The following text is an important demonstration of the international character of the revolutionary left across Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Bolivia. As the primary targets of Plan Condor and the state terrorism of the US backed dictatorships the organizations listed here did not survive the reactionary assault of the coming years. While it is worth critically reflecting on a political line which ultimately ended in defeat, it is first essential to reconstruct what their real politics were and what we can learn from their legacy.
The declaration was produced after the Pinochet's coup in Chile but before the 1976 Argentinian coup which brought Videla to power. While the Left had suffered a major defeat in Chile, revolutionary possibilities remained very much alive across the region. Argentina was seeing an increasing radicalization of the working class, something which in 1975 resulted in the formation of proto-soviets among industrial workers organizing a general strike in Buenos Aires. The documents emphasis on the struggle against Bourgeois Nationalism and the danger of the "Third Way" in particular bears the marks of the Argentinian PRT-ERP's political struggle to win over the masses from Peronism.
This was a major joint declaration coming out of years of practical work. The clandestine conditions in which the organizations operated required cross-border collaboration. A common experience with the Cuban Revolution training in military camps or spending time in exile also united many of the leading militants of these organizations. The declaration shows a clear commitment to a continental vision of revolution, that this will be a struggle waged internationally, across borders and in which even a victory in one country would be precarious. The aim is not to create just another singular Vietnam within South America, but rather to transform all of Latin America into a Vietnam for American imperialism.
To the People of Latin America (1974)
-First Communique of the Revolutionary Coordinating Council
“It is the road of Vietnam, this is the road that should be followed by the people; it is the road that will be followed in Our America, with the advantage that the armed groups could create Coordinating Councils to embarrass the repressive forces of Yankee imperialism and accelerate the revolutionary triumph.”
-Che Guevara “Message to the Tricontinental”
The National Liberation Movement (Tupamaros) of Uruguay, the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) of Chile, the Army of National Liberation (ELN) of Bolivia and the People’s Revolutionary Army of Argentina (ERP), sign this present declaration to make it known to the workers, to the poor peasants, to the poor of the city, to the students and intellectuals, to the indigenous peoples, to the millions of exploited workers of our suffering Latin American country, our decision to unite in a Revolutionary Coordinating Council.
This important step is the product of a deeply felt need, the need to solidify our organization, to unify the revolutionary forces against the imperialist enemy, to unleash with greater efficiency the political and ideological struggle against bourgeois nationalism and reformism.
This important step, is the fulfillment of one of the principal strategic ideas of the commander Che Guevara, hero, symbol and precursor of the continental socialist revolution. It is also a symbolic step which retakes the fraternal tradition of our peoples who knew to unify and struggle as one against the oppressors of the past century, the Spanish colonialists.
OUR STRUGGLE IS ANTI-IMPERIALIST
The people of the world live through the permanent threat of the most aggressive and rapacious imperialism which has ever existed in history. They have witnessed, far from indifferently, the genocide organized and led by US imperialism against the heroic Vietnamese people. In an unequal war whose flames have not yet been extinguished, the warlike and treacherous character of imperialism has been stripped bare for all to see. However this war has also given us a counter-example, there has been a clear demonstration of the weakness of this system and of all its military power when confronted by a people committed to the struggle and to freedom at any price.
The Latin American people, from the past century to present days, have suffered under the heavy yolk of imperialism through colonial and neocolonial methods. They have suffered repeated military interventions and unjust wars planned and executed by the US Army and the multi-national monopolies.
There is the dispossession of Mexico, the occupation of Puerto Rico, the intervention in the Dominican Republic, the Bay of Pigs and many other warlike deeds which Our America will not forget and will never forgive.
And there is Shell, Exxon Mobil, Standard Oil, United Fruit, ITT [International Telephone and Telegraph], the money of Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Ford. There is also the CIA, who with Ralph Shelton [CIA officer who helped train the army which captured Che), Mitrione [Pan-American Health Organization advisor] and Siracusa [US Ambassador to Uruguay] have left unforgettable marks of the arrogant and dominating politics of the United States against the Popular Movements in Latin America.
LATIN AMERICA MARCHES TOWARDS SOCIALISM
On January 1st 1959 with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution the final march of the Latin American people towards socialism began. A march towards true national independence and the collective happiness of the people.
It is the just and open rebellion of the exploited of Latin America against a barbaric neocolonial capitalist system imposed since the end of the last century by US and European imperialism. Imperialists who through force, deception and corruption have taken possession of our continent. The cowardly Latin American bourgeoisie and its armies know nothing of honoring the revolutionary legacy of liberation and our people's glorious anti-colonial struggle. This struggle led by heroes like Bolivar, San Martin, Artigas and many others conquered independence, equality and liberty.
The ruling classes, defending their miserly group interests, have united with the imperialists and collaborate with them. They facilitate imperialism's economic penetration and progressively hand over control of our economy to the insatiable appetite of foreign capitalism. This economic domination leads to our subordination and their cultural and political control over us. This was how the neocolonial capitalist system was founded and it is how it has continued to exploit, oppress and deform the working class of our continent for more than a hundred years.
Since the beginning of the century the working class has begun to rise up against the system, unfurling the then little known banner of socialism. It united inseparably the cause of national independence, promoting the awakening of peasants, students and of all that is healthy and revolutionary in our people. Anarchism, Socialism and Communism as organized movements of the working class led with energy and heroism, mobilizing the masses and leaving unforgettable marks on the revolutionary struggle. The legendary Nicaraguan leader, Augusto Cesar Sandino, a worker, led in his country one of the most heroic of these struggles when in 1932 he put a check on and defeated the intervening US troops in 1932. It was in the 1930s when our people rose up throughout the continent and put in check the neocolonial domination of the United States, the number one enemy of the people of the world.
However this formidable revolutionary mobilization of the masses was not crowned with victory. The active counter-revolutionary political and military intervention, combined with the weaknesses of anarchism, the socialist currents and the Communist Parties, were the causes of this temporary defeat. The majority of the Communist Parties, the most conscious, important and organized of this period, fell into the trap of reformism. Some of them such as the heroic Communist Party of El Salvador suffered cruel defeats with tens of thousands of martyrs. As a consequence the masses were misled away from the revolutionary path and on to the dead end of bourgeois nationalism. Bourgeois nationalism is an intelligent and demagogic tool of the ruling classes to maintain through deception the neocolonial capitalist system.
After the formidable triumph of the Cuban People the people of the continent were strengthened in their revolutionary faith. The able and farsighted leadership of Fidel Castro and a group of Marxist-Leninist leaders defeated the army of Batista and established the first Latin American Socialist State in the backyard of imperialism. A new and profound mobilization of the masses began.
With successes and errors our people and their vanguards decisively threw themselves into the anti-imperialist struggle for socialism. The decade of the 60’s saw an uninterrupted succession of huge popular struggles, violent guerilla fighting and powerful mass insurrections. The war of April, the general insurrection of the Dominican people, required the direct intervention of US imperialism which sent 30,000 troops to suffocate this magnificent uprising through a massacre.
The legendary figure of Commander Ernesto Guevara personified and symbolized perfectly this period of struggles. His heroic death as well as his exemplar life and his clear, Marxist-Leninist strategic vision opened the path for and illuminated this new revolutionary uprising of the people. This movement grows stronger and more consistent day by day in the factories, in the villages, in the countryside and the cities as it spreads unstoppably through the whole continent.
It is the definitive awakening of our peoples which puts on their feet millions and millions of workers who march inexorably towards the second independence, definitive national and social liberation, the ultimate destruction of the unjust capitalist system and the establishment of revolutionary socialism.
THE STRUGGLE FOR THE LEADERSHIP OF THE MASS MOVEMENT
However the revolutionary path is neither easy nor simple. It is not just the barbaric economic and military force of imperialism that we must fight. More subtle enemies and dangers stalk the revolutionary forces and undermine their efforts to unleash effectively and victoriously the anti-imperialist struggle.
Today, given the particular situation of the continental revolutionary process, we should refer specifically to two currents of thought and action which conspire powerfully against the revolutionary forces of Latin America. One is an enemy, bourgeois nationalism. The other is an erroneous view within the popular camp, that of reformism.
Both, sometimes clearly united, attempted to climb upwards on the revolutionary upsurge of our peoples. They aim to reach its leadership and impose their erroneous and self-interested ideas, which inevitably will detain and undermine the revolutionary impulse. For this reason there is a strategic dimension to the intransigent ideological and political struggle which revolutionaries must launch against these currents, displacing them. We must in this way win the leadership of the broadest masses so as to give our people a significant revolutionary leadership which will lead us consistently, intelligently and effectively towards final victory.
Bourgeois nationalism is a current sponsored by imperialism which supports itself as a demagogic option to distract and divert the people's struggle when counter-revolutionary violence loses efficacy. It's social core is in the pro-imperialist bourgeoisie or a section of it, which aims to enrich itself limitlessly, disputing with the traditional bourgeoisie and the oligarchy the right to the favors of imperialism. It does this through the trick of presenting itself as the firefighter of revolutionary flames, using its popular influence and the ability to negotiate with the mobilizations of the masses. In their deceptive politics they wield a verbal anti-imperialism and try to confuse the masses with their favorite nationalist thesis: the third position. However in reality they are not anti-imperialist but instead advance even new and more subtle forms of foreign economic penetration.
Reformism by contrast is a current which nests in the breast of working people, reflecting the fear of confrontation by petty-bourgeois sectors and the workers aristocracy. It is characterized by the closeminded rejection in practice of a fundamental tool in the struggle for power - the just and necessary use of revolutionary violence. In this way it abandons the Marxist conception of the class struggle. Reformism spreads among the masses toxic pacifist and liberal ideas, it fosters illusions in the national bourgeoisie and the counter-revolutionary armies, forces which it constantly seeks to ally itself to. It exaggerates the importance of legality and parliamentarianism. One of its favorite arguments is for the need to avoid violence and instead build relations with the bourgeoisie and the “Patriotic Army” in search of a peaceful path which avoids bloodshed for the masses on the path towards socialism. This has been routinely and painfully refuted by deeds. Where reformism imposed its conciliatory and pacifist politics the enemy class and the army executed the greatest massacres against the people. The closeness of the Chilean experience with more than 20,000 men and women workers assassinated exempts us from further commentary.
In the face of bourgeois nationalism, reformism and other less important currents, the revolutionary forces day by day consolidate themselves among the masses. They grow their influence, improving their political and military capacity, and converting themselves more and more into a real option for national independence and socialism.
Precisely to contribute to the strengthening of this revolutionary current on a continental scale, the four signing organizations of this declaration have decided to create the present Revolutionary Coordinating Council. Each and every one of its national organizations will organize and fight together with all of the revolutionary workers vanguard and popular vanguard in Latin America. This naturally means that the doors of this Coordinating Council are open for the revolutionary organizations in various Latin American countries.
THE EXPERIENCE OF OUR ORGANIZATIONS
The MLN Tupamaros, the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR), the Army of National Liberation (ELN), the Revolutionary People's Army (ERP), in the course of their revolutionary and patriotic struggle have affirmed through their own experience the necessity of uniting and the importance of internationalism. We understand that the capitalist and imperialist enemy is united and organized. We must oppose them with the strictest, ironclad unity of our peoples.
Linked by the similarity of our struggles and our political lines, the four organizations have established first fraternal ties, and as part of this process have passed to an interchange of experiences, growing mutual co-operation and finally this decisive step which accelerates our co-ordination and collaboration. This will undoubtedly result in having a more effective practice in the bitter struggle which the people will unleash against the ferocious common enemy.
The greatest development of our organizations, the strengthening of their internationalist practice and vision, will allow us to better use the potential of our people to construct a powerful revolutionary force capable of defeating capitalist-imperialist reaction. A force that will annihilate the counter-revolutionary armies, expelling Yankee and European imperialism from Latin American soil. Which will country by country begin the construction of socialism in every one of our nations in order to achieve the most complete Latin American unity.
Achieving this sacred goal will not be easy. The cruelty and strength of imperialism will make it necessary, as Commander Guevara laid out, to develop a bloody and prolonged revolutionary war which will make the Latin American continent the second or third Vietnam of the world.
However, following the glorious example of the heroic Vietnamese people and the Latin American workers, we will know to fight without pause, with growing strength, unleashing in all their intensity the unstoppable energy of the masses. We will smash US imperialism and its agents, conquering our happiness and making a powerful contribution to the definitive destruction of the principal enemy of the international working class, socialism and the people of the world.
We are united by the understanding that there is no other viable strategy in Latin America then that of revolutionary war. This war is a complex process of mass struggle, armed and unarmed, peaceful and violent, where all forms of struggle develop harmoniously converging around the central axis of armed struggle. That for the victorious advance of this process of revolutionary war it is necessary to mobilize all the people under the leadership of the revolutionary proletariat. The proletarian leadership of the war will be wielded by a Marxist-Leninist combat party, of a proletarian character, able to centralize and lead, uniting in in one all aspects of the popular struggle and ensuring a strategic leadership. Under the direction of the Proletarian Party it is necessary to build a powerful popular army, an iron nucleus of revolutionary forces, which advancing from the small to the great, intimately united to the masses and fed by them, will construct itself as an impenetrable wall which will break all the military attempts of the reactionaries. It must have the material conditions to ensure the annihilation of the counter-revolutionary armies. It is in this way necessary to construct a broad workers and popular front of the masses which mobilizes all the progressive and revolutionary people. Which mobilizes the various political parties, the unions and other similar organizations. In short, the broadest masses whose struggle runs parallel, converging at every moment strategically with the military action of the popular army and the clandestine political action of the proletarian party.
The response should be clear, and none other than the armed struggle as the principal factor of polarization, agitation, and finally the defeat of the enemy - which is the only possibility of triumph. This is not to say that we will not utilize every possible form of organization and struggle: the legal and clandestine, the peaceful and violent, economic and political. We will unite them with greater strength in the armed struggle, in accordance with the peculiarities of each region and country.
The continental character of this struggle is clearly signaled by the presence of the common enemy. US imperialism develops an international strategy to hold back the Socialist Revolution in Latin America. It is not a coincidence that fascist regimes have been imposed in the countries where the mass movement has risen up to threaten the power of the oligarchs. The international strategy of imperialism corresponds to the continental strategy of the revolutionaries.
The road of this struggle is not short. The international bourgeoisie is prepared to stop the revolution by any method when it appears in even one country. The bourgeois possesses all the official media and methods of diffusion to use against the people. For this our revolutionary path must first exhaust the enemy until we can form a popular army capable of surpassing the strength of the enemy. This is a gradual path but, paradoxically, it is the shortest and least costly road to reach the strategic objectives of the working class.
LATIN AMERICAN PEOPLE: TO ARMS
We are living in a decisive moment of our history. With this in mind, the MLN Tupamaros, The Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), the Army of National Liberation (ELN) and the People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP) call upon the exploited Latin America workers, the working class, the poor peasants, the poor of the city, the students, the revolutionary Christians and all those elements which come from the exploited classes who are disposed to collaborate with this just popular cause, to decisively take up arms, to actively incorporate themselves to the revolutionary anti-imperialist, socialist struggle which is unfolding across our continent under the banner and example of Commander Guevara.
JCR — REVOLUTIONARY COORDINATING COUNCIL
VICTORY OR DEATH! — ELN
COUNTRY OR DEATH WE WILL TRIUMPH — MIR
VICTORY OR DEATH FOR ARGENTINA — ERP
LIBERTY OR DEATH— TUPAMAROS