Sunday, May 28, 2006

Brazil: Report on the National Congress of CONLUTAS

A new setback for the Brazilian and Latin American workers at the hands of the ex-Trotskyist left of the World Social Forum

By Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction*

CONAT creates a new union to contain the revolution

The National Congress of Workers (CONAT) met in Sumare (San Pablo-Brazil), on May 5, 6 and 7. It was convened by the National Coordination of Struggles (CONLUTAS), a group of workers organizations that arose two years ago during the big wave of strikes against the pro-imperialistic policy of the government of Lula. Most of these groups are led or influenced by the PSTU and the PSOL –parties that claim to be Trotskyist. More than 2700 delegates representing over 1.700.000 workers; some 100 international delegations representing organizations in the United States, Russia, France, Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, etc were invited along with other special guests and observers. CONAT thus had the enormous potential to become a solid strongpoint for the unification of the Brazilian workers and the workers in the whole American continent.

The unity of the working class is an urgent necessity to face the attack launched on the workers and landless peasants by imperialism, the big monopolies and the bosses in Brazil and all Latin America. It could have stood up to defend the struggles of the exploited of the continent, and in particular the Bolivian revolution under seige. It was a great opportunity to launch a counter-offensive of Brazilian workers and peasants against the pro-imperialist policy of the popular front of Lula-Alencar-Marinho and its regime of the Social Pact backed by the bureaucratic traitors of the CUT, Union Forza and the CGT. Such a counter-offensive is necessary to break with these bureaucratic leaders of the workers and landless peasants’ movement.

This potential was deliberately squandered and the opportunity was lost. A new "broad" central union, "in the style of the CTA of Argentina" was created instead. This type of union opposes real workers democracy, the development of factory committees, or other forms of self-organization of the masses, and prevents the coordination of struggles. It therefore cannot adance a program to challenge the regime or the treacherous bureaucracy that props it up.

This congress was used instead to create a new central union under the leadership of a ‘new left’ bureaucracy, cementing the divisions in the Brazilian working class. It was a congress designed to create an electoral front of the PSOL and the PSTU, and nothing to do with the creating the fighting organizations that the masses need. Thus the enormous majority of black workers, workers in precarious, underpaid jobs, unemployed, rural workers and landless peasants, remain outside the unions. On the contrary, when the CONAT resolved "to organize the non-organized", it merely dressed up the old slogan of the union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO in the US, which leaves the vast majority of non-unionized workers separated from the small layer of workers who are unionized.

Congress controlled by World Social Forum

Why? Because this congress was controlled by the World Social Forum and the Castroite restorationist bureaucracy and its ‘representative’, the Cuban intellectual Celia Hart Santamaria. When the three main WSF spokespersons, Petras, Antunez, and Arcari, spoke of the need "to organize the non-organized", they showed that the WSF is well aware that today many of those entering the struggles, the most exploited, broad sectors of the working class – the French worker youth, the Latino immigrants in the U.S.A., casualized contract workers in Argentina, etc., -are outside the control of the unions and workers’ organisations. The WSF is conscious of the need to build new institutions to organise and contain these newly emerging militant layers of the working class. That is why, to contain these layers, CONAT created a new union.

While the new union is designed to contain the new layers of fighters from organising independently of the left bureaucracy, it still leaves around 80% of the Brazilian working class, some 50 million workers, un-organised. The declarations of solidarity with the struggles of the landless etc., and attacks on the regime and imperialism were hollow words, because no specific proposals arose to unify the struggles and prepare for a general strike to defeat the regime. Moreover, CONAT has even reneged on the fight against the union bureaucracy of the CUT for the leadership of those unionized sectors under the latter’s influence.

So the congress of CONLUTAS was designed to fulfill the tasks assigned to the PSTU and the PSOL by the WSF. The task of the PSOL is to contain, by forming an electoral alternative, those sections of the masses that have broken politically with the PT. The task of the PSTU is to contain that section of the militant workers vanguard that hates the union bureaucracy and wants to defeat the Lula-Alencar-Marinho regime, and to prevent it from developing in a revolutionary way. CONAT succeeded in these tasks of containing the vanguard within a new left bureaucratic union that will not challenge the regime or its bureaucracy.

Therefore, the P-SOL and the PSTU proved that they are opposed to workers struggles to defeat the regime of Lula and the treacherous bureaucrats that supports the regime, by forming a new central union that contains the militants and diverts them into pressuring the popular front of Lula-Alencar-Marinho. In CONAT there are political currents like the LER-QI – a sister group of the Argentinean PTS – who say that the CONLUTAS should be a "Fraction of the CUT". This position is a variant of the PSTU’s peaceful coexistence with the bureaucracy of the CUT allowing "room" for competing slates of the different ‘fractions’. That would still leave the majority of the workers and the exploited that are not organized in the CUT or other union centrals, in the hands of the bureaucracy and the workers aristocracy.

Against such reformist politics stood the comrades of the Fraçao Trotskista-Vanguardia Proletária (FT-VP), member of the Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction (FL-T), along with the companions of Partido Operário Marxista (POM) and other combative sectors. Before and during the CONAT they took a working class stand defending their position that the congress must create a "Soviet-style Proletarian Central Union". They argued that only the unity of the working masses and the rural poor through their self-organization can confront the pro-imperialist bourgeois regime of the popular front, re-creating the "Commandos of base" (“Rank and file committees”) – like those that existed in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. In other words, organizations of direct democracy of the masses, the only way to fight for a program that unites and defends the interests of the whole working class.

Turn one’s back on the Bolivian Revolution and kneel at the feet of the “Bolivarian Revolution”

The CONAT was not only a setback for the Brazilian working class, but also for all Latin American workers. Because each and every one of its resolutions helped to force the workers to kneel at the feet of the "Bolivarian revolution" and Chavez’ “Socialism of the 21st Century", that is to say, at the feet of their respective national bourgeoisies.

It was the perfect ending to the preparatory meeting that the PSTU itself, with the attendance of the Venezuelan PRS and other organizations of ex-Trotskyists, held at the Caracas meeting of the WSF under the title of: "How to reorganize Latin American Unionism". At that meeting the plans were draw up for the CONAT. In order to fulfill this plan they decided to harass and smear any opposing opinion to the official line dictated by the Castroite think tanks. That official line was obediently applied by the LIT, and its leading section, the PSTU, in close collaboration with the PSOL and Stalinism.

This is revealed clearly is the class collaboration in the international resolutions at the congress. The resolution on Bolivia,for example, says: "1) To support the fight of the Bolivian people for the nationalization of oil and gas. 2) Proposing that CONLUTAS supports and organises the International Campaign for the Nationalization without compensation of oil and gas in Latin America”.

That is to say, a resolution that speaks in general of nationalization without compensation, but does not denounce the bourgeois semi-nationalization of oil and gas by Evo Morales – supported by Chávez, Castro and the WSF. This is a true betrayal of the Bolivian and Latin American workers since not only does it protect the property of the multinationals, it increases their profits, loading onto the backs of the masses of the continent the costs of the increased price of Bolivian hydrocarbons. The resolution of the CONAT does not denounce this deception as an essential part of the plan for strangling the Bolivian revolution. A congress summoned by a current that is said to be "Socialist" and "revolutionary", as the PST-U claims to be, does not raise much less discusses or vote on a resolution in support of the victory of the workers and farmers revolution in Bolivia, nor against Evo Moral and his popular front government that tries to hijack it and strangle it!

In politics, whoever stays silent… The PSTU and the PSOL, "blessed" Morales fraudulent semi-nationalization with their silence... that is, they gave the "nationalization" of Morales and Co a blank cheque to go on deceiving the masses. Thus they prostrated themselves at the feet of the "Bolivarian revolution" promoted by Morales, Chávez and Castro, which is nothing more than the hijacking of the anti-imperialist struggle of the masses. Thus they have turned their backs on the true revolution: the heroic revolution of the Bolivian workers and peasants that began in 2003.

CONAT fails to rally Brazilian workers to back the Bolivian Revolution

But the problem does not finish there. The PSTU did not insist that the first international task of the Brazilian working class must be to confront their own bourgeoisie and Petrobras, as the agents of imperialist oil companies in Bolivia. Thus the PSTU participates in the political, economic and military blockade that the client bourgeoisies have mounted against the Bolivian revolution. What kind of "socialist" and "revolutionary" movement is the PSTU which at the very moment that all the fractions of the Brazilian bourgeoisie are crying out for Lula to intervene militarily in Bolivia to guarantee cheap gas, it holds a congress of workers but does demand that the Brazilian working class face up to its most important international task!

In that sense CONAT was the continuation of the Continental Meeting held less than a year ago by the same reformist organisations and ex-Trotskyists in La Paz, Bolivia, where they hijacked the heroic struggle of the Bolivian masses who had just overthrown Mesa, and sold it to Chavez and Castroism, thus collaborating decisively in the plan to strangle the Bolivian masses.

In the resolution on free trade treaties like the FTAA and the individual FTAs, they refused to include the “ALBA” (Chavez’ own “free trade agreement” among the South American bourgeoisies) as one more treaty used against the workers. Even worse, they say: "6. To take advantage of the next elections and to demand again that Lula’s government holds an official plebiscite on the FTAA ". Thus they voted to turn the fight against the FTAA and the treaties that tie the semi-colonial countries to imperialism into an electoral demand on Lula for a… "plebiscite" (!!). This means they direct workers away from the fight against imperialism and its treaties in the streets, to the ballot box within the frame of bourgeois democracy. At the same time, they raise hopes that by putting pressure on Lula some victories may be won. This is the typical Menshevik politics of putting pressure on the bourgeoisie through the popular front to ‘pressure’ them to go to the left. Meanwhile, the workers are exploited, enslaved and oppressed by these treaties. The fight against imperialism and the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeois governments and regimes has been completely abandoned. The truth must be said to the workers: - only by overthrowing these popular front governments with a revolutionary struggle will we be able to advance to win our demands, even the most basic ones.

With such precedents, the resolution on Venezuela, while it denounces "bourgeois nationalism", and says that it is necessary for the workers "to construct their own political alternative", it does not state that the working class must not support the government of Chavez or any other bourgeois government. Nor does it raise a program to unmask Chavez’ government as ultimately siding with imperialism against the working masses, to prepare the workers for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the victory of the socialist revolution. They don’t want to say to the Venezuelan workers that only a workers’ and peasants’ government would refuse to sell oil to allow the US imperialists to kill our Iraqi brothers and sisters! They don’t want to demand that the Venezuelan UNT (Central Union) - led by groups that also comprise the Brazilian PSOL- to break their support of Chávez and to organize a strong campaign for the sliding scale of wages and working hours in Venezuela!

On the contrary, when one of the commissions managed to pass a motion against Chavez’ government, the PSTU leadership reacted as if they had been stung, accusing anyone who raised such a motion of being “in favour of a pro-imperialistic coup de etat". What "coup"? Wall Street is more than content with the guaranteed supply of oil to keep the US military machine moving. It is no less content with the brake that, together with the Cuban bureaucracy and the ex-Trotskyists, Chavez and his “Bolivarian revolution” is putting on the US proletariat’s awakening to class struggle, and delivering it to the feet of the Democratic Party!

Finally, the resolution on Haiti takes the cake. Beyond the denunciations, the resolution ends up leaving everything in the hands of Lula. It proposes: "To demand Lula’s government’s immediate and uncondition withdrawal of Brazilian troops from Haiti". Again they raise hopes that Lula, who is the most faithful follower of imperialist plans, is going to break with his bourgeois partners and withdraw from Haiti.

The PSTU adopts the Stalinist theory of stages in the semi-colonies

The PSTU is demanding the national bourgeoisies of the semi-colonial countries break their ties to imperialism and complete the tasks of the bourgeois national revolution. Yet in the imperialistic epoch only the working class, seizing power as the leading class of the oppressed nation, can carry through these tasks as part of the socialist revolution. Thus the ex-Trotskyists provide a ‘revolutionary’ cover for these bourgeoisies, and act like the fox that guards the hen coop! There is nothing to be demanded from Lula while he is in a popular front! It is necessary to denounce him without equivocation and fight to get the troops out of Haiti with street mobilisations of the working class, in preparation for a general strike that will only finish when there are no soldiers left in Haiti!

The CONAT, far from being a congress that prepared to unite and strengthen the struggles of the Brazilian and Latin American workers, was a congress organised by the WSF to inject the working class with the old Stalinist politics of class collaboration that calls for support of supposedly "progressive measures" of the national bourgeoisies and to demand that they go “further with those measures”.

For this reason, the CONLUTAS Congress in Sumare was a great lost opportunity to create a Latin American peasants and workers’ congress for confronting and defeating the class collaborationist politics of the popular front which the reformists use to contain the Latin American revolution and the awakening of the North American working class.

The CONAT is one more link in a reformist chain that tries to tie the Bolivian workers to the defence of the bourgeois semi-nationalisation of Morales, and tie the Brazilian workers to the Sao Paulo’s bourgeoisie to defend jobs threatened by the increases cost of gas. It also tries to tie the Argentine workers to Kirchner and the Chilean ones to Bachelet, etc.

A bureaucratic congress with a reformist program to pressure the Lula regime to the left

In order to carry out this reformist program, against the interests of the working class, there had to be a strong bureaucratic control of the congress. The delegates were isolated from the real world for three days, lodged in a estate once owned by the Catholic Church. It was a closed congress without spectators, except for members of the PSOL and PSTU or course! Rank rank and file workers could not attent directly but had to vote for their delegates. So it was impossible for the rank and file workers of the unions to influence or control their delegates and make sure their mandates were ‘fulfilled’.

During the preceding weeks there was a barrage of falsifications of any opposing motions in order to weaken them. A regulation was introduced hindering the free expression of dissident positions. For example, the different "Theses" that had been presented by various organizations before the Congress could not be discussed in the plenary meeting, not even if a union had endorsed them by a rank and file majority. There were “discussion commissions” organized which worked as “filters”. Thus in order to win the right to be discussed in the plenary meeting, a thesis or motion had to obtain 10% of support in one of these “discussion commissions”. Workers’ delegations were bureaucratically "distributed" across different commissions, limiting the possibility of voting as a bloc in any of one of them. Thus, a delegation of 30 or 40 persons was spread among 10 or 20 commissions where the cadres that defended the official positions were in the majority. This guaranteed that most of the opposing positions could not get to the plenary to be discussed and voted on by the body of delegates.

And if some of these thesis or motions did survive this bureaucratic filter and reach the plenary, proposers of motions had only 4 minutes to speak, whereas “the panel” not only had three spokespersons with unlimited time for "clarifying" and "interpreting" the positions raised by the motions, but in addition they also had more time to defend "the official" positions. As well as this whenever a dissident tried to speak a section of the delegates were primed to respond with a chorus of whistles and hostile chants etc. All the groups of the reformist left agreed to this policy. Moreover, the apparatus of the PSTU produced a flood of motions to ensure the bureaucratic control of the congress.

The comrades of the Fraçao Trotskista (FT-VP) and of the Partido Operário Marxista (POM), who proposed the oppositional thesis in defence of a "Soviet-type Central Union", and who distributed a leaflet with a program against the popular front and class collaborationist politics, and for workers’ democracy, suffered all these "disadvantages" in having to fight for accreditation, having to disperse and weaken their forces, and the severe time limits imposed on their speakers.

The PSTU refuses to fight for workers democracy, the political revolution in Cuba, or against the Lula regime

To carry through its task to divide the workers and contain the new layers of militants, and ensure that the CONAT was part of the WSF politics of class collaboration at the continental level to put ‘pressure’ on the Lula popular front regime, it was necessary to guarantee a bureaucratic congress, completely alien to the Trotskyist tradition of the broadest workers democracy.

For that reason it was no accident that there was a deafening silence in the CONAT on how to defend Cuba from imperialism and the internal counterrevolution, that is to say, the restoration of capitalism promoted by the Castroite bureaucracy. In fact the fight for the political revolution in Cuba was not even mentioned. How could it be otherwise, when CONAT reneged on the broadest workers democracy, the fight against the bureaucracy, or for the self-organizing of the masses in struggle? At a moment when the Castroite bureaucracy is accelerating its march towards the completion of capitalist restoration and preparing its own transformation into a bourgeoisie, not a single word of the Transitional Program of the Fourth International on the political revolution could be heard from the PSTU right up to the end of the CONAT!

Nobody raised: Down with the privileges of the bureaucracy! Down with the workers aristocracy with its degrees and decorations! Equal wages for equal work! For the freedom of the unions and the factory committees! For the freedom of association and the press! For soviets, that is workers, peasants and red soldiers’ councils! For the legalization of the Soviet parties: determined and voted by workers, peasants and red soldiers’ councils! Only the victorious revolutionary uprising of the oppressed masses can save the workers’ state and oopen the road to socialism! It is necessary to defeat the restorationist bureaucracy! Long live the international socialist revolution!

The program of the 4th International for political revolution is the program for the fight against all labor bureaucracies and aristocracies. That is why the PSTU has renounced it and kept an absolute silence in the CONAT. It is not accidental because CONAT was organised by the WSF whose counterrevolutionary politics in Latin America walks on two legs: the workers aristocracy and bureaucracy of the PT and the CUT of Brazil; and the restorationist Castroite bureaucracy. While Lula and Fidel Castro respectively, were the founders of the Forum, today it walks on both legs in the person of their comrade Chavez.

Certainly no mention of the political revolution could be made at CONAT since the special guest was Celia Hart Santamaría, the representative of Fidel Castro and the Cuban bureaucracy. To speak about it would also have caused a rift between the PSTU and the Pabloite guests - the most faithful servants of the Castroite bureaucracy, Antunez and Heloisia Helena of the Mandelist faction. They were sent by the Pabloites as its representatives to the CONAT with its left hand, while with the right hand its leader Miguel Rosetto is the Minister of agrarian reform in the government of Lula, responsible for guaranteeing the interests of the large estate owners and the massacres of landless peasants at the hands of the paramilitaries.

PSTU and PSOL have broken with Trotskyism

It is clear that the PSTU - like the PSOL- has definitively broken with Trotskyism, and, like all the liquidators of the 4th International, it is subordinated to Castroism and organized under its centralized command in Latin America. So it renounces the fight for the political revolution and promotes "democratic" and "anti-imperialist" fronts with the native bourgeoisies, pressuring them to "fight imperialism to the end"; that is to say, the same old Stalinist policy of supporting any "progressive" bourgeoisie and "patriotic" military officers.

We have proven that they have made the Stalinist politics their own. This is not a "slander", as the PSTU members claim whenever the Trotskyists of the FLT criticise and fight their reformist politics: it is a pure and simple truth. The Morenoites of the LIT and the PSTU have embraced the Pabloites, and now hang from the apron strings of the Castroite bureaucracy and the national bourgeoisies! Holding hands with Celia Hart and Pabloism, you could not expect a different outcome.

For that reason, Celia Hart left the CONAT declaring that she had "great hopes" in what had happened in the CONLUTAS congress. How could she feel otherwise! Once again the PSOL and the PSTU did their duty following their Castroite chiefs’ orders, protecting their commanders’ left flank while the latter are preparing to complete the capitalist restoration in Cuba; they proved to be able to contain and divert the vanguard that had created CONLUTAS out of the many struggles against the Lula popular front!

Nor can the P-SOL or the PSTU, reneging on the political revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, untie the hands of the Brazilian working class now tied behind their backs by Lula’s popular front : they are hand in glove with the four musketeers that tied them in the first place!

The fight to create a revolutionary and internationalist party in Brazil is a task left to the principled Trotskyists who are not subordinated to Castrism, Morales, Chávez, and the WSF. It is left, also, to the revolutionary workers organizations that reject the politics of submission that the ex-Trotskyists peddle.

Against the four Musketeers of the WSF: for an internationalist working class bloc

This report demonstrates that the CONAT was an enormous opportunity lost and a big setback for the Latin American working class. The blame for this new defeat is clearly that of the ex-Trotskyists who have gone over definitively to the reformist camp.

We call on all honest workers and militant workers’ organizations that look for a way to unite our class to fight the national bosses, imperialism and the class collaborationist popular front governments. We call all those who refuse to kneel before Evo Morales or Chávez; those that want to defend the Cuban revolution and know that this means confronting and defeating the Castroite bureaucracy that wants to restore Capitalism in Cuba. We call all those that resist the reformist wave ridden by the ex-Trotskyists as cheerleaders for the continental popular front.

We call on them all to convene an internationalist Workers and Peasants’ Congress in Latin America with delegates directly elected by the rank and file, to rebuild the international unity of the Latin American working class, to fight against all the reformist leaders of the WSF and its ex-Trotskyists left wing, all of which are guilty of the betrayals and defeats suffered by the working class and the exploited of Latin America.

Martin Cesar
FLT Correspondant in Sumare, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction: Formed in December 2005. Its members are:
International Workers' League (LOI-CI-Workers Democracy) Argentina, International Workers' Party (P)I-CI) Chile, Revolutionary Trotskyist League (LTR-CI) Peru, Red October International (ORI-CI) Bolivia, Trotskyist Fraction (FT-VP) Brazil, Communist Workers' Group (CWG) New Zealand.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Stop kneeling before the bourgeoisie!

Emergency appeal from the Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction to all the organizations that speak in the name of the working class in Latin America:

For a Latin American Congress to unite the struggles of the working class and the exploited against imperialism and the client regimes and governments!

With the semi-nationalization of the hydrocarbons in Bolivia, the World Social Forum and the ex-Trotskyists have displayed once more their politics pf class collaboration and the continental Popular Front, making the working class of each country subordinate to the interests of their own – or neighbouring countries’ - “progressive” bourgeoisie.

Imperialism and its client bourgeoisies in Latin America are drawing lessons from the heroic rebellion of the young French workers; of the struggle of the immigrant workers in the US; of the Mexican steelworkers and miners; of the struggles by the Las Heras’ workers (particularly the subcontracted oil workers), the subcontracted subway workers in the Buenos Aires Subway and the subcontracted steelworkers in the Siderar steelworks (all of which earn a much lower wage than the permanent workers and have been classified as less skilled workers and put under the less favourable construction collective bargain); of the subcontracted copper miners and of the youth – today in revolt –in Chile.

Imperialism and its client bourgeoisies know that the majority of the working class in the Americas is being super-exploited and left without rights, working “in black” or with precarious contracts, treated as slaves, and de-unionized (therefore not controlled by the union bureaucracy). Under these conditions, imperialism and its bourgeois client regimes are terrified at the idea that these super-exploited workers that form the large majority of the working class may erupt in rebellions and struggles that cannot be controlled by the old union bureaucracies that are deeply hated by the masses.

That’s why imperialism and client regimes are putting in place, from the US to Patagonia, new institutions for the control of the masses, in which the central role is being played by the “left” wing of the World Social Forum, that is, the “ex-Trotskyists”.

For instance, in Argentina, the PO (Workers’ Party) and the two fractions of the MST (Socialist Workers Movement – no relation to Cliffites), joined with the Communist Party etc., in the May 8 a rally “backing the nationalization of hydrocarbons in Bolivia”, while demanding that Kirchner do the same in Argentina. That is, they had the same agenda that the Castroite-Kirchnerites of the “Movimiento Evita” (“Evita Movement” after Evita Peron, icon of the ‘left’ Peronist movement) raised in their pro-government rally in the Luna Park sports ground! They want to make the working class believe that it is possible to “influence” Kirchner – Repsol’s “front man” and agent – in order to get him attack Repsol’s oil interests! They want to make the working class kneel before Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, and through them, before Kirchner!

In the US, after the hugely militant mass action of the May Day “boycott” and the demonstrations by millions of Latino and other immigrants, the tendencies in the World Social Forum, in particular the liquidators of the Fourth International, have already put into action a new plan to contain that struggle in the interests of their own imperialist bourgeoisie. They are trying to steer the immigrant workers into a “Movement in Defence of Cuba and Venezuela” to subordinate them to the Democratic Party of the Clintons, Kerry and the rest of the imperialist murderers. This serves the US imperialist bourgeoisie because it does not challenge Venezuela’s continued supply of oil to the US war machine in Iraq and elsewhere. Moreover, now that major new oil fields have been discovered in the Caribbean, US corporations are able to profit from them at the expense of Repsol, the company Fidel has favoured up to now.

In the same way these ex-Trotskyist leaders have just inflicted a serious defeat on the vanguard of the Brazilian working class at the recent congress of the CONLUTAS (confederation of workers in struggle, a split from the CUT). They were able to pass resolutions in support of the “Bolivarian revolution” and “Socialism of the 21st Century”, backing Morales’ “semi-nationalization”, and “demanding that Lula do the same in Brazil!” This amounted to a defeat for the Brazilian working class because it supported the semi-nationalization of Morales which grants business as usual for the multinational corporations and a bigger slice of the profits for the national bourgeoisie. Denouncing the semi-nationalisation would have united the Brazilian vanguard with the most combative sectors of the Bolivian proletariat, such as the Huanuni miners. The Brazilian workers’ will pay for their support of Morales’ measure – as will the Bolivian, Argentine and Chilean workers – because their bourgeoisies will no doubt shift the higher prices of Bolivian gas onto their shoulders.

In the CONLUTAS congress, these treacherous leaders subordinated the Brazilian workers vanguard to the Brazilian oil company Petrobras – actually to Total (French Big Oil) for which Petrobras is a “front man”. Ensuring this defeat required the concentrated forces of the Castroite bureaucracy – through the presence of James Petras and Celia Hart Santamaria; the P-SOL (Party of Socialism and Liberty) headed by the Mandelite ex-Trotskyist Heloisa Helena, and other former leaders of the PT; and the ex-Trotskyist PSTU which plays a key role in the “left” wing of the World Social Forum.

A Workers’ and Peasants’ Congress to unite all the struggles against imperialism and its client regimes!

The imperialist bourgeois oppressors rule with NAFTA, AFTA, FTAs, and Mercosur, the economies of Latin America while workers and peasants are divided and contained country by country. The working class and the exploited in Latin America have over many decades of heroic struggles won many fights and built up big and strong fighting organizations. Only the class collaborationist politics of their leaders reduces their power to nothing.

A united continent-wide struggle is necessary, one that goes beyond the national borders and unites the workers as a single force. In order to accomplish that, it will be necessary to remove the main obstacle, namely the reformist leaderships grouped in the World Social Forum –including the “ex-Trotskyists” –who tie the workers to the national bourgeoisies and prevent the unity of the exploited of the Americas.

Enough of this kneeling to the bourgeoisie! Against the “summits” of Lula, Kirchner, Chavez and Evo – the “four musketeers” of his Majesty, Imperialism, which are held to decide how best to divide up the continent’s resources and exploit its workers!
Against the class collaborationist policies of the World Social Forum backing the semi-nationalization of the hydrocarbons in Bolivia to grant imperialism its superprofits!

For a Workers and Peasants’ Continental Congress, with rank and file delegates from all the militant organizations of the masses, a great workers and peasants “summit” to unify the struggles in Latin American countries and link it to that of our class sisters and brothers in the USA!
A congress that will overthrow NAFTA, AFTA, the FTAs, Mercosur, etc., and create on the ruins of the imperialist bourgeois economy, a socialist economic plan for the continent to expropriate the imperialist monopolies and integrate the plentiful rich resources of our nations, to provide work, a living wage, health, education, for all workers and exploited, and land to poor peasants!

In Venezuela the UNT (Venezuelan Central Union) that is led by the PRS –a party that bands together the majority of the currents of the “ex-Trotskyists” must break its subordination to Chavez and his “Bolivarian revolution” and summon a continental congress!

In Brazil, the recently held congress of CONLUTAS, representing almost two million militant workers, and attended by over 150 international delegations, proves that the conditions are ripe for a continental workers and peasants’ congress. It is necessary to demand that CONLUTAS rejects Morales’ fake “nationalization”, and summons a workers and peasants’ continental congress!

In Argentina, the working class and the exploited have won hundreds of factory committees, delegates committees and “occupied” factories from the hands of the union bureaucracy, and created militant picketeers’ movements. Most are led by fake Trotskyist currents such as PO, the two MST, Argentine MAS, PTS, and the “Plenum of Self-convened workers”. Demands must be placed on these organizations to break with the Kirchner government’s Labor Ministry and its “cooling off period”; to break with their support of Evo Morales and his decrees; and to take the lead in the call for a continental congress.

The heroic miners subcontracted by the outsourced copper companies in Chile; the combative Chilean youth that today continue to shake the foundations of the Chilean state from Arica in the north to Temuco in the south, following the example of the oppressed French youth that rose up to the cry “Every night, let’s make Paris a Baghdad!”; the organizations of the oil workers and vanguard workers, together with the poor peasants in Ecuador, fighting against the client regime of Palacio, the FTA and imperialist Big Oil … all of them must be called upon to lead the struggle for a continental congress!

The Peruvian construction and health workers that have gone to the streets to fight against the ferocious attacks on their launched by Toledo’s government and the Fujimorista regime in crisis… they also have to be called to break all subordination to the bourgeoisie and take up this appeal for a continental congress.

The Huanuni miners and the revolutionary workers in El Alto (Bolivia) have the authority to summon a Workers and Peasants’ Continental Congress

The miners in Huanuni and the workers in El Alto, the true “guardians of the hydrocarbons” in Bolivia, those that keep alive the fire of the “Central Headquarters of the Revolution” and voted the Theses of Pulacayo as their revolutionary program on June 8, 2005; those that refused to kneel before Morales or Chavez or any other bourgeois… they have all the authority to call for this workers and peasants continental congress to constitute again the “Central Headquarters of the Revolution” in Bolivia.

We call on the Huanuni miners and the El Alto workers in Bolivia, and all those organizations that oppose the class collaborationist policy of the World Social Forum, and the rotten role of the liquidators of the Fourth International; all those rejecting all subservience to these traitors, and looking for a revolutionary road ahead; all those fighting for the interests of the Latin American and world proletariat, to take up this appeal as their own and to commit their resources to make it a reality.

We call on the Asociación de Trabajadores sin Techo (Association of “workers without houses”) in Diadema, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, led by the socialist workers of the POM (Marxist Workers Party), to take up and fight for this appeal, and to put as a motion to its meeting on July 1st – 2nd to regroup the militant worker organizations opposed any subordination to the World Social Forum, and to the “ex-Trotskyists” and their class collaborationist policy in Brazil.

We call on the dockworkers, railworkers and militant students who have built a ‘Fighting Committee’ in the city and port of Arica, Chile, to promote this motion to all the workers organizations and popular organizations in struggle in Chile.

In Argentina, we take this proposal to the heroic workers in Las Heras and to the Las Heras Women’s Commission who despite heavy repression and isolation continue with their fight for their demands, beginning with the immediate and unqualified freedom for the imprisoned fighters. We also call on the militant picketeer organizations which are resisting the policies of the reformist “left” – whom we joined to oppose Bush’s “Americas Summit”, and the World Social Forum’s “counter-summit” last November – to take up the fight for this proposal together with us in the ranks of the Argentine working class.

We call on the workers vanguard in the immigrant movement in the US, and the advanced workers that opposes the war in Iraq, to take up the call for a workers’ and peasants’ continental congress.

We call on all of these fighters from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego to combine their forces to make this workers and peasants continental congress a reality, and to take up the following demands in the wider worker ranks:

  • Against the semi-nationalization of hydrocarbons decreed by Evo Morales in Bolivia, which guarantees business as usual for the multinational corporations and a juicy slice of the profit cake for the native bourgeoisie, making the exploited in Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and all Latin America pay for the costs.
  • Nationalization without compensation and under workers control of hydrocarbons, and of all the facilities, funds, and the entire property of the multinational corporations in Bolivia!
  • For the nationalization without compensation and under workers control of hydrocarbons in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and all of Latin America, expropriating Repsol, Chevron, Shell, Exxon, British Petroleum, Total, and the rest of the plundering imperialist monopolies!
  • For the complete re-nationalization of Codelco (Copper company) in Chile, and the expropriation without compensation of all the privatised pits and copper fields, putting them to work under workers control! For the reclaiming of the Peruvian minerals, Bolivian minerals and water resources, and all the natural resources that the imperialists have been stealing from the entire continent!
  • For a co-ordinated fight of all the workers and peasants’ organizations of the Americas to confront the economical, political and military blockade that the client regimes of Lula, Kirchner, Toledo, Bachelet, etc., have imposed on the Bolivian revolution to strangle it. Any support to those governments is a clear betrayal of the Bolivian Revolution; they are the lackeys of Shell, Repsol, Petrobras, Exxon, Total and the rest of imperialist corporations that plunder and impoverish our peoples in Latin America and murder the heroic Iraqi peoples!
  • Let’s call the workers and exploited in Central America to adopt as their own cause the victory of the Bolivian revolution! This revolution shows them the way to defeat the CAFTA and block the US slave-owner government’s plan of reducing them to new colonies and protectorates; in the same way that it shows the workers and peasants in South America the way to defeat the FTAs -just forced onto Chile and now represented by the Pact of the Andes, and how to defeat Mercosur – imposed by the imperialist monopolies and their junior partners the client regimes of the South of the continent.
  • Break with the IMF and the World Bank! Repudiate the external debts which suffocate our nations! Break with the OAS, the UN, the Inter American Treaty of Reciprocal Defence, and all the economic, political, and military pacts that tie our nations to imperialism! Down with NAFTA, AFTA, FTAs, CAFTA, Mercosur and the rest of the “free trade” treaties stuffing the pockets of the imperialist monopolies and the national bourgeoisies!
  • In Bolivia, kick out the DEA officials and their bases in El Chapare! Yankee troops and military bases out of Paraguay and Manta Isle in Ecuador! Out of the Malvinas (called “Falkland Islands” by the British imperialists) and the NATO bases! Out with all US imperialist forces prepared to smash the Latin American revolution!
  • Hands off Haiti! Out with the UN and its den of thieves using the troops of the client regimes of Kirchner, Lula, Bachelet and Vazquez to kill the Haitian people for the sake of US and French imperialism!
  • For the expropriation without compensation of all the big landowners all over Latin America, to give land to the poor peasants, opening the way for land nationalization! For the expropriation of the banks under workers control, to give cheap credit to the small producers both in the town and the country! Nationalization of foreign trade!
  • Enough of joblessness, super exploitation and starvation wages for the working class, the only one that creates all the wealth in our continent! Let’s organize a unified continental fight for decent jobs and wages for all workers, imposing the sliding scale of wages and work hours as is stated in the Pulacayo Theses! Enough of a situation that creates workers into first and second class employees: same work, same pay; all the casual workers must be contracted on an equal footing with the permanent workers, under decent collectively negotiated conditions!
  • Stop the slave traffic imposed by the imperialist and national bourgeoisies on the immigrant workers in the US as well as in the Latin American countries! Freedom of travel and residence for all workers, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, from the Pacific to the Atlantic! Immediate citizenship with full social, economic and union rights for all immigrant workers in all the countries of the American continent!
  • Down with the pacts, the truces and the class collaborationist policies with which the union bureaucracies of the continent back and support the governments and regimes that are the clients and junior partners of the imperialist plundering of our countries! The true workers and peasants alliance will be attained through breaking off all subordination to the bourgeoisie, and on the ruins of the regimes and governments that are lackeys of imperialism, such as Lula-Alencar’s, and that of the Brazilian CUT bureaucrat Luiz Marinho in Brazil, such as Kirchner’s in Argentina, Toledo’s in Peru, Bachelet’s in Chile, Palacio’s in Ecuador, etc.!
  • For the complete independence of the workers organizations from the bourgeois state and from all its institutions! Hands off the workers organizations by the bourgeois Labor Ministries! Down with the “cooling off periods” and rules to disarm and defeat strikes and workers struggles! Down with all the bourgeois laws that dictate the organization of the workers: we workers organize ourselves as we please and do not need any control by our class enemy!
  • Down with all the union bureaucrats! For the widest workers democracy within the unions and all the fighting organizations of the exploited! All the leaders and delegates should be elected by the rank and file in worker assemblies; their mandate should be recallable and last for one year maximum; they should be paid a wage equal to the lowest paid in the occupations which they represent. When their term is finished, they must not be re-elected and must return to work. No to the compulsory deduction of union dues by the bosses! Leaders and delegates should collect the union dues each month directly from the workers in their workplaces. Every negotiation with the bosses or the ministries should be held publicly before the rank and file which will then decide by voting with a show of hands in a general assembly whether or not to agree to a contract.
  • For factory (workplace) committees to unite all the sectors of the working class! For committees of unemployed and committees of rural workers and poor peasants, co-ordinated with the factory committees! Long live self-organization and workers democracy!
  • End the killing and repressing of workers and peasants! A hundred dead in October 2003 in Bolivia, more than 40 dead in December 2001 in Argentina, dozens of dead among the Ecuadorian workers and peasants; countless numbers of dead among the landless peasants in Paraguay and Brazil. The working class has got the legitimate right to self defence: For self-defence workers and peasants committees, “armed workers pickets”, as the Pulacayo Theses correctly state, as embryos of the workers and peasants’ militia!
  • Immediate freedom for all the political prisoners that imperialism and the bourgeois regimes keep as hostages! Immediate and unqualified freedom for the communards of Ayo-Ayo imprisoned in the dungeons of the Morales regime in Bolivia; Freedom for the Mapuche (native Chilean) fighters and the combative youth, all of them held as prisoners in the grip of Bachelet and the regime of the Pinochetista constitution in Chile! Freedom for the Las Heras workers, and for all the militant workers and youth imprisoned in Argentina; freedom for the political prisoners of the Landless Movement in Brazil, who are languishing in Lula-Alencar-Marinho’s jails in Brazil!
  • This combat is a part of the fight to set free the anti-imperialist militiamen who are held as prisoners of war in Guantánamo; to set free the combatants of the Iraqi resistance being subject to punishment and torture in Abu-Grahib; to set free all the immigrant workers and youth imprisoned in the US while fighting for their rights; and to set free the hundreds of young workers and students imprisoned in France due to their confrontation with the imperialist regime of the 5th Republic last November.
  • Against the caricature of the “Bolivarian revolution” of Chavez, Castro and Morales, we affirm that a revolution in Bolivia, in Venezuela, and in any of the Latin American nations will only triumph as a workers and peasants’ revolution, through a triumphant insurrection that destroys the bourgeois state, expropriates the imperialist monopolies and the native bourgeoisies, and imposes the dictatorship of the proletariat in those nations, on the road to creation of the Socialist United States of South and Central America (including Mexico)!
  • Either a victorious workers’ and peasants’ revolution or a caricature of a revolution! There is no room, no possibility at all for an “intermediate” revolution led by a sector of the bourgeoisie, because the native bourgeoisie is always the junior partner of imperialism sharing in its plunder. Either the working class as a leader of the poor peasants seizes power as a first step to liberating the wider exploited strata of the population from its imperialist chains, or the chains of exploitation and plunder, of imperialist rule, will be strengthened.
  • For the defence of the gains of the Cuban Revolution, both against the imperialists and against the internal counterrevolution promoted by the Castroite bureaucracy, which is advancing quickly towards the capitalist restoration in the island! For political revolution! For armed workers and peasants’ councils to defeat the restorationist policy of the Castroite bureaucracy!
  • Let’s call on the workers organizations in Venezuela to stop the export of even one single barrel of oil for Bush and the Yankee imperialists that goes to feed the war machine massacring our class sisters and brothers in Iraq! For the military defeat of all the imperialist troops, for the victory of the heroic Iraqi resistance! Hands off Iran by the UN and all the imperialist gangsters!
  • For the unity with our class sisters and brothers in the imperialist countries! Let’s call on the US working class that opposes the war on Iraq and the millions of immigrant workers in the US to unify and co-ordinate their fight with ours! Let’s us ourselves make one fight with the young workers, all the workers and students in France, who rose up to confront their own imperialist bourgeoisie –no less criminal than the US bourgeoisie, equally plundering and killing the peoples of Latin America, Africa and Asia!

We who are members of the FLT consider ourselves internationalist organizers of the world working class. The fight for an International Conference of the principled Trotskyists and the revolutionary worker organizations lives today in the combat of dozens and hundreds of workers organizations that all over the Americas and the world resist the class collaborationist and Popular Frontist policies of the World Social Forum and the “ex-Trotskyist”; it lives in the fight of the martyred young French workers; it lives in the organizations of immigrant workers in the US who declare that their fight is “class against class” and reject every attempt to make them kneel to the Democrats; it lives in the struggles of the workers vanguard and the youth that are protesting in Chile; it lives in the Huanuni pits where the miners guard the Pulacayo Theses as a priceless jewel; it lives in miners’, workers’ and poor peasants’ of El Alto who are the true guardians of the struggle for the expropriation of the hydrocarbons and the expelling of the multinational corporations.

Giving continuity to these struggles, and regrouping the internationalists and the revolutionary conscious workers and youth in the Americas and the world along the road to creating the world party of the socialist revolution, this is the goal of the Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction!

Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction May 2006

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Civil War threatens in East Timor

Australasian Troops out of East Timor!

East Timor is on the brink of civil war, after a revolt by rank and file soldiers and a series of bloody attacks on protesters by police. This is the direct result of US imperialism’s role, backed by its local sheriffs, Australia and New Zealand, in suppressing East Timor's struggle for independence since it conspired in the Indonesian coup of General Suhato in 1965.

Police kill rebels and civilians

On February the 8th nearly six hundred soldiers - a third of the army - went on strike by walking out of their barracks. Most of the rebel soldiers come from the Loromonu ethnic group in the West of the country. They have complained of brutal treatment by commanders, poor pay, and poor living conditions. They have also been bitterly critical of East Timor's police force, accusing it of widespread human rights abuses and links with pro-Indonesian militias.

On the 16th of March the government of Mari Alkatori sacked the rebels en masse, but the protests did not end. On April the 28th the rebels marched on the capital, determined to win reinstatement and have their grievances heard by Alkatari and President Xanana Gusmao. The march was joined by thousands of unemployed Dili youths shouting anti-government slogans. When the march reached the offices of the Prime Minister in the centre of the city police opened fire on it, killing six people and prompting the youths to begin a riot that saw one hundred buildings burnt down or vandalised. The rebel soldiers fled the city, pursued by police. The World Socialist Website has received a report that one rebel was shot along with his two sons on the outskirts of the city. Two female relatives of the slain men were also reportedly murdered when they attempted to recover the bodies of their loved ones. Twenty thousand civilians fled Dili in the wake of the violence of April the 28th.

The rebels have regrouped and established a zone under their control in East Timor's mountainous interior. They have been joined by sympathisers carrying arms and by many members of East Timor's military police. On May the 5th the rebels issued a declaration which threatened attacks on Dili and other towns. On May the 9th a thousand of their supporters surrounded the police station at Gleno, a town outside Dili. After stones were thrown the police opened fire on the demonstation, killing one person and injuring thirty.

Australian and NZ to intervene

The violence in East Timor has alarmed the governments of Australia and New Zealand. John Howard and his Foreign Minister Alexander Downer have both suggested that Australian troops may have to return to East Timor in large numbers, and on the 5th of May New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters echoed their sentiments. Australia has already boosted the size of the skeleton UN force in Dili from 90 to 200, in response to a request from East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta.

The East Timorese government has characterised the rebel soldiers and their supporters as 'terrorists' bent on 'undermining democracy', but the country's opposition politicians tell another story. Angela Feitas, who plans to run for President against Gusmao in the elections scheduled for next year, has blamed the government for the crisis, and said that 'Right now, it's worse [than it was] during the 1999 referendum [on independence]'.

The bloodshed and chaos in East Timor these past few weeks must have come as a rude shock to many New Zealanders. Over the past few years politicians and the media have turned East Timor into a sort of modern fairytale story. According to this story, Australia and New Zealand liberated the defenceless little country from Indonesian occupation in 1999 out of sheer benevolence. Since 1999, East Timor has supposedly been an island of democracy and peace, a positive example for the rest of the Third World. The reality is that the current crisis in East Timor is the direct result of 1999's 'humanitarian' intervention.

Australia and NZ 'peacekeepers'

After wholeheartedly supporting Indonesia's genocidal occupation of East Timor for nearly a quarter of a century, the US and its South Pacific deputy sheriffs in Canberra and Wellington did a U turn near the end of 1999. By then it had become clear that Indonesia would be unable to retain control of East Timor much longer. Decades of guerrilla warfare and the weakening of the Indonesian state after the overthrow of the Suharto dictatorship in 1997 had made East Timor impossible to govern from Jakarta.

The US and its allies had supported the invasion of 1975 because they were worried about the emergence of an uncooperative government in East Timor. Their concern had returned in 1999. The Timor Strait which separates East Timor and Australia contains rich deposits of oil and gas, and in 1989 Australia had signed a deal with Indonesia that had allowed it to begin exploiting these deposits. The Howard government did not want to see this lucrative operation jeporadised by a nationalistic East Timorese government. Australia and the US were also worried by the possibility that an East Timorese government might encourage the secessionist war being fought in West Papua, another territory Indonesia had acquired illegitimately.

But the US, Australia and New Zealand soon found that the leaders of Fretelin, East Timor's main pro-independence movement, were more than ready to listen to their concerns. In the 1970s, Fretelin icons like Gusmao and Ramos-Horta had been anti-imperialists who espoused a mixture of radical Catholicism and Marxism; by the end of the '90s, though, they had long since become believers in free market capitalism and collaboration with the US and its allies. Ramos-Horta had spent years travelling the world trying to enlist Western support for the East Timorese cause, always emphasising the 'reasonableness' and 'moderation' of Fretelin. (In recent years, Foreign Minister Ramos-Horta has been an outspoken supporter of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.)

Fretelin betrays independence struggle

At the beginning of September 1999, Indonesian-backed militia launched attacks on civilians across East Timor in the aftermath of a referendum on independence. The militia were far weaker than the regular Indonesian army, which had mostly withdrawn from East Timor in the lead-up to the referendum. Many militiamen lacked military training and used homemade weapons. Fretelin's armed wing Falintil could easily have defeated these amateur soldiers, but Gusmao and Ramos-Horta had ensured that Falintil troops were barracked deep in the countryside, away from major population centres. Falintil fighters who wanted to march on Dili and smash the militia there were disarmed and disciplined on the orders of the Fretelin leadership. Fretelin's strategy was to sacrifice East Timorese civilians to the anti-independence militia, in order to generate international sympathy and help push the US and Australia to organise an armed intervention.

In Australia and New Zealand, thousands of people took to the streets to protest the slaughter taking place in East Timor. In Australia, trade unions took industrial action against Indonesia's national airline and a number of other businesses linked to the government in Jakarta. In September 1999 Auckland was hosting the annual APEC summit of Asia and Pacific leaders; a handful of Fretelin politicians flew into the city to lead demonstrations. In a backroom meeting at the APEC summit in downtown Auckland, Bill Clinton, John Howard, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jenny Shipley were already organising an armed intervention force that would operate under a UN mandate.

The vast majority of those demonstrating in solidarity with East Timor supported Fretelin's call for UN intervention in the country. Australia's most popular left-wing paper, the Green Left Weekly, demanded that John Howard organise a force to occupy the island; the trade unions of Australia and New Zealand echoed this call. Only a few small Marxist groups opposed the intervention and pointed out the strategy Fretelin leaders were employing.

Imperialist occupation leads to today’s rebellion

Many East Timorese welcomed the troops that landed under the UN's banner in October 1999. But the reality of the occupation soon set in. The mainly Australian and New Zealand troops had come to ensure the submission of an independent East Timor, and to safeguard Australia's interests in the Timor Strait. Tens of millions of dollars worth of military material was poured into East Timor, but relatively little humanitarian aid arrived. Many East Timorese resented the arrogance of the new occupying force, which was not subject to any local control.

In December 1999, UN troops and East Timorese police opened fire on a march through Dili by unemployed workers, killing several people and sparking a series of riots (the photo at the bottom of this post shows an Australian soldier standing guard over a detainee in the aftermath of one of the riots). Over the next few years Dili would see more riots, as the reality of the new order the UN force had established became ever clearer. On December the 4th 2002, for instance, two Dili students were killed after a protest against police and UN brutality was fired on and turned into a riot. By December 2002 it was clear to many East Timorese that their country's formal independence masked domination by Australia and New Zealand. Australia continued to exploit the oil and gas of the Timor Strait, but paid the East Timorese government only $130 million in royalties every year. In May 2005 Australian control of the Strait was cemented by a one-sided deal which saw the East Timorese agreeing not to stake territorial claims to previously-disputed areas of seabed for sixty years.

With only a trickle of money coming from the Timor Strait, East Timor remains very poor. The UN estimates that per capita income is $370 a year, and falling. Unemployment stands at sixty percent. It is not surprising that the extreme poverty caused by imperialist superexploitation has led to widespread dissatisfaction. But even before the soldiers' strike, the East Timorese government had been in the habit of responding to opposition with threats and repression, not dialogue. Under the rule of Fretelin, the East Timorese police force has become almost as feared as the Indonesian army of occupation once was. A Human Rights Watch Report released in April accused the police of torture, rape, and the murder of opponents of the government.

Imperialist troops out of East Timor!

When we consider the recent history of East Timor, it is easy to see why the soldiers' rebellion has attracted the support of many people outside the military. The soldiers' complaints of poor pay, poor living conditions, and police abuses are complaints that many East Timorese share. The big military-civilian protest which was so brutally repressed on April the 28th showed the level of popular anger with the regime of Gusmao and Alkatari. That regime and its backers in Canberra and Wellington may yet try to crush the rebellion by deploying thousands of Anzac troops across East Timor in a re-run of 1999. The Australasian left must learn from the mistake it made then, and refuse to support any new imperialist adventure in East Timor.

Original also reprinted in Class Struggle #66