Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Uruguay: “The Defeat of the Frente Amplio is the Failure of Revisionist Dogma.”

Workers participate in a protest march called by Uruguay’s PIT-CNT workers union during a partial general strike demanding better wages, in Montevideo, on September 17. 2015. AFP PHOTO / Miguel ROJO (Photo credit should read MIGUEL ROJO/AFP/Getty Images)

At the end of 2019, legislative and presidential elections were held in Uruguay, in which the
“progressive” party of the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) contested for the government with a
conglomerate of parties composed mainly of the traditional right, which in the second round
formed the Multicolor Coalition.

The result of the first round of the elections, held on October 27, 2019, were as follows: Frente
Amplio – 39.02%, National Party – 28.62%, Colorado Party – 12.34%, Cabildo Abierto –
11.04%, others (including leftist parties that were outside of the Frente Amplio) – 5.36%, null
votes – 1.83%, blank votes – 1.79%.

The second round was between the presidential candidate of the Frente Amplio, Daniel Martinez
(who came from the Socialist Party, a classic social-democratic party) and the presidential
candidate of the National Party (a liberal, catholic party, now also linked to the evangelist lobby,
which began in the early life of the Republic), Luis Lacalle Pou.

For the second round the three main parties behind the Frente Amplio and other small formed the
Multicolor Coalition, supporting the presidential candidacy of Luis Lacalle Pou; the result of the
runoff election held on November 29 was: Frente Amplio obtained 49.21% and the Multicolor
Coalition won with 50.79%.

The rebound of the Frente Amplio in the second round was due, among other things, to the
appearance on the scene of former Commander Manini Ríos, leader of the “Cabildo Abierto”, a
party with a military origin, which argued that “progressivism” led to the advance of the right
and fascism; however, it did not manage to reverse the adverse situation. One must make clear
that voting in Uruguay is mandatory, so the results are representative of society.
There is no doubt that the defeat of the Frente Amplio after governing the country for fifteen
years was part of the end of the cycle of progressive governments. But in the heterogeneity of the
parties that call themselves progressive and grouped in the Sao Paulo Forum, the Uruguayan
Frente Amplio has particular characteristics that we believe deserve to be analyzed, as well as its
electoral defeat.

The governments of the Frente Amplio

One of the Frente Amplio´s first acts at the beginning of its first government in 2005 was to sign
a letter of intent with the International Monetary Fund; this from the beginning made clear the
course that it was going to follow. During this period and the following ones, praises to this and
other international financial organizations became usual; it was rewarded with good evaluations
by the credit rating agencies. This allowed it to maintain a rate of indebtedness and favorable
terms and interests.
In the sphere of production, the concentration of land and turning it over to foreigners increased,
the country's economy was consolidated as a producer of commodities that would later be sent to
the large manufacturing centers, in a displacement line of parts of the production process, which
in the world’s division of labor assigned this region to be a producer of raw materials. This role


was consolidated with the establishment of mega pulp plants, in which wood is processed to be
shipped to China and then sold as paper to the world.
The tax policy of the Frente Amplio´s governments was to increase the benefits for capital with
the expansion of free-trade zones, specific measures to promote investments, reductions of taxes
on profits and other measures aimed at attracting Foreign Direct Investment. On the other hand,
the decrease in income created by these reductions in taxes on capital was made up for by
increasing taxes on wages, pensions and consumption. For this, the governments not only used
existing legislation, but also built an entire legal framework by creating laws such as for
Promotion and Protection of Investments, Public-Private Association, and Outsourcing, among

In the private sector, and especially in the public sector, the governments of the Frente Amplio
also increasingly turned over to private companies functions that were traditionally performed by
the State. Another mechanism used was the Public-Private Association.
The Frente Amplio´s governments continued the policies that have been operating since the
military dictatorship, carrying out a set of changes in the productive apparatus, in labor relations,
in the financial and tax system, according to the orientations of the main imperialist monopolies
that, in association with the national bourgeoisie, dominate the economy.

Some additional aspects of the Frente Amplio´s governments were the increase of the presence
of the private sector in education; the promotion of a health-care system that, while it was made
available to all, was based on a structure in which public and private providers received
financing while competing with each other, in which the rich have access to better health care
than workers. In regard to security, a policy of tougher penalties and strengthening of the
repressive apparatus of the State was promoted, increasing the budget of the Ministry of the
Interior, creating a huge militarized police force called the Republican Guard, investing in
remote surveillance and empowering the army to carry out tasks of internal surveillance at the
country borders.

Also the government strongly influenced the social movements, changing the main theme of the
discussion from big changes in society to promoting what they called the "new agenda of rights".
Thus through different institutions and NGOs, they promoted struggles of a liberal and petty-
bourgeois character such as the legalization of marijuana, the consolidation of social movements
such as the LGBTQ + movement, the recognition of women as a "minority", the whole social
agenda that promotes women based on the reactionary conceptions of post-modernism and Queer
Theory as an inclusive language, the concept of women as self-perceived individuals, among

Although the government had to give in on certain historical demands, as it partially did with
abortion, decriminalizing it under certain circumstances, with the help of the opportunist´s work
of undermining, ideologically disarmed a big part of the social movement, which gave it a basis
for presenting itself as a popular and left-wing option.
Revisionism in the creation and governments of the Frente Amplio
To understand the failure of the Frente Amplio governments, it is necessary to understand its


The Frente Amplio was founded in 1971 with a strong influence of the revisionist Party that
counted on a major force, especially in the labor movement. The Frente Amplio began as a weak
tool for several reasons: the lack of a truly Marxist-Leninist party in its leadership, its
heterogeneous class and ideological character and its purely petty-bourgeois utopian program.
After holding its 16th and 17th Congress in 1955 and 1958 respectively, the Communist Party of
Uruguay confirmed its final turn to revisionism by accepting and adapting to national conditions
the Khrushchevite theories of peaceful coexistence and the acceptance of the parliamentary road
to socialism, among other opportunist theories that rejected an alleged "orthodox" past of the

But the overtly revisionist turn of the Khrushchevites of the CP (the revisionist Party) was based
on a path that had already been opened by the influence of Browderism, a current propelled by
Earl Browder, General Secretary of the CPUSA during the 1940s with decisive penetration into
Latin America communist parties. He argued for the need to strengthen National Unity at any
price, adding that the interests of the communists converged with those of society as a whole. He
called for broad alliances in which the working class was included together with the exploiters.
In this way, all activity should be subjected to the institutions and frameworks established in the
normal functioning of the bourgeois order, in which through gradual progress and at an
indeterminate time, the pre-established reforms would lead to socialism:
The Communists foresee that the practical political aims they hold will for a long time be
in agreement on all essential points with the aims of a much larger body of non-
Communists, and that therefore our political actions will be merged in such larger
movements. 1

Thus, starting in 1955, the revisionist CP would begin a series of policies aimed at the formation
of fronts as an objective in itself, abandoning all kinds of programmatic principles. This led to all
kinds of unprincipled alliances on all fronts, with a special effort to attract the Socialist Party,
totally aligned to European social democracy, which it would praise and give all kinds of blank
checks aimed at unity with it.
As a result of this turnaround, the Left Liberation Front (FIDEL) was born in 1962. This was
formed without achieving the participation of the Socialist Party. That party built its own front,
with the participation of leaders from the traditional parties, including the National Party (a
sector historically representing the latifundists), as that of Ariel Collazo, a deputy who became
infamous for giving the decisive vote for the 1959 exchange and monetary reform promoted by
the IMF.

After the economic crisis at the 1960s and the armed defeat of the MLN (Movement of National
Liberation)-Tupamaros, the conditions for a greater unity of the so-called Uruguayan left began,
whose most important result was the formation of the United Workers’ Federation.
Despite what was previously described, added to some divisions in the left parties, the
revolutionary movement continued to lack a clear political leadership, guided by a scientific,
Marxist-Leninist ideology. This led to several defeats in a very heated atmosphere due to clearly
anti-popular governments and various coups in the region.


Under these conditions, the historic year 1971 arrived, when on February 5, the formation of the
Frente Amplio was announced. It proposed "to fraternally bring together the Colorados and
Nationalists, Christian Democrats and Marxists, men and women of different ideologies,
religious conceptions and philosophies, workers, students, teachers, priests and pastors, small
and medium producers, industrialists and merchants, civilians and military, intellectuals and
artists, in a word, all representatives of labor and culture, the legitimate spokespersons of the

With a call in which almost everyone was worth the maximum consideration, priests, pastors and
industrial representatives of labor, the Frente Amplio was born.

To get an idea of its heterogeneity, we can highlight the presence of the revisionist CP, the
Socialist Party, the Revolutionary Workers Party of a Trotskyist-Posadaist current, the Christian
Democratic Party, self-proclaimed groups of Nationalists, other Batllists [supporters of José
Batlle y Ordóñez, President from the Colorado Party in the early 1900s – translator’s note],
representatives of the MLN and also individuals. There were various officers – but not ordinary
soldiers – among them General Seregni, known for leading various acts of repression against
workers; Alba Roballo, a Catholic and fervent promoter of the candidacy of Gestido-Pacheco;
Fasano, the business owner linked to Peronism, among others.

Without a Marxist-Leninist party and with a real mixture of petty-bourgeois ideologies, one
could not expect much from its program.

On August 25, 1971, on the eve of the elections the Frente Amplio released a document that laid
out its first 30 governmental measures.

The program was established with very good declarations of intentions, but as always happens
with the petty bourgeoisie, without being accompanied by concrete measures that aimed at a
structural change in the infrastructure and by moving away from concrete materiality, these good
intentions end up being utopian.

In the first place, these measures that were designed for a rural economy, mainly an exporter of
raw materials and agriculture products, they did not consider a change of course, but rather a
strengthening of the existing economic regime.

In this sense, among the measures, there were no changes of any kind in industrial policy and
therefore in the country's dependence on the imperialist powers, due to the backwardness of
industry, which made the country dependent on equipment and means of production.
On the other hand, by prioritizing the alliance with the national bourgeoisie, the control of
production was not among its objectives; instead control measures, optimization of resources,
etc., were proposed that had already been implemented and failed under previous governments.
The program also did not propose the confiscation of capital, not only from the capitalists but
also from the bankers and landowners who had been enriched by excessive speculation in that

This not only contradicts what we Marxist-Leninists propose as indispensable measures for the
effective seizure of economic power after the revolution, but also contradicts the abstract

2 Frente Amplio, Declaration of the Formation, February 1971


national liberation postulates that the revisionists defend; they propose the limitation of its
possession of capital and means of production, but its source of power remains intact.
A clear example of what we are talking about is in the following paragraph:
The effectiveness of the right to work will emerge from agricultural and livestock policy,
which ensures that the land will remain in the hands of the medium and small producers
and of the workers in the countryside and that there will be an increase in production and
productivity, the revival and intensive development of industry as a result of increased
exports and domestic demand, the implementation of a plan of public works and of
creating new jobs. 3

As Marxist-Leninists, we know that at the stage of imperialism there is no place for the
development of an independent capitalism since all markets and spheres of influence are divided
up among the imperialist powers. Such was the experience of the national liberation struggles of
the middle of the 20th century (except for the giant one, China) which, without economic
development or clear leadership were condemned to dependence on one or another imperialist

As a consequence of all these factors, the evolution of events has once again shown the
impossibility of the well-intentioned and developmental path and Frente Amplio was no
exception.This electoral front, with a strong influence of CP revisionism in its founding, would succeed in
summarizing the struggles of the 1990s and the discontent of large sections of the masses with
neoliberal policies, winning the government at the end of 2004 and obtaining a majority in
parliament, a result that would be repeated in the following two electoral periods.
During the first two governments of the Frente Amplio (2005-2015), the conjuncture of high
commodity prices and the influx of significant Foreign Direct Investment, which allowed it to
count on significant income, made it possible to carry out social policies and increase budgets,
decrease unemployment and increase real wages compared to the crisis experienced by the
country in 2002.

It is clear that these positive numbers were not due to a change in policy but to a period of the
restructuring of capital, which led to significant investments of monopolies throughout the region
and to drive up prices of raw materials, mainly for China.
The context of the first two periods in which Frente Amplio governed made it possible to
strengthen opportunism, which sought through different approaches to justify the course taken by
the government of which they formed a part.

With great creativity, the revisionist CP of Uruguay insisted on the thesis of the existence of two
blocs in contention, on the one hand, that of imperialism accompanied by its local agents, also
known as the “bloc of power” and on the other, the “counter-hegemonic” bloc, which would be
an “expression of the great national majorities, of all the working people with a center in the
working class as the most exploited sector… [which] objectively includes all those with interests
opposed to imperialism, including sectors of the bourgeoisie not directly associated with
transnational capital” whose fundamental political tools would be the Frente Amplio and the
3 Frente Amplio, first 30 measures of government, August 1971


trade union federation PIT-CNT (Inter-Union Workers’ Plenary – National Workers’
Convention) 4 . With these ideas it dragged many of the reformist parties and organizations behind

One should keep in mind that the Frente Amplio called for the unity between the working classes
and the exploiters, with the prospect of gradually achieving National Liberation, in fact denying
the existence of the class struggle at the present stage.
Someone might think that today there are progressive sectors within the Uruguayan bourgeoisie
and that the governments of this coalition could confront imperialism. We do not believe this,
nor, it seems, does the CP of Uruguay regarding governments that it defended and promoted,
about which it states:

The possibilities for further social and economic advances in our country and in the face
of the world economic crisis are hampered by some aspects of economic policy that can
be summarized as follows: maintaining and not touching international reserves, the
implementation of a fiscal policy that does not tax the wealth of big capital, the
repayment of the debt, and the excessive promoting of foreign direct investment. 5

It adds:

The above-mentioned characteristics of economic policy have enabled the acceleration of
a process of concentration of wealth and foreign ownership of land. 6 …
The Uruguayan GDP is growing at exceptional levels and most of the population has seen
improvements in their living conditions. But the distribution of wealth is regressive and
the weaknesses of our economy in international relations are increasing. The increase in
wealth created and accumulated is not accompanied by a similar increase in the
household income of working people. The surplus value appropriated by the ruling
classes is growing. 7

Revisionism knew how to recognize the existence of a government that kept production relations
unchanged, that increased the levels of exploitation of the working class and that not only
maintained but also deepened the dependence on imperialism. Substantive reforms, which are
highly questionable, accompanied by fictitious gains to sell them to the workers and juicy
positions in state agencies were the pillar that sustained them within a clearly anti-popular

Those who do not know the political reality of Uruguay in the last 15 years may think that the
role of opportunism was that of critical support, oversight and promoter of the initiatives of the
Frente Amplio´s governments. But far from that, its complicity with the government was total:
they voted for all of its laws, tried to stop any expression of movement contrary to the interests
of the government and completely demobilized the mass organizations which had the ability to
lead, justifying cuts in wages, privatization, etc.

4 PCU, Document and General Resolution of the 30th Congress, 2013, Page 4.
5 Ibid., page 14.
6 Ibid., page 15.
7 Ibid., page 16.


Many examples make clear the policy of unity with the bourgeoisie, using the widespread slogan
launched by the trade union movement where the ultimate goal of all their "struggles" was the
defense of jobs and the right to "negotiate" with chambers of commerce without any demands for
the benefit of the workers.

All this shows the non-existence of the process of changes that they claimed to promote.
From any rational point of view, one cannot consider the program described as a model. Even the
revisionist CP itself admitted it was limited, on which the whole path of emancipation and
socialist construction was based, or that someone would think it could rely on these forces to
advance towards socialism. Only those who rely on outdated dogmas can deny reality so clearly;
only those who have completely lost sight of the necessity of the Proletarian Revolution and
have the clear and sworn objective of fighting Marxism-Leninism, to become an appendage of
the bourgeoisie, can defend and call for national unity so blatantly.

The third government of the Frente Amplio and its electoral defeat

The Frente Amplio won its third government in November 2014, in which commodities prices
were stabilized, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows were reduced, the extraordinary boom
period ended, the return to normalcy put in the foreground the inherent contradictions of the
system. The third government of the Frente Amplio was a break with the previous ones: the
fiscal possibilities shrunk and it tended to, place the burden on the workers, raising taxes on
wages, raising the rates of public services companies in order to increase the State’s income,
cutting public spending on education and health care. Despite these measures, the fiscal deficit
increased. Unemployment also grew, wages were no longer indexed to inflation, precarious and
informal jobs increased.

Our Party stated the following about this in May 2019:
The latest official data confirm that the economic boom period has finally come to an
end. In 2018, Uruguay's GDP grew by 1.6%, and in the first four years of the current
government (2015 to 2018) the average growth was 1.57%, a marked difference from the
average of the first two governments of the Frente Amplio, in which the GDP grew on
average 5.4% each year.

The decrease in value created by Uruguayan capitalism limited the policy of class
conciliation promoted by the Frente Amplio while they were the government. This is also
reflected in the data:

The purchasing power of wages, which between 2005 and 2014 grew at an average of
4.25% each year, from 2015 onwards grew at a rate of 1.56% and specifically in 2018 it
grew only 0.18%. If we add to this the 60.000 jobs lost in the current period, the total
salary of the country fell considerably.

From the side of capital, the profit rate has been falling steadily since 2013. While
between 2007 and 2015 the capitalists reinvested in the country 11% of their own profit,
in addition to replacing the raw material and the amortization of the capital already
invested, in 2017 and 2018 that amount became negative. This meant that capital in
Uruguay was not even investing enough to reproduce the economic cycle, much less to
increase it.


We are once again facing the limits of capitalist development in a country dependent on

This prelude to a crisis is a regional situation, in which capital seeks to recover the rate of
profit that always occurs in the economic cycle: destruction of the productive forces
(closing of companies, absorption of the smallest by the largest), and the low general cost
of labor power.

The direct consequences are a greater concentration of capital and a worsening of the
living conditions of the workers.
The State, with its class character, functions for the needs of capital in periods of crisis.
In this sense, in Argentina and Brazil, where “progressives” have been removed from the
government, strong capital adjustment measures against the working class are already
being applied.

If in Uruguay it has not yet been applied openly, it is because our country is in an election
year, and openly aggressive measures against the people would disrupt any chance of the
Frente Amplio being reelected.

However, the government of the Frente Amplio has been applying adjustment measures
underhandedly, which are not mentioned in the official discourse, counting for this on the
strong complicity of the union and student leaders, without which it would be impossible
for the government to apply the measures 8 .
This aggravation of the economic situation and the loss of support suffered by the Frente
Amplio´s government resulted in an increase in the mobilization of many popular sectors; in
particular the struggle for the public education budget with thousands of young people and
teachers in the streets and the environmental struggle, among others, opened possibilities for us –
Marxists-Leninists to grow in the midst of the mobilization.
A favorable situation is opening for the growth of revolutionary options, but what is striking
about the electoral result is that the “left”, which we can call revolutionary, or at least is not
organizationally tied to the Frente Amplio and continues to raise the banners of the revolution,
suffered a major setback. Despite the increased mobilization of the social movement, the degrees
of discontent of the masses, the Frente Amplio did not suffer a loss of electoral support from the

For us it is of strategic importance to achieve degrees of unity at the electoral, trade union, etc.
level, among the sectors of the left side outside Frente Amplio. With this premise, the
organizations that already exist and have political experience must not be ignored; they must be
considered and evaluated.

Having said that, we believe that it is necessary to have a fraternal, honest and clear debate, to
study the reasons for the setbacks, stagnation and the little growth of the spectrum of these

For this our Party proposed in December 2019:

8 PCMLU, CC report of May 2019.


In the three main parties on the left outside the Frente Amplio, the “26th of March”, the
“PCR” and the “PT” 9 show some deviations that need to be analyzed and where perhaps
we can find the reasons for the stagnation or decline of these parties.

The “26th of March” has a practice that tends to isolate themselves from the social
struggles, the victory that gave them access to parliament in the past elections gave them
an impetus to establish their own union federation, the Trade Union Federation of
Uruguay (CSGU). The CSGU was born from the impulse of a party and a small group of
militants; it is not the result of a process of debate and experience of the masses that
decided on the need for a union federation separate from the PIT-CNT.

Over the years, its status as a totally marginal federation has remained unchanged. It must
be added that the “26th of March” has members in unions that belong to the PIT-CNT,
which gives the idea that this party does not have a defined line of how to work in the
labor movement. But the general policy they promote is to isolate themselves from the
workers struggles in the unions that are part of the PIT-CNT.

On the other hand, both the PT and the PCR have decided to work within the unions that
are part of the PIT-CNT, both with the orientation of tailing the masses and the struggles
they themselves wage without taking into account that they are oriented by the
opportunist leaderships, which mark their perspective and profile.
This orientation puts them at the tail of the opportunist leaderships, without being able in
many cases to develop their own policies; they remain glued to the struggles that the
leadership adopted, and they hide the revolutionary perspective that they claim to have,
refusing to wage an ideological struggle that puts the cardinal interests of the proletariat
on the table.

And if they do something that resembles this ideological struggle, they always do it with
the endorsement of the official leadership, always within the framework of what is
acceptable and never denouncing or unmasking the role of opportunism. In this way, they
end up being an acceptable opposition, where all their work and effort does not lead to a
growth of the consistent and class positions in the labor movement.
These orientations may bring us closer to an answer to the reason why, in a favorable
context, these parties could not develop, but above all, it gives us an idea of the basis on
which principles we must promote our work as a Party in the social movement and
particularly in the labor movement 10 .

The Frente Amplio, due to the shortcomings and weaknesses of the Marxist-Leninist party or its
abilities, manages to drag most of the left sectors behind it, on a discourse of the need to “stop
the right”. But the defeat inflicted a hard blow to it, its governments did not lead to a better
society or to socialism, but to a government of the traditional right-wing that takes office in a
country with a complicated economic situation.
The new stage

9 The “26th of March”party comes from the Tupamaros tradition, the Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR) is a
party of Maoist orientation and the Workers’ Party (PT) is of Trotskyist orientation.
10 PCMLU, CC report of December 2019.


The stage that is opening up, with opportunism outside of the government and with the
Multicolor Coalition in it, demands that all parties analyze the concrete situation and take
measures to adapt to the new reality. Most of the left parties that are independent of the Frente
Amplio, except for the PCMLU, have chosen to stick to the agenda of opportunism.
On the current situation, in December 2019 we proposed:

There are no indicators that the Luis Lacalle government will deliver strong adjustment or
shock measures. First, because the outgoing FA government carried out much of this
work already, and second, because seeing what happened in Brazil and Argentina, they
may not want to follow the same path if they want to remain in the government.
The main concern of public discussion has been the fiscal deficit; for this reason is
probable that it will continue the policy of zero increase in state spending, decrease in the
number of public employees and increase in outsourcing and construction work by Public
Private Partnership.

Regarding competitiveness, the current government has already eliminated indexing of
wages to inflation for broad sectors, and a significant devaluation that, although it is
expected to continue, will not have a strong impact.
In other words, we are not facing a scenario of big adjustment measures, and therefore, of
a resistance of the working class to it, where mobilizations and struggles must exist
despite the opportunist leadership.
The role of the opportunist leadership also does not seem to be to promote mobilization
and struggle in this period, and that should not surprise us: the parties that currently lead
the unions are not opportunists during the governments of the Frente Amplio and
revolutionaries during other governments; on the contrary, the fundamental content of
their policy remains unchanged.

And in the same report we said further:

As a Party we have the challenge of winning the trust of the workers and popular sectors
in the unions, the neighborhoods and the elections. We must become a real alternative in
order to lead the mass organizations, to govern, and the Party must ideologically fight to
put socialism as an alternative to capitalism as a real possibility.
To push forward the struggles, to create the necessary experience of the masses, is a
condition for them to understand a large part of the postulates that we are putting
forward; for this reason it is our Party’s orientation to join and participate in the struggles
that express the needs and demands of the workers and popular sectors, but with our own
policy, with a Marxist-Leninist vision 11 .

The loss of the government by opportunism is a hard blow; all its predictions were smashed, a
new favorable scenario opens up for the revolutionary forces to rebuild, organize and strengthen
themselves, and our Party will decisively contribute to this process.

Categories: Uruguay

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