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Russell Blackwell

The Breakdown of the Mexican League

(May 1930)

The Young Vanguard, The Militant, Vol. III No. 21, 24 May 1930, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The period from April 1929 until August of the same year when the III Congress of the Young Communist Federation of Mexico was celebrated, was one of rapid progress for the Mexican Communist Youth movement. From a small number of non-functioning units, composed mostly of peasants with a disorganized central apparatus, an organization of 660 effective members in over 30 units and a central executive in which half a dozen departments functioned regularly was built up. During this same period, it is well to observe, the Communist Party of Mexico was disintegrating and losing one important position after the other, in the trade union and anti-imperialist movements, and also in the “Workers and Peasants Bloc” that had been formed opportunistically through concessions to the petty bourgeois directors of the National Peasants League (Galvan and Co.).

The national plenum of the C.C. of the Party was obliged to recognize in July 1929 that the youth federation had a better status than the Party and it was generally accepted that the Y.C.F. had more effective members in its organization than the Party itself.

The Apparatus Men Get Busy

At this stage, preparations for the III National Congress of the Y.C.F. of Mexico were made and a representative of the Young Communist International, comrade Matlin appeared on the scene. Already there had been several minor struggles on technical questions between the C.E.C. of the Y.C.F. and the C.E.C. of the C.P. in all of which the personal political interests of E. Sormenti, representative of the Party C.E.C. in the corresponding organ of the Y.C.F., were to be seen. Sormenti utilized the C.E.C. of the Y.C.F. as a “big stick” to win his ends in the C.E.C. of the Party.

A very weak political thesis, destructive in its analysis of the past work of the Y.C.F. and with proposals tor the immediate commencement of numerous new “political” tasks was presented by the representative of the Y.C.I. who, it goes without saying, had a very deficient knowledge of the situation, the strength and possibilities of the youth federation. In this thesis it was proposed to commence at once the formation of youth sections in the unions agrarian organizations and in the Red Aid, the organization of nuclei in the army, the organization of a National Sports Federation, of a League of Youth against imperialism, and to call at an early date a national convention of the Red Pioneers. It was declared imperative that the Y.C.F. commence immediately all of these tasks.

When the opposition group continued in it demands that definite stress be laid on the more important work of organization, and the trade unions, and that the anti-militarist, anti-imperialist, young peasants league and youth section of the Red Aid be considered not of immediate importance with practical rejection of the last three the “guardian of the Holy Grail” from Moscow threatened us with expulsion should we insist on carrying the points of difference to the floor of the congress. After some minor changes regarding the criticism of past work, the draft thesis was accepted. In order to prevent a split in the Federation, the opposition group agreed not to bring the question up at the congress.

The congress took place without any opposition to the line of action laid down by the presidium which was controlled by Matlin and Sormenti. Veiled accusations were made against the “liquidationist”, “social democratic” and “anti-Communist” tendencies, of the oppositionist comrades and by employment of true Stalinist methods, such as declaring that “foreigners” could not form part of a Central Committee (!), the new C.C. and C.E.C. were named. Perhaps realizing that the new C.E.C. would have to work under the dictatorship of some Party or international representative and for fear of developing leadership it was decided that no General Secretary should be named, and that all political functions should be carried out collectively by the C.E.C.

Immediately the deficiencies of the new C.E.C. were to be observed. The different theses approved at the congress were not sent to the units or even to the regional committees. All of the work Of the C.E.C. fell into disorganization as no one knew where or how to begin. All the scolding of Matlin and the nearness of the “imminent” workers and peasants revolution could not get the new apparatus to function. The only work that did not become completely demoralized was the press and Pioneer work. Delegates were no longer sent to the interior to carry on . direct work with the units and with the masses.

Knowing that an anti-militarist campaign would be certain to bring down a still more severe repression of the movement by the authorities, and without counting on any real mass support, this work was given not only preference by the Y.C.F. but was actually turned into the principal task of the organization. The spirit of adventure always found in the youth was appealed to, and the comrades in different parts of the country vied with one another in seeing which local could get the generals exasperated first.

No sooner had the campaign been commenced than the repression struck with full force. In a period of about two months all the leading elements of the eight largest urban locals were imprisoned, including the whole C.E.C. with the exception of one comrade, besides many Party and trade union leaders. About 20 foreigners were deported from the country, five comrades (of whom four were members of the Y.C.F. and one of the C.E.C.) were exiled to the penal colony in the Pacific Ocean and the Y.C.F. of Mexico was reduced to complete impotence. The “mass” demonstrations were few, rickety and ineffective. In the midst of all this, after organizing the expulsion of the writer of these lines from the Party and the Y.C.F. for his criticism of the line in Mexico and disagreement with the general splitting policy of the Comintern abroad and greasing the slides for others, Matlin fled cowardly from Mexico, without so much as notifying the Central Executive Committee.

Expulsions Continue

At the present time the expulsion fever continues to rage full blast in the C.E.C. of the Y.C.F. which seems to be about to result in its expelling itself. It may be interesting to note that the present C.E.C. of the Y.C.F. of Mexico is composed of one alternate, named in the congress, and two comrades, both of them quite incapable of national direction and who were not elected at the congress.

There is still hope however. This lies in the reorganization of the Young Communist forces in Mexico under the banner of the International Left Opposition. When the present “Left” turn of the Comintern takes its inevitably sharp Right turn, and the sane young Communist elements in Mexico (and there are many) realize the correctness of cur position, we may hope for a rapid improvement of the situation. Those who have striven for the building up of the Y.C.F. of Mexico will not stand quietly by while the organization is smashed under the combined blows of the governmental reaction and the Centrist bureaucracy.

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