Written by Jose Moreno Pau
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 18:19
Before the announcement of the amendment of the constitution by President Blaise Compaoré, by which he intended to stand for re-election next year (and certainly win), the Burkinabe angry masses took to the streets.
Tens of thousands of people protested since Tuesday 28 October, erected barricades and stormed the parliament. The revolution ignited in the capital Ouagadougou and in major cities. After an attempt to maintain power and repress protesters declaring a state of siege, Blaise Compaoré had to resign.
Campaoré’s government at the service of France and imperialism
Blaise Compaoré stayed 27 years in power after a coup d’etat against the man who had been his friend, known as the African Che Guevara, Thomas Sankara, who was killed.
Blaise Compaoré seized power in 1987 with the support of France and reversed all the progressive measures of Sankara. He returned the nationalized lands back into the hands of the landlords. He became a faithful disciple of the policies of the IMF and of loans from the World Bank. He reopened the country to the French troops who since then have in Burkina Faso a privileged basis for control of the region. As well as the U.S., whose military deployed in Burkina Faso after the creation of the AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command). The French and American military presence with their European partners in this country and in the neighbor Senegal have served for the invasion of Mali and to consolidate the control over the natural resources of these countries.
In recent years, the economic indicators exhibited a year growth of 9% (6.5% in 2013). This growth has been due to gold mining, whose share in GDP is 20% and cotton cultivation. However, this growth has not benefited the population; Burkina Faso has 17.5 million inhabitants and is one of the world’s poorest countries (181 of 187). 3 million Burkinabe migrants live in neighboring Ivory Coast. Literacy does not reach 30%. This situation is in direct relationship with the policy of the deposed President Blaise Compaoré.
Blaise Compaoré handed the gold mines to Canadian, Australian, South African, U.S. and Russian companies. Gold mining has put Burkina Faso as African fifth largest exporter of this precious mineral. The 32 tons of gold exports produces an income of only € 287 million in taxes or the country and just 5,000 jobs. Mining operations have performed environmental tragedies causing tremendous pollution and deaths of people and animals.
The other big multinational business in Burkina Faso is cotton cultivation. Monsanto signed an agreement with the government to introduce the cultivation of GM cotton. Three companies control all agricultural land and impose to farmers the purchase of their cotton.
Vacuum power and military’s role
The news that Compaoré was no longer in office filled with joy the tens of thousands of protesters. The chief of staff of the armed forces, General Honore Traoré assumed power, dissolved parliament, and said he would begin a democratic transition for the year ahead. The masses remained mobilized seeing in general Traoré a continuation of the regime.
General Traoré intends to keep power in the hands of the Army. Although one of the last proposals of former President Compaoré was to call elections in three months, General Traoré speaks of a year transition.
A few hours later the fall of Compaoré, Lieutenant Colonel Zida also proclaimed himself president. Zida, who was number two of Compaoré’s personal guard, tried to detach from the former president and claimed to be part of the people and the martyrs who rose up against his boss.
The army seemed to have finally backed the latter; however tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets again, after the call of the civilian opposition, demanding the fall of Zida as well.
The Black Spring has achieved great success
The demonstrations targeted the attempt of Campaoré perpetuation in power by means of the re-election amendment. This democratic demand sparked from the misery in which the population find themselves, due to submission to imperialism. Despite the military dictatorship serves the interests of the imperialist powers and their multinationals, spokesmen for the opposition suggest that the army should be part of the political transition. The army split over who should run the country, Traoré or Kouame Lugué, the later a retired former general who is supported by opposition sectors.
The revolutions that began in North Africa, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have reached the heart of the continent. It is important that the African masses learn what happened in Egypt, where the regime managed to survive thanks to the Army, which has continued in power and has kept the country submitted to the U.S.
Africa in fire
2 years ago the president of Senegal was overthrown by mass mobilization. But the new president, Macky Sall, continued at the service of imperialism and its international treaties. Indeed, he threw Senegal back to its former French metropolis.
In South Africa the working class is showing their strength with historic strikes and raising the need to build up independent organizations to achieve their ends.
The Burkinabe revolution meanwhile faces a regime which is product of a coup and attacks the institutions that used to endorse it, as the Parliament, and states clearly that do not want the military in power.
Breaking with imperialism, for the African unity
Toppling presidents and their cliques, who have been perpetuated in the governments of their countries for decades, protected and encouraged by the colonial powers, is the first step to achieve true independence.
And the people of Burkina Faso and the rest of Africa do not start from scratch. A few decades ago they have fought for independence and in recent years have experienced significant revolutionary processes. Recovering the legacy, with its successes and failures, of the great African leaders like Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral and Thomas Sankara, will be essential to build the revolutionary parties that the masses need to break the chains of their people.
To escape poverty African countries need to break with imperialism and its treaties. The imperialist troops must be expelled and is necessary to build a common front for the no payment of the foreign debt, which is the mechanism by which imperialism impose the neoliberal policies on their governments. The African countries need to recover their wealth and make them available to their people and stop a handful of multinationals from continuously profiting from their exploration.
The Burkinabe soldiers will face a dilemma: either they follow the orders of the generals who want to maintain Burkina Faso prostrated, but with a new face in office, or refuse to suppress the people and workers, who are those that have to govern.
The Burkinabe masses are still fighting and showing their determination not to accept new military dictatorships.