We are going through a very rich and complex situation in Latin America. As always, the left is tested in moments like this.
By Eduardo Almeida.
In Brazil, March 15 was a rehearsal and there is a summoning for General Strike on April 28 against the labor and retirement reforms. Temer has little over six months in office and his popularity rates are close to Dilma Rousseff’s by the end of her administration.
In Argentina, there were gigantic demonstrations on March 6, 7 and 8, which imposed the union bureaucracy to call for a general strike on April 6. This is the deepest questioning of the Macri administration so far, a little over a year after his inauguration.
In the streets of Chile, two million people protested against the new retirement bill. The ruling law was imposed by Pinochet and it is a reference for all Latin American bourgeoisie. Now, the Bachelet administration (composed by the Socialist Party and supported by the Communist Party) wants to worsen this law. Bachelet’s popularity is the lowest of any administration since the end of the dictatorship in this country.
In Mexico, the Peña Nieto administration has an 8% support by the population (some polls show even less), the lowest in the history of the country. This is related to the disaster his administration is, and it deepens after the capitulation to Trump. In other words, Trump is throwing more gasoline to the fire of the Mexican crisis. The country is going through an explosive situation. There were uprisings in several regions, which led to temporary embryos of armed dual power.
In the French Guiana, still a colony, a general strike for an undetermined period shakes the country since March 27.
In Venezuela, the Maduro administration made a dictatorial maneuver, shutting down the National Assembly and passing its powers to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, where he has the majority. There was a crisis of the Chavist apparatus, and the Attorney General of the country, Luisa Ortega, stood harshly against this measure. Some days later, Maduro had to setback deepening his government’s crisis.
Maduro has very low popularity rates. The right-wing bourgeois opposition defeated him in the election of December 2015. Since then, the government maneuvered to avoid the Recall Referendum –an ensured right guaranteed by the Bolivarian constitution– which would remove him from office. The same popular bases that historically sustained Chavism now reject Maduro. The right-wing bourgeois opposition is afraid to directly mobilize the masses because they are afraid to lose control of the process. Sadly, there is no alternative for the working masses, independent from the government and the right-wing opposition.
In Paraguay, ten thousand people in Asunción (which would be comparable to 240.000 people in Sao Paulo) occupied and burnt the National Congress. The people protested against the decree that enabled reelection of president Cartes (Colorado Party) and Fernando Lugo (so-called “leftist” ex-president). It was as if the June 2013 mobilization in Brazil invaded and burnt down the National Congress in Brasilia. The mobilization even had the same social bases of popular youth.
The decree enabling reelection was adopted by 25 Senators (who support Cartes and Lugo), who united without the opposition to pass this measure.
The Colorado Party, with Stroessner in the lead, ruled the country with a bloody dictatorship for 35 years, reelecting himself seven times in a row, through fraud. Thus, reelection is prohibited by this country’s Constitution since 1992, three years after the fall of the dictatorship. The population violently rejects reelection, thus the people yelled “dictatorship never again”.
Crisis of the Class Collaboration Governments and the New Bourgeois Governments
One may verify with the brief summary that there is instability and on growing polarization in key countries of the continent, with significant ascent of the masses and heavy divisions among the bourgeoisie.
A completely different scenario from the one described by the Stalinist and reformists as a “conservative wave”. The reformists speak of a campaign orchestrated by imperialism to overthrow the “progressive administrations” of Dilma Rousseff, Kirchner, Maduro, etc.
Actually, the crisis of nationalist bourgeois administrations (like Kirchner’s or the Chavist government of Maduro), just as the class collaboration ones led by reformist parties like the PT and Dilma’s in Brazil or the PS [Socialist Party] and Bachelet’s in Chile, are not a result of a bourgeois offensive. Their crises are the result of a wearing process of their governments due to implementation of neoliberal plans and the rupture of the masses with them. The current crisis in Mexico (traditional right-wing government) and in Paraguay prove that this crisis affects governments of all natures.
During their administrations, the bourgeoisie and imperialism supported Lula-Dilma, Kirchner and Lugo. Bush and Obama applauded Lula: Brazilian armed forces invaded Haiti in Bush’s service in 2004. All imperialist governments in the world supported Dilma in her first term.
However, when these governments lost popularity for applying neoliberal policies, they went through deep crises and did not manage to continue applying neoliberal plans. Thus, imperialism seeks other bourgeois alternatives.
The bourgeoisie and imperialism take advantage of the crisis in the nationalist-bourgeois and class collaboration governments (which they previously supported) to compose new right-wing bourgeois governments, like Temer (through impeachment) or Macri (through election), to continue applying their plans. Lugo was removed in Paraguay with a parliamentary maneuver in 2012 and, in 2013, the Colorado Horacio Cartes won the election. Imperialism is interested in governments to implement its neoliberal plans.
On the other hand, revolutionary leftists must focus on the workers breaking in a greater or lesser degree with these reformist sectors. It is necessary to dispute the rank and file from bourgeois alternatives.
Contrary to what the reformists –defenders of the “conservative wave” – say, the new and old right-wing bourgeois governments reveal their weakness. Temer has a similar popularity to Dilma. Macri is going downhill. Peña Nieto and Cartes live deep political crises. In other words, Latin America today lives an exacerbation of class struggle, with strong polarization and instability in key countries.
Trump expresses a similar phenomenon in the heart of imperialism. It is an extreme right-wing government, which reached office due to the wearing process of the Democrat Party after the Obama administration. However, contrary to the expected by the defenders of the “conservative wave”, it generated a significant reaction of the mass movement, with three million people on the streets a day after his inauguration. Trump brought polarization and instability to the United States, too.
The Challenges for Revolutionary Leftists and the Dilemmas of Reformism
These new political crises in Latin America bring enormous challenges for revolutionary leftists.
A unitary mobilization for General Strikes in Brazil (April 28) and Argentina (April 6) evidence two different strategies. The revolutionaries of the PSTU want the general strike to overthrow Temer; the reformists of the PT and the PSOL have a different strategy: they want to channel everything through the 2018 election. Most of them argue the need to defend ourselves in an adverse situation and propose a broad front to reelect Lula in 2018: so, to lead the PT into office again with its neoliberal project! They do not want to overthrow Temer, they want to reach the 2018 elections. They are willing to make all sort of agreements to negotiate Lula’s impunity, just as Temer’s and that of all the political leaders of the main political parties involved in corruption.
Sadly, the PO and the PTS, two Trotskyist Argentinian parties, also have an electoral strategy. In the eve of April 6 General Strike, the websites of these parties continue with the axis of elections, without any reference to the general strike. The Partido Obrero (Workers’ Party) has, as its main article, a hearing in the Chamber of Representatives. The PTS [Socialist Workers’ Party] presents five different articles with their presidential candidate, Nicolás del Caño.
It should suffice to access the Argentinian PSTU website, an example of revolutionary left in this country, to see their focus on the preparation of the general strike.
The reformists use the ideology of the “conservative wave” to justify supporting the PT, Kirchner, Lugo, Maduro, and Bachelet. Revolutionary leftists must be independent of the bourgeois blocks and bet on the mobilization of the masses.
Now, reformists have some major problems to solve. The first one: after denouncing coups where they did not exist, what do the PT and the PSOL have to say on Venezuela? Was it or not a dictatorial maneuver what Maduro did? The silence of the reformist left is shameful. The UST, a small revolutionary leftist organization, defends Out With Maduro and a workers’ alternative, independent of the bourgeois right-wing opposition.
And Lugo? What do the PT and the PSOL have to say on the mobilization that burnt the Congress in Paraguay?
The Frente Guasu (Lugo’s party) is saying that the population that went on to the streets is “extremist right-wing”. In Brazil, the PcdoB and Breno Altman (PT) support such a lie. Like this, they legitimized the repression to the demonstrations that left hundred of imprisoned and wounded people, not forgetting a death by the police.
In Paraguay, there is a bourgeois division that the mass movement took advantage from. The PLRA [Authentic Liberal Radical Party] –bourgeois opposition– was against the Cartes-Lugo agreement. This bourgeois party is as bourgeois as the Partido Colorado of Cartes, with whom Lugo made the agreement, but much less hated [by the masses] because it is not in the government. And it was senators of the PLRA that raised against the fraudulent voting of the amendment that allows reelection. Then, the popular mobilization began and the invasion of the Congress that completely surpassed this bourgeois party and forced Cartes to remove the Minister of Interior and the Chief of Police.
Right now, there a very important mobilization process in the country, already taking the slogan of “Out With Cartes” as a flag. We need to bet on this mobilization, independently of the PLRA. The Paraguayan PT (a revolutionary leftist party, opposite to the Brazilian PT) is the revolutionary left party that bets on the mobilization, unlike the reformist majority.
Lugo’s supporters are allied to the government of the Partido Colorado, the main base of the bourgeoisie and of corruption in Paraguay. The Latin American left-wing cannot be part of this serious mistake.
As always, ascents and major political crisis re a test for leftist currents. Revolutionaries face the process as a very important opportunity; reformist left-wing faces all of this defending the bourgeois governments and regimes with the argument of the “reactionary wave”.
Today more than ever it is necessary to have a class policy, independent of the bourgeois fractions in conflict. Even the countries that are behind regarding class struggle are facing inter-bourgeois divisions that aim to be solved through elections. Reformist left-wing of Latin America is responsible for sectors of the bourgeoisie to channel, so far, the masses’ repudiation to misery plans of capitalism, as they bet everything on supporting these alleged “progressive” governments, dragging behind them important masses’ segments to the swamp of bourgeois democracy, in which they sink more and more each day.
It is time to build a revolutionary, classist alternative, intervening in the process, as they are more tense each time and, again, it is about revolution against counter-revolution.
Translation: Alejandra Ramírez.
 Conservative wave and reactionary wave are both used as synonyms in this article – T.N.