Message to ILPS-EL SALVADOR Chapter
By Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson Emeritus
As Chairperson Emeritus of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, I wish to express warmest greetings of solidarity to all the colleagues now forming the EL Salvador Chapter of ILPS. I congratulate you for convening as founders of the chapter.
I am glad that you have adopted as theme, “Against the imperialist aggression, let us build the people’s power”. This theme is of crucial importance and timeliness, I am thankful to be given the opportunity to contribute my views on this theme.
I now proceed to present the historical background of US aggressions, current conditions and prospects of the people’s anti-imperialist and democratic struggle of the people in Latin America.
Historical Background of US Aggressions
Since it proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, the US has presumed the entire Latin America to be its sphere of influence. Thus, it began to grab large chunks of Mexican territory in 1836 and eventually caused the US-Mexican War of 1846-48, further annexing more Mexican territory by means of aggression.
Upon the rapid growth of its monopoly capitalism in the late 19th century, the US was in a position to launch acts of military intervention and aggression in Latin America. It deliberately provoked the Spanish-American War of 1898 in order to acquire Puerto Rico as a colony and Cuba as a protectorate. Across the Pacific Ocean, it was also able to seize the Philippines in East Asia.
It intervened in the Mexican revolution in 1911 in order to protect US interests in Mexican mines and railways and committed acts of aggression. It displaced Britain as the top trade partner and creditor of Latin American countries. By the eve of World War I, the Monroe Doctrine became more effective than ever with the establishment of military alliances in the region.
Upon the end of World War Ii and thereafter, the US tightened its control over Latin American and used the Cold War to spread anti-communism and use it to promote relations with reactionary classes and autocratic regimes and military dictatorships. In 1946 it established the School of the Americas to train Latin American military officers as puppets to US hegemony. In 1948, it founded the Organization of American States as a mechanism for regional control of Latin America.
To serve its imperialist interests, the US used a mixture of outright aggression and covert and proxy interventions as in the following cases: Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1961), Guyana (1961–64), Chile (1970–73), and Nicaragua (1981–90), as well as outright military invasions of the Dominican Republic (1965), Grenada (1983), and Panama (1989).
The most striking challenge to the US imperialist hegemony when the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro won power in 1959, nationalized American assets and subsequently proclaimed socialism. The US launched an invasion force which the Cuban revolutionaries defeated at the Bay of Pigs in 1962. It broke off diplomatic relations and imposed economic embargo with Cuba.
It adopted a policy of hostility to left-wing governments and sought to overthrow them as in the following cases: the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’etat, the 1964 Brazilian coup d’etat, the 1973 Chilean coup d’etat and the support of the Contras against Nicaragua. To overcome lack of congressional support and funding, the Reagan regime resorted to the use of illegal drugs in order to finance the contras.
Since 1979 the US has imposed the neoliberal policy on Latin American governments in order to put them into debt crisis and make the US more economically dominant. Since 1994, it imposed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Mexico in order to bind it tightly to the US and Canada. For a while, it looked like free trade was successful in raising the GDP, satisfying the oligarchy and the middle class and quieting social unrest In Latin America, especially after the end of military dictatorships in the 1980s and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The armed revolutionary movement led by Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) continued in Colombia from 1964. In Peru the armed struggle led by the Communist Party of Peru (Sendero Luminoso) arose and developed until it declined after its leader Gonzalo was captured in 1992.
But Cuba remained defiant of US imperialism. And several left-wing parties gained power through elections such as in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador in the so-called pink tide that started in 1998 with the electoral victory of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. The Chavista movement spread the Bolivarian spirit of revolt. In El Salvador, after 20 years of ARENA rule, the Farabundo Marti Liberation Nacional (FMLN) won the election in 2009 but lost it after nine years.
So-called Left-wing governments in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay during this period were not actually opposed to US imperialism. Closer to the US have been the centre-right governments in Argentina, Mexico, Panama, Chile and Colombia, with Mexico being the closest and largest economic partner in Latin America due to the NAFTA). The US has also signed free-trade agreements with Chile in 2004, Peru in 2007, and most recently Colombia and Panama in 2011.
In recent years, due to the aggravation of social and economic problems and the failure of reformist regimes to solve them, fascist movements have arisen to cause the installation of fascist regimes like those of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Lenin Moreno in Ecuador and Ivan Duque Marquez in Colombia.
But as soon as they are in power, they are discredited because they cannot solve the social and economic problems but have further aggravated them. In sharp contrast, Cuba and the Bolivarian government of Venezuela have stood firm for national independence and socialist aspirations even as US imperialism impose sanctions on them and threaten them with military intervention.
Neoliberalism dictated by US imperialism has sharpened the economic and political crisis of the ruling systems in Latin America. The crisis is the result of the internal weaknesses of the national economies in Latin America as well as the heavier impositions of US imperialism. Mass protests have therefore broken out in several countries in Latin America as the people suffer the consequences of the long running neoliberal economic policy regime.
It is acknowledged that the economic growth rate of the entire region has declined to 0.2 percent in 2019, the worst rate in all major regions. The prices of agricultural and mineral products have gone down, Brazil is undergoing the deep recession. Argentina is reeling from a currency and debt crisis. Peru, Mexico, and Colombia are economically stagnant. Generally, Latin American governments have large unsustainable budget deficits and public debts. Low wages, unemployment, mass poverty, inequality, corruption and unfulfilled promises are agitating the people.
In Chile, mass protests were ignited by the government’s raising public transport fares by 30 pesos. In Ecuador, the people were provoked to rise by the drastic reduction of fuel subsidies, causing diesel prices to more than double. The mass protests have continued and grown as the initial issues have led to further socio-economic and political issues against not only a particular government but against the entire ruling system. The broad masses of the people are outraged by the political and economic abuses of the ruling class and its political agents, especially their corruption and flagrant profligate living.
It appeared for a while in recent years that the long-running Columbian revolutionary armed struggle led by the FARC, could be ended by peace negotiations and final agreement as in Central America in the early 1990s or by decline of armed struggle as in Peru after the capture of Gonzalo in 1992.
But the repressive measures taken against the FARC cadres and members have compelled many of them to regroup as a fighting force or join the ELN. The failure of the peace agreement in Colombia is a manifestation of inability of the ruling system to fulfill promises to those who capitulate and more importantly the broad masses of the people whose just demands remain unfulfilled.
The unprecedented wave of mass protests against the governments and ruling systems indicate that these cannot solve the problems that generate the mass protests. Neither can the legal political parties solve the problems within the bounds of the ruling system. The ground becomes fertile for armed revolution, especially because the mass protests are violently suppressed and the ruling system emboldens the fascists to take power.
Prospects of People’s Resistance
Under current circumstances in Latin America, there will be flows and ebbs or a game of musical chairs among the legal political parties of the Left and Right in particular countries as well as on the scale of the entire region in the realm of electoral struggles.
But no legal political party in any reactionary state can win any lasting trust and confidence from the people because as the crisis of the ruling system worsens the legal political parties, including those who claim to be centrist, not one or a coalition of such parties can solve within the bounds of the ruling system the basic social, economic and political problems that are the root causes of the crisis.
We can expect US imperialism to continue using economic sanctions and acts of military intervention and aggression in order to oppose and seek the overthrow of governments, like those of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, that stand for national independence and socialist aspirations and to support fascist movements and governments whenever a pseudo-democratic or reformist government fails to deceive the people.
We can expect that the various forms of people’s resistance will flourish in Latin America against US imperialism and the domestic oligarchies because the people are suffering ever higher levels of oppression and exploitation due to the worsening crisis of the domestic ruling systems and that of the the world capitalist system.
US imperialism is more than ever prone to do engage in military intervention and aggression to keep Latin America as its sphere of influence because of sharpening inter-imperialist contradiction with China and the alliances of certain independent countries like Cuba and Venezuela with China and Russia.
In order to build the people’s power and achieve national and social liberation, the ILPS in the whole of Latin America and in particular countries like El Salvador must pursue a line of anti-imperialist and democratic struggle with a socialist perspective, build mass organizations of all patriotic and progressive classes and sectors and carry out the policy and tactics of the united front.
We assume that there must be revolutionary party of the working class that can lead the mass movement and draw strength from it. Such a party must rely mainly on the toiling masses of the workers and peasants, win over the middle social strata and take advantage of the splits among the reactionaries in order to isolate and destroy the power of the enemy.
The most important task is to arouse, organize and mobilize the broad masses of the people, especially the toiling masses and the urban petty bourgeoisie. To further broaden the united front, nonproletarian parties and certain governments that stand for national independence and social reforms to some appreciable extent can be included. In this regard, the revolutionary forces must maintain independence and initiative under the principle of unity and struggle, especially in relation to temporary and unreliable allies.
The ruling parties and governments that serve US imperialism and the most reactionary interests use coercive instruments of the state to suppress even the legal forms of struggle. The repressive measures practically require the people and their patriotic and progressive forces not only to insist on their democratic rights to assemble and express themselves freely but also to consider and undertake people’s war and the revolutionary overthrow of the reactionary state in order to achieve national and social liberation.
Long live the ILPS-El Salvador Chapter and the people of El Salvador!
Let us advance the people’s resistance to US imperialism and the exploiting classes! Let us build the people’s power!
Long live the peoples of Latin America!