2023, a year of slowdown and uncertainty for Colombians

By the Central Executive Committee of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Colombia. March 31, 2023.


To all readers and analysts who follow international events from this journal, we present these lines that summarize the main considerations of our party in this situation, the challenges and tasks of Marxist-Leninists in Colombia. The opinions raised here have been the result of a great political and ideological effort to maintain the unity and strengthening of our party in the face of the class struggle, a permanent dialogue with the workers and communities, internal functioning, ideological struggle and party-political debate.

We are undoubtedly living in complex political moments that mark important changes in national and international events; deepening this and the whole dynamic of the class struggle in the world will always be an important effort that will contribute to the improving of the strategy and tactics of our Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations.

With these reflections we hope to contribute to this collective effort to maintain the compass and struggle for social transformation, sure that your criticisms and contributions will result in the strengthening of our work.

I. The main features of the international situation

In the examination of the international situation, a first element to be seen includes the acute exacerbation of the social contradictions that characterize the world today. This reflects the deep crisis undergone by the capitalist system, its constant weakening, decomposition and agony. Certainly the world is falling into a perspective of greater clashes and ruptures that make revolution inevitable.

The extreme sharpening of the contradictions in the camp of imperialism, the permanent clashes between the imperialist powers that have given rise to the accumulation of wars being promoted today; the struggle of the peoples against the dictates and subjugation of the imperialist countries; the struggle that arises in the countries dependent on thousands of workers and people from the most varied social sectors for their well-being, rights and freedoms, threatened in some cases and in others curtailed by bourgeois and imperialists of different kinds, stage a very complex panorama of constant instability and imbalance, in which clashes are aggravated and foretell ruptures in the imperialist chain.

The war, multipolarity and the “new world order”

The inter-imperialist struggle for supremacy and control of countries and the universe is making its way through greater forms of aggression, terror and violence. It is no secret that the war in Ukraine has intensified and that many countries are increasingly involved in this conflict. There are tensions between the U.S. and China over military exercises by both powers in the Pacific Ocean and the U.S. recognition of Taiwan as an independent nation. Other hotbeds of war are being permanently fueled, such as in the Middle East, North and Central Africa, Pakistan, Venezuela, etc. These are all coupled with the commercial, technological and energy disputes that are also increasing, while showing the danger and imminent outbreak of a new world conflagration.

It is also clear the division of the imperialist camp into two large sides or blocs are not homogeneous, of course, insofar as they act according to expedience, but united on both sides in the defense of their particular interests. The opposing imperialist blocs are led, on the one hand, by the US and other Western powers, and on the other by Russia, China and India. Because of their interests of expansion and domination, one cannot say that the acts of one or the other side are in defense of the sovereignty of a certain country or to save humanity, as some claim; on the contrary, they express the voracity and anti-democratic, bloody and criminal character of imperialism.

It is obvious that the danger of world war is growing and fueled permanently as the military confrontation between the blocs escalates, trade wars deepen and spread, as well as there is support for one or the bloc. However, the breakdown in world governance, globalization and multilateralism that is repeatedly preached and defended in the different international scenarios is striking. We are certainly living in times when the struggle for hegemony and world domination increases the number of commercial and political agreements between countries, and with them the assumption and/or defense of certain rules, organizations and institutions. The world order therefore is registering important changes that must continue to be analyzed, because behind the fragmentation that the markets are experiencing today and the protectionism promoted by each of the blocs, there are the new threads that characterize the governance, domination and subjection of peoples and nations.

Given the dynamics of multipolarity, one can also mention the greater tensions that exist within agencies such as the United Nations and its Security Council, the World Trade Organization and in general the different interstate organizations. It is not uncommon, therefore, that in many of these one can see changes, and some, such as the International Criminal Court, take a direct part in the dispute favoring one or the other bloc.

However, taking into account that the struggle for the control and exploitation of raw materials and natural resources, of ports, seas and strategic areas, will continue to mark the inter-imperialist dispute, we cannot ignore the fact that the interdependence and existence of a global market requires minimum agreements between the imperialists themselves in order to ensure the rate of profit and the hegemony achieved. For example, cryptocurrencies, the role of the central banks, interest rates, the price of raw materials, banking security, the care and maintenance of certain areas of the globe, the mobility of companies, the use of nuclear weapons, to name a few, are issues where the same confrontation calls for the adoption of regulations.

Slowdown, inflation and job reduction

Along this line we highlight the slowdown that marks the world economy due to the increase in interest rates, the growth of inflation, the war in Ukraine and all the inter-monopoly dispute that today exist in the different continents. In consulting the IMF website, we see that the budgets of growth of the world economy will go from 3.4% in 2022 to 2.9% in 2023. Expectations of such growth are underpinned by the growth of productivity, technological advances, lower energy prices, job growth and China’s recovery from the lifting of its health restrictions.

As for the inflationary phenomenon that is currently seen in most countries, it is worth mentioning as driving factors the disturbances in supplies that currently exist in the midst of inter-monopoly competition, the increase in energy prices, mainly in Europe, which are today subject to prices and other elements of the oil, gas and energy policy of the United States. They also depend on the increase in State expenditures in military matters (the rise in the arms race), as well as those caused by climate change, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.

The phenomenon is so serious that the same IMF statistics1 show that world inflation reached 8.8% in 2022 (the world average). With the measures taken by central banks, global inflation is expected to decline to 6.6% in 2023 and 4.3% in 2024. In the first months of 2023, global inflation remained at 8%, the slight reduction observed in the so-called developed economies (from 6.7 to 6.6%) with the rise of a similar magnitude in emerging economies (from 9.0 to 9.1%).

The policies adopted by the Fed and most central banks in response to this inflationary phenomenon have only been the increase in interest rates, causing a sharp reduction in consumer spending and business investment, a drop in credit and an economic slowdown (manufacturing and service activity in most countries of Europe and in China has fallen significantly).

Now, the monetary and anti-inflationary policy which the Fed and most central banks are parading in the different scenarios are a lie and a deception for most consumers, because they are agencies that remain silent and hide the real reasons for the inflationary increase that has existed for several years. In our view, they are responsible for the increase in the money supply, and therefore for the depreciation of the value of the circulating currency and indeed for the rise in the prices of goods and services. They certainly manipulate the figures so as not to show that in the context of weak economic growth, stagnation and slowdown, the factor with the highest incidence of inflation lies in the increase in State spending (mainly military and debt service), which as is well known has its greatest backing in the issuance of currency.

In these terms, it is the consumers and never the investors and capitalists who assume the costs of inflation, created mainly by the imperialist states.

In terms of employment, the ILO estimates that global unemployment will increase slightly in 2023, affecting three million people. With this, there would be 208 million people out of work. With the economic slowdown, there will be very few new jobs, estimates show an increase of only 0.9% for 2023. The flexibilization and outsourcing that characterize the labor market will force many workers to accept jobs of lower skill, with low wages and often with insufficient hours. With incomes reduced in the context of higher inflation, many workers are at risk of increasing the belts of poverty. Reflecting what has been pointed out by the ILO, it is worrying that the scenarios registered in labor matters with the Covid-19 pandemic are maintained and tend to worsen.

This situation is aggravated by the increasing weight of external debt, the increasing fiscal deficits, the disastrous effects of the neoliberal formulas imposed by the IMF on dependent countries, as well as climate change that for several years has been redrawing the economic and social work of the different countries.

In this way, we can state that economic stagnation and slowdown, rising unemployment, inflation (the phenomenon of stagflation is already visible in many countries, including the US) and poverty warn of the proximity of a new cycle of recession, which will strike economies hard and affect the standard of living of thousands of inhabitants of the planet.

Financial crisis

This uncertainty is increasing with the emergence of the crisis of the banking system, seen these days with the bankruptcy of several banks in the US, Switzerland and Germany. According to analysts, this could create a domino effect on the whole financial system, placing the world economy in serious trouble.

Since state intervention is the only alternative currently claimed as a way out of the crisis, the bank bailout has not been long in coming. In the US, the Federal Reserve has come to the rescue, first of Silicon Valley Bank, then of Signature Bank, and now a third, First Republic Bank. The Swiss bailout of the Credit Suisse bank took place by being acquired by the UBS Bank. In Germany, the collapse of Deutsche Bank’s share value to 8.53% on the Frankfurt stock exchange, after the sharp increase in the cost of insurance against the risk of default, has been mitigated with an early repayment of $1,500 million dollars in Tier 2 bonds (fixed-rate Tier 2 subordinated debt) maturing in 2028.

Although the monetary authorities say that there are no vulnerabilities that jeopardize its activity, neither on the profitability side, as in Credit Suisse, nor on the side of subprime loans, as in the case of US regional banks, the health of the system is being called into question. The truth is that the values of the main banks continue to fall. At its close, the Euro Stoxx 600 index for the banking sector registered a fall of 2.53%, with Sydbank leading the decline with a fall of 10.88%, followed by the Scandinavian Nordea, which also fell by 8.4%.

In the United States, one sees the transfer of deposits from small banks, considered to be at risk, to much larger ones, which are potentially safer. The amount transferred in the last week of March was $50 billion. If we take into account that the guaranteed deposit funds pay the same amount for risk insurance, regardless of the name and size of the entity (100,000 euros in Europe and 250,000 dollars in the US), hypothetically we could ensure that, through the absorption of the smaller banks, the large banks have greater leverage to face the coming financial crisis.

The growth of the popular struggle

In the midst of such a complex context, a light of hope appears in the sky, illuminating the path of thousands of men and women who seek an alternative to war and dying capitalism: social protest, strikes, mobilizations and struggle appear with greater force in different corners of the planet. The banners of democracy, freedom, rights, well-being, work, ecology, the environment and the protection of the planet flutter and wave with vigor, opening the way to processes of unity and struggle that, as in other times, highlight the role of the working class as the historical subject of change.

In Latin America, the rise of masses has achieved important victories and spaces; in countries such as Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, the protests and struggles of the workers and popular masses have made possible the victory and coming to the government of democratic forces. Now, despite the ideological and programmatic limits of each of these experiences, each of them points to the possibility of victory, change and with it the opening of a new dawn for the workers and peoples.

Progressivism has taken the lead in these processes, becoming the main force. The different forces of the left, the revolutionaries and communists have resisted a strong and criminal ideological, political and military offensive that seeks their political isolation and elimination. The results, although they are different in different countries, in general we could point out valuable quantitative and qualitative advances. They mainly highlight an arduous process of reorganization and rooting themselves in society that enhances the unity, role and political protagonism of the different alternative forces.

II. The details of the national situation

Colombia: a reflection of the international trends

In the examination of the country’s economic situation, a first element to be noted includes how worrisome for the country and especially for workers are the serious problems of economic decline, galloping inflation, the loss of purchasing power of wages, the growth of informal work, unemployment and the reduction of income.

Projections of the GDP for Latin America
The countries with the highest inflation in Latin America

With this perspective of the Colombian economy, the serious problems of the country continue to show the negative results of monitoring and IMF impositions, which make Colombia one of the most unequal countries on the planet and the continent, with the immense challenge of overcoming, in addition to inequality and poverty, the backwardness and dependence that characterizes it.

Also of concern are issues such as the increase in foreign debt, the fiscal deficit and environmental problems that have long been a major issue for Colombians.

In social matters, the social crisis suffered by the majority of Colombians is not a small matter; there are many reasons to remain dissatisfied and uncertain, given the increase in taxes, fines and other growing monetary sanctions, high interest rates, currency devaluation, high utility rates, the high cost of food for a family, lack of drinking water, the deterioration of the roads, the constant landslides. In general there are countless problems to be overcome, which show once again the historical state abandonment, the high levels of corruption, the lack of social infrastructure in a country also struck by war and human rights violations.

In political matters, the crisis is not something minor and cannot be overcome with the coming of Petro into the government; this situation can clearly be explained by the discontent, social pressure and demand for change by the majority of the Colombian population, even if a democratic candidate has won the presidency.

With nine months of his administration, the level of popularity, acceptance and recognition of the new government is clear and favorable, undermined by the great limitations and difficulties it faces in carrying out the democratic program of government and the democratic reforms for which the majority voted and will not rest in their demands.

Besides not having the majority in Congress, the erratic approach to reconciliation, agreement and national unity without differentiating between the interests and strategies in contention, has reduced the possibility, support and political legitimacy among some of the political and social sectors that supported Petro from the beginning of his candidacy. It seems not to be true, but it is, that the new government has called for consensus, a pact and national agreement among all sectors seeking to promote and support the reforms and policies achieved through consensus or agreement with traditional organizations and parties, so-called because they are traditionally the ones that have led the country in favor of the oligarchy and imperialism.

The growing social demands therefore depend on agreements and alliances that the government can realize in the formulation, presentation and approval of the reforms and policies that it proposed. Now, it is not the first time that this type of formula has been tested in the country; so it is not difficult to point out that any program, policy or reform that is proposed not only risks undermining its content, but also that it is lost, because its approval depends on both arousing and uniting the interests and support of those who are the majority in a given place. in this case the Congress of the Republic.

Therefore, what will be approved by the Congress of the Republic will not be the government program that the citizens voted for, it will not be the democratic reforms. The Congress is composed of a majority representing the economic organizations, multinationals and power groups that have traditionally governed Colombia. Total peace that will not be achieved if the rules (guidelines and norms) imposed by imperialism on these issues are maintained. A reconciliation and national agreement is impossible without a proposal for the country that alleviates the poverty, violence and anti-democracy that we have suffered from for years; anything else would be to renounce change and take up a defense of the status quo, which in our view would be the most serious.

If the government does not correct its focus [of winning the backing of the majority in Congress], the political support of the democratic and leftist sectors for this government will be reduced, by not providing clear and concrete answers to the worsening of the economic crisis, the growth of injustice and social inequality, protected by the neoliberal and fascistic orientation that the bourgeois state has defended for decades.

It is worth noting in this regard that all the forces and organizations of our party worked intensely, together with many other democratic forces and organizations, to achieve the Petro’s victory. As president of the republic, we support and collaborate with his government to the maximum, but we do not hide his great limitations and weaknesses. Our independence and autonomy, the proletarian and popular interests that we defend, demand that we state what we agree with and what we do not agree with.

We see that there is a growing struggle running through the entire establishment; the oligarchic sectors seek to maintain their rate of profit without any loss, as well as the control and direction of the State and the country in general. They will use any obstacle, coup and closure of spaces to the democratic, alternative and left sectors that exist today in the government and that also work for the victory of reforms that would alleviate the difficult situation that the majority of Colombians are suffering from in regard to rights, freedoms and living conditions.

Recognizing the efforts and the ups and downs that it presents, we are fighting to increase the democratic victories, aware that we are not immune from defeat. Therefore, we do not rule out the possibility that, in the midst of it, we may be forced to make a stop along the way, changing our behavior towards the government of Gustavo Petro. We hope that this government will remain within the popular and democratic camp and not allow itself to become aligned with the bourgeois and neoliberal policies that it has criticized so much.

Principal risks for Colombia in 2023

III. Our most important challenges and tasks

We are continuing in the struggle to strengthen the party from a class perspective and in a transformative bet. This means that our main effort in this period continues to be aimed at strengthening the Marxist-Leninist party with a vision for power for the Colombian proletariat and people. We are an organization committed to the economic, social, political and cultural transformations that the national majority raises as its banner; we are fighting for the defense and independence of the homeland, its self-determination and liberation from the imperialist yoke, mainly of US imperialism.

As part of the international communist movement we are working to make the most of the objective conditions and increase the determining subjective factors for social change and the building of the new socialist society. We are working hard for the unity and centralization of the organizations fighting against imperialism, for self-determination and the socialist future of our peoples.

We are determined fighters for the unity of the workers, peasants and popular sectors, we raise their banners and demands; we are seeking a great political and mass movement for the defense of life, work, the rights and freedoms of the people. We are fighting for a democratic government that, together with the people, works and fights for democracy, and does not hesitate to convene a National Constituent Assembly for the approval of a new constitutional and democratic framework for the republic.

We show our support for the government of Gustavo Petro, his government program, as well as his proposed democratic reforms. We will continue together with the people to promote the mobilization and popular struggle in defense of the government and its proposals, seeking, in addition to a qualitative leap in their content, the achievement of the balance of forces necessary for their approval and materialization.

We will actively participate in the regional elections called for October 27, promoting and supporting candidates committed to the people, their democratic banners and the building of a local power that strengthens sovereignty, participation and popular well-being.

Categories: Colombia, International

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