Last December, under the auspices of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Argentina (PCR), a new meeting of revolutionary organizations of South America was held, in which there were debates in a fraternal manner about the advance of the struggle against capitalism and for national and social liberation. The results of this debate are in the final statement, which because of its importance we reproduce below.
The peoples and nations of South America are facing a growing counterrevolutionary offensive of imperialism. The counterrevolutionary offensive of imperialism is taking place under the cover of ‘globalization’ and the application of the politics of ‘neo-liberalism.’ The dependence of our countries and the plunder of our peoples have been aggravated to the maximum, to the benefit of imperialism and the local ruling classes subordinated to it. The exploitation of the working masses of the city and countryside have been carried to the extreme, as well as the looting of our wealth and the subjugation, in all respects, of our countries.
Tens of millions of workers and peasants have been driven to hunger and unemployment, forced to emigrate to the large cities or abroad by the lack of jobs or land, forced to work for wages of $1 or $2 a day, without health coverage, or education for their children, or the possibility of retiring in old age.
The majority of our countries are plundered by illegitimate and usurious external debts and scandalous privatization. The countries of the sub-continent are bound to agreements with the IMF, World Bank and other imperialist institutions that control our economies for the benefit of the monopolies and the interests of the great powers. Also, in many cases, they are bound by military and diplomatic pacts that they degrade our national sovereignty, converting our countries into pawns controlled by the imperialists.
The raising of interest rates by Yankee imperialism since the beginning of 1994, going quickly from 3% to 6% annually, led to the so-called ‘crisis of Tequila’ in 1995, with disastrous consequences for all of Latin America. This crisis was not yet over when, in the middle of 1997, the crisis in Southeast Asia and South Korea broke out, spreading to the rest of the world as part of one of the deepest crises in the process of capitalist accumulation on a world scale. The collapse of the Eastern European and Russian markets, in the middle of 1998, with its repercussions in the other imperialist power centres, showed once again that the crisis is worldwide and that no country or continent can avoid it, hitting first the weakest links of the capitalist imperialist system. In January of 1999, the Brazilian real fell, striking Mercosur [the countries in the southern part of South America - Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay] and forcing all of South America into the prolonged depression that we are now experiencing.
The present economic crisis is a crisis of the world capitalist imperialist system, a crisis of relative over-production and a relative surplus of capital, which exacerbates all the contradictions. The contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is sharpening, as is the contradiction between the handful of imperialist nations and the oppressed nations and peoples and the contradiction among the various monopolies and among the various imperialist powers. Japan continues to be ‘trapped’ by capitalist ‘indigestion’ since its financial bubble burst at the beginning of the 1990s, Russia has not been able to recover from its slump, nor has the European Union gotten itself together and the crisis is beginning to knock at the doors of the United States, which is also at this time undergoing the confusion over the results of the US presidential election, which has laid bare the falsity of the much celebrated Yankee democracy.
The world economic crisis is striking the dependent countries such as ours with particular force, and it will strike us even more, making worse the already precarious conditions of life and work that hundreds of millions of people are suffering from. But at the same time the crisis is creating the objective conditions which allow the political parties of the proletariat and the revolutionaries to promote gigantic mass movements of a liberating nature. Its victory will depend on whether the proletarian vanguards can forge, consolidate and develop themselves in the heat of mass combat, into vanguard parties capable of leading these struggles to victory. This is the only way of preventing these movements from becoming frustrated or ending up being taken advantage of by various bourgeois sectors.
The rapacious and repressive nature of imperialism drives it to place on our countries the burden of the crisis that is eating away at their insides. In this context Yankee imperialism has launched an offensive with the aim of reinforcing its hegemony, displacing from the region the rival imperialist powers and trying to crush the growing rebellion of our peoples and countries.
With the launching of ‘Plan Colombia,’ the United States is intensifying its direct interference in that country and its military presence in the region. It is a plan whose application will be ‘controlled’ directly by the Southern Command of the US Armed Forces. With it, the US aims to make up for the loss of its base in the Panama Canal, to put an end to the Colombian guerrilla insurgency, to prevent new popular uprisings in Ecuador, to contain and threaten the process of resistance to Yankee imperialism begun in Venezuela (which has stimulated the revitalization of OPEC). In this manner, the United States is trying to assure its control of the Amazon region - and thus its biodiversity and one of the world’s greatest fresh water reserves - and of the three large basins of South America (those of the Amazon, Orinoco and Paraná rivers). Besides, under the pretext of eliminating the cultivation of coca, they seek to control the drug trafficking (of which they are the main world consumers), to control the laundering of drug money (they launder more than $500 billion per year), and to dominate the oil of the northern region of South America. Basing themselves on that strategic aim, they would like to impose the Free Trade Agreement (FTAA) and dollarization on the region. Thus, they managed to impose the dollar on Ecuador, they advanced in Peru basing themselves on the popular hatred of Fujimori and, taking advantage of the virtual cessation of payments from Argentina, they forced it to accept a financial package (a guarantee for the creditors) that will reinforce its dependence.
The Yankee offensive has intensified the inter-imperialist struggle in the region, at the same time as, in response to that, the popular struggle and struggle for independence and national sovereignty grew. Thus, in rivalry with the FTAA, agreements have been worked out between the governments of the countries of Mercosur and of Europe. The revelation of the interference of Japan and Russia in the political crisis in Peru, the instability of Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina, where inter-imperialist contradictions among Yankees, Russians and Europeans have intensified, show the complexity of the situation of the region. In that context, the United States has not managed that the European powers, Venezuela, Brazil and other countries of the region [text apparently missing]. In addition, the blockade of Cuba is becoming more and more isolated internationally and has received a harsh blow with the agreements signed between the governments of Havana and Caracas.
As a response to this situation, in a large part of South America there is a growing wave of popular struggles, of the worker, peasant, indigenous and popular masses. The guerrilla insurgency is growing. In this region of the world the contradictions are sharpening and the elements of a revolutionary situation are maturing. The Andean area and particularly the northwest area of South America is, undoubtedly, one of the weakest links in the chain of imperialist domination. Since the capitalist restoration in the formerly socialist countries and the unification of the world capitalist imperialist market, there has been one of the most difficult periods, if not the most difficult one, in history. However, the predictions by the theoreticians of imperialism and reaction of the end of the history of class struggle and the final defeat of the revolutionary and anti-imperialist banners have been clearly contradicted by the facts. The renewed upsurge of the struggles of the worker, peasant, indigenous and popular masses and the advance of the revolutionary and anti-imperialist forces of our countries show this.
In Colombia, the guerrilla struggle against Colombian reaction and US imperialism is increasing, as is the struggle of the workers, peasantry and the people. In Ecuador the growth of the class struggle had its highest expression in the actions of the workers, peasants, indigenous people, patriotic military forces and other popular sectors, which overthrew two bourgeois governments, those of Bucarám and Mahuad, which were at the service of US imperialism and carried out large robberies of the people. These facts have opened new liberating perspectives and have developed the revolutionary and anti-imperialist consciousness of the peoples of Ecuador. The PCMLE [Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador] and other revolutionary forces have played a prominent part in these struggles. In Paraguay the great march of 40,000 peasants on Asuncion demanding Agrarian Reform, reactivation of the productive forces and national sovereignty, shook the country and had international repercussions. This led to rural actions that took over 17,000 hectares of land with struggle and blood from the hands of the large landlords. The struggles of the education workers overturned the plans of the government, maintaining their rights of retirement and holidays and expanding the gains of the teaching profession. And a National Emergency Programme was approved in which 5,000 delegates representing workers, peasants, professionals and parties of the left participated.
In Peru the long and sacrificing democratic and anti-dictatorial struggle of the Peruvian people made possible the defeat of the sell-out, repressive and corrupt dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori. This situation has made possible new conditions for the advance of the revolutionary process. In Brazil the rural struggles are advancing with land seizures, popular revolts are taking place in large urban centres and worker and popular mobilizations are increasing. In Uruguay there have recently been two general strikes and the large university strike with the occupation of the Faculties of the University of the Republic. In Bolivia large rural struggles have developed with the blocking of highways and a gigantic combative movement in Cochabamba against the privatization of water that shook the city and the entire country. There has also been an increase in the struggles of the workers and people of Chile against the super-exploitation and capitalist and reactionary oppression to which the social-democratic, pro-Yankee imperialist government of Ricardo Lagos has subjected them. This government using unbridled demagogy applies with mastery the institutional and economic continuity (of the fascist constitution of 1980 and the neo-liberal economic plan). In Argentina there have been innumerable highway blockades by thousands of the unemployed and peasants, factory occupations which restarted production, as in the La Esperanza, Mocoví, Gip Metal plants, among others, public occupations of buildings and the large-scale uprisings and the recent 36-hour active general strike. The highway blockades marked a new moment in the popular upsurge of struggle that Argentina is undergoing. These struggles showed the growth of the revolutionary, class and fighting forces. This situation demands the unity, solidarity and expression of the struggles against the common enemies.
Social-democratic and revisionist forces - which in many cases are linked to the imperialist rivals of the Yankees, or which have a policy of supporting them as the ‘lesser evil’ - try to divert the struggles of the masses toward the peaceful road of the ‘conquest of spaces of power’ and to struggle from ‘within the system.’ These forces deny the upsurge of struggles of the masses, considering them impotent until there is a ‘rear base’ of support. They theorize about a long period of ebb in the popular battles; a period in which, according to them, there is no possibility other than using them as pawns in the inter-imperialist dispute.
The oppression of imperialism and of the old and new oligarchies subjected to it, the brutal sufferings of the worker and peasant masses due to the economic crisis, the disastrous consequences of the neo-liberal plans of conservative or social-democratic governments and the growing role of the anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces which have unmasked reformist opportunism, are stimulating the development and deepening of the upsurge of struggle of the masses that South America is experiencing.
The anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces in our countries have grown in the heat of the popular battles and fighting to lead them. In some cases, Marxist-Leninist forces of the proletarian vanguard have earned recognition. Their strengthening – which requires a permanent struggle against revisionism and its new variants such as the third way and their integration with the particularities of the revolutionary process of our countries – learning the lessons of those large battles and incorporating into their ranks the best fighters of the people, is a task that is on the order of the day. Their role is decisive in order for the upsurge of struggles under way to lead to revolutionary alternatives, to the triumph of the revolution of liberation, to the triumph of socialism.
From En Marcha, Central Organ of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador January 19-25, 2001.
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