|Written by IWL-FI|
|Monday, 23 July 2012 21:07|
On the 22 June, the reactionary coup d´etat boosted by Paraguayan traditional right that pulled down Fernando Lugo by means of an express impeachment put up by the Parliament is part of a rich political process that submits fundamental lessons to world social movement and world left.
It is necessary to know, study and accompany this process, with all its central features, contradictions and tides and ebbs. In these few paragraphs we shall limit ourselves to answer just a few questions that haunt the social fighters: Why was there a coup against Lugo? Did the reactionary right topple Lugo because he was a left-wing president or, at least “progressive”? Why right now’ What should the revolutionary socialists’ reaction be? What are the urgent tasks for the social struggle that emerge from this new political situation in Paraguay and within the international scope?
First things first. Our standpoint is clear and categorical: we are absolutely against the coup and we call on the mass movement in Paraguay and the entire Latin America to confront it and defeat it in the streets, with their independent organisations and mobilisation.
This coup is against the trade unions, peasants, popular and students’ movement. It is a direct attack against democratic freedom achieved throughout decades of popular struggles. We are against this coup because we believe that it is the people and only the people who decides if a president should stay or go. The action of this corrupt Paraguayan Parliament is not the outcome of people’s pressure, such as was the case of the process that ousted Collor de Melo in Brazil; it responds to mean interests of the great capitalists in that country. This coup goes against the most basic interests that a people may have: choose those who will govern them.
And yet, this head-on opposition against the coup does not mean any political support to everything that the outgoing Lugo administration did and, as we shall explain below, he did all he cold to prepare the ground for the coup by applying his policy of class conciliation.
The worst of all defeats
Today’s situation is complicated. We are in worse political situation for a struggle. Franco began by saying that his main task is to “avoid a civil war” in the country. Certainly, if struggles increase, repression will become deeper and so will the criminalization of social struggles within the framework of a more jammed political regime.
This coup, as any other right-wing coup, represents a defeat of mass movement. And this one is not just any defeat. We have suffered, as Trotsky used to call it: the worst of all struggles; a defeat without a struggle.
And there has been no struggle or popular resistance to match the coup, because the Lugo administration, in his almost four years in the office has achieved his central target: to confuse, to demobilize and demoralize the social movement.
Why the coup?
The main reason for the coup is that Lugo was no longer useful for the Paraguayan bourgeoisie, unable to contain social struggles, fundamentally the historic struggle for land.
Because Lugo had not fulfilled any of his promises, he was politically quite eroded by now and unable to diverge or defeat the conflicts in the countryside as efficiently as at the beginning of his term.
Even though there is no great ascent of peasants’ and social struggles, in the last period, highly worrying symptoms for the Paraguayan bourgeoisie.
Sectors of the landless movement, even if still a minority, have started getting more radicalized and began to overcome their Lugoist leaderships. Last 15th June, this was the case of the group of Curuguaty, where the confrontation took place and 11 peasants as well as 7 policemen were killed. The slogan of this landless sector was “die killing”.
A situation of instability was beginning to take shape that irked the bourgeoisie.
It is now necessary to understand that the problem of the land is a central political problem in Paraguay.
Business related to land is fundamental for the capitalist accumulation in the country. The sector of the large landowners connected to agribusiness controlled by imperialist multinationals constitutes the main sector of Paraguayan bourgeoisie. Within this framework, accruing land occupations were inadmissible. And let alone for groups of landless peasants should be growing. Let alone groups of landless peasants wandering about killing policemen. And that in a situation of economic crisis to boot. According to CEPAL forecasts, Paraguay was the only country in Latin America whose economy was in 2012; the contraction was estimated at 1.5% of the GDP during the first trimester of the 2012, the economy of the country fell 2.6%.
The entire ruling class desires stability to do business . This is the fundamental criterion as far as the rich are concerned when their support for a determined government is to be defined. That is why it is necessary to bear in mind that the Lugo administration was an abnormal bourgeois government. Its abnormality in the shape, not in the contents stems out of the fact that he incorporated opportunist sectors of the social movement and the left into his cabinet, apart from the fact that he was regarded by sectors of the mass movement as “our government”.
However, and in spite of all Lugo’s efforts to gain confidence from the bourgeoisie, the latter never gave up their role of right opposition to his administration and remains watchful to see the right moment and the right manner to recover the direct control over the state apparatus by means of a new, “normal” or classical bourgeois government.
Lugo was evicted because he challenged the right?
Most of the Paraguayan and Latin American left say that the cause of the coup was that Lugo was challenging the privileges of the rich and of imperialism. They say that the right drove Lugo out of the office because he was boosting land reform against the landowners’ property and even that he supported the struggle of the landless peasants.
In the same way, the remaining governments, allegedly “progressive”, bourgeois nationalists or of class conciliation, “expose” the anti-Lugo coup and so wave the banner of a supposed peril of “right coups” against them and so deepen the support they already receive from mass movements or, at least, to weaken the sectors that struggle against their plans. At present, we can see this much more clearly in the addresses delivered by Evo Morales to rein in the social struggle against his government.
We, the revolutionary socialists, must be the best fighters against the coup; we must be the champions in the resistance against the coup-maker Federico Franco. But at the same time we must be patient to explain that it has been Fernando Lugo himself who prepared the field for the coup, facilitated it and capitulated shamefully to the Paraguayan reactionary right coup.
For god and for the devil
In 2008, when Lugo took over, he swept the political hegemony of the Partido Colorado, at that time a right party-state that had been governing the country for the past 61 years, including the 35 years that the Stroessner’s bloodthirsty dictatorship lasted.
Lugo’s electoral triumph and the consecutive defeat of the Colorado Party was an enormous victory of the masses even though it was distorted by the elections who were tired of having the party of the repression and betrayal ruling all the time. People hoped that things would change. There were great expectations in Lugo.
The former catholic bishop promised from the very beginning that he would govern for everybody: for entrepreneurs and for salaried workers, for rich and poor; for large land owners and for the landless peasants. He claimed to be “in the centre” and to be a hinge between the left and the right. Consistently he constituted a broad electoral alliance – which continued even after the elections – sustained on the conservative forces of the traditional Liberal Party. All the left, except for the Paraguayan PT, gave Lugo-PLRA their unconditional support and participated of the cabinet heading some minor ministries connected to the implementation of charity policies and other posts, the main once have always been for the liberals.
The problem is that history has proved over and over again that it is not possible to be governing simultaneously for god and for the devil. That is how Lugo had to show his real countenance. He proved that his neoliberal and repressive policy for economy was the same as that of the Colorados, but he could advance more due to the deception with which the maintained the trust of the toiling masses.
The only difference with the Colorados was not of contents but only of forms. Everything that Lugo did or failed to do was concealed under the disguise of progressiveness. That even the left, completely integrated into the administration of the capitalist state, helped to hold or to darn. Lugo was the wolf dressed up as a lamb, the Troy horse of the right among the rank and file of the left.
Was there any land reform?
In spite of the fact that this was one of his main promises, Lugo made no headway in this direction. He guaranteed the great property of the great landowners of national soy bean producers, Brazilian-Uruguayan and of the multinational corporations that dominate the agribusiness, by co-opting the leaders of the peasant movement or by means of direct repression.
This structure of land property is, according to FAO, the most uneven in the world, where 85% of the land is in the hands of 2% of landowners.
The economy of Paraguay is highly dependant on the fluctuations of world market and even on the “disposition” of Nature and is based almost exclusively on the semicolonial model of monoculture of soybean and other commodities for export within a cycle of production and commercialization dominated by imperialist corporations.
At present, Paraguay is the fourth producer and exporter of soybean and the ninth fir meat in the world. In 2019, thanks to the “social peace” that Lugo warranted for them, entrepreneurs connected to the agribusiness obtained record profits. This year, the Paraguayan GDP increased 15%. However, due to the dependent character of their economy, by 2011 it fell to 3.8% and a further 1.5% fall is foreseen. However, while the rich amass fortunes, the toiling masses go hungry (under $2 a day). In the countryside, poverty reaches 50%.
Repression and criminalization of social struggles
But all has not been cooptation. Lugo applied a repressive policy that previous Colorado policies might have envied. According to Human Rights, during his mandate he had 20 peasant leaders or activists killed, including his latest service to the large landowners when police responding to his command murdered11 landless peasants.
His administration started court actions against hundreds of social fighters and illegalised several strikes in the city. He fortified the apparatus of the Armed Forces enormously for he bought new and modern weapons and equipments, among them telephone taps from Israel for police espionage. He also incorporated. He also incorporated a series of American and Colombian consultants on repressive apparatuses.
And on top of all this, Lugo presented and defended and obtaining the passing of the sinister “antiterrorist law” that the USA has been trying to get through ever since 2001.
The same capitulation to imperialism
He also presented and defended bills of privatisation of international airports against the same Parliament that pulled him down, and the privatisation of the main motorways of the country and even the very same commercial pass across the River Paraguay. He sent Paraguayan troops to build up the imperialist occupation in Haiti and he went there to visit them and encourage them.
Furthermore, he gave up another of the central electoral promises: the renegotiation of the infamous Itaipu Treaty, the “bi-national” hydroelectric between Paraguay and Brazil. This treaty, signed in 1973 by the two military dictatorships: Stroessner and Garrastazu Medici, says that each country is the owner of 50% of the energy produced by the Itaipú. The problem is that Paraguay lacks the technical condition and infrastructure to use all their share of the energy produced there and takes advantage of only 5% of it but, the treaty compels Paraguay to sell the surplus at cost price to Brazil.
Lugo’s greatest “achievement” was the increase of $240 million of the yearly instalment for the use of their energy. Lugo refused to revise the Treaty before 2023.
The robbery – and let alone the spurious debt that Brazil invented and Paraguay is compelled to pay is sheer scandal. Thus, Paraguay receives $360 million while, were they allowed to sell their share of the energy at market price, they would receive $3900 million.
As if it were a lemon
For a certain amount of time, Lugo was quite useful for the Paraguayan bourgeoisie. His greatest contribution to the rich was having demobilized and confused the toiling masses, be it through co-opting or direct repression.
Lugo’s role and fate can be compared to that of a squeezed lemon. As long as Lugo curbed in social struggles the bourgeoisie, even though they never gave up acting like opposition, they tolerated him as “necessary evil”. When they realized that Lugo could no longer be up to his duty the way he used to be, and taking into consideration that the reaction against a possible destitution would be scarce precisely because of the erosion of Logo’s popularity caused by the faithful way he served the bourgeoisie, the Paraguayan right decided to recover full power directly. The squeezed lemon was thrown into the dustbin.
It was Lugo himself who, with his policy of class collaboration, paved the way to the coup. It is because of the combination between Lugo’s policy in the service of the right and the erosion of his figure that there was and there is no effective resistance against the coup.
Lugo capitulates to the coup
Lugo is still playing the demobilising and demoralizing role. Once the coup was carried out, his position was that of complete and shameful capitulation. The former bishop accepted the coup in shamefully meek manner the right coup.
In his eagerness to deflate any kind of popular struggle, he said that every resistance should be peaceful and law-abiding, but nothing short of a miracle could return him to power. Who would walk out into the streets to resist, struggle and run risks of colliding with repression coming from a coup-making administration defending somebody who daren’t as much as defend himself?
He was even against the fake threats or possibilities of Mercosur imposing any kind of economic penalisation coming from Mercosur. He explained his new role and policy saying that he declared himself an “observer” of Franco’s doings and those of the coup-making cabinet.
Everything that the Lugo administration has been, even his current policy after having suffered the coup is a fantastic example of the intrinsically reactionary character of these “progressive” governments of class conciliation. They prefer to die or to be kicked out of the office by the avowed right wingers before summoning for the mobilisation of the masses. They respect and defend bourgeois institutions and laws even when they are used against them.
Lugo has no interest at all in mobilising people nor in confronting the coup, because as all the other sectors of the Mercosur and imperialism he wishes above all to avoid any kind of instability and to conduct all the crisis along the cull de sack of bourgeois elections, summoned for April 21st 2013 for which he has already posed his candidature as a senator or even as president. Of course, this policy legitimates the reactionary coup.
As part of this policy, there is the Guasu Front even if still disconcerted at having been rejected by the strategic ally, the conservative PLRA. The programmatic and political depression for years of Lugo-PLRA administration who, for positions, sectarian accumulation and privileges and flung themselves into the arms bourgeois programme of neoliberalism with charity
Today, the Guasu Front, has sole prospect: the 2013 elections and they stick to their project of re-issuing the proposal of holding on fast to Lugo, this time, perhaps heading the list of senators and with a programme of class conciliation as the one upheld during the term in the office of the former bishop, even if both the government and the progress proved to be absolute failure from the point of view of class struggle for it only favoured the right.
What is the policy of imperialism, Brazil and Mercosur?
American imperialism and the Mercosur beginning with Brazil, commanded by Dilma and Lula’s PT, are also all for legitimizing the coup and channeling the crisis through the 2013 Paraguayan elections.
Mercosur only applied political reproof, meaning symbolic political reprimand, when Paraguay was suspended from participating in the decisions of the block. No economic sanction was applied. The contrary is true. A day before the Summit that suspended Paraguay, Mercosur handed over $66 million from the Fund of Structural Convergence of the Mercosur (FOCEM) to the coup-making Franco administration.
It is fundamental that we demand from Dilma and all the other Mercosur administration, who claim to be “progressive” that severe economic measures are to be taken against the Franco administration. It is necessary to strangle this illegitimate government. 55% of the Paraguayan exports go to Mercosur, and 36% of that is bought by Brazil.
That is why the standpoint of Dilma/Lula is so shameful. Instead of confronting the coup, Brazilian government regards his exports to Paraguay as priority and defends the interests of the most famous Brasiguayos, that is to say, the interests of the great landowners and soybean growers. Among them there is, for example, Tranquilo Favero, known as the “king of soybeans”. He owns over 100 000ha of land and 40 000 heads of cattle in 13 out of 17 departments in the country out of which 45 000 are mechanised and he exports 120 000 tons of soybean every year. Another one is Ulises Rodriguez Texeira who own 22 000ha.
Let us defeat the coup in the streets!
The central task today is to defeat the reactionary coup in the streets, with popular organization and mobilization. The main demand of the toiling masses should be: Down with the parliamentary coup! Down with the coup making Franco administration! Out with the coup!
With this in view, it is necessary to boost the most ample united action against the coup. In unity of action spawn all kinds of activities against the coup, no matter how small they may be to start with. The social movement should make life impossible for Franco administration.
Along this line, we demand from Fernando Lugo himself to summon to resistance in the streets; he must call to resist the coup with popular resistance and occupation of land, to generate a great movement against the coup sweeping across the country. The struggle to defeat the coup stands for immediate defeat of the coup, immediate and unconditional restitution of Lugo as a president. We should demand the same policy from the left parties gathered in the Guasu Front who support Lugo who – unfortunately risks nothing to try and defeat the coup.
The broadest and systematic international solidarity will be decisive in this struggle. Several rallies have been held against the coup in several countries in the world on various continents. The entire mass movement and the left must fight and demand from their governments immediate breach of diplomatic and commercial relations with the de facto administration of Paraguay.
Parallel to the most tenacious struggle against the coup, it is necessary to explain patiently the real nature of the Fernando Lugo administration. Explain how it was Lugo himself who prepared the defeat of the Paraguay social movement and discuss the fatal role played by the policy of class conciliation.
The Paraguayan drama is crucial to understand that any alliance with the right, or class enemies, far from meaning the “first step towards socialism”, as the Lugoist left pretends to make us believe will do nothing but bring tragic defeats about. To begin with, the coup in Paraguay proves that it is impossible to govern “for everybody”, because we have antagonist interests. From this point of view, more than ever we must defend the vital need of class independence, political independence of the working class of the towns and of the countryside, who should only trust their own strength and their independent mobilization.
 – Frente Guasu, or Guasu Front means Wide Front, a Popular Front between the bourgeois Liberal Party and reformists parties, like Communist Party of Paraguay.