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Latin America

The People Fight Ahead

by Fen Hsi

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. IX, #5, Jan. 28, 1966, pp. 15-17.]

As in the rest of the world, a process of great upheaval, great division and great reorganization is taking place in Latin America. And like revolutions everywhere, the national-democratic revolution there advances in zigzags, with inescapable ups and downs. However, as 1966 gets under way, the tide is definitely more favourable to the oppressed people of the continent and less favourable to the hated Yankee imperialists.

NINETEEN sixty-five was a year of sharp struggle between the 200 million Latin American people and Yankee imperialism and its underlings. As the national-democratic revolution on the continent deepened, the Washington-created and -backed dictatorial regimes became less and less stable and challenge to U.S. hegemony came from all sides.

The Dominican Armed Struggle

The April uprising in the Dominican Republic was an explosion of the people’s pent-up hatred for the military rulers and their Washington masters. It showed that the irreconcilable contradiction between the Latin American people and Yankee imperialism inevitably led to armed struggle. Thus, despite the more than 30,000 troops, 300 aircraft and 40 warships the Johnson Administration brought in to put down the patriotic forces—approximately 10,000 of the 3 million Dominicans were killed—and despite various kinds of trickery to get the Dominicans to lay down their arms, the fight against U.S. military intervention and occupation has continued.

The Dominican people’s armed struggle has encouraged the continent’s revolutionary people and punched a hole in the arrogance of Yankee imperialism. The storm of protests which swept the continent against U.S. armed intervention attested to Latin American solidarity and to the fact that revolution in one country is closely linked with that of the others.

It is necessary to resist counter-revolutionary violence with revolutionary violence. This is the valuable lesson the Latin American people have learnt at the price of much suffering and bloodshed. One of the salient features of the Latin American national-democratic revolution in 1965 was that the idea that salvation lies in armed struggle was taking root in the hearts of an increasing number of people.

Anti-U.S., anti-dictatorial armed struggle was going on in about half of the Latin American countries. Despite U.S.-directed suppressive campaigns, armed struggle continued in Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala and other countries. In still other countries, new armed struggle broke out.

In Peru, a new people’s revolutionary armed force was established last June, shortly after U.S. troops invaded the Dominican Republic. All Washington’s efforts to strangle the armed revolution in the cradle have not been able to prevent the guerrillas from remaining active in the Andes.

In Colombia, Washington’s “special war” testing ground in Latin America, the guerrillas have weathered repeated “mopping-up” operations directed by U.S. military advisers. Although conditions are harsh, they have opened up a new guerrilla front and morale is high.

In Venezuela, too, the guerrillas are persisting in struggle in the western, central and eastern parts of the country despite stepped-up government suppressive campaigns which were also directed by U.S. advisers.

In Brazil, a group of patriotic soldiers took up arms last March in the south against the U.S.-backed Branco regime. Although they failed, their bold initiative is bound to have wide repercussions.

Fight Against Pro-U.S. Dictatorships

The year also witnessed the continued advance of popular struggles against pro-U.S. dictatorships and U.S. economic pillage and for improved working and living conditions. This was another cogent feature of the Latin American political situation in 1965.

In Bolivia, where a U.S.-reared dictatorial government was in power, more than 30,000 tin miners in 17 mines staged general strikes and mammoth anti-U.S. and anti-government demonstrations last May. They openly opposed the U.S.-inspired scheme to denationalize Bolivia’s tin mines. They took up arms to resist repression by several thousand government troops and occupied Catavi and other chief mining districts, and fighting lasted more than 10 days.

The Panamanians have continued their fight to uphold national sovereignty. January 1965 saw another huge demonstration—by 75,000 students and workers—to recover the Panama Canal Zone from U.S. occupation (for latest development see P.R., issue No. 4). In Peru, the people launched a campaign last February against continued seizure of the country’s oilfields by the U.S. International Petroleum Company. The struggle raged over several provinces for more than three months. In Chile, the miners marched to Santiago to demonstrate their opposition to plunder and exploitation by the U.S. copper trusts. In Ecuador, despite bans by the military regime, tens of thousands of workers, students and city people marched, demonstrated and struck in February, May and July to protest U.S. interference in the country’s internal affairs and called for an end to dictatorial rule. Even in Brazil, the fascist tyranny of the pro-U.S. ultra-Right-wing military officers failed to stem the anti-U.S. demonstrations. Patriots came out against the dictatorial regime when the special inter-American foreign ministers’ conference took place in Rio de Janerio in November.

Waves of strikes swept the continent. Participants included workers, farm labourers, teachers, public employees and doctors. In Uruguay, for example, about 650 strikes took place between January and October 1965. These were directly or indirectly related to the struggle against the predatory policy of the U.S. monopolies.

Reorganization and Division

Another prominent feature of the continent’s political situation was the profound reorganization and division of the political forces in face of the surging national-democratic revolution. As the revolutionary forces grew in both strength and scope, a broad united front against Yankee imperialism was being formed throughout the continent.

Last year saw the emergence of a number of political parties and organizations adhering to revolutionary principles and persisting in revolutionary practice. In a number of countries, old parties split and many new parties and groups came into existence, evidence that more and more people have seen through the reactionary nature of the traditional parties. As the collusion between the Johnson Administration and the Right-wing forces became still more obvious, a growing number of middle-of-the-roaders have to varying degrees taken an open anti-U.S. stand. Consequently, the pro-U.S. Right-wing forces have become more and more isolated from the people. The Branco regime in Brazil, for example, received a severe shock when it tried to make political capital by staging elections for governors in 11 states last October. Contrary to its expectations, a large number of the official nominees lost. This has brought on open doubt over the stability of the Branco rule in the U.S. bourgeois press.

Against the background of a growing united front of the Latin American people, Washington’s rule ran into an unprecedentedly acute crisis. Its policy of military threat and political control became increasingly ineffective. Opposition to Yankee imperialism came not only from the Latin American people, but also from sections of the ruling circles in a number of countries. This was another significant characteristic of the 1965 political situation.

Ineffective Big Stick

U.S. armed aggression against the Dominican Republic was openly denounced by the heads of state of six countries and the parliaments of seven countries of Latin America. With the exception of the Branco regime in Brazil, not a single influential Latin American government was ready to provide troops for the so-called “inter-American force”—a euphemism for the U.S. occupation army—in the Dominican Republic. In September, when the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for “the use of force if necessary by any American country to prevent a communist take-over in any nation of the Hemisphere,” a storm of protest swept the continent. Government spokesmen and congresses in many countries officially opposed and condemned this brazen interventionist principle. At the special inter-American foreign ministers’ conference last November, Washington’s plan to set up a permanent “inter-American force” in the Western Hemisphere was shelved as a result of opposition by Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and others. According to Western press reports, this conference showed that “the vitality of the Organization of American States is now at its lowest ebb.”

Also, at the last session of the United Nations General Assembly, when the draft resolution on the restoration to the People’s Republic of China of its legitimate seat was put to the vote, three Latin American countries did not follow the U.S. line and abstained. Two Latin American countries acted in the same way when the draft resolution on the “Tibet question,” used by the Johnson Administration to whip up anti-China feelings, was put to the vote. The American press described this as an “unprecedented step.” Such action was an open challenge by Latin American countries to U.S. hegemony.

In the economic field, hatred for the U.S. monopolies gave rise to collective protest actions unprecedented in scale. In the latter part of 1965, 16 sugar-producing countries and 11 cotton-producing countries in Latin America successively lodged joint protests against U.S. legislation on increased taxes for sugar imports and on U.S. cotton dumping. At the end of the year, the Mexican Congress approved a government bill prohibiting the penetration of foreign capital into Mexican banks. This measure was a blow to Washington.

What happened last year proved that the “Johnson Doctrine,” Washington’s current hard line after the “Alliance for Progress” became more and more discredited, has not helped stem the anti-U.S. tide on this continent. On the contrary, it has greatly accelerated the revolutionary process there. The situation in Latin America is volcanic. Even the U.S. press has had to admit that “in countries from one end of Latin America to the other, tensions are building up,” that “the danger is building up on our doorstep” and that no “effective answer” can be found.

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