MIA: History: ETOL: Documents: FI: 1938-1949: World War II: Emergency Conference: 1940
Emergency Conference Of The Fourth International
On The Movement Of The Fourth International In Latin America
Report to the Emergency Conference of the Fl by the Latin American Department
Adopted by the Emergency Conference of the Fourth International
May 19-26, 1940
We are obliged to limit our report to general observations on the different sections and groups in Latin America for the following reasons:
1. The information at our disposal is of a limited, general character; we have no detailed information on the organizational strength of the various groups and sections.
2. The movement is in process of political and organizational formation, reflecting the general character of the Latin American labor movement in most of the countries, which is also in process of political and organizational formation. Due to this fact, we consider it advisable to pass over, at least for the present, a political evaluation of the groups and sections for it would be premature to express a definite opinion on such an important question.
3. The representation of our Latin American movement at this conference is of such a nature that it is not feasible to discuss the political and organizational problems of these countries.
4. In a number of countries, which we will cite below, two or more groups adhere to the Fourth International with political and organizational differences which have not yet assumed clear form. The policy of the LAD has been directed toward their unification in a single organization. Therefore, any definite ’observation on the political character of the groups in those countries under the given circumstances might turn out not in the best interests of the Fourth International. Consequently, with this brief explanation, we begin our report.
The movement for the Fourth International in Brazil is one of the oldest on the continent; it was organized around 193031. Since its formation it has passed through a number of political and organizational crises. Politically it has been one of the most active groups; but due to its lack of a firm and stable political leadership, its political life assumes a disorganized form and translates itself, very often, into an organizational crisis. The “French turn” brought about its complete disorganization and it took a long time to reorganize itself. At present, from the information at our disposal, the Brazilian group supports the position of the deserters from the SWP. It is constituted under the name of the Revolutionary Socialist Party. Basing ourselves on a report from Comrade Smith, it has about fifty members. We have no direct relationship with them, due to the fact that Lebrun, its representative, who deserted from the Fourth International, continually refused to give us their address.
In Argentina the movement for the Fourth International began about 1930. At present we have about three groups, all belonging to the Fourth International: the Revolutionary Workers Group (GOR), the Revolutionary Socialist League (both of them in Buenos Aires), and the Marxist League (in Cordoba).
The Revolutionary Workers Group was formed not very long ago, by Comrades Fossa and Quebracho. It publishes a paper called La Nueva Internacional. Comrade Quebracho published a number of pamphlets, such as: Que Quiere la Cuarta Internacional; La Revolucion Mundial y la Traicion Stalinista; Centrisrno, Oportunismo y Bolchevismc; Nuestras Perspectivas Politicas, etc. This group has passed recently through an organizational crisis, the nature of which is as yet unknown to us.
The Revolutionary Socialist League was likewise formed very recently, as the result of a fusion between the Nueva Etapa group and the Inicial group. The political basis of this fusion is not known to us. These two groups have been in existence for the last eight or nine years. About 1933 they united their forces into a single organization; but that unification didn’t last very long at the time. The name of their paper now is IniciaL
The Marxist League of Cordoba is composed of about ten comrades. We have not heard from them for a long time. They have no official organ.
The Latin American Department tried to unite all the groups in a single organization; but it has failed so far in its efforts. In the beginning the differences between them were of rather secondary character and mainly personal. But, at present there is indication that the divergencies are assuming a political character. In No. 7 of Inicial, a programmatic article appeared on the nature of the revolution in Argentina, which attempted to show that its character will have to be exclusively socialist Recently, the GOR wrote a letter to the LAD asking to be recognized as the Argentinian section of the FT. The Department decided to postpone any definite decision on this question for further study and observation of the political development of the various groups. The Inicial group made the elimination of Comrade Quebracho a condition for unification with the GOR. The LAD sent them a special communication expressing its disapproval of this ultimatum. The programmatic article in Inicial changes the situation to some extent, in our opinion. We are faced now with a situation where the differences are taking a political form and, consequently, it. will be much easier for us to decide which one of them represents the ideas of the Fl.
In this country we have had two groups who adhere to the FIPartido Obrero Revolucionario (POR) and Grupo Inlernacionalista Obrero (GI). There has also appeared a new movement, under the name of Partido Socialista Revolucionario (PSR), which split recently from the Socialist Party and declared itself in favor of the FT.
The Partido Obrero Revolucionario is composed mainly of comrades who belonged to the exIzquierda Comunista. They publish Alianza Obrera periodically. Recently, on the war question, they held successful meetings in Santiago. Their position on the character of the USSR is not yet known to us. Their public organ does not indicate that they have adopted a position contrary to the official position of the FT. We have not heard from them for a few months.
The Grupo Internacionalista Obrero is also an offspring of the exIzquierda Comunista. They have no official or regular public organ, although they have published a number of bulletins and other material. It appears that they obtained good results in their work in the Socialist Party and the youth. Basing ourselves on the report of Comrade Fermin Olea, who is a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the GlO consti tutes part of a committee which is trying to unify all the forces for the Fl into a single organization.
With the PSR we haven’t yet established formal and official relations. The LAD, after hearing Comrade Fermin Olea’s report, decided to write them an official communication in order to establish relations with the PSR and decided, also, to invite them to send a fraternal delegate to the conference.
In Chile, as in Argentina, the policy of the LAD has been directed toward unification of the groups into a single organization. It should be noted that in Chile, from the beginning, the differences had a political basis. The GlO manifested an opportunist tendency on some political questions, while the POR manifested inclinations of the opposite extreme: not enough flexibility in dealing with problems of a practical organizational character. It is still difficult to determine whether these political and organizational manifestations have a general theoretical background or whether they are just isolated expressions, due to the political and organizational process of formation. The GlO is for unification, but the POR is against it. Their argument is that they don’t want to have anything to do with centrists. Not very long ago the POR wrote a letter to the LAD asking to be recognized as the Chilean section of the Fl and to break off relations with the Gb. We rejected their proposal, on the ground that it would be wrong to exclude a group of revolutionists from the ranks of the FT on not very clear and not very definite political manifestations. We advised them that instead of their present antagonistic attitude toward the GlO they should adopt a fraternal one. We do not yet know their reaction to this communication.
Our movement in Uruguay is extremely weak. At present there are two groups, both adhering to the Fourth International. These groups were united until recently in a single organization. According to the information we have received, the split did not occur on political grounds. The names of the groups are: Liga Bolchevique Leninista and Grupo Obrero Revolucionario. The GOR publishes a magazine that does not appear regularly, called Contra la Corriente. In its first issue it hac a very confused editorial on the RussianFinnish question. In general, the magazine is of poor political character. The Liga Bolchevique Leninista does not have an official organ, but it has issued a number of manifestos dealing with the war problem. Basing ourselves on the information we have re ceived, the comrades who compose the Grupo Obrero Revolucionario were the ones responsible for the split. This information came to us from the secretary of the LBL. We have not heard yet the side of the GOR. The LAD has written to the GOR asking for information.
The movement for the Fourth International in Bolivia originated around 1934, under the name of Partido Obrero Revolucionario. From the beginning it was politically a confused organization. As a result of this, the organization went through a series of organizational crises. One of its leading elements, Tristan Marof, a typical pettybourgeois radical, who uses socialistic phraseology, betrayed and deserted the movement, although he still calls himself a partisan of the Fourth International. He is constantly attempting to forma new socialist party. He collaborated with the semifascist dictatorship of Busch, thereby discrediting our movement in Bolivia. In order to form a better understanding of the real significance of the nature of the crisis that our Bolivian section went through, it is necessary to bear in mind that Tristan Marof is a person with a revolutionary past, and consequently is popular among certain sections of the antiimperialist forces. The revolutionary militants who remained loyal to revolutionary socialism are trying to reorganize their forces under the banner of the Partido Obrero Revolucionario and the Fourth International. Not very long ago they addressed an official communication asking for admittance to the ranks of the Fourth International. From the documents elaborated in the form of theses, which we have received, we find that in general they are of a revolutionary character, although incomplete in many respects. Quite naturally we must take into consideration that our movement not only in Bolivia, but also in most of the other Latin American countries, is in process not only of organizational but of political formation. Our Bolivian section does not yet have an official organ.
The Partido Bolchevique Leninista of Cuba is one of the oldest sections on the Latin American continent; it was formed about 1932. Its basic nucleus came to our movement from the Communist Party of Cuba, as a result of a split. Many of the leaders of the early period deserted our movement and joined the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie. In the beginning they had some influence and even leadership in some of the trade unions, but in the last few years, as a result of the general conditions in the country and the desertion of some of their leaders, the connections with the mass movement lessened; bringing about, as a result, certain internal difficulties. According to the latest information, our Cuban section has taken exceptional measures to solve these internal difficulties. They have established a Provisional National Executive Committee composed of the original members of the NEC and the most active militants of Havana, its task being to prepare the ground for a national conference. In this task, the LAD helped our Cuban section by advising the comrades from Santiago de Cuba, who wrote a letter to the Department asking intervention, that they take no steps that might endanger the unity of the party. According to the latest information they are making special efforts to penetrate into the trade union movement and break out of their isolation. Since their formation they have published a number of organs and pamphlets. Due to the extr’emely difficult financial conditions they are unable at present to publish a regular organ. They have issued a long manifesto on the war question and several others dealing with problems of the revolutionary movement
Our Mexican section is also one of the oldest on the American continent; it was formed around 1930. Due to the lack of a leading political cadre, it went through a number of crises. Not very long ago it went through an internal crisis, resulting in the desertion of the GaliciaCarvajal groups from our section and later the desertion of the painter Diego Rivera, who left the revolutionary movement to go into bourgeois politics. Our Mexican section, with the cooperation of the LAD, reorganized its forces under the name Partido Obrero Internacionalista. They have about thirty comrades in Mexico City and connections in some provincial cities. They publish a theoretical magazine called Clave and occasionally Lucha Obrera, an agitational organ. Their connection with the trade union movement is weak. It is one of the most active sections of the Latin American countries.
Our Puerto Rican section was formed around 1933 under the name of Partido Comunista Independiente. Its principal leader, Vergne Ortiz, was the organizer of the Communist Party of that country. It is a weak group numerically, due to the extreme financial difficulties under which our comrades labor, and due to the general condition of the present day development of the labor movement. It irregularly issues Chispa, a mimeographed publication and some pamphlets. In view of the extreme financial difficulties which hamper the work of our comrades on the island, and in view of the fact that Puerto Rico is a colonial possession of the imperialist United States, we consider that our North American section should pay more attention than it has up to now, to the needs and problems of these comrades.
Small groups and contacts in other countries
In Call, Colombia, we have had for a number of years a small group of comrades without any leading elements in its ranks. It is very weak politically. In Panama we also had a small group but it disappeared as an organized force and at present we have contact with only one comrade. In Peru, according to a report that appeared in an Argentine magazine called Claridad, there is a group which supports the Fourth International, but we have not been able, so far, to establish relations with them. There are also some comrades in the ranks of the Fourth International in some of the countries of Central America.
We have tried to summarize in a single formula the general political and organizational character of the present day forces of the Fourth International in these countries, with the deliberate object also of drawing the necessary political and organizational conclusions. A movement of this kind needs, more than a mature one, close advice and attention; it needs leadership in the daily problems which it faces. In this connection, we must state that up to now we have not been able to fulfill this urgent need in the life of the Fourth International.
The’various centers which were created under different names and forms by the Fl directly, and by our North American section, were of such a nature that they could not meet the requirements and necessities. All of them, as a general rule, were unable to act as administrative and coordinating bodies, and only in a very few isolated cases did they act as political centers.
Up to now we have not been able to normalize and stab iize the life of the LAD, mainly due to the fact that we lacked the necessary forces capable of participating in this particular work. Since the world congress of the Fl, the life and work of the LAD has gone through a great number of difficulties which inevitably affected the work of the Fl in the Latin American countries. Previous to this congress, after a reorganization of the forces of the LAD we succeeded in establishing relations with all the forces of the FT in Latin America and took some steps to coordinate its work; but due to a decision of the congress to bring Lebrun to the United States and put him in charge of the work in the Latin American countries, the work already accomplished was disrupted and disorganized. In the period of six to seven months during which he was the secretary of the LAD he displayed the most lamentable inefficiency. His administrative inability went so far as to abandon practically all relations with the Latin American groups and sections and to paralyze the life of the LAD. Letters went unanswered; meetings of the department were not called as problems arose but only according to his personal convenience. Since his removal as secretary we have been able to reestablish relations and normalize to a certain extent the life and work of the LAD. In this connection, it is necessary to state that the controversy on the question of the USSR found its repercussions in the department. Out of the five members who composed it, two, Lebrun and Montanez, deserted the banner and ranks of the Fourth International. It should also be stated here that in relation to our work of coordinating the relations and activities of the Fl in the Latin American countries, the Latin American Department did not receive the necessary cooperation from our groups and sections on the continent, due mainly to the abovementioned reasons, that is, the fact that our movement is in process of political and organizational formation and that the Latin American Department itself has been weak, not being able up to now to play the role of a genuine leading center. This situation is best reflected in the Boletin de Informacion, official organ of the LAD. The Boletin not only was not able to appear regularly; but, also, was not able to develop to the point of expressing the political and organizational problems which face the revolutionary movement in Latin America. Over a period of more than a year only seven numbers appeared.
Summing up, we propose the following steps:
1) A reorganized, provisional LAD should be created, having as its task the preparation of the political and organizational ground for a Latin American conference with the object of elaborating the necessary programmatic documents of the Fourth International on the nature of the specific problems of the revolutionary movement in Latin America and to create the necessary leading bodies.
2) In view of the fact that we lack here the necessary forces to carry out the tasks of the provisional Latin American Department we consider it necessary that an effort should be made to bring a comrade from the Latin American countries in order to strengthen this center and thereby also develop continental leadership.
3) In this task we consider that our North American section, which is the strongest not only politically but also organizationally, should in the future assume more responsibility and pay more attention to the work and problems of the Fourth International in the Latin American countries.
4) The life of the Boletin should be normalized. Now more than ever, in view of the war crisis and in view of the general character of development of our forces on the continent there is an absolute and indispensable need for such an organ.
P. S. After this report had been drawn up, we received word from Chile that the Grupo Internacionalista Obrero, the Partido Socialista Revolucionario, and the Izquierda Revolucionario Socialista, the latter two organizations which recently split from the Socialist Party, have fused their forces into a single organization under the name of Partido Obrero Internacionalista, and are asking for admission into the Fourth International. They inform us, also, that the Partido Obrero Revolucionario is conducting negotiations to join the party.
Last updated on 12.9.2005