Latin America has always been a continent of struggle against imperialism and its domination by foreign powers. Heroes like the Taino chief Hautey, executed by Spanish colonists, are still held up as aspirations for Latin American internationalists and anti-imperialist fighters. So too are later figures such as Simón Bolívar, Benito Juárez and José de San Martín, who liberated the countries of Latin America from colonialism and first introduced the idea of the Patria Grande or the Great Homeland, a collective anti-imperialist spirit and identity spanning all of Latin America.
The 20th Century brought a new generation of anti-imperialist fighters to the continent: Sandino in Nicaragua, Farabundo Martí in El Salvador, Luis Emilio Recabarren in Chile, and of course, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in Cuba. Inspired by the success of the Great October Socialist Revolution and the new Soviet Union, for the first time ideas of socialism and Marxism-Leninism entered the fight of Latin America.
The success of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 opened up a new era with the establishment of the first socialist state in the Americas – less than 150km away from the United States. With arms, doctors, and political and economic support, revolutionary Cuba has ushered in a new era of construction of a socialist Patria Grande.
Cuba laid the basis for Grenada, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique. The example and spirit of the Cuban revolution has therefore had international impact. But perhaps most important of all is the fact that it is now the best example of what socialism can do in a small country for health, education, employment, for ending poverty, prostitution and disease. It is now the best example in the world of what a small country under socialism can achieve. That is what socialism is all about.Maurice Bishop, Leader of the New Jewel Movement and Revolutionary Prime Minister of Grenada (1979-1983)
In the 20th Century, this saw movements of many different types, the success of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and the Sandinista People’s Revolution in Nicaragua; the Popular Unity Government led by Presidente Salvador Allende in Chile; the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front in El Salvador and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Chiapas, Mexico.
Despite setbacks caused by US imperialism, the fascist military coup led by Pinochet against the Popular Unity Government, the temporary victory of the US-funded Contras against the Sandinistas in 1990, the attempted coups in Venezuela and the soft coups in Brazil and Ecuador against Lula and Correa, Latin Americans all over the Patria Grande continues to stand up against imperialism and for socialism.
If Latin America were devoured by the empire, if we should be swallowed up by it … it would have to spit us out one day; we would be born again in our hemisphere. But I don’t think we’d be easy to swallow, and I have hopes that [the Empire] won’t be able to swallow us. Events in the last few years have been demonstrating that.Fidel Castro, Former President of Cuba and First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba
In the contemporary struggle for the Patria Grande, socialists and anti-imperialists are engaged in many different struggles. Cuba, as everybody knows, stands firm as a socialist country so close the root of US Imperialism. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia defend their people’s governments against the best attempts of US Imperialism and construct socialism and national independence in peace. Only a few days ago, indigenous President Evo Morales of the Movement towards Socialism –Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples was re-elected in Bolivia during the first round and is currently having to defeat an imperialist coup attempt.
These countries formed ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, to create a social and economic international bloc based on “fairness, mutual assistance, equality, cooperation, economic complementarity” rather than US control and resource extraction. Internationalist projects like this are real, material projects against capitalism and for a socialist, unified Patria Grande.
At the other end of the struggle are Puerto Rico, still a colony of the United States, and countries such as Honduras, Haiti and Panama as neocolonies of US imperialism, technically independent but fully controlled by US finance capital and with US troops on the ground. The left-wing governments in Ecuador and Brazil were recently crushed by US imperialism through political means, and now far-right governments of Moreno and Bolsonaro in these two countries destroy the gains of the people and open their countries up further to US Imperialism. In all of these countries, mass protests and rebellions are unfolding, which have been met by mass repression by the governments, in the pocket of US Imperialism.
Haiti is in its fifth week of continued uprising against the neocolonial government of President Moise, which has been widespread since February. Protests have recently intensified in Honduras against the fascist President Hernandez who was installed after a military coup against the socialist President Manuel Zelaya and Honduras’ entry into ALBA, unacceptable to the US bourgeoisie and their local lackeys. Ecuador has also been swept by mass uprising against the counter-revolutionary government of Lenin Moreno, who destroyed the socialist revolution in Ecuador, withdrew from ALBA, and has made the country subservient to US imperialism and the IMF. Sadly in Ecuador the indigenous leadership that managed to hijack the protests and smear the organised working class and Correismo has largely managed to dissolve the rebellion by making empty deals with the government. All of these workers’ and peoples’ uprisings across the continent keep alive the revolutionary spirit of the Patria Grande.
Hereos are our people; a poor people, hounded by their economic limitations, bent under the weight of the inheritance from the past, yet who every day confront with incomparable valor that powerful, boastful and criminal country whose imperialist government tries to make them knuckle under. And there is no possibility that this people, which is truly heroic, will ever surrender or sell outTomás Borge, Former President of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and Nicaraguan communist revolutionary
The latest Latin American country to to be swept by popular uprising against imperialism is Chile, a country with such a proud legacy of struggle. Santiago and other Chilean cities have been overwhelmed in the last couple of days by protestors rioting due to an increase in the public transport cost. This served as the detonation effect for a much broader atmosphere of social discontent that has existed since the fascist military coup in 1973.
This has resulted in the biggest mass uprising and the largest protests since that coup, with over one million people taking to the streets at the call of the student and labour unions with slogans such as “Chile woke up” and “no more war”.
Such organised and militant demonstrations from the Chilean people that President Piñera, a representative of the Chilean big bourgeoisie, has been forced to ask his entire cabinet to resign in an attempt to appease the protests which threaten to bring down the system imposed on the Chilean people down a barrel of the gun in 1973.
Yet the people of Chile are organised and will not give in to the half measures announced by the Piñera government. Marches and demonstrations are still scheduled to go ahead next week and the Communist Party of Chile has called for genuine change, rather than these “cosmetic measures”. Demands include a new constitution developed by a Constituent Assembly similar to the process used by Chavez and Evo Morales, a stronger pension system, end of the persecution of national minorities, wage increases and an end to the current state of emergency.
But at last the day can come when we can say: Basta! Enough! No more! No more economic exploitation. No more social inequality. No more social inequality. No more political oppression.Salvador Allende, Former President of Chile and leader of the Popular Unity Government
The New Communist Party of Aotearoa firmly stands in solidarity with the peoples of the Patria Grande and the socialist and anti-imperialist forces within these countries leading the struggle. Our members joined an occupation of the Brazilian Embassy right at the start of the year to show Bolsonaro that internationalists would not accept his presidency.
The New Communist Party is joining the Chilean community to protest against the current repression of the Chilean struggle and has continuously backed the Chilean people and their Communist Party. We joined our Chilean comrades in a protest against the unrecognised crimes of the Pinochet government earlier in the year, and welcomed the Latin American community mural in Wellington painted by a visiting Chilean muralist. The muralist in question is a member of the Communist Party of Chile and first began to create art in support of Popular Unity and the Allende Presidential campaign. This week the Auckland and Wellington branches of the New Communist Party joined the local Chilean community at solidarity rallies
In less than a week, our Deputy Secretary of the Central Committee will travel to Havana, Cuba to participate in a Anti-Imperialist Meeting of Solidarity for Democracy and against Neoliberalism as a further strengthening of our practical solidarity with the Latin American struggle for a socialist and unified Patria Grande.
We are confident that the current wave of anti-imperialist and socialist struggle across Latin America from Haiti and Cuba down to Chile. In the words of the great Comandante Hugo Chávez, “Nothing and nobody will stop the drive of the Socialist Revolution… whatever the cost!”
Written by the New Communist Party Chair of the Central Committee and Chair of the Auckland Section