The African Marxist and liberation leader of Guinea-Bissau, Amílcar Cabral, once said, most famously, “Tell no lies. … Claim no easy victories.”
Today’s revolutionary activists looking at Latin America and the Caribbean should keep that phrase in mind as they review the month of October 2019. Massive popular struggles set back rightist regimes. Electoral advances turned into what are at least partial or temporary wins for the working class and poor of the hemisphere. Some enormous mass struggles are filled with potential. Still, all these are just the opening battles in a long period of struggle.
The overall picture is this: The capitalist/imperialist system dominates the world. This system has been in crisis, in recession, at least since 2008. The recession has reduced the need for raw materials, which reduces the prices of exports from many Latin American countries. This in turn reduces these countries’ ability to pay interest on their loans from imperialist banks that they need to keep social programs functional.
Imperialist financial entities like the International Monetary Fund want no part of social programs. They demand instead that governments impose austerity, privatizations, anti-popular measures. Where center-left governments resist or delay squeezing the masses, the imperialists and local oligarchs have deposed them, using elections, the courts and even coups: in Paraguay, Honduras, most recently in Ecuador and Brazil and by elections in Chile and Argentina. And they keep trying to overthrow the governments in Nicaragua and Venezuela.
In the past few weeks the laboring masses have said: “No more!” In Haiti, a historic leader in the struggle for emancipation in this hemisphere, the people are demanding the government resign. In Ecuador, a national general strike forced a president — who betrayed his own party along with the people — to pull back on an anti-popular decree. In Chile, massive demonstrations defied police and army terror and forced the president to retreat. All these struggles are still alive and undecided. (They are covered in other articles in this issue of Workers World.)
In Bolivia, the popular President Evo Morales was reelected on Oct. 20, getting just the 10 percent margin necessary to win the first round of the contest. Morales faces a possible coup in the coming days by the country’s oligarchs and is mobilizing the masses who support him to stop the coup. Just as with President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, U.S. imperialism sees Morales as an enemy, and will try to undermine his government.
Argentina’s Oct. 27 election deposed the incumbent neoliberal enemy of the people, Mauricio Macri, in the first round, by 48 percent to 40 percent. This puts back into office the political forces continuing the center-left government that was in before Macri’s 2015 win, including Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, this time as vice president.
The reaction of many in Argentina’s communist left has been more or less like this: “Great, let’s celebrate Sunday night and start mobilizing the masses on Monday morning to battle the IMF and the Argentine capitalists.” The whirlwind of mass struggle from Chile is contagious.
There is a reason for the reluctance of the Argentine communists to “claim an easy victory.” The people of Latin America and the Caribbean are fed up with unfettered neoliberalism and the outrageous inequalities it generates. The problem is that within the framework of capitalism, no one can resolve the problems imposed on these countries by world imperialism.
We must defend the rights of the people of this hemisphere to select their own governments, and help them to the extent that we can to get the imperialist boot off their necks.
We must also realize that as long as capitalists control the banks, the media and, most importantly, the repressive state apparatuses in these countries, the crisis imposed by world imperialism is inescapable. Neither the local capitalists, nor their backers in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo, will just hand over the power. This is just the beginning of a new phase in a long class war.