Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The League of Revolutionary Struggle talks about: The Salvadoran struggle and support in the U.S.

First Published: Unity, Vol. 5, No. 6, April 9-22, 1982.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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On March 28 in San Francisco, 100 people attended a forum sponsored by UNITY on the current struggle in El Salvador. An LRS representative spoke on the need to oppose U.S. imperialism in El Salvador and why the LRS supports the guerrilla forces there. The LRS’ general views on those questions are contained in UNITY, Vol. 5, Numbers 2 and 5. A panel of LRS members then answered questions from the audience. We are printing an edited version of those questions and answers, and have elaborated on some points raised at the forum.

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What is the LRS view of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), considering the fact that there is a pro-Moscow, revisionist party within it? Do you oppose Cuban or Soviet arms that are being supplied to the FMLN?

As we explained in our speech, the LRS fully supports the Frente Democratic Revolucionario (FDR) and its military arm, the FMLN. They are a broad-based coalition which represents all the major left groups and many mass organizations in El Salvador. They include social democrats, a number of guerrilla groups, the pro-Moscow party and others. We support the FDR/FMLN because they are fighting the Salvadoran dictatorship and U.S. imperialism, and because the Salvadoran people themselves have united behind them as a revolutionary united front.

The Salvadoran Communist Party participates within the FMLN. This does not affect our support for the united front. Just as we must deal with our revisionists here in the U.S., so the people of El Salvador will have to deal with that contradiction in their own way.

We have no firsthand knowledge of whether Cuba and the U.S.S.R. are supplying arms to the guerrillas. But we uphold the right of revolutionaries to get guns wherever they can. A people fighting for liberation should take whatever help they can get. We oppose any outside power imposing conditions on that aid, however.

In Zimbabwe, the liberation movements got some arms from the U.S.S.R. and Eastern European countries, but they always maintained their independence. They didn’t allow this aid to be a determining factor in their domestic and foreign policy decisions.

What do you think of the proposed U.S. Caribbean basin plan?

Under this plan, the U.S. is supposed to give loans, grants, and relax trade restrictions to provide $664 million in 1983 to countries of the Caribbean basin. In reality, the plan is a hidden method for giving more aid to El Salvador. One-third of the money goes to El Salvador in military and economic aid.

The plan will also allow U.S. corporations to have much better terms for investment in Central America and the Caribbean. This is precisely the problem in the first place. They build plants, exploit the labor by paying low wages, get all kinds of tax breaks and then take the capital out of the country. The plan will certainly not change the situation of U.S. domination in the area.

So far, the plan has gotten a fairly lukewarm response from countries in the region. The aid doesn’t really amount to much. Even a White House press release admits that Venezuela and Mexico provided $700 million in aid to those countries last year, without any special initiative from the U.S. Their aid was in a more critical area, credits for energy imports Many Latin American countries spend valuable foreign exchange to import increasingly costly oil. Mexico and Venezuela’s aid is far more significant an helpful than that of the U.S.

What is happening in Nicaragua and how much influence does the U.S.S.R. and Cuba have? Is their current military expansion necessary for self-defense?

The 1979 Nicaraguan revolution was a tremendous step forward in attaining independence from U.S. domination and in improving the lives of the Nicaraguan people. The LRS always opposed the Somoza dictatorship and U.S. imperialist intervention, and supported the revolutionary movement there. We were active inside the U.S. in supporting the Nicaraguan revolution and the Frente Sandinista de Liberation Nacional (FSLN).

We do not have firsthand information from Nicaragua today, but clearly there is a struggle there as to the future direction of the revolution. Some people strongly favor Cuba and the U.S.S.R., while others want to maintain Nicaragua’s independence of both superpowers. The Cubans currently have 5,000 advisers in Nicaragua, a large contingent for such a small country. A comrade Marxist-Leninist party from Latin America visited Nicaragua and told us of their concern about the strong role played by Cubans in certain key government ministries.

It was not encouraging to see Nicaragua abstain on the overwhelming UN vote to condemn the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Similarly, the FSLN newspaper Barricada supported the imposition of martial law in Poland. But the situation in Nicaragua is still in flux and it is difficult to say how the revolution will proceed.

We strongly oppose any U.S. imperialist intervention in Nicaragua. The U.S. has threatened to blockade and is spending millions to disrupt the economy. The U.S. openly sponsors mercenaries to infiltrate the country in order to kill border guards, blow up bridges and carry out other acts of sabotage. Under these circumstances, Nicaragua has the right to build up its military defenses, including the training of a large people’s militia.

U.S. government policy actually pushes Nicaragua closer to the U.S.S.R. With the open threats and military intervention, the pro-Soviet forces in Nicaragua argue that U.S. imperialism is the only threat and therefore the country must rely on Soviet and Cuban aid.

In this context, the stand of countries like Mexico and France are very important. Mexico has offered economic aid and is trying to arrange a non-aggression pact between the U.S. and Nicaragua. France is selling arms to Nicaragua. They are saying there is a third way, you don’t have to rely on either superpower. There is another world order developing, in which countries have an avenue for independent development.

How do you view building the El Salvador support movement in the U.S.? What do you think of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)?

The League has participated in support movements around Nicaragua and EI Salvador for the past five years. We believe in supporting the struggle for self-determination and opposing U.S. imperialism.

It’s necessary to build as broad a movement as possible opposing U.S. intervention in Central America. There are a lot of different reasons that people oppose U.S. intervention. Some people oppose it because it takes our tax money, others have strong religious motivations, others feel solidarity with the Salvadoran revolution. In most cases, the reasons why are not important. We should be able to unite workers, oppressed nationality people, students, clergy and other progressives based on opposition to U.S. intervention.

Unfortunately, there tends to be quite a bit of factionalism in the support movement. A lot of divisions are not necessary; they’re not based on fundamental political differences. Everyone doesn’t have to unite in one group. But for specific activities and coalitions, there is a much broader basis for unity.

We think it’s important to build solidarity for El Salvador in the Chicano and Latino movements. There already is a sense of solidarity because these are Latino peoples fighting. The people of El Salvador are fighting for land and self-determination. Chicanos, Puerto Ricans and other Latinos identify with that; our struggles are very similar.

We work to support the people of El Salvador in a number of ways, through a number of organizations. We work in trade unions, community groups, student organizations, in Salvadoran support committees and in coalitions.

The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) has contributed a great deal to the Salvadoran support movement. It is a national group with chapters in various cities. While we don’t agree with some of the left groups active in the committee, the LRS does work with CISPES in different cities around the country.

How do you look at the Communist Party USA’s (CPUSA) work around El Salvador? What about the Trotskyists?

We believe in building the broadest possible unity to oppose U.S. intervention. The pro-Moscow, revisionist CPUSA and various Trotskyist groups are active in the movement having significant influence in some areas. We work in mass coalitions where these groups are present.

At different times, the CPUSA has pushed support for one particular group within the FDR/FMLN. They make support for Cuba almost a principle of unity for Salvadoran support work. We oppose these views. We have always supported the united efforts of Salvadoran revolutionaries and supported the FDR and FMLN.

Support for Cuba cannot be a prerequisite for Salvadoran support work. That would exclude most trade unions, churches and student organizations as well as Marxist-Leninists. The CPUSA is trying to cap on the anti-interventionist sentiments of the American people to create a pro-Cuban, pro-Soviet influence. Clearly this is a danger.

Because we disagree with the revisionists, however, doesn’t mean we go into the movement ready to do hammer-and-tongs battle with them or any other left group. We continue to work towards the broadest possible unity and to oppose sectarianism. We put forward our views; they put forward theirs. We are confident that the movement will continue to oppose U.S. intervention and remain ideologically independent of either superpower.

As for the Trotskyists, in various cities they have proven to be quite destructive to the movement. The ideology of Trotskyism leads these groups to oppose all successful socialist revolutions and national liberation movements.

Trotskyist groups such as the Spartacist League openly attack the FDR and FMLN, while supporting Soviet aggression around the world. Their slogan “Defense of the Soviet Union and Cuba begins in El Salvador” shows that they have no understanding of self-determination and would have El Salvador become another Soviet colony.

They openly attack the FDR and FMLN as capitalists, claiming instead to support some unidentified “leftist insurgents.” Instead of recognizing the broad, multiclass character of the Salvadoran revolution, they say it is mainly a worker’s struggle and, in practice, support no one.

The Spartacist League is widely hated for their disruptions. These actions flow from the Trotskyist theory of “entrism” and their attacks on liberation movements.

They don’t build the movement, but enter other people’s events for the sole purpose of “educating” people about the Trotskyist world view. They objectively serve the needs of the bourgeoisie. No wonder that on March 27, demonstrators in Washington chanted: “Hey, hey, what do you say? Sparts get paid by the CIA.”

Trotskyists are becoming more isolated as the U.S. support movement continues to grow.