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.


Dave Brown said...

Interview to James Petras. Conlutas: an historical foundation

Opinion x Diego Cruz and Roberto Barros

The Marxist intellectual and North American sociologist James Petras, was one of the main presences in the National Congress of Trabajadores (CONAT) who culminated with the foundation of Conlutas. In the following Petras interview he thinks on the political importance of the reorganization of the workers in a clasista perspective and analyzes the degeneration of the Lula government and the PT.

Which are their espectativas on the National Congress of Workers? You think that it historically express a process of reorganization of masses?

Petras - This is an historical foundation because it is creating an organization pole to be against to “neoliberal neon-coronelismo”, as opposed to the decay of other referential ones as the CUT and UNITES and other organizations who support to Lula. After the electoral dispersion of forces and fights already one went to a superior universe. With the masificación of Conlutas, it seems that now the forces critics and dissidents have a datum point to face the Lula government. I believe that that is very important, because at a first moment of that government, the competing forces did not have capacity to organize a drag with some consequences - except for some exception here or there - but believe that now we have from the base a social opposition and a space to open the discussion on a political opposition. That could advance the fight and fill a great emptiness between the right, Lula and the parties of the Parliament, and they gan mass that demands vindications and fights soclaes.

I want to emphasize this. Between the revolutionary left it presents/displays, that is very consequent but small, and the governmental right here, is a mass of 70% of the population that vindicates changes, not necessarily revolutionary. They will lose his reference, but they are not either arranged to go towards a revolutionary left. And, in that space, the paper is important that fulfills Conlutas.

How analyzes the degeneration of the Lula government and the PT?

Petras - It is a process. In the first place, it overcomes to all the trajectory of the PT from the end of years 80, an electoral-institutional direction. With the electoral advances, holding positions in the government, it deepened the alliances with the bourgeois parties and begin to negotiate with the dominant economic sectors. As opposed to that, they stay pendulando between its popular support, of the urban and rural workers, and the negotiations that articulate the parties and bourgeois fractions.

That process to try to equlibrar the two things has like result political Social-Democratic with a radical speech. This correlation of forces became broken in the preparation of the 2002 campaign. It was already evident that the PT was only a party of the small bourgeoisie, financed by the bankers. For my there was no surprise with the occurred thing after 2002. From there, the government breaks that Social-Democratic composition and happens to make liberal a policy pro-imperialistic, discarding many secores of the small bourgeoisie, employees, small industralists and, more than nothing of the field, without earth. In individual he made an abandonment of the public sector, of the officials government.

The new configuration of the power is a government of right, but with working endorsement. He is not something rare. In England we have the history of the calls “red Labour Party members”. In Germany, the Christian Democrats control important sectors of the catholic workers. In Italy he is the same. Then, to speak of party of the workers happens to be equivalent to speak of a bourgeois party. Any direction is not defined, because the asistencialista policy is common to the right governments. For many years that the Christian Democrats maintain a customer in the south of Italy: in Sicily, Calabria and all the agrarian places of the south.

In this I differ with the PSTU when it characterizes this front popular government. He is not in front popular. It is not to have working support what defines a front popular government. Burgés is an pro-imperialistic government and, in composition, financing, trajectory. In such sense, I still believe that it is going to deepen, more, the rightist policy in the next elections. After the public sector, it is going to attack the private sector: in the social forecast, the wages, the social programs. I think about the image of like cuts salame: the first public sector, later another one and another one, and another one.

Against this background, we must classify to the government Lula like a great victory of imperialism, cooptanto to the main organizations of masses and reconverting them arms to deepen the privatizations and to fortify to the financial and exporting sector. Then, we are in this situation with the Lula government: the reconversion of a left party, Social Democrat in a government of hard right.

Conlutas proposes a critic to the Brazilian union structure and, unlike the traditional union structures, Integra to without earth, unemployed, without ceiling, pensioners, etc. Incorporates today to which is the working-class. How see you it possibility of a properly political alternative?

Petras - First, is an enormous mass of workers in small companies, of less than 20 workers, who severely will be struck by the new labor law of Lula, to exclude all the benefits from that sector from the small enterprise bourgeoisie, “to release them” of all those obligations. This is going to affect a mass that almost occupies 50% of manual labor of the country. Although it does not count so much in the GIP.

The task of Conlutas is to organize to that great mass. We now have much experience on the capacity of fight of that sector (informal) in the United States. It is the most combative sector and advanced than they identify with the latonoamericanos, but that is not only Latin American, but working and immigrants who are excluded from the unions, excluded from the policy, but which they are in the vanguard of the great marches, boicots, strikes, etc. In France, the ample sector of youth without use is heading the most forceful combats. And it happens equal in Italy, in the south, with unemployed that is mobilized, also the piqueteros in Argentina. What lacks is to organize to all those sectors in Brazil. They say that it is difficult, that they are dispersed, that is organized in other places. I believe that they are hardly justifications.

Second, to extend to the metallurgical sectors, unions that are in internal fights, contestarias. I believe that it is the great opportunity when Lula begins to attack the Social Forecast of the deprived sector, is the moment for fighting against the mega-pelegos (bureaucrats, yellows) of that sector.

Third, to altogether deepen the conscience of class and, mainly, in the public sector, so that it has one more a vision of less corporative class and. To form schools for a union and clasista formation. That they are not exactly the same thing. The perspective with the extension of the fight are those. Constructing and fortifying the social block it is possible to be opened, against this background, a political discussion. He is premature now to send slogans of political-practical order, as opposed to the great challenge of the organization of the fight and mobilization of masses. It is the risk of falling in the debate between small sectors, without having an involved social base in the mobilization.

Interview made by Diego Cruz and Roberto Barros
Ciranda Conat

Translation of Ernesto Herrera - Correspondence of Press

Dave Brown said...

Brazil: original congress of the National Coordination of Fights (Conlutas)
James Petras, Celia Hart, Mikhail Ostrovski
By: Ciranda Do Conat
Published Thursday, 11/05/06 03:11 p.m.

James Petras: “A plan of fights to conquer to the working class Is precise”

James Petras was the first exponent of the debate “National Conjuncture and the International: Challenges for the Organization of the Workers”, who was made the first day of the Congress.

Petras made reference to the bankruptcy of the elections as the form to change the life of the workers in the world and to the challenges of the reorganization, that happens through the sectors nonsindicalizados, unemployed, of the social and cultural movements.

Petras said: “A great challenge of the CONLUTAS is to organize not-organized million of. The marginalized ones are in the vanguard of the fights anywhere in the world. In Argentina the piqueteros, France and the EUA the immigrants”

In addition it affirmed that these sectors, in Brazil, undergo great attacks of the Lula government. Petras gave to the example of the workers without-earth, whom the agrarian reform in this government of the PT and the one of the workers of the small companies and the one of the consumers in general have not seen. It argued that: “We have a great opportunity to defend the consumers who pay to taxes and a great working mass of the small companies. What Lula is doing is to eliminate all the protection of the workers who work in these small companies. We must construct organizativas forms in the popular districts, in the cultural clubs, we must enter the premises where they live thousand on poor men nonorganized”.

Petras also analyzed the paper of the CONAT (National Congress of Workers) and of the CONLUTAS added that “but the important thing of this congress, they are not the ideological debates, and if to form a plan of fights creating, a concrete program that advances based on the social fight”. And it said that this it is the challenge that this raised. “CONLUTAS can fulfill a great mission. The one to organize the not-organized ones”. And it concluded that “For this it is precise, a plan of fights to conquer the working class, later to conquer to the power”.

Celia Hart: `Tengo faith in which this clasista organization will be a reference for all Latin America'

Celia Hart, important Cuban intellectual, participated in the CONAT and she granted this interview to us

Which is its evaluation about this event, the CONAT?
Celia Hart: The foundation of the CONLUTAS is an unforgettable experience. I have faith that this clasista organization will be a reference for Latin America and that really expresses to the set of the aspirations that represents the Brazilian town, its proletarian tradition and of fight. We have seen until now that all movement shifts that took place in Latin America - which they have gotten to even demote governments - lacked which indeed You are trying to articulate here. That it has two things: unit - but that are a unit of class, truely revolutionary and for the socialism -, and that in its interior it contains all the particular fights: the fight by the feminine emancipation, the fight against the racial discrimination and all the other fights of the marginal sectors. I hope that hopefully one is satisfied like true a referential one for all Latin America.

How You evaluate the present political conjuncture in Latin America, your recent fights and mobilizations?
Celia: I think that the conjuncture in Latin America indeed synthesizes the height of the continuation of the fight against the neoliberalism that we lived after the Fall of the Wall of Berlin, because since then there was a strong oscillation towards the left. If we managed to take advantage of it - if we do not need direction - and if we in this way managed to take advantage of this moment, this she can become in a while nails in the history of the world. The social movements in Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina demonstrated that the objective conditions are than mature more, are already rotting. What it really needs to us is the Political Directorate, the subjective aspect. And for that reason I say to them that I have much faith in which this congress fulfills my expectations on which it would have to be a working organization.

Which is its evaluation of the Brazilian government, Lula and the PT?
Celia: I really do not have much experience or knowledge of Lula, but from which I could perceive [in the CONAT here], I believe that one took control of all that potentiality, history and working tradition of Brazil and at this moment, uses it - of paradoxical form - against such that placed it in the power. That is, that talvez is not a consensual characterization, it seems to me that it does not act as by which worker of Brazil was chosen by the population. Lula a very important working leader, but that at this moment one became - reason why I understand - a traitor of the class.

MIKHAIL OSTROVSKI, Russian Worker praises the passion and the democracy in the debates
Russia was the first country in the world that lived the experience on a socialist revolution. In October of 1917 million workers and farmers, led by the Bolsheviks, they carried out an impetuous action, that collapsed a Popular government front. For that reason, Russia is until in the present days, an important country for the Socialists worldwide.

Guest to the CONAT, the Russian Mikhail Ostrovski, 24 years, graphical worker and student of History, spoke of the present reality of the working-class in Russia, after the fall of the bureaucracy and the restoration of Capitalism, and praised the “working democracy” of the CONAT.

Which was your experience with the Brazilian working-class reunited here in the CONAT?
Ostrovski: Still I did not draw conclusions, are my first impressions. I must think it a little to understand more thoroughly and to draw deep conclusions but from everything what I am living in these days. The first impressions that I had are of the attitudes, still I cannot think as they think or as they act. We do not have a long process but of contact with the workers of Brazil. But what I am seeing in this Congress is much, but much working democracy, people who know and understand the debates. There is nobody without including/understanding here what happens. The people who are here are very kind and know when they must and when they do not have to vote. The people request right of word to defend their positions. I see an heated debate, all approval with the culture of the working democracy. Very I am really made an impression, in Russia at the present time does not see this.
Which is the situation nowadays of the Russian proletariado one and which are their main fights?
Ostrovski: The Russian working-class very is divided. The workers of the great cities, and those of the small cities exist. In Moscow, Saint Petersburg and in its metropolitan regions, is 10% of the class. This it is the sector rather paid of the working-class. In the other regions of the country, the wage is very underneath in relation to the great centers. The national divisions between the workers based on the different nationalities also exist. Unlike Latin America, the nationalism in Russia means the support to the repression that they exert on the countries that fight by their independence. Russian imperialism is a species of `' on the other nationalities of the region.

The government uses the national differences and plays with the national feeling to divide the class, in addition this way “he legitimizes” the war against Chechenia. Justifying with a this war against the “terrorism”. In Chechenia, according to the government, all are terrorist. There is a very important problem that it is the division of the working class. There this the operated sector but, and many are going to work in Moscow. This war against `terrorism' allows the government of Putin to divide and to control the workers.

Another problem is the one of the reforms that the government is doing, like the reform in the health system; in the education; in the communal systems (water, light, telephone); in the cut to the subsidy to the transport for the pensioners, who lost that right; in the reform of the property of the Earth, guaranteeing the agrarian monopoly to the large estate. That is, everything in the social sphere is on the way to becoming business.

Although these reforms already began, there is a certain passivity. For example, when the cut occurred to the subsidies, which in Russia is called “process of monedatizacion”, the pensioners lost the right to the gratuitous transport, but they received subsidies of the government and today no longer they have force to make mobilizations.

All this explains by the problem of the organization of the working-class. They pass the reforms and they shut up themselves. As well as he has to do with the absence of a political tool, with a revolutionary party of left, cultural organizations, etc.

What is those that the working-class thinks about the present time about the October of 1917?
Ostrovski: It is difficult to know what the working-class thinks by the nonexistence of class organizations. But we talked with the workers of the provinces, they consider that the socialism is a good thing. Now, the people who think that the socialism is good, see that the period of years 60, not by the presence of Brejnev, and if rather because there was stability, there were no unemployment. But, for the workers, the episodes of 1917 are very complex. The revolution occurred and soon later the situation was made but difficult (war with other countries). Immediately the life improved, began to have use and stability. A certain pride of the working-class existed to have organized and to have constructed, she herself to the Soviet system. That pride no longer exists nowadays.

Dave Brown said...

Interview with Arcary

Valerio Arcary and the four recent lessons but of History

Militant of the PSTU and author of the book `the dangerous corners of History, Valerio Arcary', did his exhibition dividing it in four points, that she denominated of “great lessons of these five first years of century XXI”. According to him, the first lesson has relation with the farce spread by the bourgeoisie, the one of the triumph of Capitalism. “Nothing like a day after another one, to see and to learn with the lessons of history and the fights of the towns. The century began as the century went of the final victory of Capitalism. All affirmed that the socialism was buried. But Capitalism only can exist with a great reactionary offensive on the towns and the workers. This offensive, wakes up the con offensive of the masses and causes the revolutions anywhere in the world”. As Valerio example mentioned Iraq: “They watch towards there, when Bush invaded Iraq nor dreamed about the marsh in which it was going away to put” - and it concluded - “the answer that Bush is receiving in Iraq is the answer that it must receive in all the continent”. For him the preservation of the imperialistic order has like meaning more war, denationalization and remarcó: “the order of Capitalism stays, but the cost of that maintenance is of more and more suffering for the humanity”. The second lesson is on the recent revolutions in Latin America, like in Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. Talking about to the presidents who were knocked down by the action of the masses in those countries, Valerio declared: “The partners of imperialism saw what is the force of the masses in fight, but is truth that a revolutionary wave knocked down governments, also it is truth that is necessary to look for exits”. For him the masses insurrectas were not able to construct their organisms of direct action and they were not able to raise the question of the power. Valerio on the inside rejected exits of the regime of the capital, presented/displayed by governments like those of Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez: “There is no condition for constructing desarrollistas solutions in the marks of Capitalism for the necessity of the poor men, does not have like constructing that exit, neither in the $andes nor in Caracas”. Valerio talked about to the experience of the masses with the democracy of the rich ones, saying that this is the third lesson that the masses must extract. It emphasized, in individual, the experience of the Brazilian workers with the bourgeois democracy: “In the last 20 years, Lula, the PT and the CUT said to the workers: `accepts you limit them of the order, fulfill the rules of the games. A day we will overcome the elections. There is necessity of no confrontations”. The class trusted and hoped. In the 2002 Lula it overcame the elections. And that saw the workers? They saw the Lula government send troops to Haiti and destroy the rights that FHC was not able to destroy”. Valerio tried to emphasize that the PT even inherited the typical corruption of the bourgeoisie: “What the workers saw it was the promiscuity of leaders of the PT when accepting money of industralists to buy of mansions in beaches of the wealthy in the North coast of São Paulo. They saw them them meeting with the bourgeoisie in the brothels”. Finally, Valerio mentioned the fourth lesson: the necessity to dream up instruments of fights for the overcoming of Capitalism. “We learned that it is precise to advance in the reorganization of the workers, that is the last lesson who we must remove from these last years”. For him, the governmental CUT is a hindrance for the fights and that must be surpassed. “the CUT is like a penitentiary one of the unions, a jail for which wants to fight by their rights”. He defended the construction of something new, of one he novates organization to direct the activity of the workers and that surpasses the CUT. Valerio made a call to that still they have doubts with the construction of the new thing, of an alternative, and that for that reason follows inside of the governmental power station: “The leaders of the cutista left cannot continue of that way, or assume commitments with the workers, or honor their commitments with the government. Average term does not exist. They must collapse the walls of the CUT. The unions were not constructed to defend the Ministry of the Work, but they were made to defend to which they live on the work”. It also responded to the unionists who raise doubts in constructing an alternative and think that the construction of a new organization is a sectarian position. “There are companions who say that to construct a new power station it is only possible after a great wave of fights. But the construction of an organization is the handle for that wave of fights”. And he I conclude saying that it is precise to prepare a strongpoint and to fight against the neoliberal reforms: “we called to which remained the way in the middle of, that takes a step to the front and they are united to us”.

Frank Partisan said...

It was hard to believe, last month the left rallied around a Peruvian military leader.

These new Latin American govts. will support anything socialist, except working class independant action socialism.

My friend from the UK, DavidB writes a Trotskyist blog, that has analysis of South America, without cheerleading:


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