The PTS Closed 2014 with an Enormous Militant Force
Under a stifling sun, more than 6000 thousand people from different parts of the country took part in the PTS’ annual meeting at the stadium Malvinas de Argentino Juniors. The speakers gave an overview of the main political events witnessed during 2014. The stadium was filled around 6 PM and hundreds of signs were lifted up into the air while people chanted, “They took them alive! We want them back alive.” The signs showed the faces of the Mexican students that were kidnapped. Afterwards, the greetings: “welcome to the PTS’ national meeting,” and from the audience another chant broke out: “Victory to our struggle! Power to the workers!”
At the end of the meeting, the national deputy and presidential pre-candidate at the Leftist Front, Nicolas Del Caño, posed the need to strengthen the Left “against the bosses, their political cast, and the Union’s bureaucracy.” He expressed that “under the consensus of the Right, we need to strengthen the Left,” mentioning the main candidates for the presidency, such as Daniel Scioli, Sergio Massa, and Mauricio Macri. Del Caño declared that “the Leftist Workers Front (Frente de Izquirda de los trabajadores, or FIT) is unbreakable. The FIT is the only national political coalition that represents the workers’ political independence against the capitalist parties, with its own program.” Regarding the presidential candidacy position for the FIT, the deputy stated, “with my candidacy we want to express what we saw last year in the province of Mendoza, where thousands of young workers and women had been reached and were moved by our campaign and that is why they gave us their support. My candidacy signifies the fusion between the workers, the youth and the women with the left, without that, the left has no future.”
"From the World’s most Famous Factory under Worker Control”
The meeting was opened by Claudio Dellecarbonara, subway worker delegate and leader of the PTS, who introduced the first speaker, Raúl Godoy. Raúl Godoy, historic leader of the PTS and the Factory Zanon under worker control, gave the first speech. Godoy stated that “the crisis rests on the backs of the working class. We have denounced the delivery of natural resources to Chevron and confronted the state in the streets with workers, students, and the Mapuche community. At the National Congress, the comrade Nicholas Del Caño introduced a project to nationalize all the hydrocarbon resources under workers’ control. This is a program to advance our class struggle. That is why we also fight to recover the unions and to raise a political alternative that represents the workers.” Godoy summoned the workers to build a revolutionary worker party.” The audience effusively responded with the chant, “Everybody will see the working class in power.”
Sugar Workers from North Argentina
Alejandro Vilca, from Jujuy Province, joined the scene accompanied by a delegation of garbage collectors from the SEOM (Jujuy), Silvio Choper Eguez from the sugar mill La Esperanza, leaders of the Lista Roja (Red List) from trade workers, delegates from the Steel Company Zapla, Natalia Morales, state workers of the Lista Marrón (Brown List) and delegates of the sugar mill from the Provinces of Tucuman and San Juan.
Alejandro Vilca stated, “These politicians governed for the businessmen and landowners. In our provinces the trafficking of women is covered up by the state and the police, where protests are condemned, and where the justice system supports those who dispossess aboriginal people. A proscriptive law has inhibited Leftist deputies in the province of Jujuy. Also in north Argentina, the Left has to be a political alternative, not just an electoral force but a militant force, expressing the will of hundreds of thousands of workers in the factories and in the schools, to show that we are capable of doing politics, to end the capitalist Argentina, and turn the world upside down. With the mobilization it is necessary to impose a government of the workers."
Silvio Choper Eguez, delegate of the union at the sugar mill La Esperanza, said “it is great that we, workers, get together to discuss politics and to defend the working class. We summoned you all to raise the flag of the working class.”
The Stadium Vibrated with Support for Lear and Donnelley
A large delegation of Lear workers fighting for reinstatement took the stage. The delegate Rubén Matu stated that this conflict "was the most important conflict of the year and that employer noted that we are not going to be so easily dismissed from our jobs, especially where there are delegates of the Left.” Matu announced a new national day of workers struggle next week, which will include events at the Panamericana highway. In one of the most moving moments of the gathering, Lear workers paid homage to Elia Espen, Mother of Plaza de Mayo, for her support of this emblematic struggle.
Members of the Women’s Commission of Donnelley spoke to greet the audience and talked about their experiences both in the fight with their comrades and for women’s rights. Afterwards, Eduardo Ayala, PTS’s militant and Donnelly’s worker, who began organizing the factory a decade ago, along with dozens of MadyGraf workers, spoke.
Ayala invited Raul Godoy to the stage, where they exchanged their working shirts. The whole stadium chant, "here they are, they are the workers without bosses.” Ayala resumed his speech, saying, "We must transform our factory into a trench, organize all the workers’ vanguard, alongside with our Kraft, PepsiCo, and the Interfabril’s fellows. From this vanguard we want to organize the thousands of workers in the industry, such as Ford and VW. That’s the challenge; we cannot stay inside the factory.”
Delegations of more than eighty unions were present with their flags, such as: Kraft and PepsiCo’s workers, along with a large delegation of the opposition of the union from food, aeronautical, telephone, and subway workers led by Claudio Dellecarbonara. Also, workers from Water Sodas, teachers, metallurgical workers, garbage collectors, sugar mill workers, and potters, among others joined the delegations.
In this PTS national meeting, it is important to highlight the presence of Patricia Walsh, Espen Elia (mother of Plaza de Mayo); Enrique "Cachito" Fukman, ex detainee-disappeared from ESMA; the parents of Franco Casco, killed by a cop in Rosario; Norma Rios, president of the APDH (Rosario); María del Carmen Verdú of Correpi; María Laura Bretal, former detainee-disappeared from La Plata; Alfonso Lobo, CTA leader in Santa Cruz, a member of the Committee for the Freedom of ATE’s prisoners; attorney Daniel Stragá Raul "Coco" Luna, former personal secretary of Agustín Tosco; Herman Schiller, journalist; and Jose Castillo and Pablo Almeyda on behalf of the Socialist Left.
The Young Militants
Cecilia Mancuso, leader of the Youth of the PTS and Policy Advisor from the University of Social Sciences (UBA), came up to the stage with a delegation headed by different leaders of the youth that composes the PTS, students and young workers from around the country.
"In recent years,” she said, “young people have become the protagonists of political phenomena and of enormous struggles around the world. A new generation has arisen at Tahrir Square in Egypt, infecting the rest of the Arab countries and the world. Today, the French students are seeking justice for Remi Fraise, killed by the police, and some face state persecution, such as our comrade Gaetan (youth of CCR in the NPA). It is the youth who led the Indignados movement in Spain and the Occupy Movements in the United States. Today, young black men and women in Ferguson fight against racial violence. In Chile, Brazil and Mexico thousands have arisen in the recent protests that have shaken Mexico, shedding light on the atrocities committed there. In Argentina, the type of youth that will be forged in the coming years is disputed: many young people who saw an alternative with Kirchnerism, begin to see that the so called “won decade” was truly won by the big business and multinationals, not by the youth.
"If they Touch One, We Organize Thousands"
This year, at the national Women’s Meeting in Salta, over a thousand comrades from the PTS and Bread and Roses (Pan y Rosas) from around the country fought for the right to abortion, against femicide and violence against women, and denounced the governmental pact with the Vatican. Before Andrea D’Atri spoke, Maxima and Valeria spoke in defense of transgender people’s rights and the violence of the capitalist and patriarchal society.
D’Atri took the stage and greeted the delegation of women workers from Lear, Donnelley, subway workers and health care workers, and dozens of other workplaces. D’Atri said, "with them and many of you we have shared a fight for our rights this year against the pact between the government and the Vatican that gave birth to the new Civil Code, which is a new obstacle in our fight for abortion rights. It is enough for the church and the state to impose upon our lives. We demand the separation of church and state. We also accompanied Nicolás del Caño who denounced the refusal to attend to abortion rights in Congress. "If they touch one, we organize thousands," continued D’Atri against femicide, denouncing the state’s role in violence against women, deaths from illegal abortions, and job insecurity faced by millions of women.
Myriam Bregman, "Berni lost this fight"
Welcomed by an enthusiastic audience, the PTS’s lawyer, Myriam Bregman, deputy elect and candidate to head of city’s government, gave her speech. She was accompanied by the lawyers form Center for Human Rights and representatives of families fighting trigger-happy cops in the cities of Córdoba, Rosario, Tucumán, and Buenos Aires.
Bregman said, "we searched for all the tools that allow us to advance the struggle and to take action, like blocking highways, which is a completely legitimate action. This year the national government, with Berni at its command, untied the most persistent and extensive repression of recent years. It looked impressive, but we won in the street, we won the struggle at the Panamericana, by freely gathering. Surely, they will warn us of upcoming repressions–for sure, comrades–but Berni lost this fight. Comrades, the same judge who ordered the crackdown, ordered the police to bring down my colleague Maria Victoria Moyano with the sticks and teargas; the same judge who ordered the Gendarmerie to send more than 70 protesters to the hospital; the same judge that order the detention of more than 20 people; this same judge was forced to order the Gendarmerie to be removed. This victory was the product of the fight and the persistence of the workers and the PTS.”
“To Break Down the Capitalist Power, Let’s Build a Strong Militant Force”
Along with Christian Castillo (Buenos Aires Legislator from PTS-FIT), workers from Shell, Calsa, Honda, Suteba recovered, from the food industry, shipyards, and other workplaces came up to the stage.
Castillo declared that "those of us present here are part of a great historical tradition that, as it is summarized in Marx, "the liberation of the workers is the task of the workers themselves." Our class has been forged in great revolutionary milestones, such as the barricades of Paris in June of 1848, where the working class learned that its social liberation would not be fighting alongside the bourgeoisie but against it, where the "dictatorship of the proletariat" came to life during five days of bloody and fiery struggle against the repressive forces of the republican bourgeoisie and the whole Order.
Our class is the one that feeds on the struggles and the lessons of the Paris Commune of March 1871, where during seventy-three days the Parisian workers "took heaven by assault" before being drowned in blood in a slaughter that took thirty thousand of the best children of the working class, including women and children, who fought to the end. This tradition is continued into the twentieth century by the Russian Revolution, when 1917 became the first time that workers and peasants, under the leadership of Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolshevik Party, managed to power an entire state, and managed to resist the invasion of 14 imperialist armies. This is a tradition also forged in large expropriated revolutions, like the German revolution of 1918 or the Bolivian revolution of 1952, where the working class with the miners at the head defeated the army and formed militias but instead of taking power, delivered it to the nationalist bourgeois embodied in the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement. Our class comes from a tradition forged in the industrial belts of the Chilean revolution, a tradition of struggle to which our working class has also contributed its own, with the general strike of January 1919 violently suppressed during the Tragic Week, the great construction strike of 1936, the resistance to the "fusiladora," Rojas, Aramburu and the gorillas, the Cordobazo, the Rosariazos, Tucumanazos or the days of June and July 1975 against the Rodrigo Plan of the government of Isabel and Lopez Rega, during the rise of the ’70s. (...)
“We are revolutionaries,” he added, “because we are realistic, because we know that only by mobilizing and organizing hundreds of thousands and millions we will be able to seize power from the bourgeoisie. In the twentieth century, we saw revolutions, starting with the Russian Revolution, where workers and peasants overthrew the power of the landlords and capitalists and began the building of socialism. However, we also saw that if these revolutions bureaucratized and abandoned the perspective of the struggle for the international socialist revolution, the achievements of the great revolutions begin to loosen and bureaucracies sought to transform themselves into capitalists, allowing the survival of imperialism.
For this reason, the tradition we advocate is also the ceaseless struggle against the emerging bureaucracies from the working class itself, which have been and are still essential to maintaining capitalist domination and imperialism. We have witnessed bureaucracies that control the unions and act like real cops in factories, serving the employers, as we recently saw the SMATA in LEAR and Gestamp. Or as the bureaucracy that seized power in the Soviet Union with Stalin at its head and it was confronted in theory and practice by Leon Trotsky, giving his own life and the lives of his comrades in struggle ". (...)
He continued, "We are enthusiastic proponents of the Workers’ Left Front, knowing that it is a great achievement that has allowed us to come together against the candidates of employers and to achieve the trust of 1,200,000 peers who voted for the Socialist Left in our country. But, comrades, we know that tomorrow those votes can be gone and that the only strategy to break the power of the capitalists and to defeat imperialism it is to build the presence of a militant force in factories, workplaces, schools and universities. We have to add to the strength of tens of thousands of activists to mobilize hundreds of thousands and break the repressive apparatus of the bourgeoisie and achieve political power for the working class "(...).