Jacobins and Morenists harbor the illusion that the incoming Colombian government can be pressured into defending workers

Middle-class pseudo-left organizations across the Americas have gone from supporting Gustavo Petro’s candidacy in Colombia and glorifying his running mate Francia Márquez to fomenting deadly illusions that these new occupants of the Casa de Nariño represent democracy and can be pushed to defend the workers and the oppressed.

President Petro with Defense Minister Iván Velásquez Gómez and security force commanders, August 11. (Presidencia de Colombia)

Unabashedly, Jacobin magazine, which is associated with the Democratic Socialists of America, a faction of the Democratic Party in the United States, campaigned ardently for Petro and Márquez as “the progressive ticket” and “the only democratic alternative”. They wrote that Francia Márquez, who is black and built her name on demanding that the mining industry consult with communities, “has succeeded in articulating an emancipatory discourse that embraces all popular struggles, all the excluded and oppressed of our people, realizing that in his face we can see ourselves reflected, the ‘people’.

Jacobin then turned Petro’s election victory into a reason to vote for the candidates they support within the Democratic Party. He says Colombia shows that it is possible “to begin to reverse US imperial policy and begin a more egalitarian continental dialogue. A triumph for progressives in the United States would be the key to beginning to walk the true democratic path of the entire continent.

The claim that the Democratic Party, which brutally secured Wall Street’s grip on Colombia and repeatedly violated the country – from Kennedy’s anti-Communist outbursts in the 1960s to Clinton and Obama with Plan Colombia – can be influenced to defend democracy in Latin America is ridiculous. This imperialist party is responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of workers, peasants, young people and left-wing intellectuals and countless other crimes against humanity at the hands of American soldiers and the Colombian police and army. that Washington has created, armed and trained.

On the same spectrum but without calling for a vote for Petro, La Izquierda Diario of the pseudo-left Socialist Workers’ Party (PTS) in Argentina presented the decision days before the second round as one between “The right-wing candidate, Rodolfo Hernández, and the lesser evil Gustavo Petro. They wrote: “For those who choose Petro as the lesser evil, we can only tell them that it is not just about punishing the right and Uribismo at the polls, but about advancing their own interests in the streets. . With the “historic defeat of the right,” in other words, workers can advance their interests by putting pressure on Petro.

Colombia’s Socialist Workers’ Party (PST) has cynically called for a “critical vote” for Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez after writing that the latter “truly represents a candidacy of the poor and oppressed”.

After successfully getting them elected, the PST writes that “the 2021 strike taught us that the only effective way to defeat the plans of the capitalists is to fight in the streets…for the Petro government to go beyond… and apply a program with changes that defend the interests of the oppressed against the interests of those above, who expropriate the expropriators…”

This last statement is particularly significant. In 2019-2021, Colombia was rocked by the largest wave of protests in its history, involving millions of people opposed to social inequality, the deadly response to COVID-19 and the brutal crackdown that killed at least 80 protesters and makes hundreds of people disappear. These protests were part of a global wave of “leaderless revolutions” involving hundreds of millions of people across the Americas and the world. But these “revolutions” did not change anything and were finally channeled, as in Colombia, Chile, Honduras and Bolivia, behind the election of pseudo-left governments.

Petro has repeatedly called for an end to strikes and roadblocks, but in a leaked audio May 5, 2021, he summarized today’s basic political need for the ruling class. In a call with the union and the political bureaucrats of the National Strike Committee, which claimed to be leading the protests, Petro said: “There is a distance between the National Strike Committee and the people on the streets. Let’s say they don’t know each other. The people in the street are the working-class young people, the young people from the working-class neighborhoods who want to continue to fight. In other words, the political establishment seems unable to contain the young street workers, who are politically and socially as distant from them as the moon.

This is why the intervention of organizations claiming to be “socialist”, “revolutionary” and even “Trotskyist” to harbor illusions about this rotten political system and its union allies does such a crucial service to imperialism and its henchmen. in power in Colombia. elite. The ruling class has learned the lesson that its power will once again depend on these pseudo-left forces to politically disarm the working class as it prepares for a return to military dictatorships.

The claim that Petro and Márquez can be pressured to represent workers’ interests does not hold water. The illusions advanced by the PTS, PST and Jacobin are all based on the Stalinist conception that sections of the national ruling elites must be supported to carry out bourgeois democratic revolution as a precondition for socialist revolution.

However, their champion Francia Márquez exploded that argument during one of her repeated visits to the US Institute of Peace in Washington DC, a US federal government agency with close ties to the Pentagon. In May, after being specifically asked about Colombia’s status as a strategic NATO partner, she promised to “strengthen this alliance with the US government” and made no mention of imperialism or national oppression. After protesting the US ambassador’s insinuation that their campaign was funded by Russia and Venezuela, she said it “breaks with the history of US relations, which does not not into politics and have respected democratic electoral processes. ”

She has repeatedly stressed that her administration has no intention of “expropriating” the “landlord oligarchy”, including the “Uribistas”, who use their land holdings as an economic base to fund fascist paramilitary squads that regularly massacre social leaders, workers and peasants.

By rejecting the two main democratic tasks in Colombia and in all backward countries – the liberation from imperialist oppression and the abolition of the special feudal privileges of the landed oligarchy – Márquez showed that all his speeches on democratic rights, social justice, dignity and peace are verbiage. . More importantly, as US imperialism’s hegemony increasingly relies on its control of regional armies and its direct military presence to counter its relative economic decline, Márquez assured that their administration “will not be a threat to America”. That is, Washington’s main stronghold in its “own backyard” is secure.

Any regime that was only mildly sympathetic to working class interests would have immediately implemented sweeping public health measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, which kill 180,000 Colombians in 2020-21. He is said to have renounced his association with NATO and condemned the war campaign against Russia in Ukraine which threatens the nuclear annihilation of human civilization. And he would have imposed aggressive price controls against the highest inflation in more than two decades.

But Petro began his administration by promising “austerity” and filling his cabinet with minions of imperialism and the extreme right. To name a few, the new US Ambassador, Luis Gilberto Murillo, who joined Márquez at his forum in Washington, was an adviser to USAID, the World Bank and other imperialist agencies. The Minister of Defense is Iván Velázquez, who has been named head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, a UN-backed and US-funded organization to use corruption allegations as a tool to dictate pro-American policies. As transport minister, Petro chose Guillermo Reyes, who was deputy minister under far-right President Álvaro Uribe.

Jacobin, the PST and the PTS were completely exposed as anti-working class representatives of the upper middle class, building their careers in politics, unions and academia by offering the ruling elite to help protect the status quo. In the case of the PTS and the PST, these elements drew their political roots from the legacy of Nahuel Moreno, the most notorious renegade of Trotskyism in Latin America.

In the early 1970s, in the midst of a pre-revolutionary crisis, Moreno formed the Argentine PST, openly declaring, “Our main political goal is to build a centrist party of the legal left. We know consciously that this organization is the opposite of a Bolshevik proletarian organization.

Amid the threats of a coup d’etat by the fascist military and attacks by the fascist Peronists in the trade unions, the PST not only repeatedly met with Juan Domingo and Isabel Perón, but repeatedly affirmed – like the Morenists today today about Petro – that the government was offering “democracy” and could be pressured to defend workers. It helped disarm radicalized workers and opened the door to the US-backed installation of a military regime that killed more than 30,000 people, including many PST members, while Moreno stood down. fled safely to Colombia to create the PST there.

As the ICFI wrote in its analysis of Moreno’s role: “In such a situation, the ‘left’ party that appeals to the bourgeois state to protect the workers – rather than calling on the workers to arm themselves and to crush the fascists and the state that sponsors them – is itself part of the whole reactionary bourgeois order.

Imperialism and its closest allies among the fascists and the military are by no means invincible or untouchable. The working class is fighting with its hands tied by pro-capitalist and nationalist trade unions and politicians who are hostile to any affront to profit such as strikes and, above all, to the unity of workers’ struggles across borders. Imperialism would be powerless against an independently and internationally organized movement of billions of workers around the world, such as the one being built through the International Workers Alliance of Rank-and-File Committees.

The workers must conclude that the realization of their democratic and social aspirations depends on the intransigent opposition to each section of the bourgeoisie and its subordinates in the trade unions and the pseudo-left and on the international orientation of their struggles. This is only possible by building the only internationalist, socialist and revolutionary party, the International Committee of the Fourth International.

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