Paraguay: the left takes position

In June the congress of the United Peoples' Space (EUP) met in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. The aim of the meeting was to debate the current situation in the country and how to move forward in the social conquests that the Paraguayan workers need, fighting against conservative forces within Congress, the judiciary and the government itself.

On June 19, the congress of the United Peoples' Space (EUP) met in AsuncionOn June 19, the congress of the United Peoples' Space (EUP) met in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. The aim of the meeting, called by Tekojoja, P-MAS (Party of the Movement To Socialism), the PCP (Paraguayan Communist Party) and the PCPS (Popular Socialist Convergence Party), was to debate the situation in the country since the election of president Lugo, as well as how to advance the social conquests that the Paraguayan workers need, fighting against conservative forces within Congress, the judiciary and the government itself.

The 1500 participants showed a strong desire for unity in the struggle for socialism, in the struggle against the scandalous behaviour of the conservative sectors, led by the Colorado Party and the Oviedo supporters, but also by the Liberal Party, which forms the basis of support for the Lugo government. The proposal to organise a people’s consultation to bring the National Congress to account and the proposal for direct elections for the Judiciary, as well as the debate about a new Constituent Assembly, with the possibility of re-election, has made the right wing desperate.

Right wing attacks

Every day, the actions of the Paraguayan Congress show how far removed they are from the people who are demanding change in the streets. Measures regarding taxation, the passing of more powers for the prefects, as well as the passing of a law which allows the use of pesticides which were previously banned in agriculture, have provoked a rebellion of the people.

There are frequent attacks by conservative congress members and members of the judiciary against the Minister of National Emergency, Camilo Soares, from the P-MAS, who represents one of the left-wing sections of the government coalition, and who publicly advocated that “the people of Paraguay must mobilise and take to the streets to defend their demands.” Soares was attacked for “promoting disturbances against public order”. But the straw that broke the camel's back was the government’s attempt to make workers' rights “more flexible”. The people came out onto the streets once again.

The Lugo government

Fernando Lugo (photo by Antônio Cruz)Fernando Lugo (photo by Antônio Cruz) Lugo was elected with support from all sections of working people who were demanding change after 61 years of the Colorado Party being in power, including during the Stroessner dictatorship. Lugo then allied himself with the Liberal Party (PLRA) in a broad coalition of political forces. P-MAS and Tekojoja, the two left-wing forces in the coalition, had already warned that the conservatives (Colorado, UNACE and PLRA) already had an overwhelming majority in congress and that they would use it against the implementation of social measures – and now they have the force of the PLRA in the government itself.

The gathering was an effort to organise workers and students from the city and the countryside to fight conservative policies and demand the fulfilment of the programme on which Lugar was elected. It is a fact that the government is suffering from the contradictions of the coalition on the basis of which it was formed. Whenever Lugo talks of making even minimal concessions to the people, he comes under attack from Congress as well as conservatives within his own government.

In the last few weeks, the clashes with the Judiciary and the Congress have become even harsher. Lugo must choose. The workers and peasants who support him do so on the basis of the fulfilment of their aspirations. But if he does not respond to the demands of the people, a new, more difficult situation will open up.

The EUP and the organisation of the left

The meeting of the Peoples Unite Space was an important step forward. However, its final statement, though it attempts to deal with the tasks facing the movement, is still very confused and limited.

The statement says: “our unity, the defence of sovereignty, the deepening of democracy, the agrarian reform and the renewal of the justice system are elements which, united with our independence and our ability to mobilise, will show a path that the Paraguayan people as a whole will join in the pursuit of their liberation (…) which can only be achieved with a united, organised and independent movement of the people, which must always be vigilant”.

Unfortunately, the gathering did not take a position on the most urgent and important question: the need for Lugo to break with the PLRA and the other bourgeois parties. Lugo must remove all ministers who were part of previous governments and implement the demands of the people, particularly the Agrarian Reform.

The task of the Paraguayan Marxists is to assist the development of this movement through mobilisation and struggling for a revolutionary programme, with a sound Marxist theoretical grounding. For this, it is necessary that the unity of the left becomes a strong movement of the class, an alliance of workers and peasants, demanding that Lugo breaks with the bourgeoisie and moves towards socialism. Only by putting an end to any illusions in alliances with the capitalists, in liberal democracy and bourgeois reforms can the programme of demands of the Paraguayan workers be achieved.