Mon Apr 22, 2024
April 22, 2024

Paraguay: The Fall of Stronism, A Change in the People’s Shackles

February 2 marked the 35th anniversary of the fall of the dictatorship, which meant the transformation of the dictatorial regime into a liberal-democratic one. The armed forces were replaced as the main institution of the regime and the ritual of periodic elections and the capitalist parliament were established as its political pillars. However, democracy with freedoms, guarantees, and so-called social justice remains a chimera 35 years after the event. In other words, the changes have been mainly formal, and the concessions made to the liberal pillars have been partial ones.

By Eduardo Aguayo.

It is undeniable that the overthrow of Stroessner was a progressive event, beyond the obvious limits of this process, since it created better legal and political conditions for the workers and oppressed to organize and fight for their class interests.

However, this incipient and progressive process had a limited scope, mainly because the effective power remained in the hands of those who governed with the dictator (capitalists, bankers, landowners, mafias, many of whom were representatives of the regime that was overthrown in 1989), who again subjugated working people, co-opted leadership, limited the projections of new social victories, and reduced the conflicts within the framework of the complete adaptation of the entire vanguard to bourgeois institutions.

This contradictory process after the dictatorship led to new defeats of the movement, defeats that were no longer only related to the physical smashing of the dictatorship itself as a fundamental feature, but to the moral and intellectual defeat of the vanguard of the working class. The latter was expressed in the co-optation and adaptation of the main leaderships of the workers, peasants, and popular movement to  elections, to Congress, and to everything that represents the political power of the bourgeois state.

A Controlled Coup

In this sense, the change that took place was carried out under the tutelage of the power circles formed by the leadership of the Colorado Party and the Armed Forces. What the coup dismantled was the Stroessner-Armed Forces-ANR trilogy as a structure of rigid domination, in order to maintain the power accumulated by the Colorado Party and its bourgeois rings, which dominated after the fall under the cloak of supposed democracy.

It should also be noted that for U.S. imperialism, dictatorships have lost their strategic importance as projects of control and regimentation since the second half of the 1970s. In this sense, Washington, with Jimmy Carter in the presidency beginning in 1977, began to promote the so-called policy of democratic reaction, which implied the dismantling of dictatorial regimes and their replacement by liberal regimes under the aura of human rights.

This turn in U.S. policy was essentially due to the fact that the maintenance of authoritarian models of government as an obstacle to the influence of the revolutionary processes that were shaking the region was losing its relevance, not only because of the fading of the popular uprisings, but more fundamentally because of the dispersion and atomization of revolutionary leaderships.

For the North Americans, the phantom of communism no longer existed as a real danger, given the domestication of the USSR through the Stalinist capitulation, which projected a rapid restoration of capitalism and, consequently, the dismantling of the Soviet Union and all of Eastern Europe as a matter of time. In other words, at that point, the Soviet bloc no longer represented an influence that threatened imperialist projects.

Moreover, the reasons that justified the impulse of the dictatorial regimes became their opposite, that is, the iron fist that maintained strict control over the population, despite hundreds of acts of resistance, no longer played the role necessary for stabilization. But in time it could become a danger because it could provoke new reactions due to the arbitrariness with which it played its role as the empire’s taskmaster.

For this reason, what happened in Paraguay in 1989 had nothing to do with a mass uprising, although the masses began to show their weariness and their willingness to take to the streets with mobilizations demanding the fall of the dictatorship. However, the overthrow of the dictatorship was limited to a preventive coup from within the apparatus itself and, consequently, was controlled by a circle of the Colorado Party itself and an important part of the Armed Forces, which remained at the head of the state apparatus, setting the North American agenda to determine the new rules of the game.

What Kind of State Should We Be Fighting For?

The defense of democratic freedoms, human rights, labor rights, the fight against unproductive large estates, ill-gotten lands, etc., are present and ongoing tasks, problems that were not solved with the fall of the dictator. These are undoubtedly the banners under which we should be fighting, yet a programmatic discussion is also in order.

The discussion is whether the programmatic horizon must be the struggle for the so-called social rule of law in order to achieve them? Can progress be made on these tasks without fundamentally questioning the foundations of the capitalist system itself? If this question is not raised, everything revolves around a discourse that seeks to beautify and humanize the current system.

In other words, we must continue to fight for democratic freedoms, but in order to fight for them consistently, we must unite them with the struggle for the social demands of the working class, with the aim of a socialist revolution.

The fight for the validity of democratic freedoms is undoubtedly a necessity, because they continue to be violated on a daily basis within the framework of this regime of supposed “rule of law.” Consequently, the relentless denunciation of these situations must be combined with the struggle for transitional demands towards a revolutionary process.The so-called democratic demands, if they are not linked to transitional slogans that orient and propose to the organizations of the working class the seizure of power to transform society, are limited to playing the game of the very model they question.

The whole diatribe of the reformists is centered on the question of not reaching the standards that constitute a true social state of law. Consequently, not even the overcoming of liberal democracy is raised in order to fight for proletarian dictatorship, which implies a democratic model superior to liberal democracy, workers’ democracy.

From this perspective, since the fullness of liberal rights and guarantees has not yet been achieved, the most that the left in general raises is the need for a real bourgeois-democratic revolution, since the attention and questioning are focused on why, despite the fall of the dictatorship, real social justice has not been achieved.

The answer is very simple, because in a liberal state, no matter how democratic it may be, it will always be a state model based on the interests of the capitalists, and consequently democracy becomes a caricature. Liberal democracy with social justice is real democracy for the bosses of the country and the city, while the working class continues to watch from the other side of the window.

“Democracy” is not a universal concept or value. In every class society, it takes on a concrete character in terms of its operability, which is why we must answer the question: “Democracy for whom? In the service of what class interests?

The Fall of the Stroessner Dictatorship and the Limits of Liberal Democracy as a Horizon of Possibility

In the liberal-democratic state, the most that can be achieved is a temporary reduction in social inequalities, but the longed-for social justice of which the reformists speak, an ambiguous phrase that can take on any content, will never be achieved. What we are witnessing today is the degradation of the liberal regime itself, which translates into a greater disregard for rights and freedoms and the deepening of the misery of ever greater sections of the working class.

Therefore, in order to overcome the political limits of the vanguard, it is necessary to go beyond the mere isolated democratic demands and fight for real political independence of the class, which will create a total distrust of the institutions of the liberal model that exploits and oppresses us.

It is necessary to plan for the mobilization of the organizations of the working class towards the collapse of the entire current state model, and not toward the fanciful “social justice” that is impossible to achieve in a system based on exploitation and oppression. In other words, we must advance the struggles in the streets towards the conquest of a workers, revolutionary, and socialist state.

First published at : 02/02/202

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles