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We insist: “The Athens Armistice is the Basis for Avoiding the Split in the Partido Obrero
Dear comrades of the EEK, DIP and MTL:
We have received your “Report on the international consultative meeting on the PO crisis in Athens from July 22 to 25, 2019” on August 6 last. It contains many assertions with which we do not agree. But the point is not to recite a rosary of discrepancies – some that may be important, others secondary – but rather the point is to get to the crux of the matter: we agree with the conclusions that you draw, as we have agreed in Athens in the spirit of the “Armistice" document.
We agree that at the international meeting in Athens "we were very close to signing an agreement that could serve to reunify the party." You have to admit to us that – beyond the mistakes for which you blame us – the delegation of the NC of the PO made every effort to try to reach this agreement. We also agree that the delegations of the EEK, DIP and MTL did everything possible to reach such an agreement. This despite the fact that the delegation of the National Committee elected by the 26th National Congress of the PO received criticism, much of which, we really think, was underserved.
But, unfortunately, we must also agree with you when you point out that “the attitude of the Public Fraction towards the end of the meeting, in relation to the draft resolution, also obstructed the possibility of sealing a preliminary agreement, which would have laid the groundwork for future deliberations between the two parties, in addition to giving strength to the prospect of safeguarding the unity of the party.”
Within the limits indicated, we consider the initiative adopted by the EEK and the DIP to convene the consultative meeting positive. We believe that – although costly financially and from the point of view of the effort made – the Athens meeting has served to clarify, although still partially, the nature of the positions unfolding in the crisis of our Partido Obrero.
We can do no less than salute your final conclusion, when you affirm that the proposals around the so-called Armistice of Athens:
“Constitute an important set of documents for future political work.
The sister parties will not throw in the towel and, in unity, they will work to restore the unity of our strongest party, the Partido Obrero, and to develop the struggle for the revolutionary International that the world working class urgently needs.”
All the organizations and militancy that consider themselves part of the CRFI must take a stand: based on the Athens Armistice document, let us prevent the split in the Partido Obrero and defend its common action within the framework of democratic and militant centralism.
On the Article in Prensa Obrera
The publication of the article in Prensa Obrera corresponds to the need to make a report of what happened at the Athens meeting available to the militancy and periphery of the PO. (The highlights, because we were organizing a big political rally on Saturday 27 at the Argentino Juniors stadium).
Your article arrived a full eleven days later. Unfortunately, we could not issue a joint communiqué because there was no common agreement, or the willingness to have a common agreement on the part the so-called public fraction. That is why we agreed to bring out an International Internal Bulletin No. 1 – without a common balance because we could not reach an agreement in this regard – but rather by publishing the documents presented during the course of the three-day debate. The public fraction’s document of contestation and balance came AFTER the end of the meeting and makes a -logically- one-sided balance. We were forced to give our position in response. We continue to believe that it is necessary for the International Internal Bulletin No. 1 to be published for all the international militancy.
On the other hand, you may consider that our report in Prensa Obrera may have inaccuracies, but you cannot deny all the effort we made and the spirit of our intervention in Athens in favor of seeking concrete agreements and steps for the public fraction to be reinstated to the Partido Obrero.
You may criticize the narrative, but not the action of our delegation.
But, likewise, you must be aware that, since that date, Altamira and Ramal not only have not stopped, but have rather accelerated the steps they are taking to break with us and to move further and further away, and to set up their own parallel organization. Not only did they not attend the central rally of the Partido Obrero on July 27 at the Argentino Juniors stadium, organizing a parallel activity a week later, but they also boycotted the joint closing election campaign rally carried out by all the currents of the FIT-U in front of the National Congress, this last Wednesday, August 7.
Altamira culminated his closing speech in the parallel activity he organized on July 24, posing “It is the method according to which a revolutionary force is built, with the program on one side and with a connection to political processes and political crises, on the other. Because the verdict of this political struggle will come from the world proletariat, the main protagonist of the debate is the world proletariat. But this should not lead to confusion, we are calling for a vote for the FIT-U lists, but in no way do we politically support this front. I want to be very clear on this, we don't support it because we don't agree with its policies, we don't agree with its methods, we don't agree with its strategy, nor do we agree with its program."
This explains the boycott of the rally and Altamira and Ramal’s election campaign, dedicated to carrying out hostile confrontations against the PO and the FIT-U throughout. With ‘support’ like this, performed in public media channels and forming part of various provocations of all kinds, we prefer the open (and frank) attacks of our adversaries.
Simultaneously, in this last stage, they attacked and launched a slander campaign against the anti-bureaucratic united front led by the PO in the union elections of the Roca railway that confronted the Pedracist list, which groups the heirs of the assassins of our comrade Mariano Ferreyra. The Altamira group scabbed the day of national struggle organized by the Polo Obrero, while representatives of their faction, accompanied by Ramal, met with government officials, behind the backs of their national leadership.
(We do not want to overwhelm you but we will be sending you, for your information, denunciations of what is happening, many of them made public through the social networks).
Internationalism versus national Trotskyism
We think that it is wrong to define the PO as an organization having “national Trotskyist” tendencies. We believe that we should not have to make an inventory of our commitment to re-found the Fourth International and, specifically, of the founding of and actions taken by the CRFI. The 26th Party Congress has underlined in its International Report, first, and in its International Resolution afterwards, this internationalist character of party activity. Which, additionally, appears ever since the birth of the PO, in Article 1 of our Statutes (so vilified by the fraction and its choir of support) where the “Fight for the construction of the Argentine revolutionary workers party and for the reconstruction of the Fourth International” is put forward. We always understood that there is a dialectical interrelation between the struggle to set up the PO in Argentina and the need to rebuild the Fourth International and that the national policies are based upon a correct analysis, characterization and internationalist program. And we have been physically and politically involved in the internationalist struggle on our continent and worldwide.
We agree with you – as we said earlier – that it was a mistake not to have sent you the internal bulletins of the PO where much of the pre-congressional debate took place. But, that is also due to the fact that we considered that there were no differences of a strategic character, but rather that Altamira and Ramal raised several veering and oscillating points that, in the end we came to characterize, attempted to "develop" a pseudo "strategic difference." We thought that this was going to be resolved with the debate in the party Congress that would end up voting for a unitary or majority political resolution. This was – in part – what ended up happening: the political resolution received 80% of the votes against 20% for Altamira's position. This is what Altamira and Ramal cannot accept and that is why after the congress they take steps – already arranged – to consummate the division of the PO. They affirm that in the PO there is a grass roots rebellion against the leadership elected by the Congress: they fail to understand that it is true, but that it is a rebellion of the great majority of the Party against the highly personalist and factious oscillations of Altamira over the last years.
Divergences and unity of action
We agree with the document of the sister organizations when they affirm that the central point of the Athens meeting was to stop the split in the PO. And we also understand and share your honest and revolutionary effort to achieve the unity of the PO and we welcome your making every possible effort in that regard.
Comrade Savas affirms that the International Theses – supported by the National Committee and the Altamira faction – approved by the 26th Congress "includes weak points and errors, sometimes serious, in their analysis and method". It would be good to know what they are (and, eventually, discuss them) in order to strengthen the PO and the CRCI more firmly. He has also announced that he is preparing a document entitled "The historical continuity of the struggle for the Refoundation of the Fourth International", which will focus on the historical, theoretical and political roots, and on the development of the international dimensions of the current crisis of the PO”. Of course, we consider positive any revolutionary contribution or concern in that regard. Also the statement that “The DIP, for its part, has almost completed the material with which they will take a position on the political issues that are at the center of the dispute in the PO conflict, as well as on more general issues of the class struggle and world revolution, which are connected to those particular issues.” And, we can come to understand that they have postponed opening a debate and have concentrated on trying to exhaust “that, at this moment, stopping the escalation between the two sides is a duty of absolute priority for the sister parties, and they will develop their political position when the situation has changed.”
As a digression, but also as a contribution towards understanding, we want to emphasize what your document indicates (textually) that “Comrade Ramal stressed that, behind the political differences on the appropriate slogans to be raised in 2018 and 2019, an election year ("Down with Macri, Free and sovereign Constituent Assembly, Workers Government" versus "Down with the IMF regime, Let the crisis be paid by the capitalists, For a solution of the workers’ and the left") were expressions of divergent strategic positions”. We point this out because after the meeting in Greece, Altamira and Ramal, abandoned the slogan Down with Macri and replaced it with that of “Down with the IMF”. It is new evidence of the oscillating character of their positions and the artificial nature of the split they are promoting.
Also in your document the three organizations that participated in the Athens meeting point out that they are dissatisfied with the positions of the PO regarding the struggle of women, the LGTBI movements and drugs. A large part of our positions are available in written form in resolutions of the 26th Congress on the subject, which we have sent to you in a timely manner, and opening up an exchange and debate on these aspects would be important. The PO believes that it can provide extensive experience in the struggle of the working women’s movement.
All this can become a material basis for debates in the march towards the World Congress that we have wanted to be convened by the organizations referred to in the Program approved by the CRFI in 2004.
But in the meantime, it is necessary to resume the work of the CRCI.
The international class struggle cannot wait for the internal crises and debates of each of its members to be set in order. We propose to open a debate between the leaderships of our organizations on how to reformulate the work plan that we had agreed upon last February at the Istanbul meeting. Otherwise, we are in danger of falling into a paralysis fatal for the future of our current. We await your pronouncements, with fourth-internationalist greetings
International Commission of the PO
11 Aug 2019