XII National Congress of the Spanish Students' Union

On November 12, 13 and 14, the XII National Congress of the Spanish Students’ Union took place in Madrid. There were 130 students present from all over the country. The Congress was extremely useful in strengthening the organization and there were lively debates which allowed the Union to ideologically arm themselves to face the events that will take place in the next period.

The struggle pays, the struggle continues: Continue the struggle against capitalism and exploitation to solve the problems of youth

On November 12, 13 and 14, the XII National Congress of the Spanish Students’ Union took place in Madrid. The Students’ Union (Sindicato de Estudiantes) is the main students’ organization in Spain. It is a revolutionary organization, led by Marxists, which stands for the socialist transformation of society and uses the methods of struggle and mobilization as its main tool to advance.

This Congress took place against a new political framework after the victory of the labour movement against the government of the Popular Party, the direct representative of the ruling class. The new Socialist Party (PSOE) government has been brought to power as a result of the mass mobilisation of the workers and youth, which for eight years suffered the consequences of a right wing government: cuts, attacks on conditions, repression and lies. For this reason workers and young people are clear on what they oppose: we do not want cuts in our living standards so that a handful of big businesses and banks can benefit. The new government has made some token gestures in the right direction, but these have clearly not been enough. At the same time the PSOE government has accepted the impositions of the European Union which is pushing for the liquidation of the state owned shipyards which have not yet been privatised. The Socialist Party cannot serve two masters at the same time. It is either on the side of the workers and youth which voted them into power, or it is on the side of the wealthy and the powerful.

The representative from the Venezuelan embassy

The Congress made a balance sheet of the role of the Students’ Union in the mobilizations against the previous right wing government. This was very important, since the youth, led by the Students’ Union, was at the forefront of the movement in the struggle against the education policies of the PP government, against the imperialist war, against the callous political manipulation of the M11 terrorist attacks in Madrid, and in many other struggles. At the same time the congress debated the challenges facing the student movement: the need to continue the struggle for a reform of the education system which will benefit students from working class families, and for decent jobs when students have finished their studies.

Marcelino Camacho with Miriam Municio,
former General Secretary of the SE

There were 130 students present at the Congress from all over the country: Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galiza, Andalucia, etc. including four new regional branches of the Students’ Union which have been set up in the last two years since the previous Congress, which shows the advances of the organization. Also invited was a representative from the Venezuelan embassy who brought greetings to the congress and explained the advances achieved by the Bolivarian Revolution in the field of education. The Congress passed a resolution in support of the Venezuelan revolution as part of the international “Hands Off Venezuela” Campaign, which the SE is actively supporting with public meetings, rallies, etc. There were also invited guests from the teachers’ unions and a leading comrade from the Italian Committee to Defend State Education (CSP). Greetings were also received from revolutionary Marxist activists in the Moroccan students’ movement. A number of youth, student and trade union organizations from Spain and internationally also sent greetings. The Congress paid a moving homage to Marcelino Camacho, the historical leader of Workers Commissions Trade Union (CCOO) who played an important role in the struggle against Franco’s dictatorship and which has always supported the Students’ Union in struggles and congresses. The veteran comrade spoke to the plenary of the Congress and was presented with a commemorative plaque and received a well-deserved standing ovation.

During the debate we also discussed the tragedy of the Iraqi population who are facing and resisting the world’s most powerful war machine – a war machine which is trying to reduce Iraq to rubble. A resolution was passed supporting the resistance against the occupiers and against the massacre in Fallujah. We also passed a resolution in support of comrade Cesar Zelada, demanding his unconditional release so that he can go back to Peru. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church also got a mention... but a negative one, since they are now trying to mobilize their forces to put pressure on the new Socialist Party government in order to make sure their privileges are left untouched. The Students’ Union will not allow bishops and priests to decide the government’s policies and will counter act with mobilizations and struggle.

On the side of the labour movement

A major point of the Congress was the discussion of the problems facing working class youth, our future in the labour market and our alternative to these problems: the need to transform society. A number of trade union leaders participated in this debate. We discussed in detail the struggle of shipyard workers in which the Students’ Union has participated by mobilizing the student youth in support of the workers. This conflict poses a very serious threat to the livelihood of whole counties which depend on the jobs of these shipyard workers. A member of the Marxist current El Militante who is a leading trade unionist in this sector addressed the congress and refuted the so-called “arguments” put forward by the European Union and the Finance Minister. The Congress passed a resolution in solidarity with the struggle of the shipyard workers. Also addressing the comrades was a leading comrade of the Communist Party, who defended the need of a turn of the party back to the genuine ideas of Lenin, and a trade union leader of the land labourers, who described the terrible conditions this section of the workers face.

The Congress was extremely useful in strengthening the organization. The attendance was good and there were lively debates which allowed us to ideologically arm ourselves to face the events that will take place in the next period. The Zapatero Socialist Party government must choose to rule either in favour of the workers and youth who elected him, or in favour of the powerful, the multinationals, and those who want to close down the shipyards and maintain the privileges of the Catholic Church. The Students’ Union demands that the PSOE government reform the education system in favour of the students from working class families, as a part of a general change in favour of the working class. The main conclusion of the Congress was precisely that the only way to guarantee decent living conditions for all is through the revolutionary transformation of society. The Students’ Union will continue to be the instrument of the youth to struggle against capitalism and exploitation.