On October 30 and 31, the Marxist Tendency “Militante” held its XIV Congress in the historic building which used to belong to the Mexican Communist Party in Monterrey 50, now a PRD office. The Congress took place while Mexico has been going through a severe economic recession and with large parts of its territory under the control of the drug cartels.
On the political front there is a fierce struggle taking place within the PRD, with Lopez Obrador (AMLO) openly opposing any alliances with the ruling right-wing PAN, and the right-wing of the party around Jesus Ortega (the chuchos) wanting to block Obrador from being the presidential candidate in 2012.
Around 60 comrades participated in the discussions, 29 of them as delegates elected by the branches, others as visitors and also a number of important invited guests from the PRD left, PRD rank and file organisations and trade unions.
The Congress started with a discussion on the world situation, led off by a representative of the International Marxist Tendency. The comrade centred his talk on the idea that all the excesses of the previous economic boom were going to weigh like an albatross around the neck of the current economic recovery. The massive accumulation of debt (public, private and corporate) would mean a period of sluggish growth, high unemployment and brutal austerity cuts. This is a recipe for class struggle as we have already seen in Greece, France and Spain, amongst other countries, where the workers have fought important battles. The experience of the labour movement in these countries also shows that trade union battles will be much more bitter in the current period, as there is very little room for the ruling class to make any concessions.
During the debate, comrades spoke about the situation in Brazil, in Venezuela, about the recent economic measures introduced in Cuba and many other subjects. There was an interesting debate about the nature of the economic recession, with comrades stressing the close links between the Mexican economy and the US economy, and therefore, how events in the Northern neighbour would determine developments in the Mexican economy.
Amongst the visitors present was comrade Cayetano Cabrera Esteva, a member of the Mexican Electricians Union, SME, which led a 90-day long hunger strike against the attacks by the Calderón government, which in an attempt to destroy the union closed down the Luz y Fuerza Electrity Company one year ago. His presence was very significant, particularly as the SME was holding a mass meeting at the Azteca Stadium at the same time.
Cayetano thanked the comrades of Militante for their support during the struggle of the SME and explained the real reasons behind the government’s attempt to destroy the union. He was also critical of the attitude of the leadership of the union and stressed that only through militant struggle can workers’ rights and conditions be defended.
The congress was also addressed by fraternal delegates from other organisations. One of them was the relatively young teachers’ union in the DF high schools, SUTIEMS, which has already led a bitter struggle in defence of workers’ rights and in which comrades from Militante play a leading role.
Congress also heard greetings from Froylan Yescas, a leader of the left-wing “Flor y Canto” organisation, which has played an important role in the movement around Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and against electoral fraud. The Marxist Tendency has worked closely with this organisation in the rank and file “committees of the legitimate government”. Froylan, who attended the congress with a number of other members of Flor y Canto, stressed the need to reclaim revolutionary history and discussed the perspectives for the 2012 presidential election and AMLO's candidature.
Also present at the Congress was a Colombian comrade from a left-wing current within the Polo Democrático called “Socialistas en el Polo”. A report of the Militante congress was later published in the magazine of this current, Polisemia.
After lunch there was a report of the work of the International Marxist Tendency worldwide which was followed by a financial appeal. We are clear that working people have to finance their own organisations in order to maintain political independence. The collection raised 16,500 pesos (1,300 dollars) which will be used to further develop the newly established “Carlos Marx” Socialist Study Centre. The Centre has already published two books this year and will certainly play a role in the struggle to defend Marxist ideas and develop theory.
This was followed by the debate on Mexican perspectives, which centred on the issue of the internal struggle within the PRD, the economic crisis and the killings of the drug cartels. It is clear that the economic crisis has, to a certain extent, stunned the working class and caused a temporary decline in the level of trade union struggle. As a result workers are presently looking to the electoral front as a way to solve their problems.
The right wing of the PRD wants at all costs to prevent Lopez Obrador from being the candidate for the 2012 elections. They have reached a series of deals with the ruling right-wing PAN, including joint candidates in the governor elections last July, which have been strongly opposed by the rank and file. The masses see this as a betrayal of the identity and the history of the PRD, particularly since it was the PAN which organised the fraud which stole the election victory from Lopez Obrador and the PRD in 2006. AMLO has come out openly against any alliances with the right wing and said that the only way for the PRD to win the elections in 2012 is by standing as a clear left-wing alternative.
The elections for governor of Mexico State (Estado Mexico), the region surrounding the capital district, currently run by the PRI, will be a test run for the 2012 elections. Here the PRD leadership wants to make an alliance with the PAN, with the “argument” of uniting against the PRI. AMLO has opposed this and said that if that is the case he will present an alternative candidate (backed by the smaller PT and Convergencia). He has embarked on a speaking tour covering every one of the 125 municipalities in Mexico State, attracting tens of thousands of rank and file members of the PRD and working people in general.
In case the PRD bureaucracy should try to block AMLO as a presidential candidate in 2012, he has re-established the “committees of the legitimate government”. So far, 18,000 such committees have been formed and some 2.5 million people are registered as members of this movement, which distributes five million copies of the paper “Regeneración”. In reality, if the PRD bureaucracy blocks AMLO, he will move to create a new party, which is likely to take with it the overwhelming majority of the ranks and supporters of the PRD. This would be a clear political break which would be easily understood by the masses who see AMLO as the embodiment of the genuine traditions of the PRD and the right wing around Jesus Ortega as traitors of the movement, making alliances with the right wing. Different comrades expressed different opinions about the perspectives for the PRD and the AMLO movement, and also reported about the concrete situation on the ground. The situation is still in flux, but what is clear is that the comrades of the Marxist Tendency are an active and integral part of the movement around Lopez Obrador and the left wing of the PRD, not just mere observers or commentators.
The discussion also revolved around the question of the drug cartels, which in effect have taken over large parts of the country, replacing, openly challenging or infiltrating the bourgeois state. Elements of barbarism are present in the crisis of capitalism in Mexico. The comrades discussed the links between the capitalist class and the drug cartels and how workers and youth should organise the struggle against narco-violence.
On Sunday morning, in a session for delegates and members only, we discussed a balance-sheet of the work of the Marxist Tendency in the last year, which was marked by the attempt of a small number of comrades who had a majority on the Executive Committee to split the Tendency from the IMT on a completely unprincipled basis. When they saw that the overwhelming majority of the ranks (6 out of 8 branches, with only one against and one not allowed to discuss the issue) were in favour of having a political debate and remaining within the IMT, they decided to expel the majority and walk away from the International. In doing so they took all of the apparatus and finances of the organisation.
Therefore, the comrades who remained in the IMT, a large majority of the section, had to restart the work almost from scratch and with no resources. In just ten months they have managed to rebuild the infrastructure, keep all local branches active, rent an office, and maintain the regular monthly publication of their paper “Militante”, as well as having established the “Carlos Marx” Centre and published two books. However, the most important achievement has been the reorientation of the organisation towards the mass movement, the PRD, the movement around AMLO and the trade unions. Modest but significant steps have been taken in all these fields.
This was achieved on the basis of a democratic organisation, the defence of the ideas of Marxism and their orientation to the mass organisations of the working class. The comrades have proven that ideas, methods and traditions come first, and the apparatus is built as a result of those, not the other way round. The mood throughout the congress discussions was one of free and full democratic debate, in which all comrades felt individually co-responsible for the development of the work and participated actively in it. There are surely many areas where the work can be improved, but the mood is one of confidence in facing the problems and challenges and there is a feeling that the organisation belongs to all of its members.
At lunch time the congress received the visit of Martí Batres, the leader of the Social Left (Izquierda Social) current within the PRD. The comrades of the Marxist Tendency have participated actively within this current for the last year and have particularly contributed to establishing its youth wing. Batres stressed the need for political education and discussion in the Mexican left, something which he praised Militante for. He also underlined the importance of the younger generation in the current struggle and mentioned that Militante had managed to link up with the youth. Batres put the Mexican situation in the context of the Latin American revolution, from which there is much to learn. He strongly attacked any idea of the PRD making alliances with the PAN and called for a serious struggle to change the leadership of the party. His presence at the congress is the culmination of ten months of patient and consistent work of the Marxist Tendency in the Izquierda Social, defending openly the ideas of revolutionary Marxism, but doing it in a comradely and non-sectarian way.
The congress continued with a discussion on finances where it was explained that the organisation manages to fund all its regular expenditure with the income from regular subs of the comrades, without having to resort to any of the money from the fighting fund and special campaigns, an impressive achievement in the current conditions of economic crisis.
Finally there was a debate on the question of the tactics in the student work, where two comrades spoke, defending alternative points of view. This is a complex issue which was debated openly and democratically. It is clear that there should be a clear difference between a student organisation, which should be open to all students who want to organise to struggle, and a revolutionary Marxist tendency, which requires a wider understanding of the tasks facing workers and students. The relationship between the two needs to be worked out in a flexible way, according to concrete conditions in each school and faculty, but we should always stress the need for students to link up with the wider struggle for the transformation of society and with the working class and its organisations.
In the closing session of the Congress, resolutions were passed in support of the struggle of the SME electricians' union, the Cuban revolution, against cuts in the education budget, the position of the Marxist tendency regarding the PRD and the Legitimate Government, and against the violence of drug cartels and the capitalist state against workers and youth. A new leadership was elected and the congress was closed with the singing of the Internationale.
Important events are looming in Mexico in the run up to the 2012 elections and the Marxist Tendency Militante, still with modest forces, is sinking roots in the organisations through which the masses will express themselves in order to fertilise them with the ideas of Marxism.
Webpage of the Mexican Marxists: Militante (Spanish)