Conjunctural Analysis

23.May.03    Análisis y Noticias

May 19, 2003

First they said that Lula was progressive, but he wasn’t. He aligned himself with the IMF.

Then they said that Gutierrez was progressive, but he wasn’t either. He also aligned himself with the IMF.

Now they say that Mercosur is progressive, but it isn’t either. It is driven by businessmen.

Who knows what they’ll tell us next, but it will be too late

(Anonymous, clearly somewhat plagiarized.)

Certain relevant facts make it possible to see some modifications in the continental and international landscape. We see:

Powerful suicide bombing attempts in Saudi Arabia and Morocco seeming to demonstrate that the so-called “war against terrorism” has had no results other than a rearrangement of the world geopolitics of capital.

The Basques continue steadfastly constructing their political and social forms of confronting the Spanish offensive, advancing towards national liberation. No doubt the vote in the next election will be another blow against the occupation.

The Palestinians continue strong resistance, recently dealing another blow to Israel, while moves for new superstructure relations between Israel and the new Palestinian minister speed up. He is a “moderate”, as they say, that is a conservative, and one of the hopes of the Yankees and Europeans to clear up the popular offensive and the tensions of the region. Let’s say the Lula of the Middle East.

The G-8 is meeting, this time in Evan, a separate region near the border between France, Switzerland and Belgium, if I’m not mistaken. Lula will be there with the blessings of the English and the French who are charmed by the way his government has managed to involve the popular sectors in an alliance with capital. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans are preparing to protest, one supposes that they are against the meeting. Are you against the meeting? Are you against the participants? If you are then say that you are against Lula also, or else explain that mystery. Lula will speak about the Zero Hunger plan, which all the countries will support, without exception. You will see the happiness with which international capital greets that infamous program for the humanization of capitalism, copied from the NGOs’ practice of dispensing aspirins and condoms to the poor.

He will doubtlessly speak about Mercosur, which, don’t be surprised, he will be able to rely on the sympathy of all present. Do you think you’ll be surprised? Maybe you say, “seeing is believing”. Well, wait and see, one more time. How long will it take? By any chance do you realize that this condescending attitude towards Lula results in you finding yourself involuntarily supporting capital? First it was Davos, in spite of the enormous surprise and “opposition” of some sectors of the left. It’s noteworthy that Sader hasn’t appeared writing another text called something like “Lula, Don’t Go to the G-8.”

The Chilean government, driven to desperation by the strong offensive of the Mapuche people, has invented a negotiating table with a group that is so-inclined, in an attempt to raise it as a reference point for dialogue, in order to counteract the growth of national consciousness. The support of the official press for this conciliatory table of “pacification” has been too obvious. The very term demonstrates their difficulties, or at least denotes that something’s not going well in Gulumapu, the Mapuche region.

In Peru the overwhelming mobilization of teachers surprised everyone. Both the government and reformism try to hide the root cause, citing infiltration from guerrilla groups, obviously the same ones that they declare everyday no longer exist. Apparently they are only on loan for the repression that has already begun with complete abandon by the reformist leaders of the teachers’ union, Sutep. Sutep accuses their own members of being members of armed groups. This also shows the desperation of those leaders when faced with that Peruvian social sector’s willingness to struggle.

In Ecuador, Gutierrez has been exposed as far as his relations with the organized native communities that supported him are concerned. This brings to mind an analysis that we made quite awhile ago in which we said that it was obvious that Gutierrez’ mission was to penetrate the social movements, and that’s what happened. He organized his own indigenous movement, and with state resources, distributed food, plows, and seeds to those groups. He learned this from Chavez; to organize from top to bottom in order to subordinate the masses to the needs of capital accumulation, passing over popular organizations when they won’t submit.

In Brazil, Lula has launched the previsional reform (pension reform) with great opposition, even within his own party, and has added the PP (Progressive Party, or some such thing) to the governing block. The PP came from the PPB, the party of Pablo Maluf, who was a minister of government and represented a powerful sector of the bourgeoisie allied with the local military, with whom the end of the U.S. base at Alcantara was negotiated. This created the impression of anti-imperialism, all the while consolidating the military apparatus, ensuring that its benefits and privileges will remain untouched by the pension reforms, or any others that may come along. Agrarian reform is stalled out and the contradictions between the leadership of the MST and the grass roots organizations that want to move forward keep growing larger. The leadership of the MST insists upon painting a panorama in which it is possible to grab or negotiate conquests from the government with what is really is nothing more than the temporary containment of the grass roots and the international legitimization of Lula. The most symptomatic is that the MST and certain other sectors of the left of the PT content themselves with protesting against Alca (free trade zone of the Americas), hiding the dangers of Mercosur, where Lula is directing his energy. He is counting on the support of Kirchner and even of Lagos, with the objective of creating a strong regional block permitting better conditions for negotiations about Alca.

The Alca has become a specter, however real, used to frighten the people and call them to the support of Mercosur, lying that it will be in order to oppose Alca. This has been more than proven to be false. One by one presidents have said that it was all about negotiating positions within Alca, whereby little by little they come to accept it under those “conditions”. This is an intelligent propagandistic strategy that wins support and applause from the World Bank, the IMF and the Europeans, especially Chirac, who has offered all the support of French capital to Lula and his associates in Mercosur. This augments the negotiating potential of the government and Brazilian businessmen with respect to the other countries of the region.

In Bolivia the military are employing the Bolivarian strategy. They put forward “opposing” authorities which little by little appear to approach popular positions and surely seek negotiations to form a sort of Patriotic Bolivaran Front or some such thing. This to contain the crisis and the sharpening of popular antagonism against the institutions with something like a salvation government with a national business sector. That is to say the same nonsense raised by the Bolivarians all over with their continental support of Gutierrez. They are quiet now. Very quiet.

It’s hard ball in Colombia. It’s the barefaced militarization of the countryside and neighborhoods, the wholesale assassination of social leaders to avoid what the government calls guerrilla support. This is also false, since the fear is that popular self-organization which is starting to exercise control over social and territorial spaces will grow, which would be a strategic path for the accumulation of social forces. Everyone thinks, and some try to demonstrate that the conflict is a military one, which is not so. The strict support of the guerrillas will not advance the Colombian process, but rather the support and spread of the grass-roots and autonomous forms of struggle which are spreading throughout the rural, native and neighborhood communities and even to some unions. It is necessary to distinguish between the truly popular groups and those made up of NGOs or ex-guerrillas who only care to separate the organized people from the guerrillas. This is not possible since, while it is true that some guerrillas would simply install military power in the liberated zones, others fiercely support popular self-organization which flees from the organizations of the traditional left.

It looks like there will be news in Venezuela, since a great patriotic front etc. has been announced including the Bolivarian organizations and to which the entire population will be invited. It remains to be seen who among the ruling class will join the play, which may involve sectors of the present democratic coordination of the opposing block in order to isolate some sectors of the extreme right and others considered dispensable in the popular plan. It would therefore suffice to grease the Bolivarian machinery to ensure a solid class alliance and with Lula’s support would enter Mercosur. The pressure against Cuba and the threat of Alca and of intervention in Colombia will be pointed to in order to push popular sectors and the continental left towards that way out. For some time Yankee troops have been on the verge of entering Colombia, but this other way out seems more interesting to capital. They will have a good time bluffing to the USA about Colombia and Cuba, and enough time to frighten the left into the arms of local businessmen, thus lowering the social pressure of resistance.

In Uruguay, the grass roots are shaking up reformism, which is looking for a continuation of its alliance with business sectors and the political right. In the latest union elections, many unions have swept out the reformists, which means that they will find it difficult to pursue the Mercosur business project so protected by the confused progressive sectors.

The conclusions of the meeting to evaluate the progress of the peace accords in Guatemala have been dramatic, and most tragic of all has been the official confirmation, according to the final communication, that the macroeconomic indicators have only grown, while all the social indicators have fallen to alarming levels. It couldn’t be clearer. The bourgeoisie only make alliances or agreements if it is to their benefit. The continental lefts that want to bind us to Mercosur should study this. On that ground, the Lula Chavez meeting with businessmen of each country has tragic consequences, which will prove to be no different from the Guatemalan businessmen, who only join the parade for profit, and this can only be at the cost of greater suffering of the population. To think otherwise would be incautious or accepting of these costs so as to benefit by sharing quotas of power, which is what has always characterized those lefts.

In other Central American countries popular dissatisfaction is growing and strikes and mobilizations are advancing, despite the best efforts of the reformists. In Mexico one can see an advance in the mobilizing dynamics of teachers, peasants and native communities.

Since the withdrawal of Menem in Argentina, Kirchner is the president and he has promised to organize a kibbutz where the population will be able to live and produce. Typical of Peronism. The social movement is strong and turns around two principle focal points. One is Brukman with constant activity, and the other is the autonomous “piqueteros” of MTD Anibal Veron who have called for a large mobilization during these days. The CTA continues to vacillate between the possibilities offered by the “progressiveness” of Kirchner and popular pressure for a national strike. Which do you think will win? Guess.

Various activities against Alca are being prepared in the continent and many popular contingents will pour into the streets under this slogan. It will be necessary to work to unify the struggle against Alca with the struggle against Mercosur, both in slogans and meetings. The goal of defeating Alca is insufficient given the eagerness of governments and business interests in relaunching Mercosur by which the enemy advances secretly, hidden under the cover of certain sectors of the left.

The plan of capital is to control the resistance of the people using the trick of terrorism and its best tool, the government and military of its most powerful state, the USA. This has failed, since the attacks in Riyahd and Casablanca show that the question of terrorism continues the unchanged or more accentuated. Later we will see new moves on the chessboard of capital. For now they will wait for the results of the elections in Euskal Herria so as for Aznar not to miss a possibility, since the latest blow, in Morocco, was right under their noses, and a local Spaniard was also a target. The Iberian Peninsula is separated from Morocco by a few kilometers, some minutes travel time, separated by the famous columns of Hercules where one finds the Mediterranean with the Atlantic and the English control the island of Gibraltar. Thousands of Africans take this route in an attempt to get to Europe, driven by hunger and misery. Spain still holds two colonial enclaves, Ceuta and Mejilla in Morocco, and Morocco occupies Western Sahara, which does not make for political tranquility. In addition nearly half of the Moroccan population (between 30 and 40%) are not Arabic but Tamazight, the community that has the Algerian government on pins and needles over their eagerness for autonomy. Morocco is firmly allied with the west and its monarchy is absolutist. Given all the above, the matter should be handled with kid gloves. Once Aznar has put his foot down with the Basques (an illusion, but oh well, that’s their strategy) the time will come to broach the subject of Morocco openly.

In Greece, after strong confrontations against the European meeting in Salonica, new mobilizations are being prepared. In France, the national strike has been truly powerful and the idea of the union left is to broaden negotiating room with the institutions. We don’t yet see much chance for combative unionism, unlike in Italy where the combativity of the rank and file is growing, especially in the automotive region to the north. In Austria there has been a strong strike against pension reforms, and in Germany one sees unrest in the popular and union movement. The reformist left, especially the army of the 5th column of Attac are doing everything in their power to avoid radicalization of the protest against the G-8, such that there will be two or three opposition blocks present there. We think that the conditions are present for the radicalization of struggles, particularly after these last days in Spain where we see the rebounding of combative unionism and of antifascist and anticapitalist action in general, although in an incipient form. With one form will come the tendency to advance. It will permit us to preview the possibility that the mobilization against the G-8 might escape the straitjacket of reformism and the 5th column and thereby inaugurate a new period of European social struggle. That remains to be seen, but the present conditions could not be better for a strong social offensive against the meeting in Evan, as in Seattle, which would be a stimulus for those who struggle in Europe. Fortress Europe is aware of these real possibilities and is working towards maximum security, control and repression, which will permit the avoidance of major blows. It will be necessary for people everywhere to support those compas who will resist at the G-8 meeting, and at the same time campaign against those who call for negotiations with the authorities.

In Latin America the capitalist strategy of containment of resistance and regional stabilization starting with the government of Lula marches on inexorably, as denounced in the above. Now diverse governments are articulating this astute strategy under the clever baton of Lula and his business ministers, among others, those of Toledo, Lagos, Kirchner, Batlle, the resplendent first official of Paraguay, Gutierrez of Ecuador and Goni, of Bolivia. All in a sainted alliance and crusading against the resistance of the people. The basis for this entire project of capital stabilization is Mercosur and the possibility of investments which are being promoted in light of this new reality where governments involve or try to involve a part of the population in its programs for alliances an humanization. The parties and unions on the reformist left, just like the NGOs and Attac, find themselves firmly dedicated to consolidating this block under the flag of humanization and modernization of capital. They have all the support of the World Bank, and the IMF, entities that are already starting to promise huge sums of money with the objective of augmenting payment of the debts and attracting massive new speculative capital which had been withdrawn, waiting for “better times”. Now Latin America will become competitive again. Thank you Lula, they say in Davos, in the G-8 meetings, at the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, that is, international capital. (Standing ovation, euphoric applause)

The gentlemen forget that the people have not submitted and it’s going to be a tough bone to chew on. Social struggle continues in Argentina, student battles continue in Chile, new social sectors are mobilizing in Peru, The Estado Mayor del Pueblo in Bolivia has made new decisions, the Conaie in Ecuador will not permit Gutierrez to continue down the path of treason easily. The social struggle in Central America is growing and the first actions in opposition to Lula have begun. Combative unionism is advancing in Uruguay, autonomous neighborhood communities are being affirmed in Santo Domingo, while in Mexico diverse sectors are going out into the streets.

The humanization of capital is not reconciled with resistance. Its strategy in Latin America will be defeated. The enemy has not gained anything with its worldwide war campaigns and Europe is shaking. The winds do not blow well for the business class, and they should harbor no illusions because some leaders want to align themselves with them. The dynamic of resistance from below continues gathering forces and building popular power until it will be able to count on all forms of struggle to overthrow governments.

Capitalist Gentlemen, your applause for Lula does not fool the people, but helps open their eyes.

Pueden irse Alcarajo con su Mercosucio. No al Alca ni al Mercosur.

Professor J.

Translated by ClajadepUSA