Source: International Socialist Review, Vol.28 No.6, November-December 1967, pp.50-55.
Transcription: Daniel Gaido.
Mark up: Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The First Conference of the Latin American Organization of Solidarity met in Havana, capital of the Republic of Cuba, from July 31 to August 10, 1967. This Conference constituted a brilliant stage in the revolutionary struggle which the peoples of our continent are waging in mountains and cities for definitive and total national and social liberation. For the first time in the history of Latin America, the true representatives of its exploited, starved and oppressed masses met to discuss, organize and advance revolutionary solidarity, exchange experiences, coordinate their activities on an ideologically firm basis and, in the light of what their revolutionary past and the present conditions have taught them, confront the global counterrevolutionary strategy of imperialism and the national oligarchies.
The main aim of the Conference has been, in short to tighten the ties of militant solidarity among anti-imperialist fighters of Latin America and to work out the fundamental lines for the development of the continental revolution. This great assembly has opened up possibilities for an ample and profound discussion of old problems of revolutionary strategy and tactics as well as an exchange of opinions regarding the role of different classes and strata within the present historical process of the continent. The exchange of opinions, the agreement on a common line and the creation of a permanent body of solidarity constitute an important step toward the encouragement and the promotion of the revolutionary struggle in Latin America. Revolutionary armed struggle – triumphant in Cuba and already started in Venezuela, Colombia, Guatemala and Bolivia – will not end until the bureaucratic and military apparatus of the bourgeoisie and the landholders is destroyed and the revolutionary power of the working people is established, confronting at the same time the internal counterrevolution and Yankee intervention, to resolutely tear out imperialist domination at its roots. The struggle undertaken will end only with the victory of the true descendants of heroic, self-sacrificing liberators. We are living in the period of the second war for independence.
One and a half centuries have elapsed since the peoples of our America took up arms to crush the colonial power that subjugated, exploited and humiliated them, shaking the whole continent with their valiant deeds and sacrifices. The revolutionary struggle which culminated in the overthrow of Iberian domination in almost all of America was led by capable, resolute and undaunted men, the majority of them coming from those groups of wealthy intellectuals educated in the theory of bourgeois liberalism and the ideals of the French Revolution, with a clear perspective of the continental character of the struggle and, thus, with a perfect understanding of their duties as Latin American revolutionaries. Simón Bolívar, the personification of the liberators of his time, said, “For us, our home is all America.” These men who constituted the revolutionary vanguard of the emancipating movement not only realized that the s was one from North America to Patagonia but, together, they set out to liberate their single homeland with unified action that extended beyond the frontiers of the colonies and to deprive the enemy of his territorial base for later attacks against the peoples who had gained independence.
In accordance with such concepts, objectives and methods, the vanguard of the liberators began by forging a united political and military command and marched always at the head of the revolutionary armies, organizing and guiding the peoples along the only path that would lead to victory: armed insurrection. The objectives pursued determined the nature of the struggle. In the face of reactionary violence, the essence of the colonial regime, there was no alternative for the winning of independence, sovereignty and dignity than revolutionary violence. History does not list a single case of any dominant class that has graciously given up power. On the contrary, history shows that the oppressed and exploited must wrest power from their oppressors and exploiters.
Then, as now and as always, there were some who had little faith and rejected the correctness of the path undertaken, adopting pro-colonialist positions or openly passing over to the side of the enemy. They were, obviously, pseudo-revolutionaries, incapable of facing the trial by fire, able only to mask their tendencies toward conciliation, inaction and treason with long-winded pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric – the typical weaklings to whom José Martí alluded. In ostensible contrast to the conformists, failures and cowards, the combatants of the liberating vanguard maintained their confidence and absolute security in the inevitable victory of their major undertaking. The most fruitful lesson given by this militant vanguard to posterity is that when the peoples are determined to win or die, and have courageous, firm and enlightened leadership, the result of that determination is always victory, despite the enemy’s size and power.
But that vanguard went even further when, at the Panama Congress called at the request of Bolívar, it tried to include its determination to contribute to the emancipation of Cuba and Puerto Rico, the last footholds of Spanish domination on the continent. The plottings of the government of the United States against such an intention exposed its early ambitions to seize Cuba and Puerto Rico and exercise its control over our America – as was already indicated in the Monroe Doctrine, presented when the armies of the peoples of the continent were the masters of the Andes and the brilliant glory of Ayacucho was rising to its zenith.
The leaders of the revolutionary movement were forced to transfer the political power they had won in the first war of independence waged by the peoples of our America to the native minority that owned the land. The colonial flags had been lowered, but the weak and backward economic structure of colonial society, characterized by its low level of technical and capitalist development, remained intact, and, therefore, the regime of oppression and exploitation against which the peasant masses, the slaves, the Indians and the manual laborers had rebelled, remained. Never before had true, heroic and unknown protagonists achieved such poor results for their efforts, nor had their great feats been so completely ignored.
The conditioning factors of the colonial regime – latifundia, commercial monopolies, ideological resistance to change, scientific backwardness, social stratification, the religious yoke, political oppression – explain the slowness of the development of the future nations of Latin America and, likewise, the frustration, shortly after their becoming independent of the mother country, of capitalist development free of ties and the formation of a national bourgeoisie. The radical discrepancy between the ideas that inspired the struggle for independence and the reality on which the new republics were based was evident. This gigantic battle did not result in a fully developed capitalist bourgeois regime, for this process was the inverse of that which took place in the United States – which, at the start, adopted the most dynamic, powerful and aggressive form of capitalism, and later developed criminal, aggressive imperialism.
With the increase in economic growth during the years following independence, certain conditions favorable for the independent development of capitalism and a bourgeoisie in Latin America were created: but this development was paralyzed, deviated and deformed by imperialist penetration. However, the organic weakness of the Latin American bourgeoisie so far as breaking up the latifundia – which had to be done if agricultural production and the internal market were to be expanded – and the interconnection of their class interests with the class interests of the landowners would force the bourgeoisie to form a closely united oligarchy with the landowners directly linked to the caste which controls the professional army – in whose hands the decisive levers of political power are concentrated.
It would be absurd to suppose that, under such conditions, the so-called Latin American bourgeoisie could develop political action independent of the oligarchies and imperialism in defense of the interests and aspirations of the nation. The contradiction in which it is objectively caught is, by its nature, insurmountable. The weakness of such a structure explains with complete clarity its incapacity to face the brutal assault which universal imperialist expansion implies, And it also explains its immediate subordination to the foreign interests and the framework of underdevelopment in which it stagnates, with its corresponding class relations, privileges and hierarchies and its economic, political, social and cultural corollaries.
The economic influence of the European colonial power was swiftly shifted after the Spanish-Cuban-US war, and was replaced by the growing colonial domination of the United States, ever more voracious, harsh and expanding, propped up by the oligarchies and the apparatus of force of the puppet governments – which, for many years, presented the world with the tragicomedy of a falsely free continent whose countries had flags, anthems and colors on the map as formal attributes of their so-called sovereignty and of their subjected economy.
It is well known that US imperialism controls almost completely the mechanisms of foreign trade, the bank system, the most fertile land, the mines, the public services, the principal industries and the propaganda media in Latin America. The vast natural resources of this continent – tin, zinc, bauxite, lead, manganese, cobalt, graphite, iron, copper, nickel, vanadium, beryllium, sulphur and oil – are subjected to systematic draining, in detriment to the development of the peoples that, with their work and sweat, extract those riches from the heart of a land that is theirs in name only. Latin America leads the underdeveloped regions of the world in the field of investments of US capital; which are concentrated especially in mining, oil, commerce and industry. In the period from 1956 to 1965 those investments reached the amount of 2,893 million dollars, obtaining a profit of 7,441 million dollars. For every dollar invested, US imperialism has plundered nearly three dollars from our people.
These key figures do not include, of course, interest payments and other benefits from loans and associated capital, or the various forms of penetration it uses, the looting and the plunder violating bourgeois pseudo-legality. Its objective, already achieved, is to take over our internal market and to make the Latin American economy complementary to that of the US, choking off – or, at best condemning to stagnation – those branches of national industry that can compete with US products. National capital is necessarily limited to commerce and manufacture dependent on the foreign monopolies. The consequences of this process of absorption and hegemony are obvious: the plunder of resources, ruin of national industries, distortion of the economy, a permanent deficit in the balance of payments, low wages, chronic unemployment, increasing inequality, technological backwardness, massive malnutrition, massive illiteracy, unsanitary conditions on a wide scale, a very high mortality rate, serfdom, racial discrimination, political instability, an increasing sharpening of class contradictions, and criminal violence as the essence of power.
To these forms of economic penetration by imperialism we may add its thousand forms of ideological penetration and the comparative rates of demographic expansion – with the increase of the internal per capita gross product and the unequal redistribution of the national gross income – and we get a vivid picture of the dramatic situation that our peoples are facing.
The tremendous political gravitation that this entails is self-evident. The same contradictions between the Latin American bourgeoisie and US imperialism are developed under conditions of such subjection that they never take on an antagonistic character. The impotence of the Latin American bourgeoisie is absolute.
There has not been a single act of direct or indirect imperialist intervention in our countries – since the past century – that has not been justified or supported by the bourgeoisie. It is intrinsically unable to face the imperialists. Furthermore, it is their obedient servant and their profiting intermediary. The problems caused by this complex and condensed structure of anti-popular, anti-national and anti-historic interests, based on the exploitation of man by man, maintained by force – and mainly for the benefit of Yankee imperialism, which generates and conditions it – cannot be solved through academic “structural reforms” and “the effective exercise of representative democracy.” The only real way to solve them is through the revolutionary struggle of the peoples.
The interventionist policy of the United States in Latin America that was initiated with the Monroe Doctrine is emphasized and defined with the doctrines of the “ripe fruit” and of “manifest destiny,” with the pillage of more than half of the Mexican territory, the freebooting adventures of William Walker in Central America, the imposition on Cuba of the Platt Amendment and the leasing of the territory occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base, the shameful occupation of Puerto Rico, the dirty maneuvers in connection with the control of the Panama Canal, the cynical Roosevelt corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, the unfair loans, the brazen acts of intervention in Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, and the creation in Bogotá of the so-called Organization of American States, mere cover for the old and discredited Pan-American Union, whose devious intentions were denounced and opposed by José Martí, who, before anyone else, with keen political insight foresaw the inception of the imperialist phenomenon in the United States, identifying it by name – in a letter to Manuel Mercado – on the eve of his heroic death.
The pseudo-legal machinery set up in the OAS by Yankee imperialism in order to legalize its economic expansion, political domination and acts of military aggression in Latin America is completed with the so-called Inter-American Treaty for Mutual Assistance, an instrument for the application of its repressive policy on the continent. The peoples of Latin America have not remained with their arms folded when confronted by their executioners and exploiters. They have stood up to them repeatedly in unequal baffle against the oligarchies and imperialism, sometimes obtaining certain benefits and the temporary respect of elementary rights. They have resorted to all forms of struggle, from popular demonstrations and political strikes to sporadic uprisings, and on no few occasions have been victims, due to the way in which they live, of the illusion of demagogic movements led by parties at the service of the oligarchies and imperialism.
But the most important thing has undoubtedly been their unwavering attitude of resistance and rebellion against oppression, poverty, plunder and humiliation, with no other support than the moral strength that stems from conscience and dignity. In the course of their struggles against the oligarchies and Yankee imperialism, the Latin American people have accumulated revolutionary energy, have raised their political level, have strengthened their cadres and have promoted militant solidarity beyond their frontiers. They have not obtained any political or economic advantage that was not wrested from the exploiters by sheer force, and that is why they have gained a clear perception that only the defeat of the oligarchies, of the pup pet governments and of imperialist domination could definitely and totally liberate them and place their destinies in their own hands.
The triumph and consolidation of the Cuban Revolution made clear that armed insurrection is the true way for the working people to come to power, and that professional armies can be destroyed oligarchies vanquished, Yankee imperialism defeated and socialism – as a national way of life – developed and strengthened in spite of economic blockade, subversion, aggression, blackmail, harassment pressure and counterrevolution.
The first fundamental consequence of the Cuban Revolution was the rise of the anti-imperialist movement and the resulting radicalization and demarcation of the clashing forces. Their polarization becomes clearer and sharper all the time, with the urban working class, the agricultural laborers, the peasants, the students, the most progressive middle strata, the underemployed, the unemployed, the Indians and the Negroes on one side, closely united, fighting militantly for their liberation, defending and promoting the Cuban Revolution through concrete action, and with the oligarchies, the puppet governments and Yankee imperialism on the other, trying to destroy it.
Yankee imperialism has tried to isolate Cuba from America so that its example will not spread through the continent. But Cuba has never been more united with the rest of the peoples of America. The imperialists have claimed that Cuba wants to impose an extra-continental ideology on the continent. The peoples of America, however, have felt the Cuban Revolution to be closely linked to their own revolution. It is the Yankee imperialists and their reactionary ideology that are alien to Latin America. The aspirations and ideals of all the peoples of Latin America are defined and summed up in Cuba. The attempt to isolate Cuba has succeeded only in tightening up even more the bonds of indestructible unity of the Cuban people with the other peoples of America. They constitute one big family facing a common enemy, the principal enemy of all humanity: Yankee imperialism.
The submission and sell-out attitudes of the oligarchies and puppet governments reached notorious heights beginning with the Conferences of the OAS at Punta del Este in 1961 and 1962, where, following the dictates of Washington, they openly schemed to isolate Cuba diplomatically and economically from the rest of Latin America, unleashing simultaneously a brutal repression against their own people. These actions threw into glaring relief the counterrevolutionary and pro-imperialist nature of the “gorilla” regimes and also of the “reformist” or “democratic-representative” regimes.
Incapable of solving the problems posed by underdevelopment and imperialist penetration; increasingly harassed by the growing demands of the workers, the peasants, the students and the unemployed; terrified by the rising tide of the revolutionary war, they see imperialist aid, alliance and intervention – with its anti-guerrilla centers, its Green Berets, its marines and its Inter-American Peace Force – as the only guarantee of their survival and the only force capable of defending their interests. Yankee imperialism itself, in a fruitless attempt to curb the revolutionary impetus and to smear the image of the Cuban Revolution in the minds of the Latin American masses, dreamed up the fraudulent Alliance for Progress, whose purpose was to draw them even further under the sway of the imperialist policy of self-enrichment, exploitation and repression.
Its failure has been so complete that even the Inter-American Committee, operating under its direction, has been forced to point out the fraud contained in this Alliance for Backwardness.
Latin America’s present circumstances contain conditions for the development and triumph of the Revolution which will emancipate it from the social structure of the oligarchic-imperialist power which holds back its independence, progress and welfare. These conditions exist because in the rural areas there are millions of peasants and agricultural workers subjected to sub-standard living conditions and to an extraordinary regime of labor exploitation and an incredible concentration of land in a few hands, and because in the cities the luxury and lavish spending of the ruling classes contrast dramatically with the overcrowding, squalor and poverty in which millions of workers and unemployed have to live.
This demonstrates the antithetical nature of the interests of the exploiters and the exploited. An increasingly clear and solid class consciousness has been created by the conditions of capitalist development in some regions of this continent, by the existence of a progressive intellectual stratum and particularly of a student body with great traditions of struggle which form part of the left. The savage position of the puppet governments, the oligarchies and Yankee imperialists, which resort to torture and murder in opposing all popular demands and also to other extremely cruel and stupid methods in their war against the masses and their revolutionary vanguards, also has contributed to the development of a militant consciousness and a clear understanding of what the right road to political, economic, social and cultural change is, and to oppose counterrevolutionary violence with revolutionary violence – already given legitimacy by the Cuban Revolution and the success of the guerrilla forces.
The conditions for revolution which exist in Latin America are repeated in other underdeveloped countries of Asia and Africa, continents which participate in the same historical anti-imperialist movement as Latin America. Just as in the pre-revolutionary years of Russia and China, these conditions indicate that the development of revolution is possible. Within the context of the Latin American revolutionary struggle, these conditions require that the task be carried out by a bold, decided and valiant revolutionary vanguard, forged in the people’s war and closely related to the peasant and proletarian masses, one which, combining both political and military leadership, can and must make itself the core of political, ideological and revolutionary action, confronting and defeating professional armies and outwitting the oligarchies, puppet governments and imperialist domination. In Latin America the Revolution of the workers is the first item on the agenda. Conditions are ripe to begin this Revolution with confidence, determination and prospects of success. Viet Nam teaches us that the victory of the Latin American peoples is possible.
This Conference, after a deep and exhaustive analysis of the conditions existing on the continent and after having ideologically clarified the essential problems of the revolutionary movements, has arrived at the following conclusions:
Latin America exists in conditions of convulsion, characterized by the presence of a weak bourgeoisie which, in indissoluble union with the landholders, constitutes the controlling oligarchy of our countries. Increased submission and almost absolute dependence of this oligarchy on imperialism has caused the intense polarization of forces on the continent consisting of the oligarchic imperialist alliance on one side and the peoples on the other. The peoples have a tremendous revolutionary power which is only waiting to be channeled by a correct leadership, by a revolutionary vanguard, in order to develop or to initiate the fight.
That power is the power of the proletarian masses, of city and rural workers, of a poor and highly exploited peasantry, of the young intellectuals, of students with a great tradition of struggle, and of the middle strata, all joined together by the common denominator of the exploitation to which they are subjected.
In me face of the crisis of the whole structure of the economic, social and political system throughout the continent, and the growing rebelliousness of the peoples, imperialism has designed and developed a continental strategy of repression which proposes vainly to detain the course of history. The survival of the colonial and neocolonial systems of exploitation and domination are the aims of US imperialism.
This situation determines and demands that revolutionary violence be unleashed and developed in response to reactionary violence.
Revolutionary violence as the highest expression of the peoples’ struggle is not only the path, but it is the most concrete and the most direct potential for the defeat of imperialism.
The peoples as well as the revolutionaries have confirmed this reality and consequently realize the need to initiate, develop and bring armed struggle to its culmination in order to destroy the bureaucratic-military apparatus of the oligarchies and the power of imperialism.
In many countries the special conditions prevailing in the countryside, the favorable topography and a potentially revolutionary social base, in addition to the special adaptation of technical methods and professional armies to repress the people in the cities and which, on the other hand, are ill-adapted to an irregular war, mean that guerrilla warfare is the fundamental expression of armed struggle, the best school for revolutionaries and their indisputable vanguard.
The revolution, already underway in some countries, an imperative necessity in others and a future prospect in the rest, has a well-defined anti-imperialist character within its anti-oligarchic aims.
The principal objective of the peoples’ revolution on the continent is the seizure of power by means of the destruction of the bureaucratic-military apparatus of the State and its replacement by the people in arms in order to change the existing economic and social regime. This objective can be achieved only through armed struggle.
The development and the organization of the struggle depend on choosing the right site on which to carry it out and the most adequate methods of organization.
The lesson of the Cuban Revolution, the experiences accumulated by the revolutionary movement in recent years throughout the world and the presence in Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia and Guatemala of an ever-growing armed revolutionary movement show that guerrilla warfare as a genuine expression of the peoples’ armed struggle is the most effective method and the most adequate form for waging and developing revolutionary war in most of our countries and, consequently, on a continental scale.
In this particular situation the unity of the peoples, the identity of their aims, the unity of their views and their disposition to unite in carrying out the struggle are the elements characterizing the common strategy that must be opposed to that which imperialism is developing on a continental scale.
This strategy requires a precise and clear expression of solidarity, whose most effective characteristic is the revolutionary struggle itself, which extends across the continent and whose vanguard detachments are the guerrilla and liberation armies.
We, the representatives of the peoples of our America, conscious of the conditions which prevail on the continent, aware of the existence of a common counterrevolutionary strategy directed by US imperialism,
We, the revolutionaries of our America, the America lying south of the Río Bravo, successors of those men who won our first independence, armed with an irrevocable will to struggle and a revolutionary scientific orientation and with nothing to lose but the chains which bind us:
That our struggle constitutes a decisive contribution to the historic struggle of humanity to liberate itself from slavery and exploitation.
THE DUTY OF EVERY REVOLUTIONARY IS TO MAKE THE REVOLUTION.
Last updated on 19 June 2009