Date: Thu, 23 Jan 97 11:04:22 CST
From: NY Transfer News Collective <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: MRTA Bourgeois Reformers, Not Revolutionaries
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 97 22:04:34
From: Poder Obrero <email@example.com>
The hostage crisis in Lima
By Poder Obrero <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
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,
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
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
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:
Unite all union struggles; for a congress of elected and revokable
delegates to lead the workers struggles.
- Immediate increases in wages and salaries up to levels which cover the
cost of living.
- Full employment.
- Foreign debts to be written off.
Freedom for all anti-imperialist prisoners.
Down with the amnesty on state terrorism, and the state of emergency.
first week of January 1996