Convention Discussion: Solidarity Tasks in the Western Hemisphere

BY: Emile Schepers| February 19, 2014

Submitted by Emile Schepers, International Secretary of the Communist Party USA

The panorama of the world today is that of intensified struggle, worldwide instability and great upsurges of popular protest.  

The transnational corporations, the governments of wealthy capitalist states, international capitalist blocs and NATO scramble to control major sources of raw materials (including key energy resources) and markets.  

The neo-liberal program is operative:

  • To destroy the labor unions and other people’s organizations so as to minimize resistance to the corporate offensive, and to maximize profits at the expense of wages and working and living conditions.
  • To roll back a century of working class advances through the trashing of labor, environmental and regulatory laws.
  • To promote so-called “free trade agreements”, mechanisms for capitalists to work their will on workers, farmers and smaller capitalist operators.
  • To privatize public services and enterprises in order to squeeze maximum profits out of every realm of human activity.
  • To cut back schooling, health care, housing and public transportation for workers and the poor, while increasing corporate subsidies and military budgets.
  • To project military force (including via NATO), in the service of international monopoly capital.

In his 1917 book Imperialism: The Highest State of Capitalism,  V.I. Lenin conceptualized imperialism as being the stage of capitalism he was living in, characterized by greater concentration and globalization of capital, with finance capital dominant, and with poorer countries bled for their resources.  This is still valid, but the process has gone much farther.   While early 20th century imperialism was characterized by the use of the exploitation of colonies and poor countries to prop up the living standards of the working class in the richer countries, avoiding revolution, today the working class and poor everywhere are subjected to the neo-liberal onslaught.

In the United States we also see a corporate offensive to break unions, divide the working class, cut the social safety net, trash labor, environmental and financial regulations and privatize, privatize, privatize. But we also see the intensification of class struggle “from below”. This raises the possibility of increasing working class and people’s solidarity.  Never in recent history has there been so much potential for international solidarity against the entire neo-liberal imperialist project.

The most optimistic panorama of resistance is seen in Latin America and the Caribbean.  In Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Nicaragua, Guyana, Brazil, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, “Bolivarian” and left-center governments are fighting hard against the neo-liberal program.

Except Cuba, these are not socialist governments.  But they are creating a platform from which an advance toward socialism can be undertaken.  They are escaping the economic, political and military domination of the United States and its allies, the bulwarks of capitalist rule and the main obstacles to socialism.  

Most local communist parties are strongly supportive of this “Bolivarian” dynamic. Where right wing governments still prevail, there are oppositional “Bolivarian” movements.

The progressive Latin American and Caribbean nations are accomplishing these advances by internal reforms: Democratizing their constitutions, nationalizing key resources, transferring wealth to low income workers, improving schools, health care institutions, housing, transportation etc. and empowering unions and other organizations. They are creating organizations for regional economic, financial and political cooperation that have undermined the influence of international monopoly capital and the United States.  These include ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for Our America), which groups the states with the most radical governments, PETROCARIBE (which provides Venezuelan petroleum to poor countries on very favorable credit terms), MERCOSUR (a trade bloc of South American countries), UNASUR  (both a trade pact and a political-military alliance) and CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a grouping of all independent states in the Western Hemisphere except the United States and Canada. Cuba is a leadeing member of CELAC, after being excluded from the U.S. manipulated Organization of American States.

New integration projects are designed to help the poorest countries.  The Bank of the South aims to provide development financing on far better terms than the IMF and World Bank. The SUCRE, a regional currency for multinational commercial exchange, is intended to reduce the power of the U.S. dollar in the hemisphere.

Right wing governments allied with the United States retain power in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala.  In these countries, conditions for workers and small farmers are getting worse, as is repression. Their answer to the Bolivarian bloc is the Pacific Alliance, consisting of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and (for now) Chile. This Alliance, along with the United States and Canada, constitutes the Western Hemisphere littoral of the Transpacific Partnership.

The Obama administration has as yet not accepted the “Bolivarian” leftward movement.  In Honduras and Paraguay, the U.S. was complicit in the overthrow of progressive governments and their replacement by right wing regimes subordinate to the interests of international monopoly capital. In these countries, the wages and working and living conditions have suffered a severe blow.  There is continuing use of U.S. taxpayer funded groups such as the Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute to undermine the Bolivarian project. Major leaders of the Republican Party are especially active in coordinating with local reactionaries to interfere in other hemispheric countries’ politics.

The United States has yet to formally recognize the victory of Nicolas Maduro as president of Venezuela.  In spite of massive human rights violations, the United States continues to pour military aid into Mexico and Colombia on the pretext of fighting drugs.  U.S. leaders see Latin American “Bolivarian” developments as a threat to existing free trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), DR-CAFTA (the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and the projected Transpacific Partnership.  

In spite of some small changes, we have yet to see a major transformation of the hostile official U.S. stance toward Cuba.

So there is solidarity work to be done. What should be our approach?

First, the left in the United States is relatively small and by itself cannot exert large scale mass pressure on the government or the corporations.

So we must find ways to leverage mass involvement in solidarity struggles, of millions who may agree with us on some issues but not on others.

On major issues, public opinion polls show the U.S. population to be well ahead of the government and politicians.  Opposition to war and interventionism is strong in almost all demographics, but especially among workers, the poor, women and minorities.

We should learn from the mass mobilizations in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s against the Vietnam War, and against U.S. support for the apartheid regime in South Africa.

There are some urgent tasks:  

In Colombia, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos is in negotiations with representatives of the Armed Forces of the Colombian Revolution (FARC).  There has been some progress. On the other hand, the United States continues to in pour military resources. The far right in Colombia is pushing hard to restore itself to power in the presidential elections on May 25, and end the peace negotiations. Meanwhile, repression and violence continue.  The situation could be destabilized by U.S. actions such as demanding the extradition of FARC leaders.  We have to work to support the peace process and oppose U.S. intervention.

Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, has been seen by the U.S., Canadian and French ruling class as a big menace since it got independence in 1803, as a Black republic founded by rebelling slaves.  Interference by the United States, Canada and France is continuous. This must be turned around.

Cuba should be addressed in its own right.

Concretely we should also:

  • Do more educational work on international affairs. We need convince people that in this globalized world, all our struggles are “international”.
  • Do more to situate our international solidarity tasks within our labor union and mass work. The solidarity organizing by the Steelworkers and the AFL-CIO in support of independent progressive unions in Mexico and Colombia show the way.
  • Write more op-eds and letters to the editor in the corporate controlled press, as well as doing call-ins to radio and TV shows and commentary on the internet and social media.
  • Write more on international affairs for our press, and should promote our writing more via social media.
  • Make more use of publications of our fraternal parties.   

The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

For details about the convention, visit the Convention homepage
To contribute to the discussion, visit the Convention Discussion webpage

30th National Convention, Communist Party USA
Chicago | June 13-15, 2014




    Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Emile Schepers was born in South Africa and has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He has worked as a researcher and activist in urban, working-class communities in Chicago since 1966. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He now writes from Northern Virginia.


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