To Transition or not to Transition?

Within the cauldron of war and destruction the insurgent forces, Marxist and non-Marxist alike, are active. Most insurgencies that people talk about these days centre around non-Marxist ideals. In Latin America guerillas are moving from the possible to the probable. In the Middle East they are trying to turn the clock back. In most Latin American countries left-wing parliamentary parties, professing democracy and a little bit of social and economic justice for the underprivileged have replaced guerilla movements. Unlike elsewhere in Latin America a powerful Marxist insurgency is continually hitting the headlines in Paraguay, the heart of South America. On July 5, 2014, the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP), a self-professed Marxist revolutionary outfit, kidnapped police officer Edelio Moninigo. His parents spent more than 500 days waiting in vain for his release. Although formally founded in 2008, EPP has been operative in the north of the country, for nearly twenty years, periodically making their presence felt through a series of abductions and killings. And they justify their actions in the light of Marxism, of their kind. They are skilled with explosives and armed with automatic weapons while maintaining fraternal relations with not-so Marxist guerilla forces in their neighbouring countries like Colombia. Strangely enough, the Paraguayan government has ‘failed’ to subdue this EPP, otherwise tiny in size, confined to a small area, supposed to be a guerilla stronghold.

The EPP beliefs are a peculiar mix of ‘‘Marxist-Leninist-Guevarist’ doctrines with a particularly Paraguayan twist. For them nationalism of the oppressed is applied internationalism as they highlight the ‘achievements’ of post-independence dictator Jose Gaspar Rodriguer de Francia who sealed off Paraguay’s borders from foreign trade, to boost domestic development and executed and jailed hundreds of his opponents to keep his dictatorial regime floating. EPP’s top leaders are all in jail or exile. Rumour has it that the government is unwilling to get to grips with the Marxist guerillas because they provide a convenient, ‘controlled’ enemy to the state. With corruption very strong within the security apparatus, the persons in power, allegedly allow them to continue their abductions and extortions in the name of ‘Marxism’.

In short despite being Marxist in orientation EPP is unlikely to organise any thorough-going class struggle for an egalitarian society. Their Robinhood image is no answer to American militarisation of the continent, including their own country Paraguay. In truth the United States is countering the independent development of Latin American countries by using its military power and influence. For more than two centuries the US has viewed Latin America as its backyard, a geopolitical sphere of influence where it acts as undisputed hegemon. Using pretexts ranging from ‘War on Drugs’ to humanitarian assistance, and the ‘War on Terror’, the US continues to maintain its military foothold in the region while furthering its strategic interests. And Washington invariably backs their client regimes and fascist dictatorships. This is the root cause why guerillas, even if they are not Marxist guerillas, get quick response from the oppressed in almost every country. But in most cases their objective is limited and too limited to unlock total revolution without which nothing will change for the better, notwithstanding decades of guerilla movement.

The fact is that armed struggles led by guerilla squads are not really under the sway of communist parties in the traditional sense. As a result a state of stalemate seems to have gripped these guerilla movements. They have challenged the status quo through armed actions without showing any inclination to smash it completely. For the ruling elites extremism, left-wing or right-wing, is an excuse, rather a specious excuse, to seek doles and ‘aid’ from America and the West, to clear the jungles and guerillas as well for transnationals.

Nearer home, Maoist guerilla movement too seems to have reached a plateau though it is under the supreme command of a communist party. Right now their strategy is defensive and it cannot be otherwise in a situation of narrow and limited social base. No doubt Maoist guerillas differ sharply from their non-Maoist counterparts in North-East and Kashmir but this difference doesn’t make them look more humane and their ‘revolution’ acceptable to the majority of population.

For all practical purposes Marxist insurgency is not gaining ground anywhere in the world, not even in Latin America though the continent is being traditionally projected as a perennially volatile region for guerilla upsurge. As for non-Marxist insurgencies, they have no future beyond ‘extortion and abduction’ culture and they could be accommodated easily in the so-called mainstream when they lose initial momentum or get fragmented for reasons other than ideology. It is happening in Latin America and it is happening in India’s North East and Kashmir as well.

They want to solve problems that cannot be solved without mass actions. When this is the ground reality, ‘rebellion is not the real risk’ to the ruling parties. No matter whether they rule the country through parliamentary democracy or through authoritarianism.

Vol. 48, No. 27, Jan 10 - 16, 2016