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US and World Politics

Revolutionary Program for Latin America and the U.S.

Position paper of Partido Obrero (Argentina), Grupo Acción Revolucionaria (México), Juventud Obrera (Costa Rica), Agrupación Vilcapaza (Perú), Fuerza 18 de Octubre (Chile), Agrupación León Trotsky (Uruguay) and Agrupación Trabajadores Bolivianos presented to the Virtual Conference of Latin America and the United States.

(Extracted for publication in Socialist Viewpoint)

The emergence of popular rebellion in the United States represents a blow to Donald Trump’s government, and—as agents or tributaries of U.S. imperialism—to all Latin American governments. For this same reason, it also represents a spur to workers’ popular and anti-imperialist struggles of the peoples of the subcontinent and a call to retake the path of popular rebellions of 2019.

The pandemic has altered the political scenario in Latin America, but it is far from having closed the cycle of popular rebellions. The contradictions that gave rise to these outbreaks not only remain, but have been enhanced by the spread of these outbreaks. The arrival of COVID-19 occurs at the same time that the popular rebellion in Chile was taking a new impulse, with the gigantic and combative mobilizations in March, and a few months after the great popular rebellions of Ecuador, Puerto Rico, the resistance of the Bolivian people against the coup, the general strikes in Colombia, the great educational strikes in Costa Rica and, further back, the rebellion in Nicaragua. The coronavirus pandemic has put these processes on hold, although it has in no way canceled them. With the arrival of COVID-19, the subcontinent has been plunged into a true sanitary storm, and has been plunged even further into an economic, social and political crisis.

This perspective that has developed—that of renewed clashes between the ruling classes and their governments, on the one hand, and the working and oppressed masses, on the other—presents the revolutionary left with the need to address the great problem of the processes of the 2019 popular rebellions—overcoming the crisis of leadership of the labor movement and the oppressed masses of Latin America. Addressing this crisis of leadership necessitates, first, to adjust a characterization of the moment and, secondly, the formulation of the program and the strategy that the revolutionary left must raise.

The pandemic in Latin America

In mid-June, Latin America became the epicenter of the pandemic crisis, Brazil was positioned as the main infectious focus of the subcontinent and the second country affected by the pandemic worldwide (only surpassed by U.S.) There is no doubt that the health catastrophe that harasses Latin America is the responsibility of the capitalist social class of the subcontinent and the different governments that, in one way or another, represent it. The pandemic exposed the serious crisis in housing, general job insecurity, the fall in access to health. The denialist policy about the pandemic, which especially characterized the government of the fascistizing Jair Bolsonaro and initially also the “neoliberal” Sebastián Piñera and “national and popular” presidents Manuel López Obrador and Daniel Ortega, is nothing more than the expression of the enormous lobby exercised by the capitalist classes in their respective countries. These capitalist classes, from the very beginning of the pandemic crisis, pressed for the continuity of all productive and economic activity and systematically acted against the establishment of preventive quarantines. Denialism, which in the case of Brazil remains to this day as the government’s guiding line, has wreaked havoc, enabling a sweeping spread of the virus and infecting the fascistizing Bolsonaro himself.

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The fight for the centralization of the health systems of each country, under the leadership of the health workers, is presented as a program with common characteristics for all Latin America. It is a fight in which nothing less than the life of the working masses is at stake. Similarly, the fight for the duplication of health budgets and for the nationalization without compensation of the pharmaceutical industries. The fight to defend or impose quarantines, against the employer’s need to continue production at any cost, and by workers’ safety and hygiene committees in every factory, company and workplace, are issues and demands that occupy a leading position today—an order that the revolutionary left must raise.

Economic collapse

A historic economic collapse is also developing in connection with the health catastrophe. The Latin American collapse occurs in the context of the international capitalist bankruptcy, which was accelerated and deepened hand in hand with the pandemic contingency, inaugurating a period of economic depression that can only be compared to the Great Depression of the 1930s. This global economic collapse and the recessive trends were already clearly present long before the health contingency broke out, and this was corroborated by the monetary policy of the U.S. Federal Reserve throughout 2019, which repeatedly reduced the interest rate with the aim of propping up the corporate profit rate and promote a productive investment plan. Likewise, overproduction led to a marked decline in investments, of such magnitude that it did not even compensate for the process of wear and tear on fixed capital. With the transformation of COVID-19 into a pandemic, the consequent border closings and the declaration of quarantines in many countries, a deep economic standstill and an unprecedented capitalist collapse were completed.

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The crisis has once again shown that the capitalist world collapse can only be faced with anti-capitalist and socialist measures. The fight for non-payment of external debts, for the rupture with the IMF and with imperialism, for extraordinary taxes on large incomes and fortunes, for the nationalization without compensation of banking systems, foreign trade and natural resources, such as oil, gas, mining and energy resources, etc., and general workers’ control has a continental scope. In all of Latin America, the agitation and the fight for this workers’ program to solve the crisis is a fundamental task of the revolutionary left. The fight for this program is inextricably linked to the fight for workers’ governments and for the reconstruction of an international revolutionary political leadership—the Fourth International.

The hand of imperialism, its agents and the coups

The Donald Trump government spares no effort to achieve greater interference in Latin America. This is what explains Trump’s demand for it to be an American, Claver Carone, who presides over the IADB (Inter-American Development Bank) for the next five years, contradicting an “unwritten law” that establishes that its presidency corresponds to a Latin American country. Trump wants to ensure full control of this institution to reinforce a policy of blocking Chinese contractors and financial companies in the subcontinent.

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Imperialism wants to put an end to the Bolivarian regime headed by Maduro, and that this be the fulcrum to deliver a final coup de grace to the Cuban regime. Precisely, the Lima Group, which gathers the main Latin American leaders and was born under the auspices of Yankee imperialism, was born with the explicit objective of condemning the Venezuelan government. After the successive failures of Juan Guaidó, the puppet of the Yankees in Venezuela, to seize political power, imperialism has implemented various avenues with the aim of breaking the Maduro regime.

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The attempt by his government to sweep out the right sector of the parliament and reestablish full dominance of the regime he leads, is being carried out at a moment when, protected by the economic sanctions of imperialism, he is executing a strong adjustment against the workers and the Venezuelan people, initiating a process of dollarization of fuel prices and decisively advancing in the scrapping and privatization of PDVSA (the state oil company). The adjustment of the Maduro government is what has begun to arouse reactions from the working class, which also rejects the government’s persecution of union activists. In particular, the struggle of the oil workers in defense of wages and collective labor agreements stand out.

The revolutionary left must be placed in the first line of combat against reactionary and pro-imperialist coups. Only from this field, the one of a decided battle against the reactionary, the left will be able to seize the necessary political authority to uproot the workers’ vanguard and the working masses from the influence of the capitalist’s nationalism, and to lead a workers’ and popular movement under the flags of socialism. With these objectives, we face the coup in Bolivia and denounce the blockade and the imperialist attacks against Venezuela, with complete independence from the nationalist leaderships.

From São Paulo to Puebla

The response of Latin American “progressives” to the alignment of the continental right in the Lima Group was the creation of the Puebla Group in July 2019. The Puebla Group appears as the devalued version of what was once the São Paulo Forum, which emerged as a regrouping of Latin American nationalist and leftist forces against “neoliberal” regimes. Largely, the forces that make up the Forum became government throughout Latin America, on the basis of becoming the left custodians of the capitalist regime in the face of the crises and rebellions emerging in the beginning of the century (Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, etc.) The experience of the São Paulo Forum ended in a tragedy. The failures of Unasur and Mercosur were the concrete expression of the impossibility of a Latin American integration (the so-called “Patria Grande” or the Greater Homeland) on a capitalist basis. With the world crisis, starting in 2008, the weakness of the merely rentier survival plan of the “national and popular” governments of Latin America became evident. They sank with the fall of the prices of raw materials: they were unable to overcome the semi-colonial status and the production of only raw materials. The “national bourgeoisies” ended up mired in the corruption cases of the Odebrechts or the Lópezes (which the right exploited to promote political change.) The anti-worker character of governments such as that of Lula or Cristina was revealed in their maintenance of job insecurity, intervention against numerous strikes and the strengthening of the nationalization of union organizations against any attempt at independent organization. Their budget adjustment policies gave rise to a long process of political decline, which ended up encouraging the coup, to which they did not respond, and the electoral rise of new right-wing governments on a continental level, such as the ones of Bolsonaro, Piñera, Macri, Lacalle Pou, etc.

Formally, outside the setup of the Puebla Group there is another benchmark of the “progressive” or “national and popular” field—the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). Since taking possession of the Mexican presidency on December 1, 2018, AMLO did not make any trips abroad until July 2020. His first international tour was to visit Donald Trump, under the pretext of celebrating the signing of the neocolonial Free Trade Agreement, signed by Mexico, the USA and Canada a year ago. AMLO mobilized, objectively propping up Trump’s candidacy…In summary, AMLO starred in an act of colonialism with little precedent.

The so-called “fight against the right-wing” proclaimed by Latin American “progressivism” is nothing more than a mere story. The revolutionary left must distinguish the real existent coup offensives from the nationalist crowing, which only seeks to muzzle the workers’ organizations and the left, and thus deprive them of their action and their criticism with the aim of subordinating them to the nationalist or populist-front government. Nationalism must be opposed by promoting the direct action of the working class for its immediate demands and an economic and political program of the workers so that the crisis is paid by the capitalists. Latin American unity can only be achieved by workers’ governments at a subcontinent level. That is to say, on a socialist basis.

Anti-worker offensive, program and the fight for unions

Latin America is also the continent most affected by the social crisis. The capitalist class and the different governments are unloading the crisis on the backs of the workers.

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This context of a phenomenal attack against the living conditions of the working masses, further highlights the paralysis and collaborationism on the part of the bureaucracies of the workers’ unions in all countries. The union bureaucracies were decisive in containing the open and determined intervention of the labor movement in the course of the 2019 popular rebellions. In this way, they managed to avoid the fall of the governments backed by the struggle of the masses. …The fight for the political independence of the workers’ organizations is, above all, a method to accelerate the process of separating the workers’ bases from their bureaucratic and capitalist leadership, not to correct the capitalist course of that leadership or for its self-regeneration.

It is imperative to respond to this social attack with a program of the working-class’ immediate demands and an action plan. Facing mass unemployment means raising the demand for an unemployment insurance that is equivalent to the cost of living in each country, and fighting for the general distribution of working hours without reducing wages. Putting a limit to the layoffs poses the question of promoting the occupation of any factory or company that closes or dismisses employees. And confronting famine entails organizing the fight for minimum wages and pensions that are equivalent to the cost of living in each Latin American country. In order to foster these minimum demands, together with the fight to end job insecurity and informality, to repeal the labor and pension reforms and to end private pension systems, we promote the united front of workers and workers’ organizations. We carry out this promotion for a united fight front, understood as a practical agreement with all the participant currents to promote a mass struggle, without ever sacrificing the Party agitation for the independent structuring of the working class, the workers’ government and socialism. The fight for the workers’ immediate demands puts on the agenda the fight to kick out the sellout union bureaucracies, the promotion of worker congresses in each Latin American country and the plans to fight until a general strike is reached to impose these congresses.

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Mass movements and
revolutionary politics

The great rebellions in Latin America and the United States were preceded and led, to a large extent, by mass movements with a strongly combative dynamic, which have made the historical methods of the working class their own despite not having a defined class anchor. In recent years, the women’s and diversities movement has stood out, like no other, for its confrontation with right-wing governments, which have misogyny and discrimination against diversities as a common feature. Both the “Ele Não” against Bolsonaro and the “Me too” in the United States staged mass mobilizations. In the same way, it is necessary to highlight the enormous fight waged in Argentina for the right to abortion. In Chile, the massive women’s movement struggle anticipated largely the outbreak of the October 18th rebellion.

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A workers’ vanguard can only claim its place in the fighting ranks of the international industrial proletariat by participating in the struggles against all kinds of oppression.

The popular rebellion in the U.S. has the Black community as the central protagonist. However, it has a massive multiracial character, joining in the solidarity demonstrations with radicalized white sectors and advancing in a true common struggle. The scope of the ongoing struggle stands out for its connection with the growing labor conflict and for the severity of the country’s crisis, in health, economic, social and political matters. Strikes and worker’s protests over working conditions have multiplied with the worsening pandemic, marking a tendency for the organized working class to converge with the rebellion led by the Black community. Most of the American left, particularly the one that has colluded with Bernie Sanders, as the powerful organization of Socialist Democrats (Democratic Socialists of America), does not support the claim for autonomy of sectors of the Black community. The “leftist” criticism of the centrality of racial demands, with a classist language, hides that DSA is lagging behind the most combative sectors of the Black movement, that have identified the imperialist state of the United States as its main enemy and anti-imperialist fighters of the world as their allies. Any principle of autonomy for the Black community equals a declaration of hostility to the U.S. imperialist state. It is not a matter of imposing national separation on the Black community. A revolutionary victory would have to be the foundation of a larger unity. But that unity cannot avoid the historical oppression suffered, it must recognize and defeat it. Only by unconditionally claiming the rights of the Black population, including the right to their autonomy, can the foundations be laid and advance in the unity of every American worker and the exploited against the current capitalist social order. The agitation and defense of this right for the Black community must be accompanied by a whole program of universal characteristics, which includes the immediate demands of the entire North American working class and an economic and political program of all the workers.

Revolutionary strategy

For nine years, the Left Front (FIT-U), with its contradictions and limits, held high the banner of class independence and the fight for workers’ government in Argentina. However, it is clear that this independence has been sustained against solvent tendencies that emanate, on many occasions, from the Front parties themselves. These trends have had a privileged scenario in Brazil, where the sister organizations of the Socialist Left and the MST (Landless Workers’ Movement), the CST (Socialist Workers’ Current) and AS (Socialism of the 21st Century), respectively, are integrated into the PSOL, (Socialism and Liberty Party) a “broad party” with center-left characteristics and class collaboration. The MRT, sister organization of the Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS), in turn asked for their PSOL membership, and although that membership was denied, this was not an impediment to integrate the PSOL lists in 2018, when it proclaimed as its fundamental orientation to promote “a parliamentary front committed to the reconstruction and development of Brazil” along with the PT (Workers’ Party), the PCdoB (Communist Party of Brazil), PDT (Democratic Labor Party) and PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party). The PSOL has not gone beyond an electoral seal, based on a superstructural agreement on trends. Indeed, the PSOL has not endeavored to be the engine of the class struggle, and it has been tailing Lulism. Currently, PSOL integrates an “anti-Bolsonaro” front together with parties from the bourgeoisie, many of which played a leading role in the parliamentary coup against Dilma. IS (International Socialists) also integrates the Broad Front of Peru, a democratizing front opposed to the strategy of the workers’ government. The 2019 electoral campaign of “UNIOS en el Frente Amplio” (Unite in the Broad Front), the sister organization of IS in Peru, had as its two main axes “the fight against corruption” and “against insecurity,” even demanding that “the police comply with their job.” These facts reveal the tendencies to electoralism that nest on the left. The parliamentary expectation and appetites for a position is the lure to sacrifice the fight for the workers’ political independence. Before and after, the electoral tendencies had been strongly expressed, as evidenced by the PTS’ use of all the workers’ struggle tribunes for the mere projection of their electoral candidates.

The dissolution of the left into “broad” fronts or parties with a center-left hue, which regroup organizations with contradictory policies under the same hallmark and are led by cliques with mere electoral appetites that advocate class collaboration, undermined the fight for the workers’ independent political structuring. In opposition to the political dissolution, the preparation of the new round of popular rebellion incubations demands to fully unfold the struggle to set up revolutionary workers’ parties throughout Latin America. In opposition to the construction of electoral apparatus to thrive through parliamentary seats under the shadow of “broad” parties or fronts, on the one hand, or the withdrawal of left groups to messianic and “spotless” propaganda, on the other, we propose the setting up of combat parties of the working class to fight for workers’ governments. In opposition to the projection of mere referents or electoral candidates, we promote the formation of political leaders of the working class, who are the organizers and socialist tribunes of the workers. In opposition to the publication of mere “left news,” we promote the establishment of a party’s political tools, newspapers that are the instrument to centrally develop the agitation and revolutionary propaganda, the organization of the class and the revolutionary party. The next stage calls for a political party struggle, that is, a struggle that must be waged through agitation, propaganda, and the organization of the workers and youth vanguard.

The revolutionary left—that promotes a united front of workers’ organizations to enforce the workers’ struggle and subordinates the parliamentary roles to the urgency of the working class direct action—also works for the workers’ political independence with a clear strategic proposal that is summarized in the following slogans: “Out with Trump and his agents from Latin America;” “Out with the Bolsonaros, the Piñeras, the Añezes and the Lenin Morenos;” “Down with the governments of national sellout, austerity and repression against workers, enough with capitalist governments;” “Let the crisis be paid by the capitalists, for a workers’ solution to the crisis;” “For workers’ governments, for the Socialist Unity of Latin America including Puerto Rico.”

Read the full program at:

PrensaObrera.com, July 30, 2020

https://prensaobrera.com/english/a-revolutionary-strategy-and-a-revolutionary-program-to-intervene-in-latin-america-and-the-us/