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Russell Blackwell

The Agrarian Congress in Puebla

(April 1931)

From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 7, 1 April 1931, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A state agrarian congress was held in Puebla, Mexico, from February 1st to 4th. The whole affair was very carefully organized by those sponsoring it and its petty bourgeois character was clearly distinguishable from the first speech to the last.

Governor Leonidas Andreau Almazan, governor of the state of Puebla, presided at the opening session, and numerous other bourgeois politicians were present including Governor Adalberto Tejeda of Vera Cruz, the governor of Guanajuato, representatives of the governors of the states of Yucatan, San Luis Potosi and Tlaxcala, and a host of senators, deputies and petty politicians of all colors from the “pink revolutionists” to the blackest reactionaries. The national anthem was sung by the 1,500 delegations present and every one received food and lodging during the period of the congress at the expense of Governor Almazan. In short, for those of us who have a bit of a memory, it appears to have been very similar to any number of former Mexican agrarian congresses, in which during the “Kuo Min Tang” period of the Mexican movement, the Communist party collaborated with Tejeda, Fortes Gil and others, in the “organization of the peasantry”.

In the Puebla congress, the closest collaboration was to be noted between the “Left” petty bourgeois politicians (Tejeda, Almazon, Cedilla) and all of the closest henchmen of the late Galvan, our party’s kulak-“Communist” leader of former times. Among the “Galvanites” present in the rôle of collaborators of Almazan, Tepeda and Co. were Caroline Anaya, Isaac Fernandez, Juan Jacobo Torres, Vargas Rea, Enrique Flores Magon (Martinez) and Celso Cepeda. Another “Galvanite”, Julio Cuadros, was elected president of the congress. Also present, having already definitely abandoned the ranks of Communism, were several ex-Right wingers of the Mexican Communist Party including German List Arizubide, Raul Argudin, and Luis G. Monzon, all of whom treated the assemblage to a barrage of liberal “revolutionism” in the form of speeches.

The congress accomplished absolutely nothing for the poor peasants. Why should it? That is not why it was called together. A reunion of this nature can only serve the political interests of those that organize it, and is consequently unable to be of any aid to the poor ejidatarians and landless peasants. The whole affair had the aspect of a comical dramatic sketch in which many of the most outstanding political representatives of the opposition petty bourgeoisie appeared as actors, the peasant delegates being nothing but bored spectators waiting for the curtain to ring down and the barbecue to be served. There was not, as in the Vera Cruz state agrarian congress, celebrated in Jalapa at the end of October, any Communist fraction whatsoever. The voice of our party was heard only through the leaflets distributed among the peasant delegates by outsiders having nothing to do with the meeting.

Several very pertinent questions suggest themselves to us at this time. What has happened to the dozens of agrarian communities in divers parts of the state, where our party is supposed to have had such extensive influence and “control”? Where are the thousands of peasants of Atlixco and other sections of the state, who supported the “Workers and Peasants Bloc” in the last presidential elections? Let the party leaders explain why there was no Communist fraction at the Puebla state agrarian congress if, as they shout from the housetops, the party is now so much stronger, more consolidated and more steadfast than ever before.

The Puebla congress represented a new step on the part of the “Left” elements of the petty bourgeoisie to fortify their positions, increasing their pressure in this way on the federal government. These “Left” elements with their promises and their demagogy will utilize the peasants as cannon fodder in their attempt to seize power. All that was dealt with in the congress concerning the armament of the peasants, the democratization of the army and the continuation of the agrarian reform, is something more than simple demagogy to fool the peasants. It indicates the determination of Tejeda, Almazan and Co. to carry the struggle to other fields when the opportune moment arrives. The role of the Communists in the coming struggle between the two bourgeois factions is a question deserving of the most profound attention and study.

In its manifesto of February 25, 1930, the central committee of our party affirmed in the most cock-sure manner, that Ortiz Rubio would succeed in uniting the whole of the bourgeoisie, the large landowners of both the new and the old regimes, into a single counter-revolutionary bloc, establishing a complete “fascist state” in the service of American imperialism. This analysis was completely false. Our “theoreticians” forgot the whole series of internal contradictions within the national bourgeoisie, and underestimated the remaining strength of British imperialism. In November 1930, however, after the Jalapa agrarian congress at which Tajeda-Almazan showed their teeth to the ruling faction of Ortiz Rubio, the leadership of our party changed its analysis again and decided on an independent armed insurrection simultaneous with the outbreak of hostilities between the bourgeois factions. According to the statement of one of the Mexican Party leaders himself (The Communist, March 1931) it was a speech of Manuilsky given in Moscow that gave the first inkling to the Mexican Party leadership that perhaps a putsch wasn’t quite the thing yet. The “third period” is kicking its last and the poor third periodites of the smaller parties of the Comintern are just beginning to find this out.

What is necessary now in order to assure the party of the best utilization of the developing situation in Mexico, is a real Leninist analysis of the whole situation in which Mexican realities are considered in relation to the world economy in general. Without such a correct policy we will be certain to repeat the blunders and failures of March 1929.

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