|Wednesday, 29 February 2012 15:09|
|English imperialism has once more embarked on a series of aggressions against Argentine sovereignty on the Falkland Islands.
English bravado is an insult to the entire Latin America
On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the war in the archipelago situated on the South Atlantic, British government decided to start a series of military exercises, with Prince William himself taking part. Furthermore, one of the most updated missile launcher destroyers, HMS Dauntless, and even a nuclear submarine, possibly HMSTurbulent or HMS Turbulent, all this scarcely 489km from the shores of Patagonia, continental territory of Argentina. Faced with this affront, the Cristina Fenrnández de Kirchner administration, responded with responded with mere statements and staking on a diplomatic solution, negotiated at the UN, where she located the complaint against the “militarization of South Atlantic” and “introduction of nuclear armament in to the zone of the Falkland Island” by England.
History of colonial pillage and anti-imperialist struggle
Argentine territorial sovereignty engulfs the archipelago Falkland. Ever since 1820, Buenos Aires consolidated their possession of the islands, previously dominated by the defeated Spanish Empire. On the 2 January 1833, the islands were invaded by the British. On that day, the British frigate HMS Clio, commanded by captain John James Onslow, who simply informed the Argentine local chief, Jose Maria Pinedo, that they were there to take over in the name of the King of England, Pinedo concluded that he was not fit to resist so he and his men sailed for what was then the Argentine Confederation. Robbery by the pirates had been perpetrated.
In the XIX century, England was the leading economic and political power in the world. Their colonialist policy in the service of conquering new markets and sources of raw materials combined diplomacy with direct military intervention. English occupation of the Falklands is connected to the British policy in favour of toppling Spanish domination in Latin America in the early XIX century. An important antecedent can be found 27 years before, when in quest of taking over the former Spanish colonies, the went as far as invading River Plate militarily, concretely: Buenos Aires and Montevideo in 1806 and 1807 respectively.
149 years of uninterrupted British administration over the Falklands elapsed since that day until 2nd April 1982, when the odious argentine military dictatorship invaded the islands and retrieved them for Argentina. English imperialism, commanded at that time by Margaret Hilda Thatcher, fervent neo-liberal, known as the Iron Lady, responded declaring war on Argentina. The armed conflict ended on 14th June 1982 with British military victory. The toll was of some 907 people, 649 of whom were Argentine soldiers; 323 of them died when the ARA General Belgrano was sunk out of the conflict area, which happened on May that year.
Since 1833, what exists on the islands is an imperialist enclave. 3 100 settlers, known as “kelpers”, live there. This is not an autochthonous population, but – as in the case of every enclave, a transplanted and artificial population. Practically everybody descends from the British, but with a higher living standards than those of the European British and protected by 15 000 soldiers set up on the Mount Pleasant. That is why the current discourse by British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is so false and hypocritical when he speaks of the “self-determination” of the Falklanders and a “consultation” throughout the island whether the islanders wish or not to start negotiations regarding the sovereignty of the archipelago.
In 1982, when the Argentine dictatorship occupied the island militarily, their intention was to deviate against another target the increasing hatred the toiling masses felt for them and so retrieve some the authority they hay lost and stay in power for several years more.
Drifting in the midst of a tremendous political and economic crisis, what the military wanted was to survive a little more. Ever since 1979, the toiling masses, especially the working class, have been contesting the dictatorship strongly. Within the framework of this process of increasing struggles, on 30th March 1982, on 30th March 1982, two days before the occupation of the Falklands, a sector of the General Labour Confederation (CGT) summoned for a demonstration at Plaza de Mayo demanding better wages and democratic freedom. There was a very important response of the working class vanguard, with thousands of people crowding into the Square. The repression was brutal. From the point of view of the junta, the military action in the Falklands was nothing but a political manoeuvre to overcome the crisis.
On the other hand, the dictatorship reckoned that American imperialism would stand by them in consideration of the services rendered during the repression in the country and their cooperation with the repression of the South Cone and Central America. This failed to happen. The contrary is true: imperialism as a whole, together with the UN, the Catholic Church and a fifth column inside Argentina lined up with the English pirates.
The military, who at most could have expected some crumbs in the administration of the islands, found themselves involved in a war against the entire imperialism, a war that spawned a powerful anti-imperialist revolutionary mobilisation of the Argentine toiling masses and the Argentine population as a whole.
Furthermore, the Argentine cause spawned solidarity and sympathy in other Latin American peoples as well as of other continents. In Peru, for example, a great demonstration of over 100 000 people pushed the Peruvian government to offer the Argentines military support.
Stuck in the turmoil of such dynamics, the dictatorship had no other way out but to go to war. But due to their class character and their supreme submission to imperialism they did all they could to achieve the military defeat of the Argentine side.
A revolutionary policy
Revolutionaries were up against a difficult and complex situation. What was the correct policy when pro-imperialist and genocidal dictatorship, the most bloodthirsty government in Argentine history, has actually recovered the Falklands and was now militarily up against imperialism rallying round the English.
The IWL-FI – at the moment three months old – and the Socialist Workers’ Party, our Argentine section, never had any doubts: right from the beginning we stood in the military camp of the oppressed nation (Argentina) regardless its political and military leadership (Galtieri’s dictatorship) battling relentlessly to defeat Great Britain (the imperialist country). In 1982 this is the way we summed up our standpoint; “Socialists never hesitate a minute which is our side of the battlefield: we are to the bitter end with the argentine nation and we shall fight with all our might to defeat imperialism. This is the first and unflagging bounden duty of a fighter of the working class and socialism: fight relentlessly to defeat the imperialist enemy.”There could be no other option as far as revolutionaries are concerned.
Both, the IWL-FI and the Argentine PST, the main leader of which was Nahuel Moreno, were in this case following the guideline advised by Trotsky for the case of a war between an imperialist country and an underdeveloped country. In September 1938, at an interview with an Argentine proletarian leader, Mateo Fossa, Trotsky stated, “I shall take the simplest and most demonstrative example. In Brazil there is a semi-fascist regime that no revolutionary cannot but loathe. Let us suppose, however, that tomorrow England has a military conflict with the “fascist” Brazil. Let me ask you, “On what side of the conflict will the working class stand? I shall give you a personal answer. I shall be on the side of the “fascist” Brazil against the “democratic” England. Why? Because a conflict of these two countries would not be an issue of democracy versus fascism. If England won, they would be able to put another fascist dictator in Rio de Janeiro and would put a double chain around Brazil. But if Brazil were to overcome, this would give a powerful to the national and democratic awareness in the country and would lead to the toppling of Vargas”. This was precisely the policy of the IWL-FI when faced with the Falkland war.
It is necessary to make one important thing clear. Being in the same military camp with the dictatorship against England has never mean capitulating to the policy of this capitalist government. At all times the Argentine PST maintained their political independence from the government, exposing it as the worst war leadership and encouraging the toiling masses to topple it as soon as possible while defending a specific and concrete programme to achieve the definite defeat of imperialism. ”Workers’ movement is to impose the boldest united action in the anti-imperialist while zealously guarding our intransigent political independence as a class,” voiced the PSTU
The programme hinged round the defeat of English imperialism and imperialism in general who supported their peer unconditionally politically as well as economically. This anti-imperialist programme can be summed up quoting the historic brochure issued by the PST on occasion of the Pope’s visit to Argentina; he was part of the imperialist block and the event aimed at preaching capitulation to the English.
“No to defeatist mobilisations! The toiling masses must move for our victory over imperialism! Victory is sure to happen if, by means of our mobilisation, we manage to impose a programme of merciless war on imperialism.
Go ahead with the war, now appealing to all the means with no limitation at all! That includes requesting immediate military aid from all the countries who have declared themselves on our side, especially the Latin American ones but also USSR, China, Libya, Iran, etc. Immediate breach of relations with USA!
Let the imperialists pay for the war! Confiscation of all the English and American companies and non-payment of the foreign debt! Prohibition of layoffs and suspensions! General increase of wages and insurance against unemployment!
Full reestablishment of democratic rights and trade union liberty so that the toiling masses can get organised to resist aggression.
Sure!!!! Imperialism can be defeated! Other nations have already done so. We have already seen how – in spite of the disastrous leadership of the current military administration, who does not take the war actions seriously and does not take this programme into action – imperialists are not finding things all that easy.”
Finally Argentine defeat in the Falklands took occurred. Contrary to what the military had expected, the war deepened the hatred and the mobilization against the dictatorship. Thousands of people poured out into the streets chanting “se va acabar, se va acabar, la dictadura militar…” (Military dictatorship will end). And so the dictatorship finally fell and there was a change in the regime. The PST, following the teachings of Trotsky, could participate in the mobilisation in close unity with the fighter they had accompanied in their concrete experience with dictatorship and war.
While PST stakes all their strength on the campaign for the defeat of the English, most of Argentine left, most of Argentine left accompanied the course of the capitulating bourgeoisie – whose most outstanding exponents could be found in Alfonsin’s UCR (Radical Civic Union) and in most of Peronism – each one with a discourse of their own. The Argentine Communist Party was the leading champion of capitulation to imperialism for they criticised “occupation with use of force and vindicated a peaceful solution within the UN because the defence of peace was “the most important international task.” Other parties participated mistakenly in clearly defeatist demonstrations sponsored by the Pope Himself, who was guest in that country between the8th and the 12th of June.
Thus waters were divided. On the one side the vast majority of the “national” bourgeoisie, supine and cowardly, together with the Pope and some sectors of the left. On the other side there were the Argentine toiling masses and the PST, standing staunchly against surrendering to imperialism. From this point of view, it is also necessary to highlight the standpoint of WRP (Workers Revolutionary Party, the party from which Bill Hunter and other leaders of the International Socialist League (ISL) now the British section of IWL come. This party made their policy hinge round the defeat of the British army in the Falklands and called on the English working class and toiling masses to express their solidarity with the struggle of the Argentine people. In spite of the fact that – at that moment – strong left and Trotskyist parties existed, WRP was the only party in the entire UK that sustained this position against their own imperialism.
Reasons for this new offensive of British imperialism
At this moment, British government says that all their military manoeuvres in the Falkland are mere “routine”. The truth is English oil companies, associated with the American ones, are carrying out brutal pillage of all hydrocarbon resources on the islands and that goes together with extra military protection for the English, they maintain a NATO base in the Falklands where they train troops that from there are sent to other regions, such as Afghanistan.. In the background there is the economic crisis playing ravage in the whole world and hit Europe with particular strength. Great Britain knows that they are running out of their oil reserves in the North Sea. In quest of new reserves, Falklands seem to be a source of new resources.
This has been corroborated by Philip Hammond, British Defence Minister, who reported to the English Parliament that English companies had already invested $1 500 million and promise to invest 2 000 more to obtain oil by 2016.
Even though UK has not been the hegemonic imperialism for several decades now, it still has several colonies ruled with iron fist. According to the UN Decolonisation Committee, there are 16 colonised territories in dispute. Ten of them are British, Falkland Islands are the biggest of the ten; Gibraltar is claimed by Spain, then there are Anguilla, Bermudas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Montserrat, Santa Helena, Turks and Caicos and Pitcairn, an island in the Pacific.
The President of Argentina exposed the “militarization of South Pacific” and the “depredation of its oil resources” by British imperialism. In her speeches we can hear such words as sovereignty and even second independence. It is true that she has responded to English aggressions. However, we consider that words are not enough, nor is the resource of the UN where the English have the weapon of veto. We regard Cristina’s measures as half-hearted and absolutely inadequate to recover Argentine sovereignty in the Falklands.
Moreover, there is a contradiction between what the Argentine government say and what it does. For example, we are still subsidizing English corporations and paying debts with great sacrifice on behalf of the Argentine people, and these are the resources, when all is said and done, the pageant of the pirate fleet. What is more: Cristina Kirchner maintains the “Madrid Agreements” according to which Great Britain receives over a million square kilometres surrounding the Falklands. Do not forget that these agreements were signed in 1990 by Carlos Menem, when Domingo Cavallo was Foreign Minister.
Cristina also continues with the “Bill of British investments” and is dutifully paying off the foreign debt to the English banks and to the IMF, apart from subsidising English and American corporations in Argentina. The example of the Metro Gas, property of British Gas Group is outstanding. So is the case of British Petroleum that, in 2007, was granted the gas fields of Cerro Dragon for 40 years and then prolonged practically until exhaustion.
The same as in 1982, in the middle of the war, when the military dictatorship would dutifully pay the debt and even the interests to the enemy, it is now also inadmissible that, in the face of the “militarization of our seas” as the government exposes, we should keep on transferring resources to imperialism. And this is done while an adjustment in the rood of wages is imposed on Argentine workers.
The battle of the Falklands is par of the struggle for the II Independence of the continent
From the IWL-FI, we categorically reject the aggression and the bravados of the imperialist brigands. We herby reassert our historic position that the Falklands are Argentine and nobody else can claim them. We stand for recovering the islands by Argentine people and for putting an end to that imperialist enclave, the most abject symbol of colonialism and a veritable insult to the peoples of the world, especially those of Latin America. This struggle does not concern Argentine people alone – those they can be and must be the vanguard, this is a continental struggle; it is worldwide.
If the Argentines are to recapture the Falklands, we must boost the most ample anti-imperialist mobilisation of the toiling masses of Argentina and of the rest of the world. There is no other solution apart from massive anti-imperialist mobilisation throughout the continent. That is why we assert that nothing can be achieved with this submissive policy of the Argentine administration staking it all on the cull de sack of bourgeois diplomacy within the framework of the UN, a cave of bandits championed by world imperialism.
On the other hand, even if the administration of Mercosur took steps to support the Argentine claim and decided to prohibit access to their ports of ships under the Political Authority of Falklands, it is necessary to bear in mind that such measures are absolutely inadequate and do not affect strategic interests of English imperialism in our countries. From this point of view, for example, there is the example of the Argentine Confederation of Transport Workers (CATT) engulfing the trade unions of lorry drivers, Dockers, sea transport, railway workers and air transport. They are much more consistent: they announced that they had resolved to boycott any ship under English flag, not only that of the Falklands.
In Argentina, as well as in the remaining Latin American countries, we must move to get President Kirchner to talk less and do concrete, real things against the interest of the British imperialism. Colonialists ought to be hit where it hurts most: on their pockets.
We demand from the Cristina Kirchner administration expropriation of English corporations in Argentina, to confiscate their banks and quit paying them their fake debt. We should also have the remaining Latin American administrations do the same.
The Argentine government must break the “Madrid Agreements”!
In Argentina and in the entire Latin America it is necessary to move and demand concrete radical measures against the colonising imperialism. The struggle for the recovery of the Falklands is part of our struggle for the Second and Definite Independence of our countries.
Just as the comrades of the Argentine PSTU – Argentine section of the IWL – say:
“Stop making speeches. We demand sovereign measures. You cannot sell us the delusion that “by means of dialogue” they will convince the occupants to give up and go. It is true that the struggle against this colonial domination need not – and cannot – be carried out through military confrontation on the islands. But it will be through the mobilisation of Argentine and Latin American toiling masses and hitting where it hurts most that we shall recover the Falklands.
We demand that the national government should establish the deadline for acknowledging Argentine sovereignty and, once this limit is reached, nationalise the corporations: Shall oil, BP oil, HSBA bank, Glaxo Smith Kline pharmaceutical, Vodafone Group, telephone, Standard Bank, Barkleys bank, Unilever chemicals and food, Metro Gas natural gas”.
Sao Paulo, 22 February 2012
 Revista Estrategia nr 2: Es la hora del combate”. Publisher in June 1982
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