have lost credibility and the mass support for those parties is weakening (especially toward those in government that are implementing austerity measures). The social basis of monopoly capital is weakening. Among the masses who have felt their national pride hurt by the imperialists, the discontent, anger and will to struggle against the major imperialist powers, beginning with the United States and Germany, against institutions like the IMF or the EU, and against the local monopoly bourgeoisie that is collaborating with them, is developing.

The trade union bureaucracy and reformist parties and social trends are following a backward line of “least resistance,” not only in their forms of organization and struggle, but also at the level of political demands and platform. Clearly, this attitude is contributing to weakening their influence among the workers. The attacks and harshness of the social conditions are also affecting the lower strata of the labor bureaucracy and aristocracy and are sharpening the contradictions within their ranks.

The struggles in the countries with “debt crisis” are being developed on a program of protest against the bourgeois governments and parties, against institutions such as the IMF and the EU that are imposing draconian measures and they are demanding their withdrawal. At first this was natural and understandable in the context of a spontaneous movement. But the inability to go beyond those narrow limits is one of the major weaknesses of the movement. This weakness can be overcome with the work of agitation that shows the masses the way out of this difficult situation in which the people and the country find themselves, denouncing the social forces that are an obstacle to that way out. This work of agitation is reinforced by putting forward appropriate demands, slogans and forms of struggle among the masses.

Especially in Greece, certain small groups (that also have weaknesses) have proposed relatively advanced demands and platforms. But the forces capable of influencing the movement are not even concerned with organizing the work necessary to promote the fight on all fronts. The absence or great weakness of a revolutionary class party, has been felt strongly, as it cannot influence the movement.

Linked to the evolution of the world economy, the period that is beginning will be one of further degradation of the living and working conditions for the workers and peoples, a period of intense economic and political attacks, of discontent, anger and militancy among workers, as well as sharpening of inter-imperialist contradictions and conflicts. We must draw lessons and conclusions from the recent developments and the historical experience of the working class and peoples; we must advance, renewing our work and reorganizing our parties.

Tunisia, November 2012

Source

With the Workers and the Peoples in the Independent Struggle for the Revolution and Socialism

16th Seminar on the International Problems of the Revolution in Latin America

Final Statement

In Latin America the new millennium arrived with the struggle of the workers, youth, peasants, women and peoples against the structural adjustment policies implemented by governments at the service of powerful local oligarchic groups and imperialist finance capital. The increasing social discontent, manifested in street mobilisations, partial and general strikes and even popular uprisings that put an end to reactionary and pro-imperialist governments, split the bourgeois institutions and accelerated the wearing out of the current model of capitalist accumulation, monitored by the centres of imperialist domination.

The fear grew among the socio-economic elites that the yearning for change and the desire to be protagonists of deep transformations was taking shape among the people. The progressive and left-wing political programmes, once seen as being obsolete and inapplicable, were embraced by the working and popular classes.

While in various countries of Latin America there are still openly right-wing governments explicitly sold out to imperialism, in others countries so-called alternative and progressive governments have emerged; in some of these, on certain occasions there have been actions of resistance towards policies of imperialism, which deserve the support of the peoples.

Recurring to their own political experience, bourgeois factions of various countries have manoeuvred to take advantage of the discontent of the masses for their own interests. They appear to make their own the programmes and proposals raised for years by the popular movement and the left-wing organisations against neo-liberalism and to achieve a sovereign development, under conditions of social fairness.

Nevertheless, the expectations and enthusiasm of the masses with those governments that promised to leave behind the past of disgrace and backwardness clash with reality when these governments carry out their real political programme and give away the natural wealth, at present mainly mines, to the foreign companies; when the foreign debt persists, although the capital comes from other imperialist centres; when popular protest is criminalised; when free trade negotiations and agreements are going ahead under different names; or, when governmental propaganda says more of what in reality is being carried out in the social sphere.

Even though discontent is arising among the workers, youth, peasants, women and peoples, it is a fact that, so far, these governments have had, to a certain degree, the capacity to neutralise and contain the social mobilisation. Without a doubt, that is a fruit of the ability of ideological-political manipulation by the bourgeois factions that, with the support of imperialism, are in the government; it is due to the carrying out of social welfare and patronage policies, to the presence of authoritarian leaders as heads of government who make wide use of demagogy and populist policies; but it is also due to the existing limits in the consciousness of the masses and the weaknesses from which the revolutionary and left-wing organisations still suffer.

Under these new conditions, the struggle that the workers and revolutionary organisations are unfolding is becoming more complex, since it is relatively clearer for the masses that they must confront and fight a government that is openly right-wing and linked to foreign capital, than one that demagogically claims to promote change and to affect the interests of the rich, even though in reality it is doing nothing more than propping up the whole system of domination by capital and defending the interests of the local ruling classes and of imperialist finance capital.

For the advance of the revolutionary struggle of the peoples, it is essential to unmask and defeat these sell-out, demagogic and populist governments that are causing serious damage to the development of the popular organisation and struggle. It is necessary to combat these governments functioning on behalf of the ruling system, but by no means should we play into the interests of the other bourgeois factions of the ‘right’ The struggle of the workers and peoples, with a class independence, to win social and national liberation forces them to fight and defeat one and the other bourgeois faction.

In order to fulfill the strategic intentions that drive us, we the political organisations, movements and parties committed to leading the revolution and socialism to victory must redouble our efforts to develop the political consciousness of the masses. That is possible mainly by unleashing the struggle for their particular demands and political banners in order to unmask the true nature of those governments. It is vital to promote an intense and systematic ideological-political offensive of the revolutionary ideals among the workers, youth, peasants, women and peoples; it is urgent to take advantage of all the opportunities that the bourgeois institutions allow for the political task and even to surpass these; it is necessary to persevere in the unity of the popular movement and of the political organisations of the left in order to isolate from the social movement those who, at the present time, are manipulating the yearnings for change of the peoples from positions of power.

Although, circumstantially, the populist governments have managed to partially restrain the struggle of the masses, it is certain that their material conditions of life and the historical limitations of these governments are forcing the masses to protest. Still more, the world scenario is inevitably affecting them from all sides and the sharpening of the general crisis of the capitalist system is causing the fighting response of the peoples, as can be observed in our region and in particular in Europe, with whose working class and youth we express our solidarity.

We, the organizations taking part in this 16th Seminar on the International Problems of the Revolution in Latin America, united in Quito from July 16 to 20, reiterate our internationalist duty and commitment to continue fighting for unity and solidarity among the peoples, to form – by means of concrete actions – a great anti-imperialist front. We uphold the right of the peoples to self-determination; we condemn all forms of foreign intervention and all actions of the ruling classes to thwart the will of the peoples.

The views summarised in this Statement are the result of open and democratic debate in this seminar. We present them to the world so that the workers, youth and peoples may know them.

From Quito, Ecuador, we express our commitment to continue this event and, for that reason we are convening the 17th International Seminar for next year.

Quito, July 20, 2012
Revolutionary Communist Party of Argentina
Revolutionary Communist Party – Brazil
Movement for the Popular Constituent Assembly – Colombia
Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist)
Communist Party of Labour of the Dominican Republic
Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist)
Revolutionary Popular Front – Mexico
Communist Party of Palestine
Communist Party of Peru – Red Fatherland
Peruvian Communist Party Marxist-Leninist
National Democratic Front – Philippines
Caribbean and Latin American Coordinator of Puerto Rico
All Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) – Russia
Communist Party of Spain Marxist-Leninist
Gayones Movement – Venezuela
Emancipator Pedagogic Movement of Venezuela MOPEZ
Movement of Education for the Emancipation of Venezuela MEPE
Marxist-Leninist Trade Union Current – Venezuela
Ana Soto Women’s Movement of Venezuela
Preparatory Committee of Venezuela for the 23rd International Camp of Anti-Fascist and Anti-Imperialist Youth
Socialist Revolutionary University Front – Venezuela
Socialist Movement for the Quality of Life and Health – Venezuela
Democratic Popular Movement – Ecuador
Revolutionary Youth of Ecuador
Revolutionary Front of the University Left
Teachers Vanguard Front
Revolutionary Trade Union Current
Confederation of Ecuadorian Women for Change
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador

Source

Statement of the Marxist-Leninist Parties of Latin America

From En Marcha,
Central Organ of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador
#1589, August 10-16, 2012

We have united the Marxist-Leninist Communist Parties of Latin America to discuss various points, in particular the follow-up of the situation in our respective countries and on the international plane, as well as to define the commitments stemming from the meeting. After various exchanges of opinions and discussions, we reached the following conclusions:

The crisis of the capitalist system is continuing and will get worse, in spite of all the measures that the governments in the service of finance capital and the imperialist monopolies are adopting to avert it. They are continuing to take measures that affect the working class, the working people and the people in general.

In this sense, they are continually reducing salaries and making them more precarious, carrying out massive dismissals in private enterprises and public institutions, reducing retirements and pensions, cutting budgets for education, health care, security among other areas of services to the working class and people in general; at the same time they are raising taxes on goods and services of consumption of the great majority, all in order to get money to pay the national debt and also to save from bankruptcy the private banks, which they have given thousand of million dollars and Euros taken from the working class and peoples.

The summits of the heads of government and State have taken place since 2008, to try to promote economic growth, create jobs and overcome the crisis. But despite the agreements adopted and money made available to the private banks, the awaited growth still has not taken place and more companies and banks are going bankrupt.

The governments in the service of finance capital and the imperialist monopolies are persisting in making the working class and peoples pay for the crisis.

In their eagerness to escape the crisis, finance capital and the monopolies are looking for new sources for capital accumulation, and here we must emphasize the sell-out, anti-national and anti-popular attitude of most of the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean, which are handing over the mining and natural resources of all kinds to foreign companies.

In addition to draining the resources of the people, these concessions are having a severe impact on the environment and the communities in which they are located, adding one more item for the popular indignation and revolt.

The working class, the working people, the youth and peoples do not accept these policies of the governments. In every continent the struggles of the workers and peoples in general are developing, which are taking the form of active strikes, street demonstrations and seizures of buildings, among other things.

… We stated that together with the economic crisis and its consequences, in our countries there are the repressive attitudes of the governments that criminalize protests, accusing and even punishing with jail the popular and revolutionary, trade union, educators, student neighborhood and peasant fighters, who are demonstrating in resistance to the policies and measures of the governments in office. Serious blows to public freedoms and democratic rights are taking place, which are added to the old problems from which the working class and peoples are suffering.

Faced with this general situation of the capitalist system and particularly that of our countries, our communist parties stand up for and reiterate our will to push forward the workers’ and popular struggles in general for social and political demands, as well as for democratic and revolutionary changes and for socialism.

We call upon our members to continue encouraging the organization and struggle of the oppressed and exploited, to put themselves at the head of these struggles no matter the consequence.

To the slogan of making the rich pay for the crisis, one must add the systematic denunciation of the demagogic and populist governments that conceal their servile attitude to the oligarchies and imperialism by declaring themselves left-wing and even socialist; as well, the defense of public freedoms and democratic rights, the rejection of the criminalization of protests, the demand that the governments respect the rights in those Constitutions that as a result of the popular struggles recognize important demands for the peoples, among those are the right to protest and the free unionization of the working class and working people; it is also necessary to push forward the struggles of the masses for the progressive reform of the political and social regimes by way of the Constituent Assembly, in those countries where an obsolete political and social system denying the fundamental rights of the peoples predominates.

An important place in our struggles must be given to the defense of water, the rejection of the handing over of minerals and natural resources of the people, and to solidarity with the movements are currently protest strip mining. Outstanding cases of this are the ones being developed by the peoples of Cajamarca in Peru, of Catamarca in Argentina, Oaxaca in Mexico and Cerrejon in Colombia.

We are protesting against the systematic bombings that have resulted in hundreds of dead, wounded and displaced by the Colombian army against various civilian and defenseless communities, under the pretext that they are fighting the guerrilla insurgency of the FARC, (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the Army of National Liberation (ELN) and the Peoples Liberation Army (EPL), which have not renounced their postulates to fight together with the people for national and social liberation.

With energetic indignation, we also repudiate the coup by the Paraguayan oligarchy and Yankee imperialism against President Fernando Lugo, fact that clearly expresses their determination to depose governments who do not totally respond to their interests and aims. In Paraguay, before the Lugo’s election, during his government and after his overthrow, the peasants and workers have lived in the poverty, without access to land, health and education. We decidedly support the peasants, workers, teachers and youth in their struggle for land and the right to organize and strike, the patriots, democrats and revolutionaries who atr fighting for the social and national revolution.

As we reaffirm ourselves as communist parties, of the working class, determined to place ourselves at the front of each of their fights and of the popular sectors, with the goal to seize political power, to carry out the revolution, towards socialism, we challenge ourselves to become large parties that are, influential in the political and social life of our countries, an indispensable condition to be able to lead the revolutionary process. Therefore we call on our members to work with determination and clarity of goals within the working class and the popular masses in general, to develop the closest possible organizational links and of struggle, and to recruit from among these for our ranks the most advanced elements and dedicated to the popular and revolutionary struggle.

Ordinary meeting of the Marxist-Leninist Parties of Latin America

Revolutionary Communist Party – Brazil
Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist)
Communist Party of Labor of the Dominican Republic
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador
Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist)
Communist Party of Peru (Marxist-Leninist)
Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela

Ecuador, July 2012

16th SEMINARIO INTERNACIONAL “PROBLEMAS DE LA REVOLUCIÓN EN AMÉRICA LATINA”

Apreciados compañeros (as)

Presente.-

De nuestras consideraciones:

Les presentamos un cálido y fraterno saludo del PARTIDO COMUNISTA MARXISTA LENINISTA DEL ECUADOR y del MOVIMIENTO POPULAR DEMOCRÁTICO, organizaciones de izquierda revolucionaria, expresándoles nuestros mejores deseos de éxitos personales, políticos y organizativos, que redunden en el impulso de la tarea común de los trabajadores, la juventud y los pueblos, la revolución, la emancipación social y el socialismo.

Partiendo de los actuales procesos de lucha social y política que se desarrollan en el mundo entero y en nuestro Continente, frente a las políticas del sistema capitalista y los gobiernos que afectan los intereses y lesionan las conquistas de los diversos sectores sociales, los revolucionarios entendemos la necesidad de avanzar y profundizar en la realización de los procesos de emancipación; por ello, consideramos útil, acercar más nuestro mutuo conocimiento, relación, intercambio de experiencias y el trabajo por una sólida unidad y colaboración de nuestras organizaciones.

Por ello, nos complace extenderles la más cordial INVITACIÓN para que una delegación de su Organización Política o Social, Institución o personalmente, participen en el 16to. SEMINARIO INTERNACIONAL “PROBLEMAS DE LA REVOLUCIÓN EN AMÉRICA LATINA”, que en este año abordará el tema:

“El caudillismo populista y la lucha revolucionaria en América Latina”

Además, queremos solicitarles respetuosamente, extender esta INVITACIÓN a otras organizaciones, instituciones y personalidades afines, con los cuales, lamentablemente, no tenemos una relación o dirección específica y que se mostrarían deseosos de integrarse y participar en el mismo.

Los participantes: pueden si lo desean, presentar una PONENCIA SOBRE EL TEMA PROPUESTO, con una máxima extensión de 8 páginas, que será publicada para entregarse a los participantes y un resumen de la misma para que sea expuesta en alocución de veinte minutos, en las diferentes sesiones plenarias del Seminario. Los textos en idioma español, procesados en Word, deben ser enviados con la debida anticipación para asegurar su publicación y la propaganda necesaria.

En el 16to. Seminario se desarrollarán dos Mesas Redondas:

– “La mega – minería a cielo abierto y la posición de los pueblos”. Martes 17 de julio, 17h 00. Participan delegados internacionales y del Ecuador.

– “Los trabajadores y pueblos del Ecuador y el gobierno de Rafael Correa”. Jueves 19 de julio, 10h 30. Participan diversos representantes de organizaciones sociales del Ecuador.

Este evento, arriba a su décima sexta edición con el esfuerzo conjunto de todos los que hemos participado en él, año tras año. Se realizará con ese mismo entusiasmo e incorporación en la ciudad de Quito, a partir del día lunes 16 al viernes 20 de julio del presente año 2012 en los locales de la “Casa del Maestro”, calle Ascázubi N. 271, entre la Avda. 10 de Agosto y 9 de Octubre.

La noche del viernes 20 de julio, tendrá lugar el ACTO CENTRAL DEL 48vo. ANIVERSARIO DEL PCMLE, acto político social para el cual también les invitamos muy cordialmente.

Les pedimos encarecidamente, hacernos conocer de su participación y de cualquier requerimiento al respecto lo más pronto posible, a las siguientes direcciones electrónicas y teléfonos:

pcmle@journalist.com – oswpal@yahoo.com – mpd15dn@netlife.ec

Teléfonos móviles (celulares)
099234491 (Oswaldo Palacios, Vocero Nacional del PCMLE);
096009818 (Abg. Luis Villacís, Director Nacional del MPD)

096804199; 098779541 (Fabiola Bohórquez, Sede Nacional del MPD)

Convencionales:
2503 580; 2526111 (Sede Nacional del MPD)

Los momentos de cambio plantean la necesidad de trabajar juntos por una más estrecha unidad de los trabajadores, la juventud, las mujeres y los pueblos, para asumir con decisión los retos que demanda la situación presente. Por ello es que nuestro Seminario quiere ser una tribuna de debate franco que contribuya a la conciencia y la unidad que requiere en estas horas el movimiento obrero, indígena, campesino, popular y revolucionario, motivo por el cual les reiteramos la importancia de su participación.

Fraternalmente,

Oswaldo Palacios J. Luis Villacís M.
Vocero Nacional del PCMLE Director Nacional del MPD
Abril de 2012.

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16 Seminario Internacional Problemas de la Revolución en América Latina

CCLPR Puerto Rico
CNV Filiberto Ojeda Ríos Puerto Rico
Confeme Ecuador
FDN Filipinas
FEUE Ecuador
FP Azuay Ecuador
FPR PCM-ml México
Frente Popular Ecuador
FUI EEUU Canadá
JRE Ecuador
MCP Nariño
MLPD Alemania
PC bolchevique Union Sovietica
PCdeC ml Colombia
PCMLE Ecuador
PCMLV VENEZUELA
PCP Palestina
PCP PERU
PCR Argentina
PCR Brasil
PCT R Dominicana
UGTE Ecuador

Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist): Paramilitaries threaten members of the Patriotic March

Several organizations of the Patriotic March were threatened by the paramilitary self-styled “Black Eagles” through a letter addressed to President Fensuagro agricultural union, Alirio Garcia.

The message, full of insults and dated in the month of May in England, declared “military targets” addresses twelve organizations accused of being “funded by the guerrillas to work with the population and the construction of a new movement” .

In addition, these organizations branded as members of the Patriotic Union (UP), a leftist party born in the eighties of last century and disappeared behind the systematic murder of thousands of its members by state security forces and paramilitaries.

The organizations are the union threatened Fensuagro, the Peasant Association of Displaced Persons (Asocamde), the National Coordination of Displaced Persons (CND), the National Association of Displaced Persons of Colombia (Andescol), the National Coordination of Agrarian and Popular Organizations (CONAP) or Restart dedicated to defending human rights. Also the National Student Broad Mesa (Mane), Funhascol, the National Association for Development Aid (You go), the National Victims Bureau, the House of Friendship with Venezuela and the National Federation New Leadership Campesino.

The “Black Eagles”, warn threatened that “we are only a few days to leave the city” and accuses them of being “the art of guerrilla warfare in the cities.”

The letter, which had access Efe, is signed by the “DC Capital Bloc” and the authors attribute their victims to be “revolting communities to claim their supposed rights, lands and other supposed benefits to be displaced and victims of State. ” He also says that “they are abusing the enormous willingness” of President Juan Manuel Santos.

The Patriotic March was released in Bogota in April with a peaceful demonstration through the streets of the capital and brought together thousands of people from all over the country. This is a movement that would seek to occupy the political space left by the Patriotic Union and that together with the Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA), constitutes the only opposition to the government of National Unity by President Santos.

The “Black Eagles” ends the letter with the desire to “get it over with this scourge that is for the UP Colombia.”

These threats are in addition to two cases of forced disappearance and murder of two other members of the Patriotic March since its official launch in April, as denounced its members.

Stop Killer Coke!

Carlos Castaño and members of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a right-wing Colombian paramilitary group.

Death squads have assassinated eight trade union leaders in Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia. The Stop Killer Coke campaign holds the beverage giant responsible.

MADELEINE BARAN

This article is from the November/December 2003 issue of Dollars & Sense magazine.

On the morning of December 5, 1996, two members of a paramilitary gang drove a motorcycle to the Carepa Coca-Cola bottling plant in northern Colombia. They fired 10 shots at worker and union activist Isidro Segundo Gil, killing him. Luis Adolso Cardona, a fellow worker, witnessed the assassination. “I was working and I heard the gun shots and then I saw Isidro Gil falling,” he said in a recent interview. “I ran, but when I got there Isidro was already dead.”

A few hours later, paramilitary officials detained Cardona, but he escaped, fleeing to the police office, where he received protection. Around midnight that night, the paramilitaries looted the local union office and set it on fire. “There was nothing left. Only the walls,” said Cardona. The paramilitary group returned to the plant the next week, lined up the 60 unionized workers, and ordered them to sign a prepared letter of resignation from the union. Everyone did. Two months later, all the workers—including those who had never belonged to the union—were fired.

Gil, 27, had worked at the plant for eight years. His wife, Alcira Gil, protested her husband’s killing and demanded reparations from Coca-Cola. She was killed by paramilitaries in 2000, leaving their two daughters orphaned. A Colombian judge later dropped the charges against Gil’s alleged killers.

Paramilitaries, violent right-wing forces composed of professional soldiers and common thugs, maintain bases at several Coca-Cola bottling facilities in Colombia, allegedly to protect the bottlers from left-wing militants who might target the plants as symbols of globalization.

Activists say at least eight union activists have been killed by paramilitaries at Colombian Coca-Cola facilities since 1989. And plaintiffs in a recent series of lawsuits hold Coca-Cola and two of its bottlers responsible for the violence, alleging “systematic intimidation, kidnapping, detention, and murder of trade unionists in Colombia, South America at the hands of paramilitaries working as agents of corporations doing business in that country.”

The murders of Coke bottling workers are part of a larger pattern of antiunion violence in Colombia. Since 1986, over 3,800 trade unionists have been murdered in the country, making it the most dangerous place to organize in the world. Three out of every five people killed worldwide for trade union activities are from Colombia.

Suing Coke and its Bottlers

The Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) and the United Steel Workers of America filed four lawsuits in Federal District Court in July 2001 on behalf of Sinaltrainal (a union representing food and beverage workers in Colombia), five individuals who have been tortured or unlawfully detained for union activities, and the estate of murdered union activist Isidro Gil. The plaintiffs contend Coca-Cola bottlers “contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained, or otherwise silenced trade union leaders.”

In addition to demanding that Coca-Cola take responsibility for the murder of Colombian union activists, the plaintiffs are asking for compensatory and punitive damages, which by some estimates could range from $50 million to $6 billion.

Coca-Cola’s legal defense “is not that the murder and terrorism of trade unionists did not occur,” according to an ILRF press release. The company argues that it cannot be held liable in a U.S. federal court for events outside the United States. “Coca-Cola also argues that it does not ‘own,’ and therefore does not control, the bottling plants in Colombia.”

In late March, a judge dismissed Coca-Cola from the lawsuits—on grounds that the firm does not have control over the labor practices of its bottlers—but allowed the case against the bottlers to go forward. A request for an appeal is pending.

According to Daniel Kovalik, assistant general counsel for the United Steelworkers of America and co-counsel for the plaintiffs: “In the short run, [the court decision] means that we can’t proceed against Coke, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that in the long run. I am absolutely confident that we’ll win the appeal.”

Kovalik maintains that Coca-Cola is liable for its bottlers’ actions. For one thing, the 20 Colombia bottlers are deeply entwined in Coke’s core economic activities. Coca-Cola provides syrup to the bottlers, who mix, bottle, package, and ship the drinks to wholesalers and retailers throughout Colombia. The bottlers are integral to the beverage giant’s operations in the country.

Moreover, Coca-Cola and its bottlers have deep financial links. In May, Coca-Cola FEMSA, a bottling company, acquired Pan American Beverages, Latin America’s largest bottler and a defendant in the case. In the year before it was acquired, sales of Coca-Cola represented 89% of Pan American’s $2.35 billion net sales. The acquisition made Mexico-based Coca-Cola FEMSA the largest Coca-Cola bottler in Latin America. The Coca-Cola Company owns a 30% equity stake in Coca-Cola FEMSA, according to the bottling company, and several of its executives also work for Coke.

The plaintiffs are now considering whether to add Coca-Cola FEMSA as a defendant in the lawsuits. If they do, Coca-Cola will be put in the uncomfortable position of trying to prove that Coca-Cola FEMSA and the Coca-Cola Company—despite their shared name, shared executives, and Coke’s part-ownership of FEMSA—are completely independent from one another.

Coca-Cola did not return calls for comment, but has stated in the past that Pan American Beverages was an independent company. More recently, Coca-Cola has denied allegations that its bottlers tolerate or assist in acts of violence against union activists. In a statement released in July, Coca-Cola said the allegations are “nothing more than a shameless effort to generate publicity using the name of our Company, its trademark and brands.”

Kovalik argues that the corporation’s communications with shareholders contradict these public statements and suggest that the firm in fact can, and should, investigate and put a stop to the killings. He plans to submit Coca-Cola documents as legal evidence, including a letter to a shareholder that reads: “We require that everyone within the Coca-Cola system abide by the laws and regulations of the countries in which they do business. We demand integrity and honesty in business at the Coca-Cola Company.…”

“They can’t be able to profit from these bottlers and say that they don’t have control over these situations,” says Kovalik.

Taking Down a Corporate Giant

The Stop Killer Coke campaign may prove to be the biggest test yet of the corporate campaign model pioneered by labor consultant Ray Rogers (see “Ray Rogers’ Corporate Campaign Strategy”). As the public face of the ILRF lawsuits, the Stop Killer Coke campaign aims to put public pressure on Coca-Cola to acknowledge its role in the killings and to persuade the company to stop collaborating with violent paramilitary organizations.

It’s one part of a massive coalition gearing up for a multi-front attack on Coca-Cola. The anti-Coke effort, launched by the lawsuits against Coca-Cola and its bottlers, has grown to include the Stop Killer Coke campaign, consumer and student groups, and labor organizations like the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO. These various groups share the same primary goal: to damage the soft-drink giant’s reputation in order to force the company to acknowledge its role in the Colombian killings. With the launch of the Stop Killer Coke campaign this summer, the movement is picking up momentum.

Rogers plans to expand the campaign far beyond the plaintiffs’ allegations to encompass “at least a dozen issues” including the lack of health care for Coca-Cola workers in Africa; the corporation’s water use in India, which causes groundwater destruction; and more. He has spent the last several months researching Coke’s corporate structure and intricate financial dealings.

Rogers often refers to his strategic style as “divide and conquer” because it aims to isolate companies from investors, creditors, politicians, and consumers. In the most successful corporate campaigns, the target corporation’s relationship with the business world breaks down, as other companies, banks, and executives decide that the benefits of the business relationship are not worth the risk of being the target of a high-profile campaign. Eventually, the company, isolated and weak, caves in to the campaign’s demands in order to end the media blitz and restore its position in the business world.

“A corporation is really nothing more than a coalition of individual and institutional economic and political interests, some more vital and vulnerable than others, that can be challenged and attacked, divided and conquered,” Rogers said. “I know enough now to know exactly where the Achilles heel of Coca-Cola is. I’m so confident about where we’re going with this thing.”

That Achilles heel appears to be Coke’s relationship with SunTrust Bank, its main creditor. Many of Coca-Cola’s top shareholders own significant amounts of SunTrust stock, and their boards overlap—three current or former Coke CEOs sit on SunTrust’s board of directors and two current or former SunTrust CEOs sit on Coke’s board. “In almost 30 years of studying corporate structures, I have never seen a more intimate or incestuous relationship,” said Rogers.

Rogers plans to expose the relations between SunTrust and Coca-Cola, then use information on Coke’s human rights and environmental practices to drive SunTrust into a financial and public relations disaster. If the plan works, investors will lose confidence in SunTrust; key executives will resign rather than face negative media attention; and unions, progressive groups, and consumers will close their accounts. Given the deep ties between the two companies, whatever hurts SunTrust will hurt Coke. Backed into such a position, Coca-Cola would be forced to acknowledge and end its ties to paramilitaries in order to stabilize its main creditor and regain investor and consumer confidence.

The campaign faces an uphill battle. Coca-Cola has virtually unlimited resources to fight lawsuits and conduct its own media blitz. Also, Coca-Cola, like most major companies, now has years of experience fighting high-profile consumer campaigns. The beverage giant has a truly global reach, producing over 300 brands in more than 200 countries, with more than 70% of its income coming from outside the United States. If the campaign hopes to damage Coca-Cola financially, it will have to attract international support.

Despite these serious obstacles, Rogers is optimistic. “We’re going to move very quickly on this thing,” he said. “I think they’re going to find themselves involved in something that they’re going to find a total nightmare.” Terry Collingsworth, executive director of the ILRF, is also confident. “Ray’s like the classic pit bull,” he said. “Once he bites into you, he won’t let go. Ray’s not going to walk away from this until he’s won.”

The battle is already heating up, with activists in Latin America, Turkey, Ireland, and Australia leading anti-Coke campaigns with Stop Killer Coke materials. Student organizations like United Students Against Sweatshops are starting campaigns to ban Coke from campuses. University College Dublin, Ireland’s largest university, voted recently to remove all Coca-Cola products from the campus. Meanwhile, Bard College in New York has decided against renewing Coke’s contract with the school when it expires in May. At Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, students staged a “Coke dump,” spilling soda into the streets to call attention to the plight of Colombian union activists. Union involvement is also growing. United Auto Workers Local 22 in Detroit, recently ordered 4,000 “Coke Float” flyers, which explain the campaign. The union will hand them out to workers as they leave their plant.

In the meantime, violence against union activists in Colombia continues. On September 10, 2003, David Jose Carranza Calle, the 15-year-old son of Sinaltrainal’s national director, was kidnapped by paramilitaries. According to Sinaltrainal, four masked men forced the younger Carranza into a truck and tortured him, asking for the whereabouts of his father. At the same time, his father, Limberto Carranza, received a phone call from an unidentified individual who said, “Unionist son of a bitch, we are going to break you. And if you won’t break, we will attack your home.” The kidnappers freed Carranza Calle over three hours later. But unionists in Colombian bottling plants, including Coca-Cola facilities, are far from safe.

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