For a Latin American Conference of the left and the workers’ movement
We are entering a new global scenario, marked by the irruption of great popular uprisings. This growing tide has its distinctive expressions in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. As for Latin America, it has become one of the epicenters of this process. Chile is, no doubt, the most convulsive expression of this phenomenon, which the Colombian workers and people have joined. Also, the massive struggle in Bolivia against the reactionary coup d’ètat has shaken the continent as a whole.
These uprisings are inseparable from the capitalist bankruptcy, which has been developing its underground work, the devastating effects of which are being felt by the masses, that are reacting and taking to the streets to confront the brutal austerity plans.
The global economy is moving towards a recession, which bailouts by the states attempted to avoid. The symptoms of a financial debacle, like the one which was unleashed in 2008, are in the air. In the background, there’s the overproduction crisis and the overaccumulation of capitals which extends to industrial production, even top industries like the one which produces raw materials. The deflationary tendencies which prevail today are a result of the decline of profitability levels, which is at the core of the investments strike.
The ability to affront a looming recession is sensibly weaker than that of ten years ago. States’ resources to bail out capital have been waning. The capitalist impasse is at the root of the heightening of the trade wars and, conversely, is a breeding ground for the upsurge of military escalations and conflicts, in other words, war itself.
From a political point of view, we are in the face of an extremely volatile scenario. We, the Partido Obrero, rebuked the impressionism of those, including some from the sphere of the left, who were hypnotized with an ascent of the right. We are in the midst of a growing polarization marred by rebellions, political crises, wars and coup d’ètats, where the confrontation between revolution and counterrevolution is emerging.
The capitalist bankruptcy has hit Latin America with full force. This is a direct consequence of the fall of raw material prices which constitute the bulk of Latin American exports, of the recession and the curb in world commerce, worsened by the trade wards between the US, the European Union and China, and of the capital flight towards the imperialist metropolises.
Brazil is under siege by the magnitude of its public debt. This, rounded up by its fiscal deficit and the “political instability” of the region have resulted in a devaluation of the real, which has reached its lowest point since 1994. The sources of finance for the Latin American giant are drying up and the capitalist flight is deepening. This conspires against Bolsonaro’s plans to consolidate a fascist regime. The fate of the Brazilian government is paramount because, as the coup in Bolivia shows, it constitutes one of the fortresses of the reaction and is a threat to all the peoples of Latin America.
Chile, once considered “an oasis” and a “role model” to be imitated hasn’t escaped the backlash of the global crisis either: the fall in copper prices, the deceleration of its economy, the phenomenal onus which is the payment of the interests of its foreign debt. The government of Duque in Colombia, aiming at propping up business’ profits, has tried to consolidate itself in power by means of a plan of austerity policies: a labor reform which institutes per hour hiring, the rise in retirement age, the formation of a financial holding with state companies, the privatization of Ecopetrol, and the control of social protests.
Seen together, the developments in Latin America underscore the incompatibility of being subjugated to the IMF and satisfying the needs of the people. The hope that Fernández’ incoming government in Argentina fosters of carrying a debt restructuring forward in which the IMF would accept to extend payment deadlines without imposing draconian conditions has rung hollow. His rhetoric based on repeating the Néstor Kirchner experience of 2003 [Peronist president who came to power after the 2001 crisis and subsequent popular uprising] lacks realism, due to the fact that the situation of the global economy and its particular impact on peripheral countries is radically different from that time.
The ongoing rebellions are a breath of fresh air in order to defeat the current austerity policies and reinforce the need for an all-encompassing reorganisation of the region upon new social bases. The struggle to expel the IMF, against the payment of the foreign debts, for the nationalization of the banking system and foreign trade, without compensations and under the workers’ control, so as to end with the devaluations and capital flight and in order to put these resources at the service of an industrialization plan and the satisfaction of the urgent needs of the people, are fights which are more current than ever. This task is exclusively for the workers, who must take it into their hands as part of a social transformation of their countries under their political leadership.
We must also point out that the IMF-guided austerity measures, whether under a formal or covert agreement with this organism, have not only been carried forward by governments who call themselves right winged -such as Piñera in Chile, Duque in Colombia, Macri in Argentina or Bolsonaro in Brazil- but also by the “national and popular” and populist front ones, such as Lenin Moreno in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia, the Frente Amplio in Uruguay and the Sandinist Ortega in Nicaragua. This speaks to the insurmountable limitations of bourgeois nationalism and center-leftist progressives of carrying out national and social emancipation of Latin American countries. Their class-commitments render them powerless to give an answer and present a solution to the explosive tendencies of the capitalist bankruptcy, and force them to give in to the pressures and the blackmail of financial capital. This in turn leads towards an economical disaster at the masses’ expense, paving the way for the right-winged reaction.
The reactionary and pro-imperialist coup d’ètat attempt in Venezuela, undertaken by Guaido’s yankee and imperialist opposition, does not exempt revolutionaries from drawing conclusions on the Chavist experience. The political force which used to be the most radical expression of Latin American nationalism, claiming the banner of “21st century socialism’ for itself, is burdened with its own responsibilities in the Venezuelan crisis. Capitalist statism has shown its limitations with the collapse of raw material prices, and the Chavist regime had to switch from a plebiscitary regime to a de facto one, which ended up spurring the offensive of political reaction on.
The integration of Latin America, which had the continent’s nationalism and progressives as its flagbearers, has ended up in failure. It goes without saying that more ambitious projects like the UNASUR have met the same fate. The Mercosur never surpassed integrating the monopolies located in the region, with interests and investments in member countries. At the present day, we are witnessing its collapse, with trade and currency tensions on the rise and even threats of to break away from it, in times when the negotiations for free-commerce deals with the US and Europe are making headway. We oppose these growing rivalries and clashes between Latin American nations, and uphold the need for a common action of the continent’s peoples against imperialism and its local agents, for workers’ governments and the socialist unity of Latin America.
Defeating the coup d’ètat in Bolivia. For the triumph of popular rebellions
In the midst of the struggle, we are witnessing a stratagem aimed at deactivating the Latin American rebellion underway. The consensual “solution” of the MAS [Evo Morales’ party] with the new dictatorial government is at odds with the heroical popular resistance which is vying to combat it. Evo Morales already anticipated this plan of action when he decided to resign without promoting a rebellion, in the name of avoiding a “bloodbath”. Far from avoiding it, as other experiences have proven in the past, this approach has opened the door for a more savage repression. The Puebla Group meeting, celebrated in Buenos Aires only days ago, confined itself to making statements of sorrow, without ever calling on the masses to take action. For these politicians, an oligarchic coup d’ètat is the lesser evil when faced with the historical independent action of the exploited masses.
The “Peace Agreement” in Chile, signed off on by the opposition as a whole, is aimed at salvaging Piñera’s governments and getting the masses off the streets. We denounce the constitutional reform which is being cooked up and the rigged constituent assembly which will come from it. We push for a reinforcement of the fight to kick out Piñera by means of an indefinite general strike, and the call for a free and sovereign Constituent Assembly by the struggling mass organisations, which can discuss the integral reorganisation of the country upon new social bases and take this task in its hands. In a similar vein, we can add the “round table” which Duque is pushing for in Colombia. Contrary to this trap, the growing necessity is to constitute popular assemblies and to boost the fight measures on the road to a general strike which can defeat the austere and pro imperialist government.
The outcomes of the fights in the streets of La Paz, Santiago and Bogotá are decisive for Latin America’s situation as a whole. They will be fundamental to defeat the labor and pension reforms which are brewing or are already being implemented. We are witnessing a strategic offensive, because the capitalist class is trying to impose a historical setback to the masses’ living conditions.
Contrary to these plans, we state the need to fight for a minimum salary equal to the cost of living, a pension which is equivalent to 82% of an active worker’s salary, the right to a Collective Bargaining Agreement, workers’ control over productive processes, to end with unemployment, to distribute working hours without reducing salaries.
Latin America is also the stage where scavengers are fighting to appropriate the continent’s natural resources. After the Bolivian coup, the lithium is up for grabs, with the country holding 70% of the reserves of this metal. The same goes for who will keep the oil, gas and minerals. The trade war between the US and China has set foot on our continent, in force. We reject this devastating skirmish which reinforces the neocolonial status of the region, and we oppose it by proposing the nationalization without compensation of oil, gas, mining and natural resources, under the the workers’ management, to place them at the service of independent development and popular necessity.
The abuse, the violence and the cruelty against the indigeneous communities reflect the hatred and prejudice of the ancestral wealthy class towards the most humble and neglected sectors. But today’s racism has a specific content and is associated to the concentration of land ownership and the expulsion of farmers and aboriginous populations which live there, for the sake of an unprecedented environmental degradation.The soy moguls of the western crescent are behind the coup in Bolivia, economically bound to the Brazilian ranchers who are carrying out record-breaking deforestation in the region. Let’s defend the Brazilian, Bolivian and Venezuelan Amazon, algo Patagonia and the Andes from capitalist predators. We must defend the rights of indigenous communities and push for workers’ control of mining, oiling and agricultural ventures in the region. We support the peasants’ struggles against expulsion by landowners and financial capital. Let’s fight for the expropriation of agri-capital and for the nationalization of land, so it can be given to the peasants and small farmers so they can work it for themselves.
Defeating the coup in Bolivia also means a blow to the Catholic and Evangelist Churches, which have been playing a key role in preparing and upholding the coup. Like the old conquistadors, the coup perpetrators have consummated this conspiracy with a Bible and a cross in hand. Bolivia is showing clericalism in its different expressions as a stronghold for the reaction as never before. They are also the number one enemies of women’s rights, spearheading the crusades against the right to have an abortion, to sex education and any other democratic demand all over the continent. In the face of this scenario, we uphold the fight for the separation of Church and State, for the right to comprehensive sex education, to free contraception and for the legalizing of abortion; also, we push for the right to maternity, subsidies for pregnant women until the third year of childcare. We call on women to organize independently to fight against social and state violence.
We cannot avoid mentioning that the current events will have an effect on the ongoing militarization plans. Bolivia is a testing ground for the escalation which is aimed at Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. Defeating the coup would be a setback for Bolsonaro and his ambitions to put a fascist regime together, which he is finding difficult to constitute either way. It would also be a blow to the “Bolsonarising” tendencies which exist within Latin American states, and in a more general view, it would be a mishap for the reinforcement of the repressive apparatus and the criminalisation of social protest which has been underway in the continent. In the face of this scenario, we state the need for a united front of workers’ organisations to fight against fascism and strive for the disarming of the ‘death squads’ and ‘paramilitary groups’, by means of direct action and self-organising. We demand trial and punishment for the political an material authors of the murders of activists in Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia. Down with foreign military bases in Latin America. Down with the militarization of the fight against drug-trafficking, for the overturning of every repressive law. Out with the military in Rio de Janeiro and its favelas, as well as La Paz and Bogota. For the dismantling of the death-squads and vigilante groups. Let’s fight for the investigation of Marielle Franco’s murder, and for the acquittal of Daniel Ruiz and César Arakaki, working-class fighters and revolutionary left militants, who are on trial for fighting against the pension reform in Argentina.
Let's defend class independence
Class collaborationism has proven to be the main obstacle in leading the workers’ and the masses’ struggle to victory. Most of the Latin American left has ended up being washed away by this strategy. For example, the PSOL has followed in the Brazilian PT’s footsteps, or others have followed Bolivarian nationalism or have winded up making common cause with the right-wing in the name of democracy. A ‘movementist’ strategy has been encouraged promoting alliances and fronts with amorphous and diffuse class boundaries, in lieu of the constitution of revolutionary workers’ parties.
One of the few exceptions to this tendency is the experience with the Workers’ Left Front (FIT) in Argentina. We uphold the FIT, and now the FIT-U (Workers’ Left Front-Unity), as a sphere of class independence which is in stark contrast with the current scenario. The starting point and the cornerstone for the FIT’s development has been a delimitation from bourgeois nationalism and the bosses’ parties, in particular with the Kirchnerist administration. Nonetheless, we are not oblivious to the contradictions and limitations of FIT: is has restricted itself, to all intents and purposes, to a purely electoral intervention. Our effort and our policy is aimed at widening FIT-U’s scope of action in all of the fields of the class struggle.
In opposition to the deadly policy of class-collaboration, the sacrifice of the revolutionary fight in order to gain parliamentary seats and ‘movementist’ strategies, we uphold the method of the class struggle, and on this basis, we call on the left which claims to be class-conscious and the combative workers’ moment to summon a Latin American Conference with the purpose of forging a pole of political independence at a continental level.
This call is especially aimed at the parties who are a part of FIT-U, to whom we propose that it is us who must decisively take this initiative into our hands.
This reunion of political forces which we propose is at the service of bolstering the rebellions underway to lead them to victory, when there fate is linked more than ever to the political independence which the struggling movements which lead this process can achieve. This regrouping that we propose is aimed at collaborating with the effort which the workers have been making to challenge the containment and the pacts which are being cooked up behind their backs.
In the face of the conspiracy by the region’s governments in favor of the coup in Bolivia, we must push for a coordinated action by the workers, the peasants and the youth of Latin America. We call upon a unified strike by the Argentine CGT, the Brazilian CUT, the PIT-CNT of Uruguay, the CUT in Chile and the rest of the union confederacies and popular organisations of Latin America.
A fundamental aspect which turns the great rebellions underway red hot is the decisive matter of the leadership of the labor movement.
The battle to recover the mass organisations, especially the unions, expelling the surrendering bureaucracies is of the utmost strategic importance. This also warrants the need to foster any nature of organisations (strike committees, etc.) in the popular irruptions themselves which can coordinate the fight and lead it to victory. The convulsive scenario in Latin America underscores the necessity for congresses with delegates elected by the rank-and-file members of unions and the struggling masses, which is linked to the battle for a new class-conscious leadership of the labor movement. This Congress is aimed at the need for the working class to emerge as an independent factor in the crisis and to rise up as an alternative power. The equilibrium and the class-conciliation which is preached by bourgeois nationalism and the center-left, is no more than a reactionary utopia, which is aimed at entrapping the workers as the bourgeoisie's second-fiddle. As opposed to this, we propound the fight for an anti-capitalist solution and an all-encompassing transformation of the continent under the leadership of the working class.
In summary, we ask the organisations which are a part of FIT-U and all the currents of the revolutionary left, such as the PSTU of Brazil, and the combative workers’ movement, to make a joint call to a Latin American Conference on the basis of defending class independence, denouncing and differentiating ourselves from class-collaborationist fronts and policies and for the victory of the rebellions underway by means of a push for direct action and the general strike, which can oust the austerity governments and substitute them with governments borne from the struggling masses. We advocate and fight for workers’ governments and the socialist unity of Latin America.
The fight against the coup d’ètat in Bolivia and for the victory of the rebellions in Latin America poses the challenge of defeating austerity, the capitalists who impose it and their governments in each and every one of our countries. Their defeat is the best way to contribute to the fight which is at hand.