National Sections of the L5I:

Fujimori’s referendum

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At the end of October there will be a referendum on a new constitution in Peru. Fujimori, the presidential dictator in Peru, got his misnamed “Democratic Constituent Congress” to adopt a new “Magna Carta” to place before the people.

The new constitution is designed to further attack workers’ living standards, suppress democracy and preserve the Fujimori dictatorship. It eliminates the right to a job or benefits for workers, free public education and the state monopoly of strategic industries that were guaranteed in the country’s old constitution.

Democratic rights, including the right to rebel against a coup d’état, will be abolished. The sovereignty of parliament will also go. The death penalty for anti-imperialist guerrillas will be re-introduced. Fujimori wants to get the death penalty clause implemented retrospectively, so he can kill existing political prisoners from guerrilla groups like Sendero Luminoso (SL). This is in defiance of the human rights treaty that all Latin American states have signed.

Fujimori intends to introduce the right of a president to be re-elected for a second term, a measure designed to keep him in power into the next century. The referendum is intended to legally sanction existing policies. Since the presidential coup in April 1992, when he dissolved parliament and purged the judiciary, he has attacked the masses across the board.

The military, the real power in the country, have unleashed their death squads. Every day more victims’ graves are unearthed. Nearly 10,000 have been murdered since Fujimori was first elected. Thousands of political prisoners are condemned by secret tribunals to rot and die in jail. The secret police relentlessly hound all those suspected of opposition.

Peru’s workers have been hit hard. Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. Activists and union leaders have been systematically victimised. Less than 10% of the population have stable employment. This has resulted in terrible poverty. Those workers who are in regular employment are nearly all paid below subsistence rates.

Despite his terrible record Fujimori remains popular, with a constant 60% approval rating in opinion polls. This paradox is due to the failure of the left to offer an alternative and by the deep discrediting of the established bourgeois parties.

The Stalinist SL has waged a prolonged guerrilla war against the regime, but their reign of terror in the countryside has completely alienated the majority of peasants. In the cities their murders of union leaders has turned many workers against them.

The United Left, comprising reformists and centrists, were complicit in former President Garcia’s austerity programmes and supported his repression of SL and the “more humane” guerrillas of the MRTA. During the presidential elections in 1990, these “lefts” called for a vote for Fujimori!

Deep and brazen corruption, combined with repression and austerity programmes turned the masses against the established bourgeois parties like Garcia’s Apra. Important sections of the masses looked to the “clean” and “independent” Fujimori as an alternative. His dictatorship is excused by many as necessary to root out the corruption of the previous regimes.

Such illusions are fatal. Fujimori is neither clean nor independent. He is backed by imperialism and its multinationals, especially US and Japanese imperialism. He promises the military a war against terrorism and he promises the USA a war against “narco-traffickers”. The Peruvian capitalists support his attacks on the unions. And the petit bourgeoisie and the street-sellers of Peru’s cities see him as the man to control hyper-inflation.

To counter the illusions in Fujimori and start a serious struggle against the dictatorship, workers will have to vote no in the referendum. To abstain, as SL propose, will strengthen Fujimori because the masses themselves are not convinced of the illegitimacy of this referendum. But voting no does not mean supporting the bourgeois opposition to Fujimori.

We draw a strict line between working class opposition to Fujimori and that of those bosses whose noses have been put out of joint by the dictator. They support his attacks on the workers and are only concerned about restrictions on their own democratic rights. They do not favour the release of all political prisoners, including SL. Any crimes SL have committed against the masses must be judged and punished by workers’ and peasants’ tribunals, not by the secret tribunals and firing squads of the bourgeoisie.

In calling for a no vote, Peruvian Trotskyists seek to force all the workers’ organisations to build a united front to defend all working class gains and liberties and oppose the new constitution. We fight to commit the workers’ organisations not merely to opposition to the dictatorship and its new constitution, but to fight for job security, a minimum wage of $500 per month, a sliding scale of wages and hours, full jobs or full pay, the cancellation of the foreign debt, the expropriation of all companies declaring closure and the nationalisation of all imperialist holdings, without compensation and under workers’ control.

We fight for the freedom of all political prisoners, the right of assembly and for self-defence by all working class and popular committees. We demand that the workers’ leaders and organisations convene a National Assembly of rank and file delegates from all the union and popular organisations, and that this Assembly calls and organises a general strike.

In voting no, we do not counterpose the old bourgeois constitution to the new one. We demand immediate elections to a new and sovereign constituent assembly, convened free from military rule and interference and with the media placed under workers’ and popular control.

Democratic control should be guaranteed through building committees and self-defence organisations. All workers, whatever age, and anyone else over the age of sixteen should be allowed to vote in the Assembly elections.

A determined struggle around these demands in the course of fighting for a no vote can unite the workers’ movement against Fujimori and begin to lay the basis for defeating the dictatorship altogether.n