Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Debate: Two Puerto Ricans say U.S. is no ally

First Published: The Call, Vol. 9, No. 34, October 20-November 2, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Call Note: The two letters printed here are responses to an article by the Communist Unity Organization which appeared in the Sept. 8-21 issues of The Call. The letters deal in particular with CUO’s reference to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence. The CUO article itself was a reply to a review of their book Sooner or Later (The Call, June 30, 1980).

The first response is by Julio Garcia, a veteran of the Puerto Rican fight for independence. The second letter is by a Call reader from Irvine, Cal., Hector Garcia.

* * *

Is America really out to ’protect’ us?

Reading the Communist Unity Organization’s reply to C.E., I found certain points with which I fully unite. For example, the question of the Soviet Union’s hegemonism is a clear fact that has been understood by a great number of revolutionaries the world over. However, in my opinion, the CUO has lost its bearings on evaluating the dangers of left and right errors. Historically both errors are equally harmful to the struggle against hegemonism.

When the CUO calls for “a worldwide united front which includes the United States ruling class,” they are committing a right error. Not so long ago, the revolutionary forces categorized the Soviet hegemonists together with the American hegemonists, but overnight that has apparently changed. Now all of a sudden, the CUO and others have taken American hegemonism off the critical list. Now, they say, 50% of the struggle has been won and we only have one hegemonist to fight against, namely the Soviet Union.

For example, the CUO reply touches on the Puerto Rican question. It says: “We support the Puerto Rican people’s right to self-determination.” But then it adds, “An independent Puerto Rico can freely negotiate the lease of military bases to the U.S. and participate as a member of the united front against hegemonism. [Because of the massive and growing Soviet presence in the Caribbean, an effective anti-Soviet military presence is vital to the independence of the whole zone.]”

However, even the United Nations, which has declared that Puerto Rico is a “colony and self-determination should be granted to it,” in that resolution makes no provision for military bases for the U.S.

As one New York politician used to say: “Let’s take a look at the record.”

I was born in 1899, before there was a Soviet Union. The first soldiers that I ever saw were American soldiers who had invaded my country a year before. They have kept Puerto Rico since then as a military base to oppress the Puerto Rican people. What else is new?

Can CUO legislate what the Puerto Rican people should do without asking the Puerto Rican people? That has certainly been the case in the Congress of the U.S. anytime the question of Puerto Rico has come up. So, the CUO is really behind times.

Latin America historically has been under the heel of the American imperialists–politically, economically and 127 times militarily (the number of times the U.S. has invaded Latin America). It doesn’t seem to be a good record for CUO’s newfound partner. Since all these invasions have taken place, it will be very difficult to tell the people of these countries that because the main enemy is now the Soviet Union, they should not fear the Yankee imperialists.

As a Puerto Rican, it will be very very, difficult to go to the outer island of Vieques and tell the Fisherman’s Association and the rest of the population that they have nothing to fear from the Yankee imperialists and that they should be alert against the Soviet Union.

There is no doubt that the new imperialists, the Soviet Union, does represent a great degree of danger to the struggle for the liberation of the people of the world. However, as Lenin stated in his pamphlet War and Peace in Relation to World War I: “... Germany is fighting not for the liberation, but for the oppression of nations. It is not the business of socialists to help the younger and stronger robber (Germany) to rob the older and overgorged robbers. Socialists must take advantage of the struggle between the robbers to overthrow them all.” Likewise, the American communists’ task is to fight our own imperialists and not to take sides with either of the two imperialist nations that today are engaged in the process of enslaving the whole world.

Even though the objective conditions today are not exactly as they were when Lenin was writing, nevertheless the old forms of slavery and exploitation by imperialism are the same. Again I quote from Lenin: “World wars are started by the imperialists because of their insatiable greed in straggle for world markets, sources of raw materials and fields for investment, and to redivide the world. So long as capitalist imperialism exists in the world, the sources and possibility of war will remain.” (Long Live Leninism)

If there is a section of the American ruling class that we can unite with against the enslavement of other nations and for the freedom of the American working class, we welcome them. But we should be very careful not to lead the American people down the wrong path.

History has shown that when the American and British imperialists joined the united front in World War II, they were not necessarily fighting to eliminate slavery and exploitation. Even while they were a part of the united front, they kept on exploiting the working classes in their own countries and conspiring to overthrow the socialist societies that were established during World War H. Does the CUO think that American imperialists today are any different?

After the second world war Stalin said that all capitalist countries were fascist. But he said that fascism was applied in different forms in different periods, and that the most ruthless period was the one from the thirties to the forties. So, it is not correct to say that the conditions of those years are equivalent to the conditions of the eighties. As yet!

In sum, first, in my opinion, the eighties are more like the teens, that is, the period preceding WWI. Second, the Soviet Union is not a fascist country in the same way Hitler’s Germany was. As yet!

Julio Garcia, Tampa, Florida

We will not align with any big power

In reading the Communist Unity Organization’s response to C.E.’s review, one is left with the feeling that these “companeros” are not familiar with even the most elementary aspects of the Puerto Rican struggle for independence and socialism.

Despite their initial statement of abstract support for the independence of the island, they place themselves in the olympian position of determining which of the island’s revolutionary organizations is or isn’t “the most progressive revolutionary and independence forces.” To the above purpose, they arrive at the conclusion that the most revolutionary force is that one which recognizes “... that the U.S. is not the only superpower in the Caribbean.”

The United States may well not be the only superpower in the Caribbean, but it is the only superpower that has been exploiting and oppressing the Puerto Rican laboring classes since the military invasion in 1898.

To be the “most revolutionary” organization demands a little bit more than the mere acceptance of an article of faith. It entails the thorough understanding of the nature of United States imperialism as it has operated in our country for the last 82 years. Despite the fact that we cannot afford the luxury of being naive as to the intentions of the Soviet Union as they pertain to the Caribbean zone, we also must not lose sight that it is the U.S. bourgeoisie which controls and exploits the area’s working classes and not the Soviet Union’s bureaucrats.

First of all, we are struggling for a socialist republic, not aligned to any of the international power centers. Most of the revolutionary organizations in the island are aware of the nuances of international politics and the difficulties involved in carrying out this diplomatic stand: but in this stage of our national liberation process we cannot map out all the strategic questions which will be decided by the Puerto Rican people in the future.

Secondly, the “companeros” seem not to be aware of the purpose and function of the U.S. military forces in Puerto Rico as they have developed historically. No amount of wishful thinking can change their evident imperialistic nature.

The U.S. has served to protect the more than $18 billion U.S. capitalists have invested in the island. They have served as invasionary forces ready to intervene in liberation struggles throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (like the Marines that intervened in the Dominican Republic in 1965 which were stationed at Roosevelt Roads Naval Base in Ceiba, Puerto Rico) even before the talk about Rapid Deployment Forces. They have made the lives of hundreds of peasants and fishermen unbearable in the neighboring islands of Vieques and Culebra.

The very nature of our economic structure (where a major part of the economy is controlled by the U.S. bourgeoisie) dictates the anti-imperialist character of our national liberation struggle. Therefore we have to fight against the presence of U.S. military forces in our country (if we want to be able, some day, to initiate the construction of socialism) not only as a necessary ingredient of our national liberation struggle but also as an internationalist gesture of solidarity with liberation forces throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

Hector Garcia, Irvine, Ca.