Tue Jul 23, 2024
July 23, 2024

Peru: Preliminary Balance and Lessons of an Ongoing Struggle

Although authorities pretend to have won and feign normalcy, the struggle to oust Boluarte and dismiss the hated Congress continues, with tempers running hotter than when this process began.

By: PST-Peru

The struggle, however, has reached a temporary lull after more than 40 days of permanent mobilization since it began again at the start of January. Activists and fighters are taking stock and discussing what has happened with a view to resuming actions with more clarity; here we would like to contribute to this debate by offering some ideas.

The recent lull is the result of the exhaustion among the fighters of the poorest populations of Puno, Cusco, and southern Peru, who have been fighting since December 7 and giving all their energy, resources and sacrificing much, only thinking of defeating the Boluarte government and its partners in Congress. For many, this is a legitimate and just aspiration after the massacre committed by the government. But when they were confronted with a more complicated and difficult context than they had anticipated and under the pressure of material hardship, they decided to back down.

Why hasn’t the struggle been won?

The fight has included 70 days of heroic struggle, constant mobilization, the total paralysis of several regions and localities of the interior, and the mobilization of thousands to Lima where they carried out gigantic demonstrations. In addition, there has been tough resistance to the repression that brought the death of 48 fighters and left hundreds seriously wounded. And further, there has been serious damage to the economy, not only of the poor but also of the national economy.  Why has all of this not been enough to win?

Because in order to win, the struggle needed to transform from a regional struggle to a national one, with the participation of the main popular sectors, and above all of the working class concentrated in Lima.

At certain points the struggle had this scope, for instance during the major actions of January 19 with the so-called “Seizure of Lima” and the days following the police occupation of the University of San Marcos, as well as the national strike called by the CGTP (General Confederation of Workers of Peru) that was to begin on February 7. But this was not a cumulative process that would lead up to a decisive action that would produce the fall of Boluarte, but rather a process that was aborted with the “indefinite strike” of February 7 called by the CGTP.

The southern struggle gave all it could. It managed to win the support of some of the youth and part of the poor population of Lima that carried out massive marches from the suburbs. It managed to win over a sector of the working class and the sympathy of the majority of it that showed a willingness to join in more decisively. It also won over the same democratic middle classes that, horrified by the bloody repression and the reactionary drift of the government, supported the demand for the immediate resignation of Boluarte and the call for early elections.

The struggle also won over international public opinion, where governments and human rights organizations made statements questioning the government and Congress. Thus a consensus was generated that the government should fall, and the Congress itself, which was more reluctant to give up its seats due to the collusion of right-wingers and “leftists,” was forced to debate bringing forward the elections for this year.

To advance towards the overthrow of the government and Congress, a final push was required, a strong push such as an effective national strike throughout the country involving the working class and popular sectors.

The role of the CGTP was key to thwarting the struggle

The national strike, as a materialization of unity in the struggle, could only be prepared and called by the CGTP, since that is where the majority of the working class is organized and it does not act outside the CGTP. But this was not done. The CGTP leadership called for an “indefinite strike” on February 7, but did not lift a finger to guarantee the strike’s success in any way: it did not hold a single national assembly, nor did it attempt to organize its base of rank and file workers. Rather, it limited itself to calling the strike, producing a virtual poster, and left it to its fate with the explicit intention that it should fail.

The leadership of the CGTP thus demonstrated that it was not on the side of the popular struggle for the fall of Boluarte and the closing of the Congress. Instead, it was in fact, on the side of those who supported the continuity of the regime.

Since it is a leadership based on the workers’ movement, its policy was not treacherous but was presented in a subtle way. For that reason, instead of placing itself at the head of the struggle to give it a national leadership, the CGTP was at the rear of it. It joined in with some isolated calls and marched outside the mobilization of all those who were fighting, doing so in a “disciplined” way. It even marched with the protection of the police forces, which at one point the government itself hailed as a “responsible” mobilization.

This policy of marching in the rear became a leap into the void with the “indefinite strike” of February 7, carried out with the sole purpose of producing a failed action that would demoralize the working class and the mobilized fighters themselves. That is why nobody struck that day, and if some did, not even they claimed it as an example to be followed. The day that should have been combative began and ended as a lackluster march that reached Congress with the police opening the way, and had an end as bureaucratic as its call because it was not even officially lifted. No balance sheets were made, nor did anyone claim or say anything.

In this way, instead of working for the orderly and organized entry of the working class into the struggle to ensure its success, what the CGTP leadership did was remove the working class from the struggle altogether by conducting a fanciful “indefinite strike” to frustrate the struggle as a whole.

Lessons

The southern fighters have drawn some conclusions from this experience that we believe are mistaken. They see their struggle as regional and against Lima, and within Lima, they find organizations such as the CGTP. This regionalist vision can lead them to further retreat. The problem is both social and political, involving the working and poor classes and the ruling classes, and that struggle is marked by a problem of leadership, specifically the CGTP and the “leftists” who are entrenched in it.

To win, the struggle must be national, and for that to occur there much be unity among the majority of the oppressed and exploited around a plan of struggle, and a national strike must be achieved. The fact that this did not occur in the past has nothing to do with the working class sympathetic to the struggle in the south, but rather is because of the betrayal by the CGTP leadership. They are the ones holding back the struggle and making concessions to the ruling classes and the Boluarte government. 

The conclusions drawn by the southern fighters can be dangerous when it comes to resuming the struggle. The conclusions we draw pose a clear task: to build a new independent leadership.

This new leadership must be forged through working to build the unity of the workers’ and popular struggle. This could mean demanding that the CGTP assume its responsibility by placing itself at the head of the struggle, or else it could be displaced by this new leadership.

This is the nature of the task posed by this new stage of the struggle. With this orientation, a better perspective for the struggle can be developed, with steps that represent advances in the resolution of the most strategic task that we have, which is to establish a new leadership for the struggle.

Translation: John Prieto

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