Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Self-Determination for the Puerto Rican Nation – Part II

First Published: Resistencia, Vol. 7, No. 10, December 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Puerto Rico is a colonial country under U.S. imperialist domination. Its economy is based on capitalist relations of production, despite small remnants of feudal relations. The working class comprises the majority of Puerto Rico’s population. Only about 5% of the Puerto Rican labor force is employed in agriculture (mostly as agricultural proletarians). The national bourgeoisie is extremely weak and numerically small, there is a great sector of the bourgeoisie which is intermediary or “comprador” in nature, and there is a relatively large petty bourgeoisie.

In comparison with other colonies, Puerto Rico’s relatively high level of education, modern roads, electric power, telephone communication, automobiles, concentration of population in urban areas, are all indications of the relatively higher level of capitalist development in this nation-colony. (Australia is another example of capitalist development in the colonies.) These were the objective conditions which led us in the past to uphold the one-stage revolution for Puerto Rico – a country were contradictions between labor and capital are acute and clear due to its capitalist development. However this would constitute placing economics before politics and. breaking the relationship between the two. In our analysis of the Puerto Rican national colonial question we must take into account : (1) both the political and economic factors, what is the main contradiction, (2) the historical development of capitalism, and consequently the two periods in the course of which the1 national question undergoes fundamental changes, and, (3) the social character of the revolution, the role of the proletariat and other classes.


Despite its economic development, Puerto Rico does not rule itself. It is politically and economically tied to the U.S., all vital state functions are in the hands of the imperialist U.S. bourgeoisie, which controls customs, communications, postal service, currency, mass media, air and sea transportation, the highest court of appeals for Puerto Ricans resides in Boston, USA, the army is the U.S. army into which Puerto Ricans are drafted, U.S. Congress has veto power over Puerto Rico’s rubber stamp legislature, and so on.

Obviously, the Puerto Rican people do not, have control of their nation. Such conditions constitute an obstacle for the independent political development of a Puerto Rican state and its further economic development. Thus, these obstacles, i.e., the fetters of U.S. imperialism, must be removed before any further development, before socialism can be built in Puerto Rico, regardless of the development of its productive forces. Thus the principal contradiction is that between the Puerto Rican nation and U.S. imperialism. Therefore, the revolution in Puerto Rico must be aimed in the first place to resolve this contradiction, to fight for the self-determination of the Puerto Rican nation.

Some claim that the bourgeois democratic revolution already occurred “peacefully” in Puerto Rico in the 40’s when the imperialists introduced drastic changes towards the industrialization of the island. We say, the bourgeois democratic revolution was not completed in Puerto Rico regardless of the economic “transformation”. In the relation between politics and economics, politics must be the dominant aspect in our analysis. Has the so called “peaceful economic revolution” in Puerto Rico placed political power in the hands of the Puerto Rican nation? No. In whose hands does political power still lie? – this is the question that must be answered, for the question of power is the fundamental question in all revolutions. And, since both politically and economically Puerto Rico continues to be a colony of U.S. imperialism, Puerto Rico’s revolution is, first of all, an anti-imperialist revolution, and the task of the Puerto Rican revolutionaries that of national liberation.


There are three periods of the national question – the national question during the period of rising capitalism, the national question during the era of imperialism and socialist revolutions, and the national question during the period of socialist construction and the dictatorship of the proletariat. We will only concern ourselves in this article with the first two. In the period of rising capitalism, when the new national bourgeoisie is fighting to secure its own home markets, the national movements are essentially wars between the bourgeois classes, and it is the bourgeoisie who leads the national movement rallying the proletariat behind its banners. During the second period of the development of capitalism -imperialism – its highest and last stage, the national movements are no longer led by the bourgeoisie, but rather by the proletariat, as the only class who can lead the revolution towards real victory against imperialism and carry the struggle on till the end.

In this period, the national movements are no longer a war between the bourgeois classes, but a war against imperialism, and as such, become an integral part of the worldwide struggle of the proletariat for socialist revolution. Thus, in this period of imperialism and socialist revolutions, bourgeois democratic revolutions no longer belong to the old category of the bourgeois democratic world revolution, but rather, to a new category as part of the world proletarian revolution. Why? Chairman Mao, in his brilliant thesis On New Democracy explains why:

Why? Because the first imperialist world war and the first victorious socialist revolution, the October Revolution, have changed the whole course of world history and ushered in a new era.
It is an era in which the world capitalist front has collapsed in one part of the globe (one-sixth of the world) and has fully revealed its decadence everywhere else, in which the remaining capitalist parts cannot survive without relying more than ever on the colonies and semi-colonies, in which a socialist state has been established and has proclaimed its readiness to give active support to the liberation movement of all colonics and semi-colonies, and in which the proletariat of the capitalist countries is steadily freeing itself from the social-imperialist influence of the social-democratic parties and has proclaimed its support for the liberation movement in the colonies and semi-colonies. In this era, any revolution in a colony or semi-colony that is directed against imperialism, i.e., against the international bourgeoisie or international capitalism, no longer comes within the old category of the bourgeois-democratic world revolution, but within the new category. It is no longer part of the old bourgeois, or capitalist, world revolution, but is part of the new world revolution, the proletarian-socialist world revolution. Such revolutionary colonies and semi-colonies can no longer be regarded as allies of the counter-revolutionary front of world capitalism; they have become allies of the revolutionary front of world socialism. NEW DEMOCRACY P. 7

Puerto Rico is one such colony whose revolution is, aimed against U.S. imperialism. Despite its relatively high level of capitalist development which has swept away feudalism, still the main contradiction to be resolved is that with U.S. imperialism, thus requiring a bourgeois democratic revolution of new type in which the struggle of colonies becomes part of the worldwide front against imperialism. Not until after the contradiction with U.S. imperialism is solved can the Puerto Rican revolution pass on to its second stage, the socialist revolution which is aimed at resolving the contradiction between labor and capital and building socialism under the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The New Democratic Revolution – in the second period of the national question – under the leadership of the proletariat and its vanguard, in coalition with all revolutionary forces, clears the way for socialist revolution.

How soon the New Democratic Revolution will pass on to the Socialist Revolution will depend on the particular conditions of each country. However, the creation of a genuine Communist Party is a decisive factor in this process – as we learned from the experience of the Chinese revolution.


A cornerstone of a correct analysis is the role assigned to the proletariat. In 1905 Russia, Lenin faced this very question. The bourgeois democratic revolution was unfolding in Russia and the Bolsheviks were faced with the concrete problem: what is the role of the proletariat in this revolution? What should be the Bolshevik’s tactics in this revolution? Lenin analysed the situation and concluded that the proletariat should, not only actively participate in the revolution, but also, lead it. And further, Lenin said that only if the proletariat leads the bourgeois democratic revolution can it really be successful (be carried out through to the end.) He said:

Marxism teaches the proletariat not to keep aloof from the bourgeois revolution, not to be indifferent to it, not to allow the leadership of the revolution to be assumed by the bourgeoisie but, on the contrary, to take a most energetic part in it, to fight most resolutely for consistent proletarian democratism, for the revolution to*be carried to its conclusion. V.I. Lenin, Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, Lenin’s Selected Works, p. 490.

And also:

The outcome of the revolution depends on whether the working class will play the part of a subsidiary to the bourgeoisie, a subsidiary that is powerful in the force of its onslaught against the autocracy, but impotent politically, or whether it will play the part of leader of the people’s revolution.

The New Democratic Revolution, to be completely successful, must be led by the proletariat in alliance with all revolutionary classes who stand in opposition to imperialism. In no way can the New Democratic Revolution be led by the bourgeoisie because this class is neither willing to carry on the revolution through to the end, nor is it capable of leading the revolution successfully. As a class, especially its largest sector – the comprador bourgeoisie – its interests are tied in with imperialism and its very existence and survival as a class depends on imperialism. So the leading role of the New Democratic Revolution falls on the proletariat (who in the case of Puerto Rico is not only the leading but also principal force).

All other classes or strata, such as the petty bourgeoisie, who stand in opposition to U.S. imperialism are to be roused up and mustered as forces that can ally with the proletariat to overthrow U.S. imperialist domination from Puerto Rico. However these forces, because of their unstable character, their decline as classes, and their material ties with the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie, do not stand in complete opposition to the system of capitalism0 In them, the contradiction between labor and capital is not so clear, and therefore they cannot carry the class struggle to its ultimate consequences of completely abolishing the bourgeois capitalist state.

Thus the working class, as the vanguard of the revolution and as the only class who can consistently and thoroughly carry out the revolution to the end, will temporarily ally with these other revolutionary, non proletarian classes in order to carry out the aims of the bourgeois democratic revolution against the common enemy – imperialism. At the same time, the working class must also organize itself in an independent political party, a communist party, to lead both stages of the revolution. As Lenin taught us on alliances with other classes and strata:

...they (communists, ed.) will always point out that this solidarity is temporary and conditional, they will always emphasize the independent class identity of the proletariat, who tomorrow may find themselves in opposition to their allies of today. LCW vol.2, The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats, p.334.

And further, in order to explain the need for an independent party of the proletariat, he says:

...the merging of the democratic activities of the working class with the democratic aspirations of other classes and groups would weaken the democratic movement, would weaken the political struggle, would make it less determined, less consistent, more likely to compromise. (Same as above, p. 336)

Chairman Mao also very clearly points out that in the New Democratic period the proletariat leads the revolution when he says:

Although such a revolution in a colonial and semi-colonial country is still fundamentally bourgeois-democratic in its social character during its first stage or first step, and although its objective mission is to clear the path for the development of capitalism, it is no longer a revolution of the old type led by the bourgeoisie with the aim of establishing a capitalist society and a state under bourgeois dictatorship. It belongs to the new type of revolution led by the proletariat with the aim, in the first stage, of establishing a new-democratic society and a state under the joint dictatorship of all the revolutionary classes. Thus this revolution actually serves the purpose of clearing a still wider path for the development of socialism.


To misunderstand the question of allies and tactical alliances with revolutionary non-proletarian sectors, proposing a “merger” of classes in one party, towards the aim of defeating U.S. imperialism is a strategy that is bound to fail, as it weakens the revolutionary movement. However the independence and leading role of the proletariat as only class thoroughly capable of leading and waging the revolution till the end does not mean that it is the “only revolutionary class” that will alone wage the revolution. This is a grave error. It directly plunges the proletariat into adventurism and failure that can only end up in great massacres, defeats and set backs for the revolutionary movement.

The question of allies is a crucial one for all honest Marxist-Leninists. It is essential for all those truly interested in waging revolution and it is a demarcation line between Trotskyism and Marxism Leninism Mao Tsetung Thought. The following is what Chairman Mao teaches us about the alliance of the Chinese proletariat with the Chinese bourgeoisie in the bourgeois democratic revolution . This alliance was based on the colonial, semi-colonial situation in China, and the principles laid here apply just as well to other colonial and semi-colonial countries fighting to free themselves from imperialism. We believe it applies to the Puerto Rican reality as well:

But China’s national bourgeoisie has a revolutionary’ quality at certain periods and to a certain degree, because China is a colonial and semi-colonial country which is a victim of aggression. Here, the task of the proletariat is to form a united front with the national bourgeoisie against imperialism and the bureaucrat and warlord governments without overlooking its revolutionary quality.
At the same time, however, being a bourgeois class in a colonial and semi-colonial country and so being extremely flabby economically and politically, the Chinese national bourgeoisie also has another quality, namely, a proneness to conciliation with the enemies of the revolution. Even when it takes part in the revolution, it is unwilling to break with imperialism completely and. moreover, it is closely associated with the exploitation of the rural areas through land rent; thus it is neither willing nor able to overthrow imperialism, and much less the feudal forces, in a thorough way. So neither of the two basic problems or tasks of China’s bourgeois-democratic revolution can be solved or accomplished by the national bourgeoisie.
Possible participation in the revolution on the one hand and proneness to conciliation with the enemies of the revolution on the other-such is the dual character of the Chinese bourgeoisie, it faces both ways. Even the bourgeois in European and American history had shared this dual character. When confronted by a formidable enemy, they united with the workers and peasants against him, but when the workers and peasants awakened, they turned round to unite with the enemy against the workers and peasants. This is a general rule applicable to the bourgeoisie everywhere in the world, but the trait is more pronounced in the Chinese bourgeoisie.
Therefore, the proletariat, the peasantry, the intelligentsia and the other sections of the petty bourgeoisie undoubtedly constitute the basic forces determining China’s fate. These classes, some already awakened and others in the process of awakening, will necessarily become the basic components of the state and governmental structure in the democratic republic of China, with the proletariat as the leading force. The Chinese democratic republic which we desire to establish now must be a democratic republic under the joint dictatorship of all anti-imperialist and anti-feudal people led by the proletariat, that is, a new-democratic republic, a republic of the genuinely revolutionary new Three People’s Principles with their Three Great Policies.


In order to correctly apply the principles of New Democracy, all colonies and semi-colonies, despite secondary differences must adopt the same form of state and government. That is, the form taken by the New Democratic Republic is that of joint dictatorship of several revolutionary classes led by the proletariat. Chairman Mao sums up the different types of state systems in the present world as being basically three according to the class character of those holding political power: (l) the bourgeois dictatorship, (2) the dictatorship of the proletariat, and (3) the joint dictatorship of several revolutionary classes led by the proletariat. On the third type he says:

The third kind is the transitional form of state to be adopted in the revolutions of the colonial and semi-colonial countries. Each of these revolutions will necessarily have specific characteristics of its own, but these will be minor variations on a general theme. So long as they are revolutions in colonial or semi-colonial countries, their state and governmental structure will of necessity be basically the same, i.e., a new-democratic state under the joint dictatorship of several anti-imperialist classes.

In the New Democratic Republic it should be pointed out also, the national economy, in the main will be socialist in character, allowing capitalist development only in so far as it “does not dominate the livelihood of the people.” That is, under the leadership of the proletariat, and its vanguard the Communist Party, in alliance with other revolutionary classes, the state in the New Democratic Republic will develop socialist enterprises, and will closely control and guide the development of the economy that it at all times serve the interests of the people and clear the way towards the building of socialism.


The Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP) – revisionist advocates a two stage revolution from an opportunist standpoint, presenting a distorted view of Chairman Mao’s New Democracy. In their strategic vision of the struggle, PSP views the petty bourgeoisie as the leading force of the first stage and the working class as a mere appendage of the petty bourgeoisie, PSP rejects the joint dictatorship of all revolutionary classes led by the proletariat and advocates a “multi-party vanguard” (a vanguard of many parties and many classes). PSP itself is a multi-class organization which groups together all classes, merging the interests of all classes, thus liquidating the interests of the proletariat, and consequently of the revolution.

The correct stand on the Puerto Rican revolution and the embracing by honest Marxist-Leninists of New Democracy, requires a complete exposure of PSP’s revisionist views and their reliance on one imperialism to fight the other. This reliance endangers the future of that liberation struggle and places it in the same road taken by the MPLA in Angola, which has cost so many thousands of Angolan lives in the past year at the hands of the mercenary Cuban troops led by the Soviet social imperialists. PSP is leaving the back door wide open for the Soviet social imperialists to meddle and control in that country.

PSP rejects the revolutionary United Front to wage armed resistance against the imperialists and puts forward the social-democratic electoral front, placing their efforts mainly on parliamentarism and bourgeois legalism while mentioning armed struggle as only a “last resort”. Thus their Secretary General declares that:

This is why they would like to get us out of the (electoral, ed.) race. In these elections no voting results will have as much importance as the votes obtained by the Socialist Party (PSP, ed.) and the election of this Party’s candidates. The political future of our country will be defined by that showing. Claridad, Bilingual supplement, Sept. 26, 1976.

PSP views the proletariat as an appendage of the petty bourgeoisie. They thus do not see the need to organize the proletariat in an independent political party. They oppose the creation of a true vanguard communist party in Puerto Rico. They also “file away communism” by only putting forward a minimum program which is not even in accordance to the concrete conditions of Puerto Rico.

The fact is that PSP is not a proletarian party, not in the interests of the proletariat and proletarian revolution. Their reliance on Soviet Social imperialism shows on the one hand their bourgeois character which cannot stand for the complete freedom of the proletariat. Also it shows their weakness as representatives of that class, in that they will not rely on the masses and its vanguard, the proletariat (whom they fear more than imperialism),. Thus they turn to a “strong” ally who promises to put them in power. The weakness, proneness to compromise of the national bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie is accurately reflected in PSP’s reliance on one superpower – Soviet Social imperialism – to fight the other – U.S. imperialism.

Finally, and this is a most dangerous aspect of these Mensheviks, is their “socialism in words”. Although PSP “files away communism”, collaborates with imperialism, and does not have the interests of workers and oppressed people at heart, they use the red banner of socialism to attack socialism, fool the people, and rally the proletariat behind the Menshevik banner of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie in Puerto Rico. (It is not the topic of this article to discuss the anti-proletarian, anti-communist stand of PSP in the U.S. in relation to the role of Puerto Rican workers, their revisionist “Divided Nation” theory, the building of a multinational communist party in the U. S., etc., etc., but we would like to say at this point that their stance in these issues is equally corrupt, sold out and revisionist. On this topic we have consistently struggled in the past and will continue in the future.)

Honest Marxist Leninists must close ranks, build a genuine M-L communist party, vanguard of the proletariat that will lead the New Democratic and Socialist revolutions, along with the United Front and the People’s army, and at the same time, heighten vigilance and keep that back door tightly shut. The future of the free and socialist Puerto Rico depends on that.