All-Out Workers Mobilization to Stop PRTC Privatization--
Defeat the Colonialist, Capitalist
Assault on Labor
Puerto Rico General Strike
Forge a Revolutionary Workers
Elect Strike Committees! Defend
Picket Lines That Nobody Dares Cross!
From our special correspondent in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, July 2--As the rulers of Puerto Rico celebrate 100 years of
U.S. colonial domination, this Caribbean island nation is being swept by
a powerful wave of workers struggle. After ramming privatization of the
government-owned Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC) through a pliant
legislature, Governor Pedro Rosselló is reaping a whirlwind of
mass opposition. The two telephone workers unions immediately declared
a strike, now in its 15th day. Last week the electrical and water workers
struck in solidarity. Now, as public support for the strikers mounts
in the face of brutal police attacks on picketers, a coalition of 53 unions
joined by student, leftist, women's and community groups has called a 48-hour
general strike beginning July 7.
"We're calling on the people to prepare
as if a hurricane were coming," said Annie Cruz, the president of the Independent
Brotherhood of Telephone Workers (HIETEL), in announcing the island-wide
walkout. The day before, an assembly of several thousand cheering union
delegates at a sports center in the city of Carolina, called by the Broad
Committee of Trade Union Organizations (CAOS) and representing some 300,000
workers, voted unanimously for a general strike to "paralyze" Puerto Rico's
economy. Already last October 1, some 100,000 marched on the capitol in
San Juan under the slogan "Puerto Rico Is Not For Sale" during a one-day
"national work stoppage" against the privatization of la Telefónica.
There is no doubt that organized labor and its allies have the power to
bring this Caribbean island to a grinding halt such as hasn't happened
since the strike of 1934, at the time of a bitter sugar cane workers strike.
Puerto Rico today is heavily industrialized, with hundreds of thousands
of union members. The telephone workers strike is already the biggest single
walkout in years, with more than 150 picket lines around the island, and
no one can remember when a strike has received so much enthusiastic support.
A determined general strike would certainly have the strength of a gale
force tropical storm, but it is more than that. This is a key battle in
the class war, which Puerto Rican and U.S. workers must fight to win.
The struggle of workers in Puerto Rico
is intrinsically linked to that of workers in the U.S., particularly in
New York City. This was reflected in the picket today sponsored by hospital
workers Local 1199 against Banco Popular in New York City, which is only
a token of what is needed. Hundreds of thousands of workers of Puerto Rican
origin in the financial capital of U.S. imperialism are a key section of
the municipal, hospital and other unions, and have shown a tremendous will
to struggle. At the same time, together with blacks and immigrants, they
face an escalation of racist repression. This was graphically shown in
the case of Anthony Báez, the 22-year-old Puerto Rican whose murder
by NYC cop Francis Livoti has become a symbol of racist police terror.
The sale of the PRTC to an American
corporation, and one that has prominently lobbied for statehood, has sparked
widespread opposition from those opposed to outright annexation of the
island by the U.S. The working class, both in Puerto Rico and the U.S.,
has a vital interest in fighting colonialism. But colonial domination of
Puerto Rico cannot be defeated with the bourgeois program of nationalism.
Even the most “left” variants of nationalism seek to chain the workers
to a supposed "national" bourgeoisie. The Puerto Rican "entrepreneurs,"
as the nationalist left delicately refers to them, are branch officer managers
and junior partners of Yankee imperialism who exploit the working people
just as their U.S. counterparts do. The fight against privatization extends
throughout Latin America and the capitalist world. And this is not just
the effect of "neo-liberal" policies, as reformists claim. Key to defeating
this capitalist-imperialist system is the struggle to forge revolutionary
workers parties internationally.
Mobilize the Working Class in the Struggle for Power
In handing control of the telephone
company over to the U.S.-owned GTE Corp., Governor Rosselló has
already declared war on the workers. This petty tyrant and his pro-statehood
New Progressive Party (PNP) are seen on the picket lines as THE enemy.
In order to fulfill his dreams of "crossing over" from a colonial satrap
to a rising star in U.S. politics (he is chairman of the national governors
conference), Rosselló is willing and even eager to spill workers'
blood. But this ruthless privatizer is far from the only enemy of Puerto
Rican workers. Behind him stands the power of Yankee imperialism, for which
Puerto Rico is a giant base for military and economic operations to control
Latin America. There is a direct connection here: a key reason why the
PRTC is being sold to GTE is that latter provides the phone service for
the giant U.S. Navy base at Roosevelt Roads and for the U.S. army's Southern
Command, which is in the process of moving from Panama to Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rican governor is trying
to impress the Clinton White House, the Pentagon and Congress that he can
impose heavy-handed "law and order" in the largest remaining U.S. colony,
while getting rid of government-owned industry and other Puerto Rican "peculiarities"
that stand in the way of statehood (annexation). Already Rosselló
has privatized the shipping lines (Navieras de Puerto Rico), as well as
housing projects, hospitals and jails, leading to numerous layoffs. With
the PRTC on the auction block it is estimated that privatization will put
2,000 out of 6,400 union jobs on the chopping block (as well as raising
telephone rates). Electrical energy, water and sewer works and a host of
government services are on Rosselló’s privatization hit list. Meanwhile,
he hires more and more police to put down protests.
And the cops have been doing their bloody
job. On the first day of the strike, June 18, a phalanx of police was dispatched
to the Plaza Celulares PRTC center to bring in several busloads of scab
contract workers and managers. There were riot police from the Tactical
Operations Unit, better known as the Shock Force, as well as the Saturation
Unit and the Mounted Police. Oziel, a phone worker at the Celulares center,
told The Internationalist that the workers grabbed hold of the fence and
refused to move. Thereupon cops began to beat them repeatedly with macanas
(riot sticks) that have steel balls protruding from one end, spray them
in the face with pepper gas, and drag them into the street. Most of the
police had removed or covered their identification badges.
Many of those who received vicious beatings were women. Soriel Cruz, a
leader of the UIET phone workers union and spokesman for the group "Women
Against Privatization," called workers to defend the picket lines when
the buses arrived. The cops hit her in the breasts with their riot sticks,
then threw her on the ground and kicked her. Photos and video shots of
women being savagely beaten caused mass outrage. But the governor demanded
more macanazos (beatings), and the cops were soon back at it. On June 22,
at the Metro Office Park PRTC offices in Guaynabo, an estimated 100 police
from the Shock Force arrested a woman student and a union lawyer, beat
a TV cameraman, and beat one worker, Raúl Santana, so badly in the
head that he had to be hospitalized for two days. A photo of Santana lying
in a pool of blood while a baton-wielding cop stood over him was shown
around the world. El Nuevo Día (23 June) headlined: "The Strike
Yet the strikers were not always on
the receiving end. The same day, after cops beat a picketer at Plaza Celulares,
angry strikers turned on the attackers and a number of cops (including
several high-ranking officials) received a well-deserved drubbing. During
the three-day UTIER (electrical workers) solidarity strike last week, police
accused picketers of a "provocation" because their picket signs were mounted
on solid 2 x 2 sticks. But readiness to defend the picket lines must be
organized. The bosses appeal to the courts to get injunctions to allow
management and contract scabs to enter the struck workplace. Strikers must
rip the injunctions impose their own proletarian order, declaring that
picket lines mean don't cross and enforcing this basic principle with union
defense groups. When no one dares cross a picket line, the chances of winning
strikes will be immeasurably increased.
So far active participation in the struggle
against privatization has been mainly limited to public sector unions,
the ones most directly affected. But an effective general strike must include
private sector workers as well as non-unionized workers, notably from the
huge petrochemical complexes that dot the island. To organize the unorganized
it is necessary to put forward a class-struggle program of transitional
demands to mobilize all workers in a struggle against capital and the colonial
overlords. To answer the persistently double-digit unemployment, workers
must fight for a sliding scale of hours, to divide the available jobs to
provide work for all. As real wages have fallen steadily for the last two
decades, labor must fight for the demand for a sliding scale of wages to
protect against the ravages of inflation. To fight the numerous injuries
and deaths due to unsafe working conditions, unions must form workers safety
committees with the power to stop production when they judge necessary.
The biggest weakness of the workers'
struggle against privatization is at the top, where
union bureaucrats have been at odds over whether the strike should
be limited or indefinite, when to call it or whether to strike at all.
The leader of the largest phone workers union, the UIET, only reluctantly
joined the walkout. Now, a leader of the local affiliate of the AFL-CIO,
the FT, representing under 10 percent of Puerto Rico's unionized workers,
declares it is pointless to strike against privatization of the phone company.
The head of another federation, the CPT, declares that each of its unions
will decide how long it will join in the general strike! The determination
of the telephone strikers (and the overwhelming popularity of the strike)
have kept it solid, but it is necessary to organize that strength. Union
militants must fight for elected strike committees, which can be recalled
at any time, to place control of the strike in the hands of the ranks and
provide a means to block a bureaucratic sellout.
Such committees must establish
close ties with other sections of the oppressed--strike support committees,
neighborhood and block committees in poor districts, etc.--in coordinating
the distribution of food and essential supplies, drawing in working-class
housewives, the unemployed and youth. If the struggle intensifies, strike
committees may be able to impose workers control of production and could
serve as the nucleus of workers councils, as an organizational form for
a struggle for socialist revolution and for a workers state. Revolutionaries
must link the present struggle to the fight against colonialism and all
forms of oppression, from the struggle against U.S. military bases and
for the freedom of independence fighters to the fight against racism and
the oppression of women.
All this poses the need for the working
class to lead a fight against the root of the problem: the capitalist system
itself. Trotsky wrote of France in the mid-1930s that in order to judge
the readiness for a general strike and to "strengthen the militant mood
of the masses, it is necessary to place before them a program of revolutionary
action.... Above all the tasks and partial demands of our epoch there stands
the question of power" ("Once Again, Whither France?" March 1935). This
is no less true of the Puerto Rican general strike today.
For a Trotskyist Party in Puerto Rico!
Above all, it is necessary to build
a revolutionary leadership of the proletariat. As Leon Trotsky, the co-leader
together with V.I. Lenin of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, wrote
in the 1938 Transitional Program, the founding document of the Fourth International,
"The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of revolutionary
leadership." This fundamental thesis continues to be true today, and particularly
so in the case of a general strike, which poses point-blank the question:
which class shall rule, the bourgeoisie or the proletariat?
The struggle over the Telefónica
is a make-or-break battle for Puerto Rican labor. Yet even leftist union
leaders approach the general strike as a pressure tactic rather than a
struggle for power. In calling a general strike, the union leaderships
have been forced into a corner by Rosselló's anti-labor offensive
rather than systematically gearing up for a showdown with the capitalist
government. Despite occasional militant rhetoric, at bottom their common
program, in different variations, is that of reformism, seeking to reform
the present system (such as with state-owned public services) while accepting
the framework of capitalism. Revolutionary communists, in contrast, seek
in every struggle to prepare the working class for a fight for state power,
treating reforms as a by-product of the revolutionary struggle.
"This is a political strike because
the workers didn't go out for a quarter more in the contract, they're protesting
against the policy of privatization. That's why the government is afraid
of it," commented Ricardo Santos, secretary of health and safety of the
UTIER electrical workers union (El Vocero, 25 June). That is true, and
that is a key reason why this strike must be waged politically. But on
the basis of what politics? Anti-statehood bourgeois parties, such as the
small Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) and sections of the Popular
Democrats (PPD, supporters of Puerto Rico's present "commonwealth" status,
a thinly disguised form of colonialism), have engaged in electoral grandstanding
by pretending to be friends of the telephone workers. Yet it was under
PPD governor Hernández Colón that the first attempt was made
to privatize the PRTC, in 1990, and long distance service was handed over
to a Spanish company.
"This goes beyond any people's strike,
beyond a war against privatization...the war is against the government,"
vituperated Puerto Rico's police chief Pedro Toledo, who has flaunted his
membership in the government party. This former FBI agent has repeatedly
tried to blame the strike on outside "agitators" and "subversives," listing
names of leftist and university activists, and trying to whip up a scare
over “terrorism.” “I think that what many of these subversive groups want
is a revolution,” Toledo fulminates (San Juan Star, 30 June). In this same
language of McCarthyite anti-communist witchhunting, on the day the general
strike was called, the Puerto Rican House of Representatives passed a resolution,
beginning: "The strike in the telephone company is only the excuse of a
small group of agitators and political extremists who seek to impose themselves
through violence, threats, sabotage." These are the fears of a nervous
ruling class that sees behind this outbreak of sharp class struggle the
spectre of red revolution.
The raw material for socialist revolution
is there. As picketers chant, "se siente, se siente, el obrero combatiente"
(you can tell the workers are fighting) the bosses are acutely aware of
this, and the danger it poses to their rule. Only a few years after the
imperialists trumpeted victory in the Cold War and proclaimed the "death
of Communism," even some of the more intelligent pro-capitalist press has
commented that, 150 years on, the Communist Manifesto is still relevant,
and highly accurate in its description of present-day capitalism. What
is lacking is the revolutionary proletarian vanguard to lead the combative
workers in a struggle for power. The exploiters in Puerto Rico have several
parties standing for different formulas of capitalist rule. The exploited
masses need a revolutionary workers party to lead the class struggle against
the colonial capitalist government and its Yankee imperialist masters.
A revolutionary workers party in Puerto
Rico must be based on the Trotskyist program of permanent revolution. The
democratic tasks such as national liberation can only be accomplished through
workers revolution, led by a communist party, which must immediately take
on socialist tasks, extending the revolution to the most advanced capitalist-imperialist
countries. We seek to forge a Leninist vanguard party that would act as
a tribune of the people, in championing the cause of all oppressed sectors
(including minorities, women, homosexuals, immigrants) against their oppressors.
Yet the group which presents itself as the “Puerto Rican section of the
Fourth International,” the Taller de Formación Política (TFP),
does not seek to build an independent Trotskyist party but rather seeks
a “broad” socialist party. The international organization to which the
TFP adheres, the United Secretariat (USec), does not represent Trotskyism
but rather the program of Pabloism, of tailing after a variety of non-revolutionary
forces. In Puerto Rico, the TFP is part of the Frente Socialista.
The Frente Socialista also includes
the Movimiento Socialista de Trabajadores (MST) and the Partido Revolucionario
de Trabajadores Puertoriqueños-Macheteros (PRTP), who in turn are
part of the Congreso Nacional Hostosiano, a coalition with petty-bourgeois
and bourgeois independentista forces. When the FS talks of “internationalism”
it refers to “particular ties” with “the Puerto Rican community living
in the United States, because we are part of the same people,” and of the
FS’ participation in the Foro de São Paulo, a popular front coalition
of leftist and bourgeois nationalist parties in Latin America. This is
not proletarian internationalism or the “political independence of the
working class” which the Frente declares as its “fundamental political
objective,” but rather class-collaborationist nationalism.
During the current labor struggle against
privatization, many leftist militants have been active in building pickets
and as part of the CAOS umbrella group of labor and leftist organizations,
but there has been a striking absence of political propaganda by self-proclaimed
socialist groups. Their activity in the strike has been limited to militant
trade-unionism and nationalism.
For Proletarian Internationalism, Not Nationalist Popular Frontism
In the present strike, there are ubiquitous
references to "the people." In declaring the phone workers' struggle against
privatization a "strike of the people," many militants want to underline
the widespread popular support for the strikers against the despised Rosselló.
But contained in the idea of an undivided "people" is a whole program--the
program of “classless” (in fact, bourgeois) populism. The chant, often
repeated on the picket lines, that "The people united will never be defeated,"
was the slogan of the Chilean Unidad Popular government under Salvador
Allende. This was a classic "popular front," which politically ties the
working class to a sector of the capitalist class in the name of “anti-imperialism,”
“anti-fascism” or other bourgeois-“democratic” labels. Such class-collaborationist
coalitions are a favorite device of the reformists to block revolutionary
struggle and keep the working masses confined within the limits of capitalism.
By doing so, the popular front in fact aids fascist and pro-imperialist
The "people united" was defeated in
Chile, in the bloody coup of September 1973, precisely because of the absence
of a proletarian vanguard to split the false "unity" of class collaboration
and to organize the working class in the struggle for its revolutionary
class interests. The butcher Pinochet himself was brought into the "Popular
Unity" government in a bid to win "moderate" Christian Democratic support.
The result was a bloody massacre, just as when Stalin ordered the Chinese
Communists to "ally" with the Nationalist general Chiang Kai-shek in 1927,
or when the Maoist Stalinists of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) bound
the masses to the nationalist general Sukarno, producing the 1965 bloodbath
in which more than a million PKI members, labor activists and ethnic minorities
were killed. More recently, in Haiti the popular front around the Lavalas
movement of Aristide paved the way for U.S. military intervention, giving
neo-colonialism a new face while maintaining the wretched poverty and exploitation
of the workers and peasants.
In the struggle for their emancipation,
the working people must rely on their own class strength and the support
of other oppressed sectors against capitalism. Any political alliance with
sectors of the bourgeoisie can only paralyze the strength of the exploited
and oppressed. Even Rubén Berríos' minuscule PIP with its
independentista rhetoric only wants to "independently" exploit Puerto Rican
workers under U.S. tutelage (and with fees from U.S. bases, "for a time"
of course). In Puerto Rico today, the program of class collaboration is
expressed in a pervasive nationalist rhetoric characteristic of almost
the entire left. Thus while the MST called in its Third Congress (June
1996) for “giving priority to the struggles and demands representing the
interests of the working class and oppressed sectors of society,” it placed
these in the framework of “independentista unity.” The political consequences
of this nationalist program and rhetoric are extremely harmful for the
Much has been made of the fact that
the PRTC is a profitable and modern (fully digitalized) phone company,
which Rosselló is selling off for a pittance (GTE will pay at most
$300 million for a company valued at over $2.2 billion), likely leading
to sharply increased rates. Many have pointed out that after buying out
ITT (which ran the phone system until 1974), the PRTC increased the number
of telephones in Puerto Rico from 200,000 to 1.6 million. But referring
to "Our Telefónica," as a leftist university professor did in a
recent column (Claridad, 2 July), or saying that the Telefónica
"belongs to the people of Puerto Rico," as the former leader of the UIET
phone workers union did in a picket line speech, is false and diverts the
struggle. The PRTC belongs to the Puerto Rican capitalist government, and
its profits are taken from the sweat of its workers. The only way utilities
and social services will really become “ours” is through the revolutionary
expropriation of all the exploiters, when a government of the working class
in Puerto Rico and internationally can organize the economy to serve the
interests of the workers and oppressed.
The same unionist praised the strike
as the struggle of "a whole united people," and noted that the PRTC up
until now has subsidized various state services, including education "and
the raises for the police itself." He went on to appeal to "our police
brothers," to say that they should not become accomplices of this privatization
if they want support in their struggles! This is dangerously wrong in every
way. False consciousness about the role of the police is pervasive in the
strike. A banner and picket chants declare "Club-wielding policeman, you
too are a worker." No, a cop is a cop. The police are not workers but professional
strikebreakers and racist killers, the enforcers of the anti-working-class
laws of the bourgeoisie. The slightest confusion about the nature of the
police produces illusions that will be paid in more workers' blood.
Our comrades of the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista
do Brasil (LQB), section of the League for the Fourth International, have
waged a bitter struggle, facing armed military police and endless court
suits against them, to carry out the expulsion of the police from the Municipal
Workers Union of the steel city of Volta Redonda. As Marxists they declare
that the police are not "brothers" or "fellow workers," but the armed fist
of the bourgeoisie, as shown from the “war on drugs” in Puerto Rican housing
projects to the murder of Anthony Báez and the police torture of
Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in New York City. This understanding is
vital to the victory of the Puerto Rican strikers today.
Puerto Rican nationalism narrows the
struggle to the confines of this Caribbean island. Yet the drive for privatization
is international in scope and has escalated in recent years as a direct
result of the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union and
the bureaucratically deformed workers states of East Europe. Today, workers
from Mexico and Brazil to France and Italy are fighting against privatization
of state-owned companies and the accompanying slashing of workers gains.
Meanwhile, the threat of counterrevolution and the destruction of the planned
economy and collectivized property looms in Cuba and China, which would
spell disaster for Cuban and Chinese workers and further embolden the capitalists
internationally. It is impossible to struggle against privatization in
Puerto Rico without fighting against the imperialist system which is behind
it. That means in the first instance, forging a close alliance with U.S.
workers who face the same bosses.
Puerto Rican nationalism also turns
its back on a key section of the working class, the 300,000 immigrants
from the Dominican Republic, both legal and “illegal,” who live and work
here. They are subject to arbitrary raids, detention and deportation by
the INS immigration cops who also raid sweatshops in New York and Los Angeles.
Even on the left there are instances of hostility to Dominicans. A class-conscious
workers movement in Puerto Rico must champion their cause, fighting against
deportations here just as it must in the U.S. There is ample support for
this. At the assembly of thousands of union delegates in Carolina on June
28, a representative from the Dominican unions received tremendous and
prolonged applause. A revolutionary internationalist vanguard is needed
to mobilize this sentiment, raising among demands of the strike an end
to all deportations, and calling for workers action to stop them.
Likewise, a revolutionary workers party
would struggle for the liberation of women and highlight the role of women
workers, who have played a key role in the telephone workers strike. Most
of the PRTC’s unionized employees are women, women have been targeted by
the police thugs, and many of the union delegates and leaders are women.
The working class as a whole must take up the fight against women’s oppression,
including raising demands for free abortion on demand and for free 24-hour
day care centers, and for extending this to all.
For a Socialist Federation of the Caribbean!
The telephone workers strike and the
general strike against privatization are intimately related to the eternal
question of Puerto Rico’s “status.” A key reason for Rosselló’s
push to sell off the Telefónica is to make Puerto Rico more eligible
for statehood by further integrating its economy into that of the mainland
U.S. What this means in practice is U.S. corporations buying up everything
they don’t already own on the island.
The position of the Clinton administration
and the U.S. Democratic Party has recently shifted from support for the
present “commonwealth” status to backing statehood for Puerto Rico. This
is partly from a calculation that Puerto Rico would vote Democratic, and
also in order to ensure the continued presence of the numerous U.S. military
installations on the island (instead of being forced out as the U.S. Army’s
SouthCom was from Panama). This shift, reflected in the Young/Craig amendment
now before the U.S. Congress calling for a new referendum slanted toward
statehood, has also led to a switch of political alliances in Puerto Rico.
The pro-statehood PNP, traditionally aligned with the U.S. Republicans,
is now lined up with Clinton’s Democrats, while the PPD (and the PIP) are
looking to the most reactionary, racist forces in Congress to oppose statehood,
particularly those pushing for “English only”! The Puerto Rican masses
can only lose from this cynical maneuvering.
Statehood, no less than the present colonial
status, would be inherently inimical to the interests of Puerto Rican working
people, whose incomes are presently far below those of the poorest U.S.
state. It would be accompanied by a further slashing of social programs,
an offensive against the Spanish language and other forms of racist discrimination.
The Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International
advocate independence for Puerto Rico, in order to strike a blow against
U.S. imperialism and because only by breaking out of the national subjugation
of colonial rule can the international class struggle come to the fore.
We support struggles for independence from colonial rule, even when they
are led by petty-bourgeois and bourgeois forces, at the same time as we
fight for proletarian leadership of the struggle against imperialism through
international socialist revolution. Genuine national liberation can only
be achieved by workers revolution, in Puerto Rico and the U.S. We demand:
Yankee imperialism get out! U.S. military out of Puerto Rico and all of
the Caribbean! Return Guantánamo to Cuba!
At the same time, however distorted by the
mechanisms of colonial referendums, the fact remains that an overwhelming
majority of the Puerto Rican population does not presently favor independence.
As the right to self-determination is a democratic question, and the working
class has no interest in forcing independence against the will of the Puerto
Rican population--especially when the impetus for separation comes from
right-wing reactionaries--we underline our defense of Puerto Rico’s right
to independence. We also stress the need for a socialist federation of
the Caribbean. A large part of the opposition to immediate independence
is the (accurate) perception that an independent capitalist Puerto Rico
would quickly see its living standards fall to the level of desperate poverty
of the Dominican Republic next door. An isolated workers state, on the
other hand, would face the imperialist boycott and encirclement that has
pushed Cuba to the wall economically.
From Marx to Lenin and Trotsky, genuine
communists have always held that socialism cannot be built in one country.
This lesson, underlined by the collapse of the USSR, is all the more true
of a small Caribbean island in what U.S. rulers regard as an “American
lake.” But fighting for a voluntary socialist federation of workers states
in the region as part of a socialist united states of Latin America, in
conjunction with socialist revolution in the United States itself, could
unite the ethnically and linguistically diverse peoples of the region in
a common struggle against imperialism. From the time of the 1789 Haitian
Revolution against colonial slavery to the Cuban Revolution, struggles
for social progress have quickly spread through the Antilles.
Both in Puerto Rican and the U.S., revolutionaries
have a special responsibility to defend the Cuban bureaucratically deformed
workers state against imperialist military aggression and internal counterrevolution.
Puerto Rico has been used by the Yankee imperialists as a staging ground
for its attacks on and encirclement of Cuba, and as a training ground for
counterrevolutionaries throughout Latin America. At the same time and as
a key part of our defense of the Cuban Revolution, we fight for proletarian
political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucratic leadership under
Castro, which is paving the way for capitalist restoration, and to replace
it with soviet democracy in the form of revolutionary workers councils.
In Puerto Rico, Cuba, the United States and throughout the world, we fight
to build Trotskyist parties in the struggle to reforge the Fourth International
as the world party of socialist revolution.
If the general strike called for July
7 and 8 is to be anything more than a two-day work stoppage and parade,
it must be animated by a program of revolutionary class struggle. As Leon
Trotsky wrote in his 1935 pamphlet, "Once Again, Whither France?":
"The fundamental importance of the general strike independent of the
partial successes, which it may and then again may not provide, lies in
the fact that it poses the question of power in a revolutionary manner.
By shutting down the factories, transport, and generally all the means
of communication, power stations, etc., the proletariat by this very act
paralyzes not only production but also the government. The state power
remains suspended in mid-air....
Since the general strike poses this question, it is essential that a vanguard
party of the working class be forged to provide the answer, to lead a revolutionary
struggle for power. Today there is no such party, yet a general strike
is urgently needed in Puerto Rico in order to defeat the government's anti-worker
privatization offensive. This requires of revolutionaries that they redouble
their efforts to forge the revolutionary workers party that is indispensable
for the victory of the working class through international socialist revolution.
"Whatever may be the slogans and the motive for which the general strike
is initiated, if it includes the genuine masses and if these masses are
quite resolved to struggle, the general strike inevitably poses before
all the classes in the nation the question: who will be the master."
Yankee Imperialism Out - for Puerto Rico’s Right
For a Socialist Federation of the Caribbean!
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