For a second Latin American and US Conference
The realization of a virtual Latin American and US Conference in August of this year represented a political success. Promoted by the Left Unity Front of Argentina, the conference managed to regroup more than 50 organizations from 15 American countries. In this way, it took a concrete step in the struggle to set up a pole of class independence on a continental scale, in response to the trail of rebellions that shook the continent throughout the last period.
Now it is necessary to give continuity to the initiative, promoting a second conference. Because, as we approach the end of 2020, the 2019 scenario begins to be recreated, dominated by the emergence of huge popular rebellions in Latin America. The landing of the pandemic established a waiting period for the great processes of popular irruption. The ruling class did not deprive itself of using the dangers of massive contagion to drive the masses off the streets and deactivate the mobilization. This attempt has had short legs and the pandemic became a boomerang, as it highlighted the antagonism between the current social regime and the governments that represent it (whatever their political allegiance is), and health, life and most basic popular needs of the working population.
In recent weeks, various countries have been shaken by protests coupled with severe political crises. In Peru, a parliamentary coup removed President Martín Vizcarra. A process of rising popular mobilization is developing, which questions the totality of the regime, its parties and the most distinguished members of the Peruvian business community, as the slogan that «out with them all» begins to resonate in the streets, which forced Vizcarra’s replacement, Manuel Merino, to resign 6 days later. A crisis of enormous scope has opened up. In Chile, on October 18, on the first anniversary of the outbreak of the rebellion, the most important mobilizations took place since the arrival of Covid-19. The mobilizations of the 18th preceded the overwhelming triumph of the Approval in the plebiscite: a popular pronouncement not only against the Pinochet heritage but against the 30 years of democratic governments, as was expressed in the slogans that the masses chanted in the streets in the historic days of a year ago, placing the accusing finger against not only against the dictatorship but capitalist democracy, making it responsible for the hardships of the last decades. In Colombia, thousands of people mobilized, on October 21st throughout the country, within the framework of a national day of struggle called by the National Strike Committee, which brings together the workers’ centrals and social organizations, whose main slogans were the cessation of crimes against social activists, the annulment of Iván Duque’s anti-labor decrees (labor reform, enabling privatizations) and the demand for emergency measures in the face of the social crisis. The main Ecuadorian cities, in turn, were the scene of demonstrations against the recent agreement with the IMF, which has as its counterpart the demand for a brutal adjustment, which could include a VAT hike, massive layoffs and wage cuts in the public sector.
Brazil has been shaken by the postal strike , which lasted for more than a month, in which workers came out to confront the plans for labor flexibility and privatizations that the Bolsonaro government has in the pipeline. Central America did not escape this situation: Costa Rica is immersed in a process of mobilizations before the announcement of President Carlos Alvarado regarding the loan from the International Monetary Fund, as well as another series of taxes and measures that attack the pocket of the working class.
The women and diversities’ movement that was one of the great ferments that paved the way for the great popular rebellions (Me too in the United States, Ele Não in Brazil and the fight waged in Argentina for the right to abortion, now emerges again as a spearhead for the recreation of this phenomenon. The vindication of the right to abortion and against the violence of which women are targeted; against job insecurity and for the separation of the Church from the State, are central axes in the proposed struggle. The youth movement, precarious and/or unemployed, which has been the main character of several international strikes in recent months, has also been occupying a prominent place, as well as the environmental struggle movement, which raises, in the background, a clash with the entire prevailing social regime, which is ultimately responsible for the destruction of the planet for the sake of capitalist accumulation.
This new rising wave is inseparable from what happened in the United States. The popular rebellion has shaken the foundations of the North American political system, its parties and its institutions, and has opened a new international scene. Not only did it end up accelerating Trump’s collapse, who was already staggering, but it is called upon to condition the administration of his successor, Democrat Joe Biden. Trump’s defeat reveals the failure of a Bonapartist attempt to forge a strong regime of personal power, which allows piloting the crisis dictated by the historical decline of the United States and the impact of capitalist bankruptcy in progress. The tycoon’s setback constitutes a blow to imperialism’s efforts to strengthen its position as world gendarme. This is especially important for Latin America, the backyard of the Yankees. The electoral defeat of the Bolivian coup plotters is the most palpable manifestation of that process. Let’s not forget that the White House was behind in instigating and preparing the coup that overthrew Evo Morales. The twelve-day general strike showed that the way to stop the right does not lie in waiting for the pronouncements of international organizations or by waiting to defeat the right in an upcoming electoral contest, but through mobilization and direct action, which forced the convening of elections, and for grouping the majority of the exploited behind the masses in struggle. A big difference with Lula and the PT, who accepted the coup of fifty senators in Brazil against Dilma and allowed the anti-worker labor and pension reforms to advance, without calling for a general strike.
The North American rebellion has served as a breath of fresh air and encouragement for the Latin American masses and has also left its mark on the exploited Bolivians. The popular mobilization in August with the 200 cuts that shook Bolivia for twelve days, forced the government of Jeanine Añez to set a date for the elections, which had been postponed, and removed the obstacle represented by the policy of cold cloths, appeasement and commitments that Evo Morales and the MAS had been leading with the coup plotters.
Latin American governments have been crashing with the development of a world depression, much higher than that of 2008 and only comparable to the ’29 crisis. Expectations for an economic takeoff have been quickly dashed. There is no way out for the countries of the region through greater integration into the world market or an association, opening or landing of big capital, or a flourishing of foreign trade at a time when we are facing an investment strike by capitalists on a global scale: markets are closing, international demand is compressing, protectionist measures are multiplying, and we are witnessing an intensification of the trade war that has also spread virulently to Latin America. Capitalist bankruptcy accentuates the pressure and colonial conditions on emerging countries, and the tendencies to appropriate their resources, which take place in the framework of a furious dispute for loot between the capitalist powers and, especially, between the United States and China. We are witnessing a growing flight of capital from the periphery to the metropolises, while the leonine demands and pressure from international capital and the IMF to pay the debt increase, which go hand in hand with a historic attack on the living conditions of the masses. This confiscation is at the base of the popular uprisings that have shaken the region.
Unlike the bankruptcy of 2008, this time the capitalist states – first of all, those of the metropolises – do not have the same economic capacity and room for maneuver as twelve years ago. China is not in a position to act as a locomotive. The state bailout, no matter how large it is, cannot prevent surplus capital from being purged and going through a bankruptcy scenario, with its correlation of closures and layoffs. And its sequel to political crises, wars and revolutions. Despite the jobs’ recovery that occurred in recent months, unemployment in the United States remains double than before the outbreak of the pandemic.
This is enhanced by the health crisis. Far from extinguishing the contagion curve, we have entered Europe and the United States in what is called a second wave, even more generalized than the previous one.
The combination of the capitalist and health crisis has caused a perfect storm. Governments, both nationalist and neoliberal, are overwhelmed by the scale of the current collapse. This reveals the limits of the national bourgeoisie, of which both variants are tributary, to open a perspective that will overcome the crisis.
The role of «progressives»
Facing this scenario, the strategic role of containing the masses of bourgeois nationalism and the center-left, both in the government and in the opposition, is more exposed. The capitalist governance of Latin America relies on that role.
The Chilean example, where the popular rebellion has gone further, is instructive. The fact that the convocation to the Constituent Assembly has been forced by the mobilization does not deny the fact that it is a resource for the rescue of the capitalist state in crisis. The Convention has been the fruit of the “Social Peace Agreement and the New Constitution”, which the parliamentarians of the official coalition concocted with the political opposition in response to the popular rebellion in progress and the general strike of November 12. The Constituent Assembly is held with President Sebastián Piñera in power; the Convention lacks the power to execute what it approves and all the reforms must be ratified by a new plebiscite.
Although it did not sign the «Agreement», the Communist Party has played a crucial role of brake, as political leadership of the Single Central of Workers and of the Social Unity Table, by leading the workers’ organizations to paralysis and channeling, from the beginning, the struggle of the masses to the parliamentary field, renouncing to raise the slogan «Piñera out.»
The role of Evo Morales and the MAS in Bolivia is emblematic. The main line that this current had was that of «pacification», trying to get the masses out of the streets and seeking a pact with the coup plotters. This policy of compromise continues to be on the agenda of the new president Luis Arce, who has indicated that his government policy is an agreement with creditors and the IMF. Evo Morales accompanies this orientation.
Latin American “progressives”, centered around in the Puebla Group – which currently has Alberto Fernández from Argentina and Andrés Manuel López Obrador from Mexico as its main reference points- has ended up capitulating to capital. Far from being an alternative pole as its promoters proclaimed, it has been carrying out a policy of adaptation to the demands of imperialism, being the vehicle for an adjustment and attack on the masses. López Obrador validated the free trade agreement with the United States and Canada, tailored to the reforms encouraged by the North American government, and has turned Mexico into a buffer state for the circulation of migrants, as the White House had been demanding. Alberto Fernández, in turn, has promoted the payment of the foreign debt, the rescue of the vulture bondholders and opened the way to an agreement with the IMF.
The challenges of the left
Taking the overall picture, it is obvious that the premises that at the time gave rise to the great popular uprisings not only remain open but have been strengthened. We enter a convulsive scenario that heralds a second wave of popular rebellions.
This scenario of renewed clashes between the capitalist class and its governments, on the one hand, and the working and oppressed masses, on the other, poses an enormous responsibility to the revolutionary left: to regroup the combative, class and revolutionary forces. This would be an important base to lead the rebellions to victory and overcome the obstacles that are placed in the way. The exploited are called to have the last word in the current situation, on condition that they free themselves from the political ties that hold them back.
This highlights the importance of convening a second Latin American and US Conference. It is urgent and essential to set up an alternative pole that defends the political independence of workers, both from the right and from the so-called “progressivism”. The revolutionary left cannot leave that place vacant. What is under discussion in the ranks of the left is whether it will simply be confined to acting as a pressure group and an auxiliary wheel of the capitalist blocks and coalitions, or it will take the lead of the workers’ organization and convert into a driving force behind a strategy aimed at transforming the working class into an alternative of power.
This dilemma was present in the first Latin American and US Conference, in which this contrast was exposed.
The Left Front, with its contradictions and limits, held high in Argentina, for nine years, the banner of class independence and the struggle for the workers’ government. The Partido Obrero has been fighting to extend the action of the FIT-U to all fields of the class struggle and not to confine it exclusively to the electoral sphere.
However, this experience is not the rule but the exception in Latin America and, more generally, at an international level. Instead of political independence, what has prevailed is class collaboration. Instead of direct action and the impulse of the class struggle, what has been privileged are electoral tendencies. Instead of building combat and revolutionary parties, what has prospered is the vindication of «broad parties» and the integration into political formations with diffuse class borders, and the follow-along and confluence with bourgeois or center-left nationalism.
This is extremely timely at a moment when we are witnessing a deep crisis in the PSOL and the NPA in France, two «broad parties», probably the most emblematic on a global scale. Both have not gone beyond an electoral apparatus, based on a superstructural agreement of tendencies; they have not been established nor have they endeavored to be the motor of the class struggle. The policy that prevails on the left wing of these formations (some of which make up the FIT in Argentina) is to fight for an internal transformation of a progressive nature of these ‘broad’ parties. It is evident that it is an unviable objective, which only serves as an alibi to continue growing in its bosom and trying to scratch some parliamentary positions. Criticism from the left wing of these nucleations has not been an impediment for them to join the PSOL lists that lead clear agents of the bourgeoisie, such as Erundina in San Pablo or the NPA lists, which act in coalition with the nationalist party «France Insoumise», led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The dissolution of the left in fronts of collaboration of classes or ‘broad’ parties of center-left tint – which regroup under the same seal organizations with contradictory policies and are led by cliques with mere electoral appetites – undermines the struggle for the independent political structuring of Workers. This is true for Latin America but also for the United States, where we are also entering a convulsive transition. Joe Biden’s government is conditioned in a triple way: by the economic and social crisis (and the inter-bourgeois division), the health crisis that is far from being closed and, above all, by the popular rebellion that is latent and is in good condition to prosper through the cracks that the election has left, which has ended up becoming just one chapter in a huge political crisis. In this context, the insurmountable limits of the ties of the Democratic left, especially the Socialist Democrats, with an establishment henchman like Biden, will quickly be exposed. In the United States, the struggle to establish an independent political organization of workers and youth is on the agenda.
For a workers’ solution
The panorama presented here puts on the order of the day the struggle and political mobilization around a program and a workers’ solution.
Faced with the social damage that the crisis has been causing in tens of millions of households of the working population, it is imperative to respond to it with a program of immediate demands from the working class and a plan of action. Facing massive unemployment raises the claim for insurance for the unemployed, equivalent to the basic family basket of each country, and fighting for the general distribution of working hours without reducing wages. Putting a limit to unemployment plans to promote the occupations of any factory or company that closes or dismisses. And facing the shortage proposes organizing the fight for minimum wages and pensions equivalent to the cost of the family basket of each Latin American country.
This battle is intertwined with the struggle for a new leadership of the labor movement. The impulse and satisfaction of these pressing claims demand to get rid of the surrendering union bureaucracies, promoting congresses of delegates elected by the base assemblies of all the unions in each Latin American country, as well as plans of struggle until the general strike to impose them.
Faced with the health crisis, we call to promote the fight for the centralization of the health systems of each country, under the leadership of the health workers and professionals themselves. This is proposed as a program for all of Latin America. Similarly, the fight for the duplication of health budgets and for workers’ safety and hygiene committees in every factory, company and workplace.
A special paragraph needs to be directed to the denunciation of the imperialist and rightist escalation, which has not renounced its objective of overthrowing the Bolivarian regime in Venezuela. The Bachelet report ends up being an imposture on the part of governments that trample human rights every day and are responsible for the worst killings and exterminations, and is simply a screen to turn the Venezuelan regime upside down.
We call to crush the right-wing and reactionary coup, but this cannot be confused with political support for Maduro and other nationalist governments in power. An important part of the repression of the Venezuelan government is directed not against the right but against popular fighters, union leaders and left activists, who have been facing the rabid policy of adjustment and challenging the brutal political and union regimentation of the Maduro regime. The rigged parliamentary elections that Maduro is preparing are at the service of the perpetuation of a clique, whose distance from the workers is increasing and, eventually, will be a step to advance in a greater delivery of national wealth to international financial capital. But the necessary delimitation with bourgeois nationalism can never be made by making common cause with the right. From the hand of imperialism and its followers cannot come a progressive solution but even greater hardships for the masses. The fight against the coup offensive must be done independently.
Giving the priority that corresponds to this program raises the need for a comprehensive reorganization of the continent on new social bases. The fight for the non-payment of foreign debts, for the break with the IMF and imperialism, for extraordinary taxes on large incomes and fortunes, for the nationalization without compensation of the banking systems, foreign trade and natural resources, as well as general workers’ control, is universal in scope. A strong fight against repressive militarism is also imposed: jail, trial and punishment of those responsible for the Senkata and Sacaba massacres in Bolivia; those who have been repressing the youth and mass mobilizations in Chile; those who beat up and gasify the protests in Peru, Colombia, Argentina, etc. Freedom to all political and union prisoners. We oppose to the looting and delivery regimes that have been driving the destinies of the region, the strategic struggle for workers’ governments and the socialist unity of Latin America.
The Partido Obrero opens the discussion and calls, first of all, the FIT-U, the organizations that claim to be the revolutionary and/or anti-imperialist left, the militant workers and popular organizations, to promote by common agreement a second Latin America and the United States Conference in order to weld a united front, based on class independence, with the aim of leading the new wave of popular rebellions that is coming to victory. In this framework of common action, we demand debate and clarification on the political strategies in dance within the left, which helps to overcome the crisis of leadership of the proletariat.
Let’s take a transcendental step and attain more profound results than those obtained by the First Latin American Conference and the United States.
November 16th, 2020