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Message-Id: <199701241218.HAA44390@listserv.vt.edu>
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 97 11:04:22 CST
From: NY Transfer News Collective <nyt@blythe.org>
Subject: MRTA Bourgeois Reformers, Not Revolutionaries

Date: Wed, 22 Jan 97 22:04:34
From: Poder Obrero <pop@mailhost.pi.net>
Sender: global@gjxwxsqy.pi.net

The hostage crisis in Lima

By Poder Obrero <pop@mailhost.pi.net>
22 January 1997

The MRTA holding of the Japanese ambassador house in Lima and the tasks of the working class.

On Tuesday 17 December at 8.20 pm, in a bold military action, a commando of the MRTA took around 500 hostages at a reception in the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Peru. Among the hostages were more than a dozen ambassadors, various military figures involved in the offensives against subversion, big businessmen, supreme judges and three ministers, including the chancellor.

This event has broken into an almost sepulchral peace that has seemed to characterise the political situation in Peru. This peace has been broken only by the machinations of the prudish opposition, against the amnesty with the military assassins, the privatisation of the oil industry, the re-election of Fujimori, and by the seizure and later release of General Robles. The working class and its organisations - with some exceptions - have been in a retreat that has continued to permit the political stability of this Bonapartist civic-military regime.

Peru has one of the highest levels of cost of living in the southern hemisphere, with average monthly wages not sufficient to cover a family's costs for more than a few days, and with 90% of the population unemployed or underemployed. While the people are ground down by the recession, the multinationals are favoured, with legislation such as the elimination of labour security, and privatisation. The links of Montesinos, (Fujimoris main collaborator and leader of the all-powerful National intelligence Service (SIN)), with the narco-traffic; the poor quality of new public buildings such as schools; the "Popular y Porvenir" financial scandal; these are some of the most notorious cases of recently exposed corruption which the rigime and its servile parliament have tried to hide. Fujimori continues to approve laws which are strengthen his authoritarian hold. All these conditions contributed to massive decrease in the government's popularity, but without producing a solution of mass organisation.

The occupation of the ambassadors house has destroyed the prevailing myth that the armed groups have been absolutely defeated. Nevertheless, it has also distracted the masses from their initial questioning of the rigimes authoritarianism and policies of starvation and centralism, and has fuell ed the repressive forces which aim to eradicate all popular and working class resistance. The bourgeois 'opposition' started to defend the rigime around the slogan for a 'national unity', which actually aims to isolate and defeat the MRTA's putschist action and to maintain the political stability which Fujimori has achieved.

The government had secured this popular support largely through having supposedly managed to contain and defeat 'terrorism.' The capture of the Japanese ambassador puts Peru at the centre of world news in spite of the censorship of the bourgeois press and demonstrates that this country is still in internal conflict.

The bourgeoisie have made a lot of fuss about this. A large proportion of the Peruvian ilite is being held hostage. In spite of its massive patronage of the media, progress towards peace has been slower than progress against an amnesty with the military assassins. The national flag is seen displayed on domestic houses in affluent areas but not, by and large, in zones inhabited by the poor, reflecting a social contrast which is also demonstrated in varying support for the action of the MRTA.

The popular majority do not support the action of the MRTA, but nor do they feel solidarity with the wealthy hostages. Calls for national unity have not gained support among the poor. While the president's wife offers Christmas turkeys and other special foods to the embassy hostages, and the media are fulsome about her concern that the hostages have no water or electricity, the popular masses are conscious that they themselves survive from day to day in worse conditions than these. Popular opinion everywhere combines opposition to violence, with ironic comments about those who, for the first time, are having to endure the daily living conditions of the Peruvian masses.

The working class does not identify with the MRTA. It is a petty-bourgeois movement with the opportunistic methods appropriate to petty-bourgeois ambitions, laying claim to the struggle of the masses. But it has raised anti-imperialist demands and we must defend it against our common enemy, the bourgeois state. This state and its government do not have the right to criticise the morals of the MRTA action, where this action is considerably less violent than the actions of the police; the death squad 'Grupo Colina', under the protection and support of the government, has committed far more bloody acts, legally sanctioned and rewarded.

Workers should support all popular struggles for the release of political prisoners, but the correct method for this is through strikes and other direct mass action. The seizure of the embassy was carried out by an ilite who are completely divorced from mass movements. They do not call for the mobilisation of workers, but merely struggle in defence of their own partisan interests (their own legalisation, release of prisoners, funds).

The Peruvian working class has suffered massive defeats. The parliamentarian stalinists (IU) and the militaristic stalinists (MRTA and Sendero Luminoso) have been largely responsible for these defeats. Both variants of stalinism are ideologically based in a framework of the national bourgeois state and are opposed to the revolution of workers' and peasants' councils. The parliamentarist stalinists have supported privatisation and repression. The equally repressive militaristic stalinists have also colluded in the demoralisation and fragmentation of the working class.

The MRTA aims to demonstrate to the bourgeoisie that it is not as violent and bloody an organisation as the PCP/SL, and that it deserves to be legalised. The reactionary media never tires of accusing the MRTA of the abduction and murder of various business figures. The workers do not by any means sympathise with these bourgeois victims. But they must place their own class independence above these actions, which attempt to demonstrate to the exploited that the road to victory is not through their own self-organisation but through relying on isolated and putschist 'vanguards'.

The MRTA does not defend workers' democracy. We revolutionaries oppose the murder carried out by the MRTA on various of their dissidents. But we cannot consign the MRTA militants to the mess of bourgeois justice because this state is not fit to stand in judgment on them. This state which starves its masses to death, does not have the right to judge the action of the MRTA, whatever methods it uses.

At first, the aim of the MRTA action was to seek the release of its imprisoned members, for which it initially raised progressive demands. But currently it is apparently negotiating a peace agreement. If this is confirmed, all it will be possible to say is that the MRTA is seeking a 'heroic' capitulation in order to distinguish itself from the shameful capitulation of Gonzalo's PCP- Sendero Luminoso.

Javier Diez Canseco (leader of the United Left) and the reformist left maintain that the government should come to an understanding with the MRTA and should be negotiable about the prisoners, in just the same way as it decreed an amnesty with the Grupo Colina. The exploited could not make the same mistake of placing the state terrorists in the same bag with the petty-bourgeois rebels. The workers' movement must fight for the unconditional release of the rebels, and for absolute condemnation of the state assassination squad. Only workers' tribunals have the right to judge POLITICALLY, the rebels who have attacked the workers' interests.

Some of the released hostages have expressed conciliatory sentiments towards their former captors. The President of the Association of Exporters has categorically denied that any of the hostages has been tortured. Toledo (the third most voted candidate in the last presidential elections) compared the conditions in which the embassy hostages were kept, to those in which the MRTA prisoners live, where only one half hour visit is permitted per month, and where there is no access to television, radio or newspapers. The Fujimori regime, which always put obstacles to the entrance of the International Red Cross into the prisons and that it could interview the prisoners, now have to use its services with the aim that it could daily and person-by-person oversee the psychological and physical integrity of the captured members of the government which ordered or supported tortures and massacres.

The MRTA is trying to convince the Peruvian leading lights that it can be reintegrated into the system just has happened with its comrades in Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua and nowadays, Guatemala. Expreso newspaper and other reactionaries are arguing that the MRTA is in extinction and for that reasons is not worthily giving them the legalisation. Serpa, who is commanding the MRTA's operation, is the only member of the national leadership who is free in Peru and it is clear that this is a blatantly desperate call for attention.

At the moment the most likely outcome is a negotiated settlement. A military solution is unlikely to arise. The USA and other powers have sent special commandos, and Russia has proposed a multi-national rescue team. A military intervention could prove counter-productive to the bourgeoisie's project to attract foreign capital. El MRTA does not take an aggressive stance, and instead of radical threats to kill hostages, releases the president's mother and tries to ingratiate itself with them.

On Saturday 28 December the government envoy and the head of the MRTA met for talks for the first time. In its ensuing communication the MRTA still did not call for a change to economic policy or for the liberation of all the hostages. It is likely that the head of the MRTA will end up releasing the hostages in exchange for his own safety, for perks for the political prisoners, and for agreement to start talks towards legalisation of the MRTA.

Revolutionary Marxists do not support this guerillerist strategy but neither do we call on the MRTA or the PCP/SL to give up their arms to the capitalist armed forces and the state. We call on the fighters in both movements to give up their strategies and to dedicate their military forces to self-defence tasks defined by assemblies of workers and poor peasants.

The CGTP and other popular and workers organisations have lost the political initiative. Their bureaucrats are conforming to a perfect neo-liberal model of demands for peace and negotiation. We workers must struggle to revitalise our unions and to mobilise mass resistance to these bourgeois attacks. Anti-imperialist and workers' organisations must seize this moment to organise events and to mobilise demands for the release of all political prisoners, employment stability, full employment and defence of the social demands of the workers. The state of emergency decreed by the government in Lima and Callao is aimed at stopping all mass organisation, and to ensure that the silent and growing discontent of the poor does not explode.

We must take advantage of the fact that the government is in a weak position and weaken it still further with greater force. We do not accept the go vernments call for national unity. We do not want unity with a government which weakens us with starvation wages and more unemployment. Now we call for an independent struggle, uniting all our struggles against the common enemy.

We call for:

  • Immediate increases in wages and salaries up to levels which cover the cost of living.
  • Full employment.
  • Foreign debts to be written off.
Unite all union struggles; for a congress of elected and revokable delegates to lead the workers struggles.

Freedom for all anti-imperialist prisoners.

Down with the amnesty on state terrorism, and the state of emergency.

Poder Obrero,
first week of January 1996

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