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The Simon Bolivar Brigade:
Questions for Comrade Leon Perez

Written: Autumn 1987.
First Published: Autumn 1987.
Source: Published by the Ligue Ouvrière Révolutionnaire of Belgium
Transcription/HTML Markup: Sean Robertson for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

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In March and April 1987, when Workers Press published a series of articles on the Simon Bolivar Brigade (SBB), reprinted from Working Class Opposition (journal of the Internationalist Workers Party, US section of the LIT), we held our peace. We supposed that the author (or authors) of these articles was suffering from memory lapses or else did not have complete information about the SBB.

But the article appearing in Workers Press of 11 July under the name of Leon Perez compels us to break our silence. Comrade Perez is wont to say that the truth is revolutionary: and this principle we will keep in mind as befits revolutionaries. However, truth has principles of its own: it cannot be partial, truncated, distorted.

And so we shall set out some facts and highlight some of the contradictory statements and positions put forward in the above-mentioned articles. We demand answers to the questions we raise, and too bad if it upsets the susceptibilities of certain people.

Let us begin then with cde Leon Perez’s article in WP of 11 July. He states:

“The Trotskyists of the SBIB proposed to the working class and the oppressed people of Nicaragua to advance towards a proletarian revolution.”

But is this not a self-evident task for those claiming to be Trotskyists? We should make clear that the Liga Marxista Revolucionaria and the Grupo Revolucion Socialista (two organisations in sympathy with the USec at that time) put forward exactly the same slogan.

“The SBIB proposed to expand the revolution to the rest of Central America, particularly to El Salvador and Guatemala.”

The question arises of the adventurist nature of such a demand: can a brigade, which has come from outside and uninvited (we shall return to this) advance such a slogan which cuts right across the guerrilla organisations already engaged in armed struggle against the dictatorships of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala? Who was this demand addressed to? Who was to launch this initiative? But unfortunately, it seems that cde Perez is romancing and the SBB never proposed this at all; its political concern was with Nicaragua alone and none of the documents in our possession refer to anything like this.

“The SBIB proposed to expropriate imperialism and the national bourgeoisie.”

Once again, we have found nothing of the kind in our sources. Comrade Perez, substantiate your assertions.

“The SBIB organised unions and working-class militants with the objective of advancing workers’democracy and the self-organisation of the working class and the peasantry.”

It is a fact that the SBB did organise some unions and assisted others which had sprung up spontaneously. The Brigade carried out a policy of dual affiliation of unions: both to the SBB and to the Sandinista Workers Centre. The FSLN “normalised” this situation by expelling the SBB. But the Brigade’s policy was limited to setting a better standard of union militancy and to taking up the spontaneous demands of the workers – as we shall show later.

Let us continue quoting Leon Perez’s article, still in WP of July 11.

“The SBIB proposed an immediate agrarian reform and distribution of the land among the peasantry.”

This demand was indeed put forward by the Bolshevik Fraction, but not, to our knowledge, by the SBB.

“The SBIB proposed the right of self-determination for the ethnic and racial minorities of the Atlantic coast.”

Neither the Bolshevik Fraction nor the SBB proposed such a policy. Or perhaps our documentation is at fault?

“The SBIB demanded that bourgeois leaders such as Eden Pastora, Violetta Chamorro and Alfonso Robelo be sacked from the government.”

If this demand (without including Pastora however) did emanate from the Bolshevik Fraction, it was certainly never the public position of the SBB. More accurately, the Bolshevik Fraction proposed the constitution of an FSLN government without the bourgeoisie. Yet let us recall that; at the time the SBB was in Nicaragua, Eden Pastora himself as one of the FSLN leaders negotiated the integration of the Brigadists as individual fighters into the FSLN forces on the Southern Front. It was thanks to Pastora and Plutarco Hernandez, who was later expelled as an “adventurer” by the FSLN, that the Bolshevik Fraction could say that the SBB had been recognised by the FSLN.

Today cde Perez invokes a letter from the PSR (Colombia), in which this organisation refuses to permit its internal bulletins to be used in the SBB controversy. Strange conjunction. At the time in 1979, the Bolshevik Fraction and the PST (C) treated the PSR leaders as vermin (“gusanos”, cowards and pro-Somocistas (Intercontinental Press, 10.9.79)). Now, paradoxically, in his WP article, cde Perez does not deny at all the reports published by the PSR in their paper at the time. How about it, cde Perez, are you going to deny them?

The Working Class Opposition articles, reprinted by Workers Press in March and April of this year, need, in our opinion, considerable clarification. Indeed, we put it to you that the SBB was not present in Nicaragua in December 1978. According to our sources, the SBB was formed after the press conference held by the PST in Bogota on 13 June 1979, that is to say after the beginning of the FSLN’s final offensive and the general strike. After negotiating with Pastora the individual incorporation of the Brigadists into the FSLN, these had their first engagement with the enemy on 2 July 1979. Somoza fled on 17 July.

The Brigade suffered a total of 3 dead and 3 wounded. We pay our respect to these fighters against imperialism and we shall continue to defend their honour as revolutionaries, just as we did at the time; but it would be unworthy to use them to block the drawing up of a balance sheet of the Brigade’s history.

Let us return to the series “Nicaragua and Internationalism” (WP 14.3.87). In this first part, we would like draw attention to further inexactitudes, such as the statement:

The FSLN issued a call to the solidarity movement to form international brigades to join the armed struggle against Somoza. Responding to this call, the PST of Colombia . . . formed the Simon Bolivar International Brigade . . . ”

The FSLN issued no appeal for the formation of international brigades when it decided on its final offensive on 29.5.79, nor on the occasion of the general strike on 1.6.79. Its policy was from the outset determined by its political alliance with the anti-Somocista bourgeoisie. Only at the end of June, in the face of military difficulties and under pressure from foreign volunteer forces wishing to join its ranks, did the FSLN issue the appeal on 23, 25 and 26 June 1987 on Radio Sandino, of which we quote an extract:

“The manoeuvrings of Yankee imperialism are aiming a blow against our people’s triumph. A new intervention is being prepared against our country. Today more than ever is the militant solidarity of all honest men in the world needed to stop the jackboot of the invader from dishonouring our soil . . . The peoples of the world must rise up because an intervention in Nicaragua is an insult to liberty, a boundless affront to self-determination and independence.
We appeal to all committees of solidarity with our people to reinforce their campaigns of denunciation of these interventionist manoeuvres prepared by the Yankees and their puppets . . . who see in our struggle a threat to their dictatorships. All solidarity committees with our people must put on alert the volunteers signed up in the different countries, . . . These thousands of men and women must be prepared to join in the struggle . . . ” (Nicaragua: Reforma o revolucion?, pp. 188-189) (our emphasis).

Thus it was after 23 June that the FSLN issued this appeal; and it was in response to the threat of US military intervention that they took this initiative, calling on the different “committees of solidarity with our people” to alert the volunteers and to prepare them to join in the struggle. It is apparent that the PST and the BF could not have formed the Brigade on 13 June in response to an appeal which did not go out until 23 June. In addition, the Brigade was formed before the Colombian solidarity committee was able to respond to the appeal; placed before a fait accompli, then, the committee recognised the SBB on 25 June 1979. (Nicaragua, p. 371.)

“Highly respected by all the combatants during the civil war, some observers give the credit for 10 per cent of all military actions against the National Guard during the period between December 1978 and July 1979 to the SBIB.” (Workers Press, 14.3.87, 2nd column, 2nd para.)
“They bore the brunt of much of the fighting with the elite of National Guard forces . . . ” (Ibid. 3rd para.)
“Many members of the Brigade were killed in these battles, many more were wounded . . . ”(Ibid. 4th para.)

You can’t be serious, comrade. This is pure fiction. After all, the SBB was first engaged on the Southern Front on 2 July and the operations ceased on 19 July. Of the 110 volunteers forming the Brigade, 40 were engaged in direct action against the enemy. By crediting the SBB with 10 per cent of the military actions, accomplished in the last two weeks, after the FSLN had been engaged in fighting against the National Guard for six months, you are posed with the following two questions:

(1) If this is true, then between December 1978 and July 1979 the FSLN did next to no fighting and the SBB did almost all the fighting, both in the firing line and behind it, with 110 volunteers, in those last two weeks. Remember that the SBB suffered three killed and three wounded. If we extrapolate the SBB’s losses in relation to its 10% of the military action, calculated over six months of fighting, we come to the conclusion that the FSLN’s losses must be around 30 dead and the same number of wounded, which of course is anything but the case.

(2) Moreover, who are these “some observers” mentioned by the author? How can one take them seriously when they report such tall tales, contradicted by all the facts?

To identify our sources, we have chiefly relied on the book edited by the Colombian PST “Nicaragua: Reforma o Revolucion?” and dedicated to “comrades Pijao, Biofilo and Roberto, internationalist militants who fell in the battle against the Somoza dictatorship and SBB volunteers, and to all those who gave their lives for a free Nicaragua”. The Colombian comrade Morales (Pijao) had formerly been a militant of the MOIR and later of Anapa Socialista; the Colombian comrade Ochoa Garcia (Biofilo) was an ex-militant of the Communist Party; and comrade Senqui (Roberto) from Nicaragua had no previous political history (Nicaragua, pp. 163-166.) Of these three comrades killed in action, none was a member of the PST. The SBB was not a Trotskyist brigade and because of this was open to all volunteers no matter what party or ideology who were ready to fight in the ranks of the FSLN (Nicaragua, p. 151.). We are not criticising the SBB’s method of recruitment, we are simply stating the facts in order to re-establish the truth.

“After the victory over Somoza’s forces the Simon Bolivar Brigade was responsible for organising more than 100 unions. It waged a resolute and uncompromising struggle against the bourgeois wing of the anti-Somoza insurrection, then led by Eden Pastora, Violeta de Chamorro and Alfonso Robelo.” (still Workers Press, 14.3.87).

Two points on this passage: the continued exaggeration of the figures and an offence against the truth concerning the so-called uncompromising struggle against Eden Pastora.

It is true that when the Sandinistas expelled the non-Nicaraguan members of the SBB, they accused them among other things of having organised more than 70 unions in Managua. We can read the following in El Socialista No. 168 of 24.8.79 (reproduced in Nicaragua, p. 419):

“Actually, the SBB claims the honour of having organised and assisted more than 70 unions (in reality nearer 80) and not only in Managua but also on the Caribbean coast – unions formed by big mass meetings, factory by factory.”

And a text of Camilo Gonzales, (Nicaragua, p. 528), refers to:

“ . . . the formation of 92 unions or factory committees in order to construct the Sandinista Workers Centre”.

The further we stray from the facts, the more the figures inflate themselves.

We have no need to deny that the SBB assisted or organised unions, but in our view it is incorrect to impute this movement towards organisation entirely to the SBB. This would be to deny that the popular masses and the workers had been involved in the revolution since before the fall of Somoza. They themselves spontaneously created dual power in the embryonic forms of militias, civil defence committees, production cooperatives. They did not wait for the FSLN’s entry into Managua before beginning themselves to liberate their city. And this process of self-organisation was not halted after victory, but on the contrary was reinforced. For example, 95% of the defence committees were the direct product of this spontaneous process. It was in this context that the SBB operated. The Brigade did not dissolve itself after the fall of Somoza, it continued to affiliate trade unions to its military column!

This spontaneous process towards self-organisation of the masses is described in Nicaragua, p. 307: “Los trabajadores se organisan” (El Socialista, no. 165, 3.8.79) and in Hacia la Gran Central Sandinista de los Trabajadores, p. 321 (El Socialista, no. 166, 10.8.79), an extract of which reads thus: “the majority of the unions and factory committees unified their demands and their methods of struggle in a near-spontaneous fashion.” (p. 322.)

Let us now make our second point about this passage, which concerns an offence against the truth. In fact, we allege that the SBB did not “wage a resolute and uncompromising struggle” against Pastora, Chamorro and Robelo. How else can Leon Perez explain the significance of the SBB’s interview with Robelo and Chamorro, members of the National Provisional Government (see photograph of this meeting published in El Bogotano of 4 July 1979)? At that time, Eden Pastora, el commandante Cero, was still part of the FSLN and neither the SBB nor the Bolshevik Fraction voiced any criticism whatsoever against Pastora. The most the Bolshevik Fraction said was that Chamorro’s presence showed that there was an alliance with the bourgeoisie and that it was necessary to have a purely FSLN government (which logically would include Eden Pastora). Once again – what is the truth? Is cde Perez not on the way to rewriting history? Let us examine this “uncompromising struggle” against the three members of the National Revolutionary Government, from 20 July, when the NRG officially took over in Managua until 20 August, when the SBB was expelled.

“In June 1979, the coordinating committee of the Simon Bolivar International Brigade met with the General Staff of the FSLN to coordinate military operations on the southern front” (WP, 14.3.87).

Questions: Who were the leaders making up the SBB’s coordinating committee? Were these Dario and Camilo Gonzales and also Kemel George? Why not name them? Is it because of their subsequent political trajectory? Moreover, the meeting mentioned took place on 19.6.79 and was not with the General Staff but with Commander Felix of the southern front HQ and “Commander” Plutarco Hernandez, at that time still spokesman for the FSLN. The southern front was controlled by the Terceristas, i.e. the Pastora-Ortega wing. The writer of the article quotes part of the press communiqué saying the FSLN:

“ . . . presented instructions for the activities of the Brigade . . . ”

but omits to finish the quote:

“considering that the timing of its incorporation in Nicaragua should be linked to the development of certain operations relating to the military offensive. The commission shall remain in contact with the Southern Front and await further instructions.” (our emphasis) (Nicaragua, p.155).

The author then goes on to incorrectly quote part of a message from “Commander” Plutarco Hernandez; here is the correct quotation:

“In the same way, under my direct command, members of the Brigade participated in forming combat lines which are engaged in action on the Southern Front under the command of the General Staff.”

The rest of the quotation given by the author is not, in fact, part of the “Commander’s” message at all. For the purposes of verification, the complete message is given in Nicaragua, p. 159.

“Immediately after that meeting, the Simon Bolivar International Brigade militarily regrouped all of its forces in coordination with the FSLN. In a joint effort . . . ” (WP, 14.3.87).

Where on earth did the author get this from? We have seen that according to the letters of Eden Pastora and P. Hernandez of 27.6.79 (Nicaragua, p. 159-160) it is clear that the SBB members could not go into action but had to await further instructions. They happened to be in Costa Rica at the time as were, by the way, the members of the Salvador Allende Brigade organised by the Socialist Party (CNR) of Chile.

Regarding the human losses suffered by the SBB in the fighting, the author seems to be unaware the facts. He states that the SBB fighters fell in the battle for the city of Rivas (col. 5, para. 4). That is true for Roberto and Pijao. They fell in an ambush of 16.7.79, while Biofilo was killed on 12.7.79 in the Masaya and Sapoa zone. The battles in these zones were in fact the only ones that SBB members participated in, and this as individuals in the FSLN ranks, not as Brigadists of the SBB. All the rest of col. 5 of the article is in the realm of fiction. Apart from the SBB there were also the Chilean brigade, the “Victoriano Lorenzo” Brigade from Panama and a Peruvian brigade formed by the PSR (ML). According to our sources, no member of the SBB took part in the battles for Leon, no more than in those for other towns such as Matagalpa, Chichigalpa etc. Out of consideration for his readers, the author should have consulted the report which the Bolshevik Fraction compiled on the activities of the SBB.

The second part of the article begins by confusing the internationalists and the SBB. Most of the internationalist fighters had no link with the SBB.

The author writes that SBB members encouraged the local population to organise civil defence committees; but in a text by Camilo Gonzales, one of Brigade’s leaders, we find the following: “impulse for the organisation of SDC (Sandinista Defence Committees) in 8 areas of Managua and 6 towns in the rest of the country” (Nicaragua, p. 528). In the Bolshevik Fraction’s document, on page 14, under the title “In Managua the Brigade is working for the development of the revolution” it is said that:

“the Brigade contains a large percentage of Nicaraguan comrades, and coordinates its main activities in the town quarters with the responsible military authorities of the FSLN, with the Sandinista defence committees at the centre.” (our emphasis).

Regarding the work in the 6 towns such as Bluefields, the report of the Bolshevik Fraction states (pp.14-5):

“For various reasons, including the fact that many Nicaraguans who have joined the SBB live in the inner regions with their families, the FSLN is sending Nicaraguan as well as international members of the SBB to the inner regions . . . ”

In relation to the Sandinista Defence Committees, called ‘civil defence committees’ by the author (a false designation), which the SBB is supposed to have created, we should like to have tangible proofs. The “Colina 50” part of the article and what follows are modelled on the first part: unacceptable! We recommend all those who do not rest content with sensational declarations to refer to the accounts of actual fighters in the book Nicaragua, pp. 183, 186, 192-5, 200-6, 211-28.

Third section on the SBB’s political strategy: we have already seen that, contrary to what the author claims, the SBB’s orientation could not be determined by its members. In fact, the coordinating committee was formed before the SBB even raised any forces (cf. report of the BF, p.8).

Section 4: Can the author supply some details about the decision of the FSLN General Staff to attach members of the SBB to a personal security squad of the new provisional government? What was the SBB’s attitude to the proposal to integrate some of its militants into a protection unit of a government defined by the SBB as bourgeois? Where and when did the SBB call for active support of the Nicaraguan people for the revolutionary masses of El Salvador?

In the third part, the author wrote:

“Immediately after 19 July, the SBIB sent groups of its members to organise the factory workers. Their first target was the imperialist companies” (col. 1, para. 1).

The report of the Bolshevik Fraction says (p. 15-16):

“The working class was missing . . . For two or three days (it) was slow to appear . . . (which was) enough in the end to make it clear (that) it would have to act in order to get its own independent organs: the unions, the factory committees, but the unions especially . . . The question produced the hoped-for shock, the working class began to move and to desperately seek out those who could help it find the right way for its organisation. The SBB, conscious of what was about to happen, went to 2 or 3 factories to measure the temperature (our emphasis). At the first factory visited, that of Plywood of Nicaragua in the Somocista capital . . . The workers had already formed their unions, but wanted to go further . . . After a mass meeting, the most determined ones from the factory formed a factory committee at the SBB’s local and drew up a list of demands directed at the minister of industry . . . The minister accepted the list and the workers of this factory offered to devote their efforts to organising the rest of the workers in the area”.

The author goes on to quote a programme which he claims is the SBB’s programme for the new workers’ organisations. Could he give us more complete information: where and when was this programme proposed; could we see the documentary evidence?

Under the heading “The Simon Bolivar Brigade smashed a counter-revolutionary coup”, it says:

“At the end of August a detachment of the Simon Bolivar International Brigade was sent to the Atlantic coast to the city of Bluefields . . . ” (col. 2, last para).

Further questions arise here: Who sent the SBB detachment to the Atlantic coast? How was this at the end of August? Was not the SBB expelled from Nicaragua on 17 August?

The above-quoted BF Report (pp. 6, 12, 13) specifically states that in the first weeks of July, 70 brigade fighters were still waiting in Costa Rica. They were joined by a group of residents of Bluefields who were anti-Somocista but not members of the FSLN, and also by a group of Nicaraguans organised by the Political Commission and P. Hernandez.

So a troop of 400 persons reaches Bluefields without firing a shot. Immediately upon their arrival, the fighters put on their feet militias and Sandinista Defence Committees. It was after the victory of Managua, then, that 400 fighters invested Bluefields and began organising militias and SDCs which the workers of this town had already put on their feet: “During the first few days, the militants did not have the time to go to the working class; yet the working class quickly came on the scene”. After the workers had organised themselves and won their first victory, the Somocistas of Cucra Hill met with the bourgeois elements in Bluefields and launched a joint campaign against the workers organisations in being. While the Sandinista commander wavered more and more, a bourgeois “oppositionist” Moises Arana, formed a “government” with some of his sympathisers and demanded recognition from the FSLN. The inaction of the Sandinista commander and above all his attentive attitude towards this initiative from the political enemy increased confusion among working class partisans of the revolution. The priest and the bourgeois forces prepared the counter-attack. They hired mercenaries and put them forward as “representatives” of the FSLN. Faced with this brutal manoeuvre, the brigadists immediately demanded the disarmament of the mercenaries. The latter refused and left town. A few days later the shoot-out took place. The unified bourgeoisie entrenched themselves in the town hall and disposed of over 80 weapons of all kinds. They called for mobilisation in order to force the brigadists to leave. They were answered by a counter-demonstration. It was during this demonstration that the armed confrontation took place which lasted 3 days. The pro-Somocistas fired indiscriminately, including on the Sandinista commander and workers in the street. The rebellion was put down. It must be noted that in this area the only known FSLN militants belonged to the SBB. The FSLN only had three resistance fighters who had come down from the mountains after Somoza’s fall and who styled themselves ‘commanders’.

Afterwards, the General Staff was formed consisting of three comrades, two of them from the SBB. When things began to calm down, a large Sandinista contingent came over from Puerto Cabezas, occupied Bluefields and re-took control of the situation.

So, is the presentation in this article correct? Moreover, the author omits to state that all the description of events is based on an interview with an SBB member, comrade Pacho (Nicaragua, p. 398). Further, there is no mention in this article of a point of information necessary to politically comprehend the events described: namely that the SBB was presenting itself as a brigade of the FSLN (see photograph on p. 395, Nicaragua). The author adds developments absent from the above-mentioned interview, in the section ‘describing’ the ‘reaction of the bourgeois government and the FSLN’, where he pretends that the role of the SBB was to put forward a revolutionary direction and that the Nicaraguan bourgeoisie saw in the SBB its most dangerous enemy. At Bluefields, just like elsewhere, the SBB did no more than use the programmatic slogans of the FSLN itself. This point is confirmed by the documents of the Bolshevik Fraction and above all by the resolution of the Colombian PST which eliminate all ambiguity on this subject. The hysterical campaign of the FSLN against the ‘pseudo-revolutionaries’ as CIA agents (Tomas Borge, 24.9.79) and the appeal to ‘revolutionary repression’ culminated in October 1979 with the arrest of 70 militants of the MAP-FO (Maoists), 5 militants of the LMR (a group sympathising with the USec and in their majority pro-Mandel) and Carlos Petroni, militant of the BF. These arrests took place two months after the expulsion of the Brigadists. Why are these facts not mentioned in the article? Because it was mainly against the MAP-FO, its journal El Pueblo and its militia MILPAS and against the Trotskyist militants of the LMR that the FSLN directed its hysterical campaign.

Finally, we come to the last part of the article (part 4). The author pretends that the FSLN expelled the SBB by using solely Panamanians, not daring to call on its own soldiers because of their respect for the SBB. In International Correspondence, journal of the Parity Committee for the Reorganisation (Reconstruction) of the Fourth International (of which the Bolshevik Fraction was a member), No.1, January 1980, p.39, we read:

“17 August 1979: expulsion of the SBB by a joint operation of the Sandinista Police and the National Guard of Panama”;

on page 21 of the same journal:

“the militants of the SBB organised by the Colombian PST were expelled by the FSLN with the aid of the National Guard of Panama” (in the article ‘Crisis of the United Secretariat’ and signed by C. Fernandez (BF) and C. Nemo (TLT)).

When the author lists the reasons for expulsion given in El Espectador, he forgets to mention one of them:

“The Brigadists sometimes described the FSLN leaders as reactionaries” (Nicaragua, p. 419, from El Socialista, no. 168, 24.8.79).

In the same text from Nicaragua, ‘Que paso con la BSB’, where the accusations of the FSLN against the SBB can be found, we read the following (p. 424):

“The revolution has destroyed the fundamental pillar of the bourgeois state: the old Somocista guard. From here, there are two ways forward: either one proceeds to the general arming of the workers, the peasants and the inhabitants of the poor areas and organises them into militias; or they are disarmed and a permanent army and police force are organised. The first course leads towards socialist revolution, the second towards the reconstruction of the bourgeois state. It is a fact that the rapid disarming of the militias and the formation of a regular army are accelerating. The incident with the SBB is hardly unimportant in this context” (our emphasis).

We are wholly in agreement with this last statement and we underline it. The author makes no reference to it – does he still uphold the documents of the tendency he comes from? How else can you explain all his flagrant omissions in the article which is the subject of our critique?

But let us proceed. Point 6 of a resolution adopted by the Central Committee of the Colombian PST in September 1979 and published in the Special Bulletin of 21.11.79 reads:

“6. Our political and organisational practice was characterised by a fundamental strategical error: after the overthrow of Somoza we did not adopt as the centre-piece of our politics the perspective that the FSLN would become the principal enemy of the Nicaraguan masses . . . We failed to recognise the bourgeois character of the government and the necessity to impel the mobilisation of the masses, to develop and to centralise the organs of dual power. We failed to insist on the decisive role of the working class and on the necessity to stimulate its organisation in unions and factory committees, we failed to call for the taking of the land and to support such actions and, above all, we failed to point out that it was necessary to resist the disarming of the masses when the FSLN embarked on this . . . all these aspects are the hallmark of centrist politics (our emphasis) . . . Moreover, as a logical consequence we entertained illusions regarding the possibility that the FSLN, or one of its wings, would lead the revolutionary process through to a workers and peasants government . . . They saw us as the ‘best of the FSLN’ etc . . . ”;

Page 3:

“We did not see the need to dissolve the SBB when the dictatorship fell . . . with this tactic we could attempt to exercise pressure on the FSLN”;

Page 4:

“The political defeat which was inflicted on us in Nicaragua and the grave errors committed . . . ”.

Without making any judgements on the political basis of the PST (Colombia)’s resolution, we think that even so it sheds an altogether different light on the activities of the Simon Bolivar Brigade. We are entitled to ask: who tells the truth? Do we throw in the rubbish bin all the documents of tendencies which form today’s LIT, documents on which we have relied to contradict the articles in Workers Press?

We believe that these articles attempted above all to embellish the activities of the SBB the better to impress the political tendencies presently discussing the problems of the reorganisation of the Fourth International.

To dispel any uncertainty remaining on account of the Workers Press article: at no time did the SBB confront the Somocista forces as a military unit, neither as an autonomous force nor in coordination with the FSLN. The SBB cannot therefore be credited with any military intervention. It was only as individuals, separated from the SBB, and integrated into other FSLN units, that some SBB militants had the opportunity to put themselves forward as fighters. This was the case at Bluefields and in any other area of military intervention.

As we said at the beginning, we want a clear and precise reply supported by irrefutable proofs to these questions which sprang up when reading the articles. Comrade Perez, the floor is yours.

Autumn 1987

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