29 de julio de 2019

Athens: Altamira and Ramal reject the reunification of the Workers Party


The meeting convened by the EEK and the DIP of Turkey, within the framework of our international current, to address the crisis of the Partido Obrero ended this Wednesday. Rafael Santos, Guillermo Kane and Juan García attended in representation for the Partido Obrero’s National Committee. Marcelo Ramal and Jacyn concurred in the name of the so-called minority. The meeting ended when the delegation of the so-called minority refused to continue  discussion over a document pledging to cease the divisive action and to guarantee the reunification of the party, the basis of which had been presented by the EEK (Greece), the DIP (Turkey) and the MTL (Finland). The delegation of the National Committee proposed, on the contrary, to continue the meeting and exhaust the discussion, considering that the proposal made by the comrades of the CRCI organizations provided a basis on which a point-by-point debate could move forward in order to arrive to an agreement allowing for the re-establishment of unity of action within the Party. The so-called minority proposed to end the discussion, saying that it will submit a written statement expressing the terms of its rejection in the future, despite the express willingness of the National Committee delegation to make concessions in order to avoid fracture. This refusal, unfortunately, confirms what we have been warning against: Altamira and Ramal are forming a parallel organization and the "public fraction" is a screen for that decision. While the meeting was taking place, news of rupturist work with graffiti with their own slogans and parallel activities continued to arrive from Buenos Aires, including parallel calls for the Polo Obrero, youth, etc.

The meeting was convened as a consultative meeting against the advance of rupturism in the Party, with the awareness of the international political scope of the PO's rupture. This scope, on the one hand, has to do - as indicated by the leaders of the CRFI present - with the international influence that the PO has developed. The delegation of the MTL of Finland remarked in their speech that, living on the Arctic circle, and in a country without a Trotskyist tradition, the example of the Partido Obrero served to show workers and the periphery a way forward in development of a revolutionary organization.

On the other hand, as Comrade Savas Matsas, leader of the Greek EEK, remarked in his speech, the rupture of the Partido Obrero is international in scope because it refracts pressures typical of the class struggle at this stage of the world capitalist bankruptcy. It is clear -according to our assessment- that these pressures exist and have an expression in all the variants of the left, including that claiming to be Trotskyist who have adapted to proposals putting forward integration with capitalism, through electoralism, movementism and subordination of the workers to the interests of other social classes. In the rupturist action of the PO, however, there is another tendency is weighing in, also international in scope: an important sector of the world left tends to take refuge in propagandist positions even during periods of political crisis and popular uprisings. This leads to a process of abstracting the concrete intervention of intervening in the political struggle and class struggle, of preparing workers with appropriate slogans at each stage, putting forward political independence. In our response to Altamira and Ramal, we characterize their proposals as the attempt to roll back the Partido Obrero to a propaganda group of these characteristics.

But the meeting convened by the organizations was of interest for a third reason: because it is the first formal meeting since the Party congress in minority representatives agree to sit down to formally carry out discussions with the national committee. Indeed, since the resignation from the editorial staff of Prensa Obrera by Marcelo Ramal and Jorge Altamira’s from the international commission, the so-called minority has abandoned any common body under Party leadership, neither have they proposed any kind of meeting to the national committee, acting through unilateral decisions and a priori deeds. It is therefore natural that among many comrades, the results of a formally convened meeting, with organizations having a long-standing relationship with the PO, generate important levels of expectation.

Our proposal

The exposition of the political divergences in the party had been made by the so-called minority in its founding document, and by the National Committee in its response. The divergences have been made explicit. Therefore, our approach initially focused on the commitment made by Altamira in the closing speech of the Congress where he argued that, after the Congress, the Party should go out to fight like a single fist, testing the slogans and Characterizations voted by Congress against new political developments and the results of their implementation. No member of the so-called minority contested the party congress. However, immediately after the deliberations of the XXVI Congress were over, he resumed a factional and splitter activity that had different scenarios, first with the public launching by Jorge Altamira of unfounded accusations against the electoral campaigns of the PO in different committees, then with the abandonment of the leadership bodies by Altamira and Ramal, with the retention of both individual and monthly contributions by setting up a parallel finance structure, with the creation of a clandestine fractional leadership, and finally with the call for a clandestine assembly of militants who voted carry out a separate electoral campaign based on their own characterizations and with their own slogans, that is, a parallel electoral campaign. The leadership of the Party noted that these decisions implied, in fact, a rupture with the Partido Obrero. The escalation with the break with the Party continued in the media, where Altamira attacked the Party Congress (something he did not do during the Congress itself) and the candidates of the Partido Obrero (he accused, for example, Romina Del Plá and the other central candidates, of instances of "extortion" and other invented accusations that until this very day they have not bothered to even illustrate with the manufacture of a story). We attended the meeting showing, with a dossier, the divisive nature of this activity and demanding the cessation of it, to restore the unity of action of the Party. We showed that, in view of Jorge Altamira's own speech in Congress, this activity does not respond to any real political basis but rather shows the will to carry out a split.

The delegation of the so-called minority sought to base this rupturist action upon an abandonment of the methods and the program of the Partido Obrero by the National Committee, a position that was answered point by point by the delegation of comrades from the NC. A huge range of problems were addressed: a characterization of the national situation, a balance of the action of the party, of its parliamentary seats, of the political foundations of our action in the women's movement, against the oppression of the LGTBI + community, the development of the world capitalist crisis, and even the party's position on drugs. It is worth clarifying on this last point, that the issue was not addressed or raised by the members of the so-called minority in the documents and pre-congressional debate nor have they said a word about it over the last few years in which the crisis broke out.

Among the proposals of international organizations, the DIP highlighted its rejection of the principle expressed by Jorge Altamira, contrary to basing political agitation on a characterization of the mood of the masses ("the ear close to the masses"), characterizing this position as opposed to Marxism. This debate was already taking place within the PO long before the Congress and of course, it was also an axis there. A revolutionary party, when the time comes to formulate its proposals and slogans, must integrate not only the objective, but also, fundamentally, the subjective  conditions. An orientation cannot be formulated without regard to a balance of the class struggle and the party's own intervention in it. Otherwise, it is doomed to become a propagandist sect.

The proposals

At one point, on the third day of the meeting and taking into account the unfolding in writing and the presentations of each sector, the CRFI colleagues considered it necessary to make a proposal to avoid the rupture. The DIP, the EEK and the MTL of Finland made a proposal, making an enormous effort and showing a high commitment to positively address the situation in the party. The basis of the proposal was a compromise (they titled the draft “The Armistice of Athens”) to defend the unity of the party and develop a debate of the divergences towards the XXVII Congress, with the awareness that it would not solve the political bases of the situation that we are going through, but to prevent it from going through the process of a liquidationist split international in scope. Secondly, the proposed text was placed within the framework of the defense of democratic centralism, proposing the reintegration of all comrades to their corresponding bodies, and the defense of a common action, on the basis of recognizing the right of fraction and ordered debate between the National Committee and the so-called minority on the modalities of its public expression. The proposal of the partners of the CRFI, raised neither more nor less what we have been calling for: the cessation of a parallel electoral campaign and of public attacks on the Partido Obrero. In addition, the organizations agreed to propose the dissolution of the parallel mass organizations of the Party (Polo Obrero, UJS, Plenary of Workers, etc.) promoted by Altamira and Ramal.With regard to the problem of Tucumán, the CRFI organizations proposed the mutual lifting of all legal measures and the appointment of common attorneys. On the reports of espionage, they agreed that the point be dealt with in the control commission of the Partido Obrero and then, as an “instance of appeal”, before international organizations. On the finances, the text proposed the regularization of the same, surrendering the contributions to the Party. The partners proposed, on the basis of these commitments, to participate in the call for the next Congress.

The National Committee delegation considered the partners' draft as a positive basis for an agreement. Even with points that had to be modified in order for us to sign, we explained that we had a mandate to sign the agreement in the course of that same meeting. We prepared a series of important amendment proposals, but without affecting the overall meaning of the proposal. We proposed to explain in the text the recognition of the XXVI Congress as a framework for common action and we explain the need to also incorporate the defense of the party's statutes as a framework for resolving divergences. We support the motion on the investigation of Marcelo's spying allegations, proposing the integration of observers designated by the minority, that the investigation should be comprehensive and also incorporate complaints against clandestine work in the party. We agreed that the resolutions be sent to the CRFI so that it can also fix its position, safeguarding the fact that the resolution on these points should finally be left to the next party congress. We proposed, for the Tucumán committee, the cessation of the intervention by placing two attorneys for the regional, one for the majority and one for the minority (see proposal of the National Committee).

The minority delegation, in a first round of debate, agreed to use the draft as a basis for discussing unification. However, contradictorily, it proposed to submit a written proposal after the meeting. Faced with the proposal of the DIP and the National Committee to exhaust debate in order to close an agreement during the meeting itself, the delegation of the so-called minority agreed to a point by point discussion and moved to recess in order to prepare for debate on the amendments. However, after a lengthy recess, during which a consultation with Buenos Aires took place, the minority delegation withdrew their willingness to debate on the basis of the text prepared by the organizations, ending the meeting and saying that they would submit their position in writing after the meeting. After the 16 hours of the third consecutive day of debate, which testifies in itself the effort made by all delegations to try to move forward, an instruction from Buenos Aires ended the possibility of reaching an agreement.

The reasons for rejection

The door being slammed shut, after the fourth recess, has profound political motivation. The organizations of the CRFI stand within the framework of the defense of democratic centralism as a method for a party of combat. From this point of view, what prevails is a defense of the unity of action within the party, in oppostion to liquidationist rupturism. The debate highlighted to what extent Altamira and Ramal have advanced in a revision of the historical positions of the Partido Obrero on this point, which are positions that CRFI organizations share. In the previous texts of the so-called minority this revision is elevated to doctrine: the freedom of the fractions to carry out their own activity is placed above the common struggle within the framework of the organization. The comrades explain this by saying that the criteria of revolutionary organization of Bolshevism and the Communist International, which are the political model of the statutes of the PO, do not correspond to the current historical stage. An approach that leads directly to movementist and "tendency parties" that conceal the passage of much of the international left to tailing the center-left. In his speech on the basis of the withdrawal of the agreement, Ramal covered these conceptions thoroughly, defending, for example, the "sovereignty" of local committees over the national committee, a principle that would turn the Party into a federation of provincial committees. While at the meeting we had been criticized as national - Trotskyist, expressing the need for all organizations to give priority to international revolutionary construction work, Ramal proposed a doctrine supporting "provincial Trotskyism"! He rejected that the comrades who have placed themselves under the discipline of Altamira rejoin the militant bodies in which they previously militated, claiming that each comrade will rejoin “wherever he wishes” But it is elementary that a party must structure its militancy based on the goals discussed collectively! It was nothing more than an alibi to continue with a parallel organization, that is, the rupture.

It is appropriate to point out that on the eve of the meeting, we discovered a text from Altamira addressed to the DIP in which a vindication of this parallel action is made, vindicating acting publicly with slogans, orientation and their own activities, and which violently attacks the DIP who pronounced itself, in a recent document referring to the PO crisis, in defense of the unity of action and the principles of democratic centralism. Altamira states in his reply that there is no need to "fetish" the Congresses, calling into question the validity and legitimacy of the 26th Congress and justifying ignoring its resolutions and continuing its secessionist policy.

The so-called minority revealed a huge lack of solidity in its political foundations. It defended tooth and nail a split election campaign, at a time when it has abandoned the slogan "Down with Macri" which was his workhorse throughout the Congress, adopting a slogan similar to that of the majority: Down with the IMF. We are facing differences of apparatus, forced, in order to lead to a rupture!

How to continue

The delegation of the National Committee presented a proposal for the reunification of the party, based on that presented by the partners of the CRCI. We call all the militancy to pronounce and support this proposal. When we say all the militancy, we refer to all the comrades who vindicate the Partido Obrero, those who make up the self-proclaimed "public fraction", those who have joined it "democratically" in an attempt to save the unity of the party, who have withdrawn from militancy as a result of the crisis, to all.

We reject the rupturism of Altamira and Ramal, which will be a huge setback for the Argentine left, and internationally.

The failure of the meeting is a blow to the entire CRFI, but it has been clarifying. Our willingness to take concrete steps and continue common international activity within the framework of the CRFI was made very clear in the course of the meeting.


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