IN THIS ISSUE
Democrats Will Always Be Two Votes Short
• Boric Elected with a Clear Mandate: Meet the People’s Demands — by Dominique Ferré
• The Importance of Boric’s Triumph for the New Constitution — By Fernando David Márquez Duarte
• Letter from Labor Campaign for Single Payer Chair Mark Dudzic
• Build Back Better Now DOA — by Jack Rasmus
• “Renationalize Mexico’s Energy Industry!” – by Juan Carlos Vargas
• Big Business Denounces López Obrador’s Energy Reform Plan — by Alan Benjamin
• The USMCA “Free Trade” Agreement and Mexico’s Environment — A.B.
• Forging the Fight for an Independent Workers Party in Mexico — by Juan Carlos Vargas
• For a Party of the Working Class and All the Oppressed, For National Emancipation and Socialism! (Manifesto)
* * * * *
Democrats Will Always Be Two Votes Short
“For the Democrats there will always be an excuse; they will always be two votes short’.”
These words were spoken by Vermont AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen at a December 9 forum on independent politics and immigrant rights sponsored by Labor and Community for an Independent Party (LCIP). Van Deusen was referring to Democratic Party Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, both of whom refused to support the Build Back Better bill submitted to the Congress by President Joe Biden.
“Do you want to know why we will always be two votes short?” asked Van Deusen. “It’s because the corporations that are behind the Democratic Party will always find – and fund – those two votes. They will always find a convenient foil for their failure to enact any real progressive legislation.”
In 2010, the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress and yet failed to pass the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would have greatly expanded labor rights. They found a convenient excuse: The Great Recession was enough of a strain on the corporate pocketbooks, they argued, that it was necessary to bail out Wall Street, NOT Main Street. And so EFCA was taken off the table, along with a host of other pieces of legislation needed urgently to rescue working people. Wall Street got close to $8 trillion in bailout funding, while Main Street got shafted.
Today, a similar situation is unfolding. The failure to enact the Pro Act and fund childcare and real Medicare expansion – along with the failure to protect and expand voting rights – is placed on the shoulders of two people: Senators Manchin and Sinema, the convenient foils. But, as Van Deusen points out, it’s not about two individuals: “We cannot continue to put our faith in the Democratic Party, which takes every opportunity to betray us time and again.”
The Democrats had no difficulty finding bipartisan support for the $778 billion military budget, just as they had no difficulty bypassing the filibuster when it came to securing the funds to keep the government afloat and preventing a shut-down. But when it comes to taxing the rich and funding human needs, when it comes to slashing the war budget, the two wings of the Corporate Party of America, come together to block such measures.
One of the most egregious violations of basic democratic rights is unfolding under our very eyes today. There are 389 bills in 48 state legislatures across the country seeking to curtail voting rights. Where are the Democratic Party’s calls to mobilize in the streets to halt the drive to reverse the gains of the Civil Rights movement – and to expand those rights?
Women’s abortion rights are under attack like never before. Where are the Democrats, many of whom have been complicit in the gradual erosion of the right to choose?
Where are the Democrats, who promised the 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship? They are sheltering behind a ruling of a non-elected Senate parliamentarian that rejected including Immigrant rights and citizenship for all in the Build Back Better bill.
Trent Willis, president of ILWU Local 10 in San Francisco, put it this way in response to the attacks on the voting rights of Black people:
“If you are wondering what is going on with Joe Manchin and his role in the failure of Democrats to pass voting rights legislation, anti-lynching legislation, or any other legislation on behalf of African Americans, look to U.S. history. It doesn’t lie.
“This is not the first time in our history that Black people have been led astray and let down by both political parties. Matter of fact, it’s an ongoing let-down since slavery. It’s an orchestrated backlash that too many Black people are acting like it is not happening. Wake up before we are back in chains!”
That is why the editorial board of The Organizer affirms, yet again, that it’s time for the labor movement to break with the Democratic Party and to build a working-class party, a Labor Party, rooted in the unions and communities of the oppressed. The time is now!
* * * * *
Boric Elected with a Clear Mandate: Meet the People’s Demands
By Dominique Ferré
With 55.87% of the vote and a high turnout on December 19, the victory of Gabriel Boric, candidate of the Broad Front and the Communist Party in the presidential election, has a double meaning.
First, workers, young people, and women voted massively against Jose Antonio Kast, who claimed the legacy of the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and promised to step up the anti-worker policies of the current Piñera administration. Kast promised to “reserve social assistance for married women only” and to increase the repression against the Mapuche indigenous people (10% of the population).
The workers, women and youth also voted so that their legitimate aspirations would finally be met.
When the results were announced, tens of thousands of people took to the streets. “Since the times of our parents and grandparents, we have continued to fight against everything that Kast represents in Chile,” stated a 27-year-old waitress. “I cry with joy. We beat fascism. I’m going to go home and hug my children,” stated an office employee. A construction worker hopes for “many changes that will help the people and the working class, the forgotten ones.” (Agence France Presse, December 20)
The Chilean working people have made it clear: No more military dictatorship. Nor do they want its economic and social policies, which have handed over pensions to private pension funds, sold off copper extraction to foreign multinationals, and privatized all public services.
This is what the youth and workers had expressed on October 18, 2019, when they rose up against the whole institutional system inherited from the dictatorship. They rose up because Chile’s main institutions, its 1980 constitution and all its economic and social policies – all dictated by the financial institutions – have continued for 30 years under the governments of the “Concertation”, with the tacit or open agreement of the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, allied with the Christian Democracy. The “Concertation” candidate, supported by the Socialist Party-Christian Democracy alliance, was defeated in the first round and supported Boric in the second round.
“Promises difficult to keep” (AFP)
In his first speech, Boric promised “a healthcare system that does not discriminate between rich and poor, as well as pensions worthy of those who have worked all their lives. He promised to solve the drama of housing and lack of access to public services. He promised to strengthen public education, guarantee workers’ rights, “end the patriarchal legacy,” and “create a new relationship with the indigenous peoples.” Referring to the Constituent Convention elected in May 2021, he added, “for the first time in our history, we are writing a democratic constitution.”
In the same speech, however, Boric emphasized the need to “cooperate with the business community, build alliances, bring views together.” He added: “Despite our differences, especially with those of Jose Antonio Kast, we will know how to build bridges between us. In short, he promised “more social rights while remaining fiscally responsible” — that is, respecting Chile’s commitments to financial institutions and debt repayment.
For the Agence France Presse, these are “social promises that will be difficult to keep in the face of a Congress that is not entirely committed to his cause,” especially since “one of the first tasks of the left-wing president, whom his detractors described as a ‘communist,’ will be to reassure the financial markets.” Boric has no majority in the Congress, a corrupt institution that grew out of the 1980 Pinochet constitution.
To break with, or to respect, the institutions inherited from the dictatorship?
The reactions of Chilean capitalists and the United States shed light on the new situation.
The Association of Banks and Financial Institutions asked Boric “to allow the government and the opposition to play their roles … the only way to guarantee certainty and stability, two virtues that have characterized Chile for decades.” For the National Chamber of Commerce, it is necessary to put an end to “the polarization of recent weeks,” because “winners and losers, left and right, we are all compatriots, employers and employees.”
This insistence on forging “national unity” within the framework of the institutions inherited from the Pinochet dictatorship, especially its undemocratic Congress, is echoed by the reactionary ex-President Sebastián Piñera, who warned Boric: “Governments come and go, but the State remains.”
For the powers-that-be, the main task today, as it has been over the past 30 years, is the respect of the institutions… within the framework of which no change favorable to working people is possible.
These views have been echoed by U.S. imperialism, whose Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, “looks forward to continuing to work with Chile to advance our common goals.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Chile “offered its full support and willingness to work with the new government” … provided that the institutions are respected, because as the Wall Street Journal writes, promises of social reforms could “be paralyzed by a divided Congress.”
Conversely, as the Chilean Independent Movement for the Rights of the People stated, “true democracy and the sovereignty of the people require the convening of a Sovereign Constituent Assembly with full powers to carry out a policy in line with the interests of the majority of the people and under their control,” namely, a policy that satisfies “the demands that millions expressed in the mobilizations of October 18, 2019.” —
 On October 18, 2019, the high school students’ protested in huge numbers against the umpteenth 30-peso increase in the price of transportation. It soon turned into an uprising of the entire working class, with the cry of, “It’s not 30 pesos, but 30 years!”
– – – – –
CHILE: The Importance of Boric’s Triumph for the New Constitution
By Fernando David Márquez Duarte
Gabriel Boric was elected president of Chile in the second electoral round on December 19, 2021, with 55.87% of the vote.
With this vote, the workers and youth rejected Jose Antonio Kast, the ultra-right-wing candidate who claimed the legacy of the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet and pledged to deepen the anti-worker policies of the current Piñera administration. The people rejected the privatization of pension funds and public services.
This is especially important, since the current Chilean Constitution is the Constitution that Pinochet imposed during his dictatorial regime. It wasn’t until October 2020 that a National plebiscite was conducted, in which the YES to a Constitutional Convention won overwhelmingly. The election to select Constitutional legislators was conducted in May 2021, when 155 legislators were elected.
It is worth noting that the Constitutional Convention wasn’t a process that Piñera’s right-wing government accepted lightly. It was the result of the massive protests of late 2019 in Chile. On October 18, 2019, thousands of Chileans went into the streets to protest against the entire institutional system inherited from the dictatorship, a system maintained over the past 30 years.
Boric and the New Constitution
The future of Chile has not been decided yet. While the electoral triumph of the left coalition led by Boric is a step forward, it is important to highlight the fact that Boric is not a socialist, though he has included in his platform some left-wing positions that hopefully will stop the “cannibal capitalism” that Chileans are suffering right now.
The most important conclusion from this electoral result is that the perpetuation of the right-wing in Chile has been stopped. With the new Boric government, it may actually be possible to implement the progressive Constitution that is being drafted at the moment. Most of the Constitutional legislators are left-wing; the President of the Convention is Elisa Loncón, a left-wing Mapuche indigenous woman.
Now is the time to mobilize in greater numbers to press the new government to actually carry out the policies that are needed to meet the demands of the workers and youth, and to adopt a new Constitution that removes all the vestiges of the reactionary Pinochet Constitution. The new Constitution is expected to be completed in mid-2022.
* * * * *
Letter from Labor Campaign for Single Payer (LCSP)
Dear Single-Payer activists:
As 2021 draws to a close we want to send you off to your holidays with three quick updates:
Tentative Agreement in St. Vincent’s Nurses Strike
The Massachusetts Nurses Association has reached a tentative agreement in the historic 9-month long strike of 700 nurses at St.Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, MA. What started as a fight over safe staffing became a war of attrition as the hospital–owned by Tenet Healthcare–hired permanent replacements. The agreement will allow all strikers to return to their original positions and includes significant staffing improvements that will enhance patient care in the face of a resurgent pandemic.
The heroic St. Vincent’s nurses stood strong against Tenet Healthcare–one` of the largest and most profitable healthcare corporations in the world– which tried to use the threat of permanent replacement to send a message to all healthcare workers who dare to fight for decent working conditions and quality care.
“With this agreement we can go back into that building with great pride not just for what we got in writing, but for what we have built together as nurses who know they did everything they could for their patients and community,” said Dominique Muldoon, RN, a nurse at the hospital and Co-Chair of the bargaining unit.
Build Back Better Flounders in the Senate
Thanks to Senator Joe Manchin, there will be no Build Back Better Bill in 2021. Congress has spent the better part of 2021 crafting a wide ranging expansion of the United States’ meager social safety net in response to President Biden’s call to fund massive physical and social infrastructure improvements.
The physical infrastructure bill passed in November with assurances from corporate Democrats like Joe Manchin that they would support a later vote on the social infrastructure components if progressives in Congress reduced the total cost of the package. A scaled back version was sent to the Senate on November 21.
Citing concerns about inflation, Manchin has announced that he’s reneging on the deal and will not support the Bill. “I know Joe Manchin continues to talk about his concerns over the national debt, but I find it amusing I didn’t hear his concerns after voting, just last week, for a military budget of $778 billion,” said Senator Bernie Sanders. “Forgive me thinking that maybe, just maybe, something else is at play here.”
Without Manchin’s support, Senate Democrats will be unable to pass the Bill though Majority Leader Schumer has vowed to find a way to pass it in 2022.
The scaled back Bill had included only a modest expansion of Medicare benefits and prescription drug pricing controls as well as a convoluted way to provide some healthcare benefits to millions of Americans in the 12 states that continue to refuse to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage to their own working poor residents. Nonetheless, the story of the decline and fall of Build Back Better contains important lessons for the Medicare for All movement.
Hold the Date: Medicare for All National Strategy Conference April 2-3, 2022
Those lessons will surely be a topic of discussion at the Medicare For All Virtual Strategy Conference in April. There, we will join with our allies in Healthcare Now to strategize, learn, build community, and get ready to change our entire healthcare system… And for the second year in a row, you can join us without even leaving your home!
The conference will happen online from April 2-3, 2022, and will feature workshops, discussions, plenty of opportunities to connect with activists around the country, and lots of planning our next steps toward making Medicare For All a reality.
We’ll be sending you more details and everything you need to register in January, but for now, please save the date and begin to think about who in your union and community you want to invite to participate in this exciting event.
Thank you for everything that you do to help make healthcare a right for everyone in America. Best wishes for a joyful and safe new year.
Mark Dudzic, LCSP Chair
* * * * *
Build Back Better Now DOA
By Jack Rasmus
[Note: Following are excerpts from a longer piece published in Counterpunch magazine on December 21, 2021. – The Editors]
Senator Joe Manchin never intended to support President Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill, engaging instead in “bad faith bargaining” to string the Democrats along. Manchin’s goal was to get the Democrat leadership – Biden, Pelosi, Durbin, Schumer et. al. – to reduce their proposals, which they conveniently did, on repeated occasions.
But Manchin’s real objective has always been to shit-can the bill in order to prevent the necessity of raising taxes on corporations and investors; the Build Back Better bill’s funding involved partially raising Trump’s corporate taxes.
From the start, Manchin (and Sinema as back-up) have been the point of the corporate spear of interests determined to block the Build Back Better bill. To try to lure Manchin into some deal, the original Build Back Better $3.5 trillion bill was reduced to $1.75 trillion by Democratic leaders this past July. Manchin then played Biden, Sanders and the rest, constantly suggesting he might agree to something amounting to that total – but putting no proposal of his own on the bargaining table at any time. That tactic, of implying he might agree, then not, is classic bad-faith bargaining.
Manchin never had any intention of agreeing to anything. That was made totally clear this December 18, when he said “NO,” he couldn’t agree to the bill in any form, as well as the way he delivered his coup de grace to the bill: His answer to shit-can the bill was given on Fox News without even notifying Biden and the White House.
The response of Democratic Party leaders to Manchin’s announcement killing the bill has been typically timid. Senator Sanders replied that they should put the bill to a vote in the Senate to show West Virginians where Manchin stands. As if this were not already clear to everyone!
The charade of negotiations within the Democrat Party over the Build Back Better bill has thus come to an end. So what’s next?
Some Democrats, it has been reported, may recommend that various provisions of the now DOA Build Back Better bill be broken out and voted on separately. All this will mean is that Manchin and the corporate interests behind him will simply have more chances to vote NO on separate provisions. The farce of trying to pass a real social spending stimulus bill will continue – with similar results.
The failure to pass the Build Back Better bill represents a milestone both economically and politically and the beginning of a new phase in legislation – and in the growing economic and political crisis in the United States as well.
Politically, it means the Democrats are “toast” in the 2022 midterm elections. It will be nearly impossible to turn around public voter sentiment by next November. Recent polls and surveys show growing disappointment, even disgust, with the Democrats’ failure to get needed programs passed. Biden ran on a promise that he could “get things done” by uniting Democrats and Republicans to pass necessary legislation to ensure economic recovery. In fact, he now has proven he can’t even unite his own party to do so.
Politically, the consequences in 2022 will be similar to 2010: Democrats will almost certainly be trashed in the 2022 midterms – especially since Manchin, Sinema and others are also prepared to shit-can any voting rights bills.
Democrats are showing once again they are incapable of resolving the crisis – economic and political – now confronting the country.
Sanders’ and the progressive wing’s so-called “Inside Strategy” of reforming the party and returning it to its “New Deal” roots is now clearly a failed strategy. The “progressive” wing capitulated in the House in November and is now in total disarray. All Sanders can say is “let’s embarrass Manchin” by putting the Zombie Build Back Better bill to a vote.
The political crisis of Democracy in America will continue to deepen, the US economy will stumble along at best, and concerned Americans will have to decide whether to throw their support again, a third time, to Democrats who have proven twice now incapable of resolving the twin crises of democracy’s decline and a faltering economic recovery. The old saying of “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” applies here.
Democrats have been given a majority control of the presidency and Congress twice – in 2009 and 2020 – and have failed twice to deliver anything but tepid, and ultimately insufficient, policies. History shows that both parties – Republican and Democrat – are ultimately controlled by corporate interests. Perhaps a more accurate description today should be in America today we have a single party, a Corporate Party of America, with two wings, Democratic and Republican.
Should voters choose to get fooled a third time is the question? Or should they perhaps seek a different, independent organizational alternative? If the latter, there’s no time to lose since time is clearly running out.
* * * * *
“Renationalize Mexico’s Energy Industry!”
By Juan Carlos Vargas
“Renationalize the Energy Industry!” is the headline of the latest issue of Transición, the newspaper published by the Internationalist Communist League (LCI), Mexican section of the Fourth International (OCRFI).
On October 1, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador presented to the Mexican Congress a proposed constitutional reform intended to restore the control by the Federal Electricity Commission (a public agency) over 54% of electricity production, which has been privatized for years.
This constitutional reform would cancel all the successive modifications of Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution that have allowed the privatization of the energy sector, under direct pressure from the United States, whether led by the Republicans or the Democrats. U.S. imperialism has consistently sought to get its hands on its neighbor’s natural resources.
López Obrador’s announcement, Transición explains, immediately provoked an outcry from institutions linked to U.S. interests. The Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), for example, denounced the proposed energy reform bill as a “violation of the rule of law.” [For the U.S. Big Business’ reaction see the article below.]
Not surprisingly, corporate opponents of the bill used the phony argument of “defending the environment” to justify their privatization of the energy industry. [See the article below on Constellation Brands and the threat of bringing the Mexican government up on charges for violating the United States-Mexico-Canada Treaty (USMCA).]
For its part, the government of López Obrador is organizing a campaign on the theme: “Electricity belonged to you, they took it from you. We’re going to give it back to you!” This statement, however, is only half true, the editorial in Transición explains, given that López Obrador’s project concerns the renationalization of only 54% of the energy sector, with 46% remaining in the hands of the private sector.
A true policy of regaining national sovereignty would require 100% renationalization, even if it means overturning the private ownership of Mexico’s resources by the U.S. energy multinationals and challenging the USMCA treaty, which López Obrador himself agreed to sign.
Moreover, López Obrador has no intention of calling for popular mobilization to help him impose his energy reform. He is looking for an alliance with members of the PRI, the corrupt former single party of the Mexican oligarchy.
However, Transición explains, the Mexican people have a powerful aspiration to regain their national sovereignty. They rightly feel that they have been robbed of their oil, their mines, their energy sector, their water – that is, robbed of everything that has been privatized over many decades for the benefit of U.S. capitalists. That is why polls show that 70% of Mexicans support the president’s proposals.
This is also why, Transición explains, LCI activists are fighting for the unity of workers’ and people’s organizations in mass mobilizations to secure the renationalization of the energy sector. Such a mobilization would inevitably pose the need to reverse all previous privatizations and break with the USMCA treaty and all other forms of subordination to U.S. imperialism.
In this framework and with the demands, Mexican workers will be able to support independently López Obrador’s constitutional reform, the first step toward the renationalization of the entire energy sector.
* * * * * * * * * *
Big Business Denounces López Obrador’s Energy Reform Plan
On October 1, Reuters ran a lead article titled, “Mexico launches reform to put state in charge of power market.” The authors write:
“Mexico’s leftist government on Friday pitched a constitutional reform to boost state control of the electricity market, in a move to reverse business-friendly energy legislation enacted by the previous administration.
“The reform announced by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador foresees giving the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) over half of the power market and putting it in charge of setting terms for private generators.
“‘We are trying to compensate for the damage caused by the so-called energy reform,’ López Obrador told a news conference, referring to the previous administration’s 2013-14 opening of the energy market to private capital.”
López Obrador’s ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) and its allies lack the two-thirds majority in Congress required to pass constitutional changes, and some analysts are skeptical that he can achieve it.
Mexico’s main business lobby said approval of the reform would “mark a point of no return, generating irreversible damage to the rule of law, and to the competitiveness of the country.”
Reactions in the United States
The Business Coordinating Council in the United States issued a statement affirming that, “The imposition of this reform violates the international treaties of which Mexico is part.”
The American Petroleum Institute, a top U.S. oil lobby, stated that “López Obrador’s new energy policy would undermine investor confidence and violate Mexico’s trade commitments.”
In a public letter to the Biden administration, the API wrote: “The Mexican president’s energy reform would hinder new private investment in the energy sector as well as destroy the value of already operating private assets in violation of Mexico’s commitments under the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).” (Wall Street Journal, October 4, 2021)
According to Reuters (October 6):
“López Obrador, who took office in 2018, has staked his reputation on reviving highly indebted oil company Petroleos Mexicanos and power utility Comision Federal de Electricidad.
“The energy nationalist has often said that his predecessors “deliberately destroyed” the state energy companies to leave the market in the hands of foreigners.
“‘López Obrador’s changes to energy laws likely contravene Mexico’s commitments to nondiscriminatory treatment and investment,’ the American Petroleum Institute stated in the letter signed by API President Michael Sommers.
The API letter concluded with a call for a special meeting of the Mexican and U.S. trade representatives to ensure that this proposed energy reform bill is not approved by the Mexican Congress. — Alan Benjamin
* * * * * * * * *
The USMCA “Free Trade” Agreement and Mexico’s Environment
In previous issues of The Organizer, we have reported on the massive destruction of Mexico’s environment caused by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its successor, the United States-Mexico-Canada Treaty (USMCA). One of the examples that we highlighted was the case of Constellation Brands, the U.S.-owned brewery that produces the Modelo and Corona beers.
A few years ago, Constellation Brands began the construction of a gigantic brewery in Mexicali, Mexico (on the U.S. border) in violation of Mexico’s federal laws, as such a plant would severely deplete the region’s water table – with 53 million gallons of water each year re-directed to beer production for the U.S. market — thereby doing untold harm to the 1 million-plus people living in drought-ridden Mexicali and surroundings, not to mention their crops and their environment.
Constellation Brands, with the complicity of the right-wing government of the state of Baja California, ignored the pleas from the local activists and civic leaders to shut down construction of the brewery. Activists gathered the requisite number of signatures to place an official referendum on the Mexicali ballot: Should Constellation Brands remain in Mexicali or should it leave? In March 2020, the overwhelming majority voted that Constellation Brands should stop the construction of the plant and leave Mexicali immediately.
When, in the aftermath of the referendum, the federal government under López Obrador stated that it would not grant a water-supply permit to the nearly completed $1.4 billion brewery, an agreement was reached that Constellation Brands would dismantle its Mexicali pant and move it to southeastern Mexico, where water is plentiful.
But the company has continued building its Mexicali plant, hoping that the tribunal set up under the USMCA — a “free trade” treaty that López Obrador supported enthusiastically — will force the Mexican government to renew the company’s water-supply permit and authorize the completion of the brewery. Activists also have speculated that Constellation Brands may be waiting till 2024, when López Obrador leaves office and a new, more corporate-friendly government takes office. — A.B.
* * * * *
Forging the Fight for an Independent Workers Party in Mexico
By Juan Carlos Vargas
The Organization of Workers and People (OPT) emerged 10 years ago in response to the call by the Mexican Electrical Workers union (SME) to build an independent national working-class political organization. It managed to bring together hundreds of activists throughout the country, with a program to rescue Mexico’s sovereignty from the claws of U.S. imperialism and to defend social and labor rights.
Unfortunately, the OPT’s initial momentum was stifled and its message diluted by the figure of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and the emergence of MORENA, the political movement that arose in support of AMLO. At present, there are few active OPT chapters throughout the country.
It was in 2013 that the campaign for the electoral registration of both organizations (the OPT and MORENA) coincided. For thousands of political and community activists, the possibility of stopping “neoliberal” policies and removing the PRI and the PAN from the government was more achievable with the electoral strength and draw of López Obrador, so they opted to support MORENA, relegating the task of building an independent working-class party till another time.
During these past eight years, the social resistance and aspiration for change among working people and the oppressed were channeled in the electoral arena by MORENA, which renewed and reinforced once again the bourgeois-nationalist current that had previously been represented by the PRD and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas in the 1980s.
AMLO’s triumph in 2018 was seen by broad sectors of the working class as their own victory. Millions of workers, with their vote, gave a mandate to AMLO to break with the policies of subjugation of the Mexican nation to U.S. imperialism. But after three years of AMLO’s administration, these expectations have been frustrated, given the continuity, for the most part, of the same-old policies by AMLO and his cabinet.
In this new situation, the discussion about the need to create an independent working-class political instrument has resurfaced with full force, including the discussion about the need to promote a working-class political alternative in the presidential elections of 2024. This is a topic that has been expressed in various forums in the social and trade union movements, especially in the forums organized by the New Workers Central (NCT, the union federation launched by the SME).
During the last two meetings of the National Political Council of the NCT, union leaders and activists spoke up in favor of proposing a campaign to build an independent workers’ party.
Specifically, the possibility of seeking the OPT’s electoral registration next year was raised, as was the need to reactivate the OPT.
It is in this overall context that many militant activists who have participated in the OPT decided to launch a broad call for the building of a Workers Party. Their call [see below] was issued at a national meeting last November 20, where it was decided to form the Movement for an Independent Workers Party (MPOI).
The MPOI seeks to be a space for dialogue and common action with labor and community leaders and activists – a space that is not limited to those who 10 years ago proposed this task through the OPT. Today, the MPOI seeks to attract other sectors of workers and community activists anxious to wage the fight to wrest political power from the Mexican ruling class and its U.S. sponsors – which was the original intent of the call of the SME when it created the OPT.
* * * * * * * * * * *
For a Party of the Working Class and All the Oppressed, For National Emancipation and Socialism!
(excerpts from Nov. 20 Manifesto of the Movement for an Independent Workers Party)
We, the undersigned labor and community activists gathered on November 20, 2021 in the first national meeting for an independent workers’ party, address ourselves to the Mexican working class, women, youth, and indigenous communities. We call on one and all to join the initiative to build a party of the working class of the city and countryside. We call for:
– A political organization to promote joint action,
– A tool to achieve the satisfaction of our demands,
– A regroupment for class solidarity,
– A party for the struggle for our historic project, a socialist society.
Our aspiration is to build, in the medium term, a political organization that will serve as an instrument for the workers and all the oppressed.
It is necessary that we organize ourselves independently to fight for our rights — against exploitation, injustice, and plunder. Only in this manner will we be able to offer a way out of the crisis of the capitalist system, a crisis that is expressed in the loss of rights, the plundering of natural resources, the destruction of the environment, violence and decomposition — a crisis that is dragging humanity toward barbarism.
The working class internationally is experiencing the results of the crisis of the capitalist system. The capitalist powers seek by all means to impose their interests and place the burden of the survival of this system on the shoulders of the workers and the oppressed peoples and nations. The pandemic derived from the appearance of COVID-19 has come to aggravate an economic crisis that had been brewing since at least 2018. …
The phenomenon of mass migration has been unleashed globally. Millions of people have fled their nations in search of a better future due to the lack of alternatives in their places of origin, devastated by low wages, the plundering of natural resources, corruption, war and violence.
In the midst of this chaos, there is also the ecological crisis, which threatens to unleash natural disasters never seen before: extreme flooding, hurricanes, droughts… that call into question the very existence of humankind. …
In Mexico, national sovereignty and social rights were handed over to foreigners by the PRI and PAN governments, which through corruption and outright theft, privatized hundreds of public enterprises built with the taxes of the Mexican people, among them the railroads, banks, telephone, ports, airports, highways … together with the subsequent planned deterioration of the services that are still public (health, education).
Mining, oil and electricity concessions were granted, and today foreign companies control more than 50% of the national territory.
Cheap labor was offered to the transnational corporations. Wages have lost their purchasing power for decades. The violation of labor rights is a constant that has led to the precariousness and informality of the majority of the Mexican proletariat.
The organized working class has been subjugated by charro [bureaucratic] leaders, who are but mafias and traitors who have enriched themselves, allied with governments and transnational corporations.
The militarization and violence of organized crime have become generalized throughout the territory, with its consequent social decomposition and violence that have led to the forced migration of hundreds of thousands to the United States and the death of thousands more.
To ensure the continuity of these policies, the Mexican Constitution was “reformed” to legalize looting. Agreements were signed such as the USMCA and the Merida Plan….
It is in this context that, in 2018, millions of Mexicans decided to vote for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, using his candidacy to try to put a stop to these policies and remove the PRI and PAN mafia from power.
AMLO’s Bonapartist government
López Obrador channeled the population’s profound discontent and desire for change, in opposition to so-called neoliberalism. For millions of Mexicans, the vote for AMLO represented the need to reverse all the privatization reforms, to reclaim Mexico’s sovereignty over its resources, and to remove all the corrupt politicians from political office.
Three years later, AMLO’s government has fallen way short of expectations. He has made only partial progress in some of the things he promised in his campaign. He has implemented a series of social programs that are mere palliatives. The fight against corruption has not touched the big politicians or officials. He has maintained the militarization of the country and has agreed with the U.S. government to implement the USMCA and the Migratory Pact.
He has not carried out the great transformations that were expected. Having the overwhelming majority in both chambers of Congress for three years, he missed the opportunity to positively reform the constitution and repeal all the laws inherited from the neoliberals.
To a great extent, all these failures are due to the fact that López Obrador and MORENA refuse to break with the old regime, preferring to negotiate with the business elites and continue giving artificial life to parties such as PAN, PRI, Verde, PRD, PES … and politicians from these parties who have switched to MORENA.
López Obrador has refused to mobilize his social and electoral base, fearing that the masses will overtake his government and its officials from the left. His party, with a few exceptions, has denied ballot spots to real social fighters, giving them instead to the characters of the old regime, who are hated by the workers.
These actions have provoked a divorce between the organized social movements and the AMLO government, which has refused to provide solutions to the workers’ and people’s demands. In the best of cases, the government only offers an endless dialogue that does not attain any results; in the worst of cases, its officials act as in the old times, criminalizing and repressing the social protest movements and strikes, such as occurred with the repression of the women’s demonstrations, the university strikes, and the SUTNOTIMEX strike.
AMLO still enjoys popular support. The situation is contradictory because the workers do not perceive any better alternative at this time.
That is why we need a workers’ party; we need a workers’ party to fight imperialism and the reactionary forces.
Meanwhile, the right wing is strengthening itself and trying to capitalize on the contradictions of the AMLO government. Extreme right-wing groups like FRENA, or parties like the PES, which are the advance guard of fascism in our country, have arisen. In the name of the struggle against abortion, these forces have taken to the streets by the thousands, raising their Cristeros, anti-rights, anti-communist banners. We must put a stop to them!
The limits of AMLO’s bourgeois-nationalist program are becoming more evident to broad sectors of the exploited and oppressed. The experience of 30 years of PRD and nine years of MORENA have shown that under the leadership of bourgeois-nationalist forces there can be no big changes that benefit the working class, that we cannot expect politicians to meet our demands from above.
The experience after three years of government of this bourgeois current is that the working class needs its own political instrument to impose its interests and mobilize the whole of the oppressed and exploited population.
The basic principles of the party we want to build, which we put forward to discussion, include the following:
- Political Independence, independence with respect to the bosses, the authorities and the State, without submitting to the bourgeois parties, without making commitments that compromise the independence of the working class. Presenting itself as a politically distinct force, but with the pledge to promote of united mobilization.
- Financial independence, an organization that is self-financing with the dues and contributions of its militants and sympathizers, that rejects patronage, that does not accept State subsidies that corrupt the organizations, nor the financing of NGOs or churches. Political independence can only be guaranteed by economic independence.
- Consistent defense of the interests of the working class, the popular and exploited sectors, putting above any consideration, political calculation or conjuncture the interests of the working class as a whole.
- Unity in action, to strive for the unity of the working class, in its demands, in its mobilizations, putting into practice concrete solidarity.
- Internationalism, in support of the struggles of the workers of the whole world, of the oppressed nations and of the exploited in general.
- Internal party democracy as the fundamental axis of the struggle of the working class.
- Internal democracy as a fundamental axis: decisions should be taken through collective discussion, seeking consensus and by majority vote. The leadership should obey the rank and file and lead by obeying.
The militants must always be guided by respect for these principles and ethical values.
We want to initiate a process of dialogue and discussion of the program needed by the working class and the people of Mexico. It would serve no purpose to proclaim today or in the coming months a party with a bombastic name if it is not supported by a network of activists and leaders who act and are rooted in the class struggle.
We want to initiate a process in which we know our struggles, act in common and show solidarity with the struggles in Mexico and the world.
We believe that as first common tasks we can:
- advance in the struggle for the renationalization of what has been privatized, particularly by launching a campaign of critical support for President AMLO’s energy initiative which, although insufficient for us, is a point of support, to dialogue with thousands of workers ready to fight.
- Participate in the Open World Conference of Paris 2022, promoted by the International Workers’ Committee.