By PST-Peru (Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores, Socialist Workers Party), translated by Dolores Underwood
The Workers’ General Confederation of Peru (CGTP in Spanish, a national trade union center in Peru) recently stated: “We characterize the current government as a government of the people, and one that proposes a new economic, political, and social model,” and therefore “backs workers.”
In another declaration, the Textile Federation, a national union affiliated with the CGTP, was even more enthusiastic and manifested their “resolute support of the government of the people.”
Both syndicates – and other union directors – agree and promote Castillo as “our own.” They argue that his government must be supported because he will implement the solutions that we’ve been fighting for, and now we can just wait for the rollout. For this same reason, these same people are not calling for us to continue our struggle on the streets.
This implies that something has profoundly changed. Before, we always fought alongside union leadership against the previous government that governed for elite interests, although in these fights the CGTP usually obstructed real change at the bargaining table. Regardless, now they are calling for an end to the struggle because the Castillo government is “our” government and will govern for us, the people. What happened to the struggles to recognize our rights? Will they be put off, and we should wait until the government decides to implement them one day?
We are currently in a situation where the CGTP (and other supposedly leftist organizations) have abandoned their responsibilities to push for working-class interests. Instead, they are taking up comfortable positions next to an authority they consider “theirs.” We have serious problems, which we won’t go into in depth here, which are growing (inflation in prices of subsistence goods, deflating salaries), yet the CGTP has done nothing.
Without a doubt, the Castillo government is the result of the popular will that chose him for his promises of change, and he won defeating a ferocious opposition led by the elite and its parties. Therefore, it is only natural that we sympathize with Castillo and are generous when he makes errors. Even more so when we see that the elites and their powerful media outlets continuously attack him. This produces an understandable sentiment of solidarity and identification.
Sympathy and hope are a legitimate and understandable response to Castillo. However, labor union directors are integrating into Castillo’s government and are taking up important ministerial positions where they now must defend his administration. While workers continue to be workers struggling and defending their rights, the syndicate leaders now form part of the state, and they now answer to Castillo’s government.
Of course, the CGTP is going to try to convince us that the government is “for the people” or even “pro-worker.” But we don’t see popular organizations governing nor being consulted. We certainly don’t see working-class bodies participating and making decisions. Those governing are Castillo, Perú Libre (Free Peru, the socialist political party to which Castillo belongs), Juntos por el Perú (Together for Peru, a democratic-socialist political coalition), Conare (a sindicalist group associated with public education), and their allies. They are the ones making decisions and they are the only ones responsible for the decisions being made, not the working-class people who voted for Castillo into power.
Castillo’s government can be classified as reformist-leftist that won based on promises of change. A promise is one thing and what the government does quite another. They have not called on the workers and the people to mobilize to change the country but instead are calling for tranquility, putting off making good on promises and letting the opposition arm their offense. If the opposition continues to push Castillo towards moderation, as they did in the second turn of voting, they will eventually ensure he gets nothing done and it will ultimately lead to his downfall.
On July 28, Castillo addressed the public without even mentioning workers (he only talked to and for teachers), the workers being the ones who generate all the wealth and receive the least benefits in the country. However, he did offer “reassurance” for businesses. At the request of the corporate classes, Castillo placed Pedro Francke in the Ministry of Economy and Finance (Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas, MEF), ensuring continuity for the economic model, and he also ratified Julio Velarde in the Peruvian Central Reserve Bank (Banco Central de Reserva, BCR) together with a court of high-profile public servants to administer the economy, ensuring that everything will continue as before.
However, none of this will placate the bourgeoisie who will continue to fight against Castillo and replace him with a government chosen by them as soon as they get the change. Between blackmails and the weakness of the current government, they are succeeding in pushing Castillo off path. The first fifteen days of his government – 15! – have been a total disaster causing concerning within the working-class and popular sectors who have nothing to celebrate because they’ve not seen any changes.
What is happening and is going to continue to happen is the sole responsibility of Castillo and those on the “left” and from unions that are accompanying him. How can we expect him to make good on his promises? How does the CGTP think that Castillo is going to change the current model for one that is more just? There is no coherence between what he has promised and what he is doing. What the government is doing and what workers voted him into power to do are two entirely different courses. For that reason, workers do not need to take on responsibility for what the government is doing.
The union directors do not call for continued struggle because they claim that the right will attack them. The opposite is true: we aren’t fighting and for that reason the right gains strength and moves more people on the street to corner Castillo. The only way to defeat the right is by hitting the streets together, and that is only possible to do with our own objectives and reclamations. If we don’t do this, the right will recover the government, and will not only take out their anger on Castillo and his people but on the entire working class.
As workers – and within the PST (Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores) – we have no problem going out into the streets unified in action to face coup threats, as we did when they wanted to impede Castillo’s electoral triumph.
What to do?
The right’s advance is not just occurring against the government but also is apparent in the factories. The demands of many syndicates are not being met under the pretext of the “crisis” and blaming the previous government. This is not stopping them from fighting. Instead, the container industry is protesting, the Leche Gloria is on strike, and Celima is preparing for one.
These factory unions should be fighting for their needs, but it would be even more significant if we could unify our struggle and demand the most important solutions for workers, and together: a general increase in wages and the end of mass firings and suspensions. We must do this now.
The elections made apparent the urgency of the current social demands and the government was sworn in saying it would take them on. However, they are not going to address our struggle if we don’t continue to place pressure on the government, which is currently capitulating to the elite sectors of the country. The “support” that the CGTP and the “left” organizations promised to Castillo means that they will be turning their backs on workers and, consequently, are making space for the right to prepare their attack.
Paralysis and uncritical collaboration with the government will surely lead us to defeat and disillusionment. We have only one choice: affirm our independence as a class and organize a united struggle to demand the government implement the solutions it promised and that brought us to vote and fight for Castillo to get into office in the first place. In so doing, we will halt and defeat the reactionary right.
The original Spanish-language version of this article can be found here.