World Perspectives 2016: Chapter IV.5. Counterrevolutionary Offensive: The Bankruptcy of Bourgeois Populism and the Right-Wing Shift in Latin America

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91.          During the past decade, Latin America has been dominated by bourgeois “progressive” and populist government like Rousseff in Brazil, Chavez / Maduro in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador, and Kirchner in Argentina. Against the backdrop of popular mass mobilizations, an economic upswing caused by rising commodity prices for raw materials exports, as well as the rise of China as a new great power rivaling US imperialism – which traditionally dominated Latin America – these governments were able to make some concessions to the working class and poor and to withstand the pressure of US imperialism and the IMF. However, the recession in Latin America, the fall in export commodity prices – in particular for oil and soya – (see Figure 49) and the economic downturn in imperialist China have reduced the room for maneuvering for these “progressive” bourgeois governments. Their launching of austerity attacks against the popular masses has accelerated the political exhaustion of Kirchnerism, Bolivarism and Castro-Chavism and weakened their popular support. To this we should add that the two main imperialist rival – the US and China – are competing for spheres of influence in the region and support different local clients for this.


Figure 49. Price Indices of Selected Groups of Commodities, August 2013–September 2015 [1]


92.          Brazil – the largest country in South America, encompassing around half of the continent’s population – is currently facing an offensive of right-wing forces to overthrow the popular government of Dilma Rousseff. They have organized several reactionary mass demonstrations against which the trade union federation CUT and other mass organizations close to Rousseff’s PT have also organized demonstrations by the masses. While some smaller semi-fascist forces openly call the military to overthrow the government, the majority of the right-wing forces prefer an impeachment process. The RCIT section in Brazil clearly opposes the reactionary offensive of the right-wing, pro-US forces and defends the popular front government against any attempt of the bourgeoisie to overthrow it. We denounce the “Trotskyist” forces (like the Morenoite PSTU/LIT and the UIT) who openly or clandestinely lend support to these right-wing protests. At the same time, the RCIT calls workers to fight against the austerity plans of Rousseff’s government and to prepare politically for the working class struggle to replace this popular front government by an authentic workers’ government. [2]


93.          In Argentina, the right-wing camp succeeded in defeating the Kirchner forces in the recent presidential elections held in late November 2015. The new pro-US President Macri is determined to launch an austerity offensive; he has already massively devalued the peso, and demonstrated that he is willing to rule via anti-democratic methods (e.g., appointing by decree new judges to the Supreme Court when the Senate is not in session, arresting the Kirchnerist popular leader Milagro Salas, sacking the renowned radio host Víctor Hugo Morales from his position, etc.). He may be forced to rule via Bonapartist means, seeing that he faces mass popular opposition, that he only narrowly won the elections, and that his Cambiemos alliance does not possess a majority in the parliament. Here, too, the right-wing forces profited from the exhaustion of the Kirchernist-populist project which was a bourgeois government and not a “popular” government. As the RCIT pointed out in a recent statement regarding Argentina, in the current situation revolutionaries are right to mobilize for a broad united front against Macri and his looming austerity offensive. Such a call for a united front should be directed to all mass organizations including the Peronist trade unions, the Kirchernist mass organizations, as well as the centrist FIT alliance, etc. At the same time it is crucial to arm the workers’ vanguard with the necessary lessons of the failure of Peronist populism, apolitical syndicalism, and centrist opportunism as well as to help the workers’ vanguard in the struggle for an independent mass workers’ party based on a revolutionary program. [3]


94.          In Venezuela, the right-wing forces around the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) alliance are also on the offensive. The Chavista government under President Maduro has suffered tremendously from the collapse of the price of oil in the world market. The position of Venezuela as a major oil producer and exporter together with the commodity’s previously high prices enabled the Chavista government to strengthen its rule during the past 17 years, allowing it to finance social programs while at the same time building an alliance with sectors of the national bourgeoisie. [4] However with the collapse of the price of oil and the ongoing recession, these circumstances have now changed dramatically. We note in passing that this development confirms once more Trotsky’s program of permanent revolution: socialism cannot be built in one country, given its dependence on the world market – which is even truer for a relatively poor semi-colonial country. The strategic goal must not be to come to a compromise with the national bourgeoisie, but to expropriate it, to build a workers’ republic and to strive for the internationalization of the revolution to all of Latin America and beyond.


95.          At the recent parliamentary elections in Venezuela, MUD got 52% of the votes against 48% for the Chavista PSUV. Given the electoral constitution, introduced by the Chavistas themselves, this enabled the conservative forces to get nearly a 2/3 majority in parliament which would enable them to impeach President Maduro. The PSUV government only managed to stop MUD by ruling out the validity of the election of three MUD deputies. At the same time, the army command has emphasized its loyalty to Maduro. In addition, Maduro announced a reshuffle of his government, i.e., reaching out for even further compromises with the bourgeoisie. In contrast to such right-wing reformism, revolutionaries in Venezuela should call upon the masses of workers and popular organizations, the trade unions, the Bolivarian organizations of the urban poor, the PCV, etc., to mobilize against the right-wing threat and to arm of the masses. At the same time, revolutionaries should call for political independence of the workers’ organizations from the Maduro government and oppose all austerity attacks – whether they be launched by the MUD-dominated parliament or by the Maduro government. Most importantly, revolutionaries should explain to the workers’ vanguard the necessity to break with the bourgeois-populist PSUV and to build an independent mass workers’ party based on a revolutionary program.


96.          Mexico has witnessed several important workers’ and popular struggles in the recent years. Most importantly has been the mass movement in solidarity with the 43 students who were abducted and murdered by the criminal alliance of politicians and drug gangs in the Ayotzinapa in September 2014. This incident was just one example, albeit a particularly brutal and shocking one, of many such corrupt alliances which demonstrate the reactionary nature of the capitalist state. The RCIT is in solidarity with revolutionaries in Mexico fighting to transform such movements into a national political movement against the reactionary PRI government. Likewise, we support the call for the formation of workers’ and popular militias in order to defend the masses against the terror of the drug gangs as well as against the police and army. As in other Latin American countries, it is crucial to break workers and youth away from all forms of bourgeois populism like the PRD and AMLO’s recently founded party Morena. Naturally, this should not prevent revolutionaries from deploying the united front tactic to such mass organizations, but the strategic goal must be the formation of an independent mass workers’ party based on a revolutionary program.


[1] United Nations: World Economic Situation and Prospects 2016, New York, 2016, p. 15

[2] See e.g. CCR: Brazil: No to Impeachment! No to the Call for New Elections! All workers and oppressed: Out into the streets of Brazil to fight against the threat of a coup! The anti-coup struggle should be in conjunction with the class struggle against the austerity attacks of the government! 6.12.2015,

[3] RCIT: Argentina: Prepare for Workers’ and Popular Mass Resistance against the New Macri Administration!

For a United Front of all Workers and Popular Organizations against the New Austerity Offensive and the Macri Administration! For a Break with the Policy of Class Collaboration of Kirchnerism! For an Independent Mass Workers’ Party! 19.12.2015,

[4] For the RCIT’s assessment of the situation in Venezuela and the policy of the Chavista see e.g. Venezuela: Only the Working Class under the Leadership of a Leninist Combat Party can achieve a Revolutionary Socialist Solution of the Crisis! Only the Working Class Struggle can inflict a lasting Defeat to the Right-Wing Provocateurs! Only the Working Class Struggle can defend us against the new Attacks of the Bolibourgeoisie, the Maduro Government and the bourgeoisie of FEDECÁMARAS and Imperialism! Joint Statement of Corriente Socialista Revolucionaria – El Topo Obrero (Venezuela) and the RCIT, 16.3.2014,; RCIT: Venezuela: For Independent Working Class Mobilizations against the Semi-Fascist Provocateurs! No political support for the Maduro government! For a new workers’ party based on a revolutionary program! 20.2.2014,; RCIT: Action Program for Venezuela,; Michael Pröbsting: On the outcome of the presidential elections in Venezuela, 8.10.2012,; RCIT: Presidential elections in Venezuela: There is no alternative for the workers on the ballot paper! Neither Hugo Chavez nor Orlando Chirino should be supported by the workers! For a new workers party on a revolutionary program! 3.10.2012,