International correspondence: Against the Peru-Ecuador War

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We publish below a leaflet written and distributed by some contacts in Ecuador at the time of the Peru/Ecuador war in January 1981.

The warlike events which are now provoking deaths and tensions between the populations of Peru and Ecuador have an historical and material explana­tion. Peace in capitalism is nothing but the continuation of war through diplomatic ways. The capitalist states arm themselves to the teeth to defend their territorial basis and the resources on which the process of accumulation develops. In order to safeguard the bourgeoisies' economic interests.

It is not by chance that, a few days after imperialism had established a conservative government at the head of the state, new focuses of war appeared in these semi-colonial countries. The capitalist crisis is a world crisis which madly leads the capitalist societies towards war. The US has been strongly hit by the weight of the crisis, but they have the political capacity, the military and economic power to transmit it to the dependant societies of the periphery. The stake is high.

The currents in favor of democratization for the people of Latin America, most of which hide themselves behind the human rights, have represented a constant disequilibrium for the plans and the global strategies of imperialism. When the confrontations inside capitalism internationally, led by the two great powers, are confrontations between blocs, Yankee imperialism tries to homogenize the governments of its bloc under puppet military regimes which can respond as one to their boss in the North. On the other hand, the revitalization of the Yankee economy, which suffers from all the effects of the capitalist crisis -- narrowness of the basis of accumulation, inflation, saturation of markets, competition in the spheres of production and markets, difficulty of finding productive investments, massive unemployment and tensions -- needs to consolidate itself through a warlike competition. So, the balance of payments of the Yankee economy may tend towards equilibrium, soaked in the blood of the workers and peasants of Peru and Ecuador.

In times of war, there is neither aggressor nor aggressed. Each state tries to justify the reason why it is fighting by the enemy's foolishness. With nationalism, it tries to master the proletariat and to launch it into the defense of its resources, the bourgeoisie's resources. The Ecuadorian territory and the Peruvian territory do not belong to the Ecuadorians or to the Peruvians. They belong to the bourgeoisie. The soldiers from the people, whether they are Ecuadorian or Peruvian, must take their arms and shoot in the air. The enemy is capital.

The world capitalist crisis manifests itself with a profound gravity for the peoples of peripheral countries which are dependent upon Yankee imperialism. This crisis is relatively deeper in a Peru where, particularly in the cities, people crowd together in the streets, seeking for a job and for food. The rate of inflation and the cost of living in Peru lead to a state of social decomposition and tension which can hardly be controlled, except through repression and arms. The Peruvian bourgeoisie, influenced by a continental policy which had been formulated long before Reagan came to power, opted to launch the Peruvian army in an invasion. So that the contradictions caused by capitalism, ie. human misery, starvation, malnutrition, unemployment, could be momentarily forgotten in the name of national unity.

Cowboy Reagan's policy regarding Ecuador has also an explanation. A social-democrat govern­ment in gestation, which expresses itself weakly through Roldos, contaminated by Christian democracy, allied to imperialism, has carried as its own national flag the mystif­ication of human rights. In its short time of democratic life, the external allies of Ecuador are the weakest countries politi­cally of Latin America; El Salvador and Nicaragua. Mexico is not a direct ally, despite the coincidence of certain of its ideas with the Ecuadorian capitalist govern­ment. The plan of imperialism is to isolate Ecuador, to place it in a situation of deeper dependence, to destabilize its false demo­cracy which is in any case an obstacle to the plan of continental subordination. So, oil will be able to flow more easily, arms will be sold in greater quantity, the multination­als will find no more obstruction inside the Andrean Pact. And, on the political level, imperialism will be able to establish a dictatorial democracy led by Christian-demo­cracy. The people will go out in the streets mobilized by the right of capital. If the diplomatic negotiations have no result, a lot of blood will flow, in the name of imperialism, of nationalism, and with the international blessing of the Pope who will probably call for peace between peoples.

The proletarians of the world have no country, their real enemy is capital. It is time to take the lands and the factories, in Peru and in Ecuador.


ICC's Response

The media hacks of east and west have been peddling a particular cliché for decades: that in Latin America the revolt against misery is always and inevitably a patriotic, nationalist revolt. The star and symbol of all this is Guevara, whose image is widely sold on tee-shirts and ash-trays.

But if there's one part of the world where, since 1968, the working class has begun to raise its head, to find its own class terrain not only against ‘Yankee imperialism' but also against ‘its own' national capital, its own patriotic bosses and native exploiters, it is in South America. The massive, violent struggles of the car workers in Argentina in 1969, the strikes of the Chilean miners against the Allende government (strikes which Fidel Castro in person tried to stop in the name of ‘defending the fatherland'), the Bolivian tin miners' strikes, the struggles of oil workers and iron miners in Peru at the beginning of 1981, the recent massive strike of the Sao Paulo metal workers in Brazil -- these are only a few of the more powerful movements of the working class on this continent.

These proletarian struggles have been a challenge to nationalism in an implicit way - through the refusal to make a distinction between foreign and native capital - rather than in a clear and explicit way. As yet, there is no major proletar­ian political force capable of defending and deepening explicitly the internationalist content of the workers' struggle. What's more, the most nationalist elements are recruited by the political organizations which specialize in controlling the proletariat.

At the end of January 1981 a ‘war' broke out between Peru and Ecuador. It was fought over territory that might be a source of oil. Internally, each country used the war to try and stir up nationalist enthusiasm, to impose military discipline and a minimal degree of national unity, especially in Peru which was violently shaken by workers' struggles at the end of 1980.

As usual, all the nationalist political forces, from military-men to radical trade unionists, in both Peru and Ecuador, called on the workers and peasants to defend ‘their' country.

In these conditions we can see how important it is that a voice, no matter how weak, was raised in on one of the belligerent countries, saying: "In the name of national sovereignty, the national bourgeoisies ask the people to give their blood in order to safeguard the bourgeoisie's economic interests.....The proletarians of the world have no country, their real enemy is capital".

Such a voice is an expression of a profound movement ripening in the soil of world capitalist society -- a movement whose major protagonist is the international proletariat.

The text published here was written and distributed in Ecuador during these events. It was signed ICC but it was not a text of our organization. The comrades who wrote the text probably did this because they sympathize with our ideas; but they are not part of our organization.

The essential aspect of this text is its clear internationalist position. However the document raises other questions. Among these, the issue of ‘democracy' in Latin America and its relations with US imperialism. Here the text says

"The plan of imperialism ... is to destabilize (the) false democracy which is in any case an obstacle to the plan of continental subordinat­ion."

Such a formulation implies that the setting up of democratic masquerades in Latin America goes against the plans of US imperialism for the region.

In the present period and in the semi-colonial countries, the no.1 problem for the US Empire is to ensure a minimum of stability: stability within the US bloc as well as social stability, both of these being connected since the aim is to reduce the risk of ‘destabilization' through the infiltration of pro-Russian parties into social movements.

In the under-developed countries where the army is the only coherent, centralized administrative force on the national level, military dictatorships are the simplest way of setting up a power structure. But when ‘uncontrolled' social movements and class struggle threaten the social order, the USA is quite capable of understanding the need for more ‘democratic' regimes, which give free rein to the organizations best equipped to control the workers (left parties and unions) . These democra­cies are generally only fig-leaves in front of the real power of the army. The strategies of US capital in the region can accommodate themselves either to hard military regimes or to ‘democra­cies' which are really just as hard as soon as it becomes clear that such ‘democracies' are necessary for the maintenance of order.

It may be that this is merely an imprecise formulation in the text. Thus, a few lines further on, it talks about a "dictatorial democracy led by Christian-democracy" as the plan of imperialism. But then why all these developments about the countries ‘allied to Ecuador'?

If nationalism is one trap for the workers of Latin America, bourgeois democracy is another. The Chilean workers know the price they had to pay for their illusions in Allende and his appeals to trust the ‘democratic' national army[1].

That's why it's vital to avoid any ambiguity on this question.

[1] After a failed coup d'état, Allende convened mass meetings to call on the population to remain calm and obey the troops who had remained loyal. Among the names he applauded was a certain Pinochet .. .

General and theoretical questions: