Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Resolutions and Speeches
1st Congress
Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization (Young Lords Party)

Analysis of 3-Year History of Y.L.P.

Comrades here present:

Welcome to the first and last Congress of the Young Lords Party. These following days are very important to us for we understand that in our three years history as an organization, we have gained some valuable experience, have made big contributions in the progressive and revolutionary movement in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as committing some errors which we will share with our comrades and friends here today, in the interest of advancing the proletarian movement through greater and greater unity to go forward towards the defeat of u.s. imperialism, committed to the successful building of socialism and finally world communism.

This history of class struggle in our organization has been intense, always moving forward, and progressing to clearer and clearer proletarian stands.

However, proletarian ideology, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought, does not pop from the sky; proletarian ideology develops as a result of struggle against right and left opportunism and in contrast to it.

The following is a summary of the history of the struggle against right and left opportunism in our organization and the proletarian positions which have been combating both.

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Young Lords Organization – Founded 1969 in Chicago

The Young Lords Organization arose from a street gang in the streets of Chicago, composed mainly of the unemployed, service workers, small number of proletarians and permanently unemployed, mostly Chicanos and Puerto Ricans.

In 1969, the organization begins to transform from a street gang into a political organization, anti-imperialist and guided by the ideology of the Black Panther Party. Organizationally, it adopts the structure of the Black Panther Party – a central committee, ministers, and ministries.

The Organization began to organize at the community level with the slogan, “Serve and Protect the People.” It starts several programs – breakfast, free clothing, and the takeover of the first people’s church in Chicago.

The Young Lords start publishing a newspaper, “The YLO” and begin to raise anti-imperialist consciousness and consciousness about the national liberation struggle of Puerto Rico. They distribute the newspaper on a massive scale and particularly in the Puerto Rican community.

In June, 1969, Jose Martinez, Cuban origin, petty-bourgeois, went to the SDS convention in Chicago. During the convention he meets with Cha Cha Jimenez, chairman of the YLO, and gets permission from Cha Cha to begin a chapter of YLO in New York City. Meanwhile in January, 1969, a group of students, mainly of working class background had come together to form “La Sociedad de Albizu Campos.” Shortly after, the SAC proposes to merge with the Chicago YLO.

Finally, in July of 1969, three groups, the YLO of New York, the SAC, and a group mainly composed of unemployed proletarian youths, Puerto Ricans from EL Barrio in NYC, merge with Chicago YLO and form the New York State Chapter.

In the beginning, elements in the New York branch who had right opportunist ideas took the position that, in order to have practice with the people, we must first study the 40 volumes of Lenin. On the other hand, others in the Party were saying that to serve and protect the people we must do practice with the people. This struggle resulted in the demotion of Diego Pabon who stood firm and pushed a right opportunist line with revisionist politics. This started a struggle of ideas between the progressive and backward elements in the Party. The social base of the organization was composed of unemployed proletarian youth, students who came from the lower petty bourgeoisie (ideologically), permanent unemployed, and a minority of workers employed in service work. The organization continues to develop progressively and for the first time since the fifties a political progressively anti-imperialist organization continued mobilizing the people in New York with manifestations against poor living conditions, especially among the Puerto Rican people although the organization has never been strictly Puerto Rican, but composed of Blacks, Dominicans, Mexicans, Cubans, Panamericans as well.

The organization continued to struggle against unsanitary conditions which poor people live under; the garbage offensives in New York were part of this struggle. The Young Lords Organization in New York came into contradiction with YLO in Chicago since the early development of the organizations. YLO in New York had previous experience in the anti-imperialist struggle. Some members had previously been in SDS, others involved in the 1969 City College takeover, and there had also been more study of Marxist-Leninist theory. In Chicago, the organization’s ideology of the lumpen-proletariat was developed much more, therefore attracting the elements of this class into the organization. Democratic centralism, criticism and self-criticism were implemented in the organization in New York since the early development. In studying the teachings of Mao Tse Tung, we developed a base for proletarian positions and its primitive development.

As the organisation consolidated, there arose more ideological and organizational unity with other organizations. In May 1969 in Chicago, there was the Rainbow Coalition composed of the YLO, Black Panther Party, and the Patriots (an organization of unemployed youths, white northamericans – with origin of mine workers from Appalachia and sharecroppers who fell into the category permanently unemployed).

The organization in leadership, ideologically as well as organizationally, was the Black Panther Party. Of all the organizations in the U.S., the Panthers had the major leading role from the time they began in 1966 until the split in 1971.

The major influence therefore in our development came from the Panther Party. In the Young Lords Org., however the right opportunists were opposed to working with and accepting the ideological guidance given by the Black Panther Party.

The right opportunists, led by Felipe Luciano (deputy chairman of the Young Lords Organization) claimed that the Panther Party ”had isolated themselves from the masses of the people by introducing Marxist-Leninist-Mao Tse Tung Thought, and Third World people could not relate to that theory.” Another argument was that the Panthers were sectarian “because they attacked the cultural nationalists.” The more progressive elements in the organization waged relentless struggle against those positions and raised the necessity of our organization to study the works of Mao Tse Tung. The organization adopted that position, and all members learned from the Red Book in our daily work, setting therefore a more solid foundation for the rise of proletarian principles.

Around the period of August 1969, some of those opportunist elements leave the organization, some temporarily, others permanently. It is during this period that the organization in New York enters a most progressive period. An office is opened, the 13 Point Program and Platform is drawn up, general meetings of the membership are instituted to give way to a primitive level of democratic centralism, a. political. education curriculum is established, the Serve the People programs go into effect and the organisation leads a welfare mothers demonstration.

In October 1969, the organization, begins to work with HRUM (Health Revolutionary Unity Movement) founded in October 1969, of health workers who rise from a struggle against proposed layoffs and cutbacks in services in the city hospitals of New York.

HRUM had already adopted the study of Mao Tse Tung Thought as the ideological guide, following the example of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords Organization.

In December 1969, the Young Lords Organization to New York launches the offensive of the First People’s Church takeover. Hundreds of people are mobilized. In the church, we set up health programs, breakfast programs and always raised the question of national liberation for Puerto Rico.

The national minority of Puerto Ricans living in the United States responds once again from the sector of society composed of unemployed proletarian youth and of the people that fall more and more into the lines of the unemployed. As the economic crisis in the United States and Puerto Rico increases the number of permanently unemployed people–desperately seeking escape and making efforts to struggle against exploitation rises. The church takeover demonstrates the progressive strength of the Young Lords Organization. From his personal interests, Felipe Luciano sees & growing organization and returns to it. He had left in August. Upon his return the ideology which he represents once again takes hold. Nonetheless, the principles learned in the mass struggle of the church takeover, with HRUM (Health Revolutionary Union Movement), and during that progressive period form a real base so that proletarian ideas begin to take form in the organization.

In May of 1970, the leadership of the organization in New York has its first retreat, a meeting during which more Marxism-Leninism would be studied and out of which would come the direction of the organization for the next period. During this retreat the relationship with YLO in Chicago was analyzed and it was concluded that in Chicago there was no real development of a direction for what was already a growing organization in the United States, with chapters in Chicago, New York, Newark, and with membership dispersed in other parts of the United States. A criticism was also raised that YLO in Chicago was not producing the newspaper that progressive elements understood to be a key element in organizing the masses. During that retreat it was decided to go to Chicago, in an effort to convince the Chicago leadership to return to New York, so as to train there the cadres, who more and more represented the permanently unemployed.

The organization in Chicago was in a state of disintegration. The division Occurred when the Chicago leadership rejected the proposal of the New York leadership. Once the division between New York and Chicago occurred, the leadership of the organization decided to continue using the name Young Lords Party; but at the same tine, the left extremist idea of forming a party comes out following the example of the Black Panther Party. At that time, the organization did not clearly identify itself with the proletarian class. The idea of forming a party creates a base for left extremism and also struggles against right opportunism, pushing the organization further and further to the left. One of the ideas that most held back our development was that the lumpen- proletariat was the vanguard of the revolution. At the same tine, it was said that the working class was conservative because it had much more to lose than other sectors of society and would therefore join the struggle after the other classes.

These ideas did not permit for the change of the social base of the organization, and so two basic principles around which we would organize were maintained: the national liberation of Puerto Rico and serving the interests of the people.

A preliminary analysis on class in Puerto Rican society which came out of the May 1970 retreat establishes a firmer base for ideological struggle within the party. Proletarian ideas are expressed more strongly although from a minority base in the party, and only in terms of positions, not of ideology clearly identifiable with the proletarian class.

There was still much resistance to the study of dialectical materialism and Marxism-Leninism, although during that period ideas on socialism were reaching a higher level, and we began the study of the work by Huberman and Sweez y– Introduction to Socialism. The right opportunists in the party were getting into more and more contradictions with the party line, and they made an attempt to ally themselves with groups that were clearly reactionary, such as cultural nationalist organization of Leroi Jones. The struggle against that attempt was difficult; and at the same time, left extremist ideas consolidated themselves in the party.

The right opportunist line had some support from the Newark branch were lmamu Baraka (Leroi Jones) had one of his strongest bases, but the struggle against such an alliance extended itself not only in the party, but also in the Black Panther Party which opposed the alliance.

It was during the period after the May retreat that we undertook the task of publishing a national newspaper, and Palante comes out. A first publication of 10,000 issues distributed primarily in the New York City area begins the strengthening of a mass movement in the Puerto Rican community. At the same time, we begin to develop ideas on what our relationship to Puerto Rico would be. During that period we began to do a study of and to give support to MPI (Movimiento Pro Independencia), which was founded in 1959 and of which we knew very little, but that clearly identified itself as an anti-imperialist movement. MPI had a branch in New York called the Vito Marcantonio branch. We are not sure of the exact date it was founded, but MPI had not been able to raise itself as a significantly strong force among the Puerto Rican people in the U.S.

What we knew of MPI in Puerto Rico was that they had raised a very progressive struggle against the draft and against the ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) in the University of Puerto Rico. The latter mostly led by the FUPI (Federacion Universitaria Pro Independencia) founded in 1956, which became in later years the student arm of MPI. We were also mostly aware of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico which had been the main anti-imperialist force in Puerto Rico from the 1930’s – 1950’s, the only organization which still to this day has a number of political prisoners. Don Pedro Albizu Campos, President of the Nationalist Party, holds a position of respect among our people and is known as a defender of the Puerto Rican nation.

Other anti-imperialist organizations that we had some knowledge of were CAL (Comando Armado de Liberacion), a clandestine armed organization, and PIP (the Puerto Rican Independence Party), an electoral, broad mass-based establishment party, founded in 1947.

We knew little about other organizations, such as La Liga Socialista (a PLP branch in Puerto Rico), Projecto Piloto, a group which had split off from MPI in 1965, and the revisionist handful remainder of the CPPR (Communist Party of Puerto Rico). That was our limited understanding of the movement in Puerto Rico. However, of all the organizations, we supported MPI, and most especially FUPI, CAL as they seemed the most progressive, clearly anti-imperialist organizations.

In the Party we began to study Puerto Rican history from the very limited educational materials found in the U.S. We knew that in the future, members of the Party would visit Puerto Rico to do a more intense investigation of the situation there.

Meanwhile, left wing extremism was taking root in the Party and it manifested itself in several ways. In the months of June and July of 1970, we took on some skirmishes with the police in the streets of El Barrio. We entered a period of more building takeovers.

During this period was the Lincoln Hospital takeover. The takeover lasted one day, but we were able to get a lot of support from the people since Lincoln was known throughout the country for the butcher shop that it is.

In August 1970, the Party expanded, to Philadelphia. A group of unemployed proletarian youths–some workers, and some permanently unemployed decided to join the Party. With that merger, the Party expanded to another mostly working class community. However, our extremist line prevented many working class people from responding actively and joining the organization although the different programs gained a lot of support from the people in Philly as a whole.

In August of 1970, Juan Gonzalez and Juan “Fi” Ortiz leave on an investigation trip to Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico they met with many of the organizations mentioned before. When they met with PIP, we were able to understand that PIP represented the interests of the higher and middle level petty bourgeoisie, as well as the interests of that sector of the bourgeoisie which is in contradiction with the foreign capitalists and imperialists in general. It became clear that MPI represented the upper middle, middle, and lower petty bourgeoisie. Its class composition and its struggles were geared to those interests. Some of these struggles we refer to were: “beaches for the people,” “university for the people,” and “mines for the people or no mines.” In studying their political thesis we understood that they were unclear about many things. Their analysis of how they would create an economic crisis to drive the yankees out did not explain the class antagonisms between the imperialist ruling class and the masses of exploited people. Their position on mass struggle didn’t have clear class distinctions, and their position on armed struggle was unclear except to say that they upheld the right of all people to armed self-defense.

Out of those investigations we realized a need for the Party to exist and organize in Puerto Rico. At the time we made that decision, we had failed to see the first investigation was only a beginning, not a complete understanding.

We failed to understand that concrete conditions wore different from conditions in the U.S. and that the historical development of Puerto Pico was almost completely unknown to us. However, of one thing we were certain, PIP represented the interests of the national bourgeoisie (we are in the process of investigating the size and strength of the national bourgeoisie). We also understood that MPI represented the revisionist trend in the movement in Puerto Rico. We believed that no organization really represented the interests of the exploited masses of the people, and we are convinced today that no one represents the interests of the proletariat.

We proceeded however, with this partial analysis to make our second gravest error, we began to plan to take leadership of the revolution and movement in Puerto Rico.

Objectively, for the reasons stated before, that was not possible. We did not understand the conditions and our development was still too primitive and influenced by the conditions which had developed in the revolutionary movement in the U.S. The revolutionary movement in the U.S. had gone through a tremendous defeat since the Communist Party of the U.S. turned into a totally revisionist party.

In 1970, the Party continued to expand. An organization called Spanish People in Command (SPIC) united with the Party to form a branch in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Mainly an industrial city, it was a city where we would learn a lot more about the interests of the class that we have to respond to. Because of the left wing extremism in the Party, the branch did not grow in size. Nevertheless, the branch has mobilized large numbers of people for mass demonstrations on different occasions. Above all, it has been the place where we have recruited some of the most advanced and leading cadre in the Party.

September 1970 was a very important period in our development. This was when we confronted the right wing opportunist positions which were stopping the development of the Party. Because of his growing contradictions with the Party’s political line, Felipe Luciano commenced to fail openly as a leader in the Party. He was criticized for his extreme individualism, male chauvinism and for creating a situation of self-cultivation. Felipe refused to accept this criticism. At this point the membership started waging struggle. On one side, comrades lined themselves up with the right opportunist ideas of Felipe, and on the other side, the comrades who wanted to change the Party, even though it took positions that were extremist. The right opportunist ideas are defeated. With these struggles there is a qualitative change in our work. We enter one of the most progressive periods of our history. The student conference in September 1970 where 1,000 students are mobilized to a conference with the objective of forming Liberate Puerto Rico Now Committees consolidated our ties with the Puerto Rican Student Union.

The Party wages struggle with the nationalism of the Union (PRSU) at that tine. We learn that we could not isolate ourselves from the student movement and its importance to the revolutionary struggle. We went on to consolidate in the community. We advance our struggles in health programs, unsanitary conditions in our communities, and police harassment, especially in El Barrio. Julio Roldan is killed, and we occupy the People’s Church for the second time in October 1970.

We mobilize 10,000 people for the October 30, 1970 demonstration at the United Nations, demanding the liberation of Puerto Rico. In November, 1970, the Philly branch takes a church and gains mass support.

In general, the defeat of a highly opportunist line in the Party opens the way for progress and enables us to take more positions which enabled us to gain experience in mass mobilization. We were also able to develop democratic centralism to a higher level. We began to develop a more collective leadership, and criticism and self-criticism became a more real part of the Party.

By December 1970, we fell into a crisis of stagnation in the Party. Basically, we lack a sense of direction, we had not summed up our experiences and didn’t have an ideology. We therefore went into another retreat. In that retreat we consolidated left extremism – mainly because we really were unable to deepen our understanding of class society and class analysis. In fact, we reaffirmed our belief that the lumpen-proletariat was the leading and nest exploited in the U.S. We did however begin to have a primitive understanding of dialectical materialism as shown in our first edition of the ideology of the YLP. In the ideology we further develop the extremist ideas of the Party and the State, the divided nation theory, protracted struggle in Puerto Rico (these are the most significant of that trend). In general, the analysis gave us some ideas to work with although it was not based on scientific analysis. In looking back on our ideology, we realize that it does not represent an ideology based on class analysis, scientific analysis utilizing the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought. As a result, the national question was not correctly analyzed.

The third fundamental error was in taking that theory to practice we initiated the Break the Chains Offensive (Ofensiva Rompecadenas). In dealing with the reality that there was no party representing the interests of the people, we concluded that we were that party, and we called for a demonstration in Ponce on March 21, 1971, from which we would begin^ organizing in Puerto Rico. That idea caused a qualitative change in left extremism which developed into left opportunism. This took us further away from Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought, and further away from reality.

During the same period in February that the Party was consolidating the left opportunist line, the BPP divided. This division was unprincipled. Although it is significant to analyze the development of the Panther Party, its contribution to the movement and its contribution to right opportunism but to left opportunism, it would be too great a task to do so at this time. Nonetheless, it is important to point out that the division in the Panther Party caused great confusion in the revolutionary movement, especially in the Third World sector. Every organization was forced to take a position under extremist conditions. The two factions began to resolve contradictions in an antagonistic way, a way totally different from revolutionary principles. We already had vast differences with Huey Newton’s theory of intercommunalism as we did with the ultra-extremist and opportunist position of Eldridge Cleaver regarding armed struggle. We took a principled stand that we could not support either faction. We stated that they would have to correct their errors in practice and in practice show their commitment to serve in the interests of the people.

While all this was happening in the U.S., we had begun to organize in Puerto Rico. We had a very successful demonstration in Ponce and mobilized 700 people. The reactionary press played up the extremism and the opportunism of the Party to create further contradictions with the movement, by saying that we were in Puerto Rico to show the other independentistas how to make revolution. The tactic worked; we were further isolated from the movement. A combination of left extremism which we outlined here plus the lack of understanding of the concrete conditions set the base for further errors in Puerto Rico. We began to work as we were accustomed to in the U.S. We had several tasks. One was to spread Palante, which was half in english, plus the fact that most of the information was about the states. We created a contradiction which only affirmed the extremism which manifested itself more clearly each day. Without dealing with the reality of the capacity of our organization, we began programs and struggle in the community. The struggle to open the only hospital in Aguadilla and the struggle against Model Cities in Santurce were the two major ones.

One of our contributions to the struggle of Puerto Rico was to bring on an understanding of the struggle of the U.S. In the first place we had to explain to people why we were a Puerto Rican organisation with the name in English. While doing this we would go into the history of the U.S. and raise a lot of consciousness about the terrible exploitation of our people, especially Third World people living in the U.S.

In many cases, we broke down the “american dream.” In the different programs we showed films of the struggles of other nations, especially that of the people of Viet Nam. This helped to raise the consciousness of the people in Puerto Rico on the international struggle which is usually at a very low level of understanding. This is for two reasons: one, because the material conditions of its colonial state where strict vigilance is kept on the type of news that the people receive through the media, and second, because of the class composition of the independence movement in Puerto Rico that has failed to raise an international consciousness.

In our struggles with the rest of the movement we have been able to understand this very well, and it was in this area that we could raise consciousness about the importance to the movement, that learning to the point of being familiar with the struggle in the U.S. and especially the struggle waged by Black people in the U.S. We managed to make some very important contributions in this aspect, although there is still a lack of understanding about this question in Puerto Rico.

To sum up, every object has two different points of view. In our work in Puerto Rico, we made many mistakes, but our positive results can be seen in the raising of consciousness, sometimes at a minimal level, and other times at a greater level, attained in the U.S. about the colonial situation in Puerto Rico, and because of the work we did in Puerto Rico, about the real exploitative conditions that our people suffer in the U.S. We see the necessity to unite the people in the oppressing country to the people of the oppressed country. During the tine that we were in Puerto Rico and working in the u.s. we consolidated the left opportunist line in both places. On one side we continued the incorrect idea of the divided nation, and we began to put into practice the theory of the party and the state.

In April, we decided to establish and unite people’s organizations. All were to rise in NY at the same time. At this time, the period of transition and restructuring begins. In an idealist way, without planning, we over-expanded again and the organizations fall into chaos.

In July 1971, we entered into another retreat; once again we fail to sum up our experiences in a scientific manner. We didn’t have at hand the data necessary as to how many members were active in the organization in order to deal with our reality as an organization. At the same tine this retreat sets the base for the proletarian position to develop and creates a big impact on the party. In the first place, we began to recognize that the lumpen-proletariat are not the vanguard of the proletariat. We began to study about the dictatorship of the proletariat, about Marxism-Leninism, and with the minimal understanding we begin to plan the task of the organization on a class base.

In the struggle against the right opportunist line which had developed as to the position of the popular classes (that the classes had to unite, but not under the leadership of the proletariat, but the same as the other classes in society) and from the base of left opportunism is developed the phrase “the work places belong to those who work then.”

In that retreat of July 1971, we derived a better understanding of the mass line:


In November a member of the central committee went to China. This trip was very significant to our development. In that trip, the Chinese comrades wage struggle with our line and point out incorrect things, especially our position on the divided nation. When the member of central committee returns, he and the other two members in the absence of two other central committee members wage a rectification movement in which they break democratic centralism of the organization. On the arrival of the two other members there were already many conclusions reached and put into practice, without the acknowledgement of the two other members of the central committee.

In that situation, the position of right and left opportunism clashed, with the opportunism of the left position managing to take control of the situation and consolidate positions. The national question is not solved in a correct way, and the proletarian positions which had been raised remain outside of the ideological struggle, yet establishing a base for ideological struggle more real and vigorous in the party.

In December 1971, the Workers’ Conference took place where more than 100 workers participated. With, the Conference is established a stronger material base so that the proletarian position could take more root in the organization. In the conference we have to establish the organizing of the working class, what methods to use, and start to question some fundamental problems of the party. Yet in the conference is consolidated and accepted as a slogan “the workplaces belong to those who work them.”

The months which follow this analysis of our development is the a period we are in now. The division which has just occurred in the party.

May 21, 1971 was another stage of our development which has much importance. The division in the party, as will any division in any organization, will hurt us and caused subjectivity and an initial lack of analysis. But at the some time, it made us analyze the YLP objectively. In an investigation initiated by the central committee and cadre assigned to Puerto Rico, an analytical process of our development starts. The first thing in question is the ideas of the YLP, whose interests do we represent, and third, how would we correct our mistakes and move forward.

In answering the question of whether or not we are a party, the logical answer is no. Not in the United States where the party of the proletariat must reflect the characteristic of that class. In the United States, the proletariat class is multi-national; therefore, the party, the most progressive organism of the proletariat in the U.S. must be a multi-national communist party. In Puerto Rico, we weren’t a party. Our class composition and lack of understanding of Puerto Rico were only two objective reasons why we weren’t a party. Then what are we? We are generally an anti-imperialist organization that tries to apply itself to and understand the necessity for the study of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought.

What class interest do we represent? Our history shows that right and left opportunism have been our prominent tendencies, responding to the interests of the lower petty bourgeoisie. We are developing more and more to the proletarianization of the organisation. We are committed to change in whatever way necessary. We understand that as long as we are not based in a large scale on the industrial proletariat class and the masses of workers in general, we will commit errors to the right and left. However, we must be dialectical and historical materialists and understand that we are a product of society and that if we correct our errors in the interest of the proletariat, that this is one more step in the right direction.

Our organization is a strong one, comrades; it’s been a hard struggle. However, we are committed to the development of communist parties in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. We have always said we exist to serve the people. Understanding a little bit more now what that means in itself is the beginning of serving the people with all our might. We cannot even for a moment separate ourselves from the masses.

Comrade Mao Tse Tung has said:

All our cadres, whatever their ranks, are servants of the people, and whatever we do is to serve the people. How then could we be reluctant to discard any of our bad traits? Our duty is to hold ourselves responsible to the people, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected – that is what being responsible to the people means.

Therefore comrades, we have to grasp the theoretical base that will guide our thinking; Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought will help us as communists struggling for the interests of the proletariat and the exploited masses in general!