Central America - Oppressed fight back against imperialism

Central America

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 9, March/April 1981

The wave of revolution engulfing Central America is an uprising against imperialism. It is yet another front in the glorious international anti-imperialist war being waged in Iran and Palestine, Ireland, South Africa and elsewhere.

US imperialism has been the main oppressor and exploiter of the peoples of Central (and Latin) America. But its ruthless oppression and exploitation has always been supported by British imperialism. Since 1945 all the major imperialist powers have joined in an alliance to defeat all revolutionary movements of the oppressed. In February, Thatcher told President Reagan:

‘The responsibility for freedom [to plunder and murder!] is ours to share. In Britain you will find an ally, valiant, staunch and true.'

This has always been the content of British relations with US imperialism — a pledge to defend each other against revolution. In supporting US oppression in the region, the British state is also defending its own vast economic interests there. Over 80 British multi-nationals and banks — Barclays, Midlands, Rio Tinto Zinc, Courtaulds amongst them — profit from the appalling poverty and suffering which US imperialism is responsible for upholding.

Thatcher does not need to show outright support for US military intervention in El Salvador. All that is required is that the US is free to secure US and British imperialist interests in the area.

The condemnation of possible US military intervention by the Labour Party is deceitful hypocrisy. The Labour Party has never opposed British imperialism, let alone US imperialism. It is an imperialist party and both in opposition and when in government it has waged war against the Republican movement in Ireland. We should also recall that the Labour Government fully supported the US war against the Vietnamese people. Its 'concern' for US military intervention represents only the fear that it would not be in the best interests of British imperialism.

The standpoint of Communists and the British working class is different. The whole structure of imperialist 'democracy' and privilege in Britain and the USA is based on the toil and blood of the oppressed in El Salvador, Central America, and throughout the world. Liberation fighters are our allies in the common anti-imperialist struggle. They are the anti-imperialist forces of democracy and progress with which communists declare unconditional solidarity in the war against US and British imperialism.

El Salvador

The anti-imperialist movement of millions of oppressed workers and peasants in Central American has reached its highest point in El Salvador. There, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) is mounting the strongest, most resolute and courageous challenge by the oppressed to US imperialism today.

On the occasion of the Paris Commune in 1871, Karl Marx wrote:

‘The civilisation and justice of bourgeois order comes out in its lurid light whenever the slaves and drudges of that order rise against their masters. Then this civilisation and justice stand forth as undisguised savagery and lawless revenge.'

In El Salvador, US imperialism is proving the terrible truth of this statement. In 1980, the US backed military regime massacred over 10,000 revolutionary workers and peasants. No opposition, democratic or revolutionary, is exempted from the terror — teachers, journalists, students, priests and nuns are all slain in defence of imperialist order and 'civilisation'. On 27 November 1980 6 leading members of the Democratic Revolutionary Front (FDR), the political wing of the revolutionary movement, were kidnapped and murdered by state forces. On 2 December 1980, three American nuns and a lay sister working amongst the poor, were abducted, raped and murdered. The response of US imperialism revealed its cynical hypocrisy: the Carter Administration expressing sentiments of outrage, banned all further military aid to the murderous regime, only to resume it with a $5m credit when the revolutionary forces of the FMLN launched their general offensive to topple that same murderous regime. Since President Reagan's inauguration, El Salvador's butchers have received a further $10m military aid. And the torture, the killings, the rape — the obscene savagery of imperialism defending its wealth and property continues. Every night at least 15 people are shot dead, and the officially organised fascist death squad ORDEN continues its campaign of brutal murder, leaving disembowelled and mutilated bodies of workers and revolutionaries by the roadsides.

Despite these terrible sacrifices, the revolutionaries remain unbending. On 11 January 1981, the FMLN launched the first stage of its general military offensive to finally crush the reactionary regime. Within days they had seized control of numerous villages and towns in the provinces Chaletenango, Morazan, San Vicente and Usulutan. After two and a half weeks fighting, the first stage of the offensive is completed.

The FMLN is now in control of large parts of El Salvador and has virtually surrounded its major cities. In this first stage, the FMLN has also given thousands of new soldiers battle experience.

Confronted with this growing and successful tide of revolution in El Salvador, the US government is preparing to step up its intervention. Already 200 US counter revolutionary ‘experts' are advising the butcher army. Under US instruction the Honduran air force attacked FMLN posts in El Salvador and 1000 Guatemalan troops are massed on her borders to invade the country, while 500 ex-Somoza National Guards are already in El Salvador fighting against the revolution. Simultaneously, Mr Eagleburger deputy US Secretary of State has been touring European imperialist capitals to drum up support for US intervention. With documents allegedly proving that Cuba and the USSR are supplying arms to the FMLN, Eagleburger is trying to block European food aid to El Salvador refugees. These documents and allegations have proved to be lies. Foreign journalists in El Salvador have been hounded out by death threats because neither the right wing regime nor the USA want the real situation to be known. The few journalists who remain are forced to tell the truth: that the right wing ORDEN is an integral part of the army and that camps of refugee women, children and the elderly are massacred at will by these forces.

All these lies by the USA are but steps in preparation for direct US military intervention. This is not a prospect that frightens the FMLN; they are ready and prepared for any such intervention. Salvador Cayetano Carpio, the main leader of the FMLN has declared:

‘If the US intervenes in El Salvador, it will become another Vietnam and the tomb of Yankee Marines.'

Communists in Britain demand — No US Intervention in El Salvador! We demand an end to any British Government negotiation or discussion with US imperialism. We are not impressed by Eagleburger's documents. They are meaningless. The FMLN has on numerous occasions demonstrated its internationalism and fully deserves all the support it receives — military, economic and political —from any revolutionary and progressive forces be they Soviet, Cuban or otherwise.


US imperialism is now grooming the Honduran armed forces as a counter-revolutionary agent to smash the Central American revolution. It is dressing the military regime with the tattiest of democratic clothing to avert imperialist 'liberal' opposition to its chosen role for the Honduran regime.

In July 1980 there was a rigged election — the banned Communist and Socialist parties were unable to participate. A literacy and land reform programme has failed; some of its officials are on trial for corruption. Power remains with a reactionary and corrupt army involved in the £700m a year drug trade. The 'liberal' Guardian's reporter in a recent article may have been duped into believing in the 'Honduran military's willingness to acknowledge the needs of democracy', but not the Honduran left. They, as well as the Honduran CP are boycotting this year's Presidential elections and preparing the armed struggle.

Meanwhile, the US Government strengthens the Honduran military. Last year it received $3.53m of military aid. It has the strongest air force in Central America reinforced recently by 10 more helicopters. Teams of US advisors are training the army in counter-revolutionary warfare, senior members of the security forces organise unofficial fascist death squads, whilst 7,000 ex-Somoza National Guards are harboured and organised ready for combat.

Results of this counter-revolutionary preparation are already in evidence. The Honduran air force is bombing and strafing El Salvador's border areas controlled by the FMLN, 500 ex-Somoza mercenaries are fighting against the FMLN in El Salvador and Honduran troops guarding the border turn back refugees to certain death. Last year 600 refugees turned back were massacred by the El Salvador army.


Guatemala, like El Salvador is a Central American nation of 42,000 sq. miles with a population of 7 million. It too is the scene for mass anti-imperialist war against the US Government and its lackeys.

Since the victory of the Nicaraguan revolution in 1979, the military regime headed by General Garcia, has escalated repression against the mass movement to unprecedented levels. Over 4000 workers, peasants, students and teachers were murdered in 1980 by the army and fascist death squads. In June 1980 all 27 Executive members of the National Confederation of Workers were kidnapped and have not been seen since. In November 1980, Felipe Alvarez, one of the few Indian mayors (Indians are 60% of the population) was kidnapped and has not been seen since. By June 1980 an average of 20 workers, peasants and democrats were being killed every day.

This intensified war against the Guatemalan masses, financed by US imperialism, has a purpose; to smash the revolutionary armed organisations of the people and prevent the further spread of revolt in Central America. But despite murderous repression, the revolutionary resistance grows daily. It is a resistance fuelled by conditions of utter destitution which imperialism has imposed on the Guatemalan people. The overwhelming majority of the people are peasants, yet 2% of the people own 70% of the land — all the fertile coastal plains cultivating export crops. The mass of the peasantry is forced into subsistence farming in the rocky 'high plains'. 87% of bank credit goes to the big capitalists producing export crops, whilst only 3% to peasants producing food. Peasants encouraged to cultivate northern jungle areas are now being expelled as imperialism discovers rich mineral deposits and conditions for cultivating luxury spices. Unemployment is 45%; 81% of all children suffer malnutrition; the mortality rate is 7.9% (in Britain it is 1.4%) and adult illiteracy is 53%.

It is only on the basis of this poverty and destitution that imperialism can operate profitably. And it is against the upholders of this ruthless oppression and exploitation — imperialism and its puppets — that mass organisations are waging armed revolutionary war. On the political front workers and peasants are organised through the CNUS — National Committee for Trade Union Unity and CUC — Committee of Peasant Unity. These mass organisations are linked with armed organisations of the people — the EGP (Guerilla Army of the Poor), the FAR (Rebel Armed Forces), and ORPA (Revolutionary Organisation of the People in Arms). In December 1980, these organisations and the PGT (Guatemalan Labour Party) announced that they will form a unified military command in preparation for a final offensive against the regime. They aim to establish a revolutionary people's government, free the masses from imperialism and set about building socialism. Hundreds of daring and successful military operations and the tremendous loyalty they command proves that these organisations are the revolutionary vanguard of the Guatemalan anti-imperialist struggle.