The Uruguayan Communist Party strategy between 1968 and 1973


The period between 1968 and 1973 has been object of numerous studies, because it concentrates key events for the popular field and the national life in particularly severe international circumstances. Those years were shaken by economical, political and social crisis as the result of the great postwar events , that put an end to the allegedly golden period of the last century, known as the “thirty glorious years” that started in 1945.

The revolutionary outbreak of the convulsive year 1968 expressed the great globlal crisis that was starting , setting a landmark in modern history  because it had the dimension of global carachteristics  (Rieznik, 2009). In January started the offensive of Tet,  that cornered in Vietnam the invading troops, giving a decisive strike despite their immediate objectives. In the USA the impact of that fact was capital, where a huge movement against the war had taken place and liquidated the re-election of that time President Lyndon Johnson and hit the heart of the USA politic regime shaken by two “magnicides”: Marthin Luther King´s in April and Robert Kennedy´s a few months later. French May fits in this scene, where the youth rising was the sparkle that litten up the most important general srike in the history of the french proletariat, which paralyzed France during a month. In august of  1968, by a new explosion , but this time in Eastern Europe : five thousand Russian tanks and two hundred thousand soldiers invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the so-called “Prague Spring” a key moment for the rebellions, that shook the territory dominated by the stalinism and its Eastern Europe puppet goverments. The Eastern Europe working class rebelled against the usurpers who claimed to govern in their name. In our continent, the police and the Mexican army fiercely repressed a massive student concentration, assassinating hundreds of students in the well-known massacre of Tlatelolco. Further south, in Brazil the student mass rises against the dictatorship in massive occupations and mobilizations; in Argentina started the strikes that later will end in the Cordobazo.

In the strikes, in the squares and in the streets there is a common scenario of the end of the period: the breakdown of the armed political and economic equilibrium at the end of the Second World War, which had been negotiated by the victorious economic powers and the USSR. governed by the Stalin regime. The period opened in 1968 extends until the beginning of the emblematic 1970s.

In this context, the Communist Parties at an international level enter to this period marked by the process of debates initiated with the rise of Khrushchev – and then Breznev – and the so-called “de-stanilization” in the USSR from the XX Congress in 1956. Braz (2006) states that in the 1960s the CPSU lost its condition of exercising total supremacy over the course of the international Stalinist-communist movement, witnessing its pulverization and fragmentation at the end of the decade. The matter of revolutionary strategy was the central object of several perspectives – inside and outside the communist-Stalinist movement – facing insurrectionary and reformist variants.

The present work is divided into two sections: in the first section, some specific antecedents of the strategy of the Communist Parties are addressed, in particular what was later called Eurocommunism that emerged during the sixties and seventies, which means the even formal abandonment of the Leninism and the conception of the dictatorship of the proletariat, adapting each CP not unconditionally to the policy of the Kremlin bureaucracy, but also to the needs of the bourgeoisie of each country. One can take as a background the reformist and opportunist proposals of the Second International in the beginning of the 20th century and, logically, of the Third International under the Stalin´s command in the thirties; then, the axis that makes the proposal about the nature of the revolution in Latin America and Uruguay formulated by the PCU in the sixties is reviewed, especially the characterization of local capitalism as dependent, backward and semifeudal, constrained by the weight of the foreign monopolies and the landed oligarchy and the reasons why it raised the need for a “bourgeois-democratic, agrarian and anti-imperialist” revolution, that is, a revolution in stages. In the second section, the tactics of the PCU in the 1968-69 strikes are analyzed in relation to the Prompt Security Measures, the policy towards the 1971 elections and its position in relation to communiques 4 and 7 of the Armed Forces, which give account of the background strategic plan that was held in this period in its call to form agreements with sectors of the national bourgeoisie.

The “democratic path” to socialism

In the sixties and seventies the proposals within the communist parties emerged with a certain force; the renunciation to the revolution and the development of the “democratic routes” to socialism, among whose main promoters were the Italian Communist Party – that later integred the PCE and PCF- and the appearance of Allende´s goverment as an inescapable reference of this route. Thus, in the midst of social and political upheavals of great magnitude, emerged the so-called Eurocommunism that placed as a central political strategy the expansion of class alliances with the national bourgeoisie and the electoral-parliamentary issue as a fundamental task of the stage. The reforms would be presented as political moments that would promote gradual advances and allow the accumulation of social forces, necessary for the construction of the revolutionary change process. The insurrectional route for social revolution and the conquest of the power of the working class was replaced directly by partial victories in the parliament, in municipal and national governments and bourgeois institutions. The gradual insertion in the bourgeois state would allow the conquest of the hegemony of the whole society, including the civil society political organizations. In this way, “The transition towards socialism supposed, then, the conjunction of strategies that, by adapting to the national reality, would articulate alliances in society that would allow the accumulation of social gains through permanent and progressive reforms in order to turn the revolution into a historical process that would develop in the national life until the conquest of the hegemony agreed between various social forces on the command of the party. This hegemony would be conquered by a process of deep democratization of society that would enable the proletariat to become, for the party, leader of the revolutionary process, through the control of the State. The way towards socialism, according to Eurocommunists ideas, would be by peaceful and democratic mean” (Braz 2006:282)

According to Mandel (1978), the political orientation of Eurocommunism, centered on the alliance of the working class with the national bourgeoisie and the parliamentary strategy, has its historical roots in the turn taken by the Third International in its seventh Congress of 1935 around the definitions on the Popular Front, whose political function was manifested in the alliances of the CPs with the social democracy and with the liberal bourgeoisie in the Popular Fronts of Spain and France as a resource to prevent the proletarian insurrection. In this sense, the basic guiding notion of the Popular Front that takes up Eurocommunism was the collaboration between the “progressive” classes against the reactionary classes within the framework of the defense of State institutions, on the assumption that such institutions would change their particular class content. The conquest of state spaces could allow the weight and power of the masses to increase in the democratization and management of the State, developing structural reforms that would transform in stages the nature of the capitalist regime through the conquest of parliamentary majorities. In this aspect, Eurocommunism takes up Kautsky’s thesis about a gradual transformation of capitalism, based on the national reality of capitalist relations. Renouncing to an internationalist fight aproach, it becomes center in the strategies of national order. It is about the stagist thesis -turned by Stalinism- in which the revolutionary process is conceived as the previous articulation of forces that act by the capitalism progressive modification until such time as the conditions for taking power are met. For Mandel, much of this content is a return to the reformist social democracy of 1914-1929, making PCs an element of stabilization of the “bourgeois order in the capitalist state”, because they sought to ensure the basis for the softening of the fight of classes of the workers’ movement towards an exit within institutional frameworks. The attempt to build democratic and pacifist national societies suggested a kind of national (democratic) socialism that rehabilitated the thesis of Stalin’s “socialism in one country”

In Latin America Marxism had to confront as a main problem the definition of the character of the revolution in the continent -that resulted from the analysis of Latin American social formations and the starting point to define strategies and political tactics- (Lowy, 2007). Fundamental political issues such as class alliances, methods of struggle, the stages of the revolution are deduced from the central characterization of the nature of the revolution. In latin America between 1930-1959, exists a hegemony of the Stalinist interpretation consisting of the theory of the revolution by stages, defining the stage as national-democratic. This characterization that predominated in the Latin American CPs reaches a central conclusion: the economic and social conditions in Latin America are not mature enough for a socialist revolution, the objective being to concretize a historical and democratic stage of development of national capitalism, overcoming the “feudal” remnants. Therefore, in the backward countries, the revolution was not proletariat, but an “intermediate” revolution, neither bourgeois nor proletarian, which in our continent was called “agrarian and anti-imperialist revolution” or bourgeois-democratic. To carry out this conclusion, the objective was to shape the alliance of the proletariat with the petty bourgeoisie and the progressive national bourgeoisie against US imperialism and the landowners, their national bourgeois partners. In the 1960s, several authors such as Gunder Frank, Ruy Mauro Marini, Anibal Quijano, Luis Vitale or Rodolfo Stavenhagen questioned the theory of Latin American feudalism, characterizing the historical colonial structure and agrarian structure as essentially capitalist. They also criticized the concept of the “progressive national bourgeoisie” and the perspective of an independent capitalist development in the different Latin American countries, pointing out that this “rickety” bourgeoisie was incapable of carrying out the pending national tasks. For them, the economic backwardness was not given by the feudal remnants, nor by pre-capitalist obstacles, but in the very character of dependent capitalist development in Latin America. This premise pointed a determinant and opposite conclusion to that formulated by Latin American Communist parties: the impossibility of the “national-democratic” path and the revolutionary role of the national bourgeoisie sector for social development in Latin America and the need for a revolution directed by the working class which would break with dependence and underdevelopment and joined the torrent of the world socialist revolution.

The character of the revolution in Uruguay: class alliance and parliamentarism

In Uruguay, the thesis of feudal or semi-feudal character of the colonial economy of Latin America and its livelihoods by the UCP, written by its general secretary, Rodney Arismendi. In a brief essay, La economía feudal en América Latina (The Feudal Economy in Latin America) of 1962, points out that the essential features of feudal survival are the latifundian land ownership regime and the subordination of the colonial economy to the metropolitan economy. For Arismendi, imperialism subordinates the colonial origin economies, unleashing a deforming capitalist development, blocking the transition from feudalism or colonial semi-feudalism to capitalism that is materialized on the baisis of mantian “The latifundium facing the foreign market, to later, through the export of capital, the extension of the railways, navigation, as a conditioning and conditioned factor of the passage of capitalism to its imperialist phase” (Arismendi, 1962) The result is the impossibility of a strong development of the internal market and national capitalism (proletariat and national bourgeois)

This national vision of the need of an independent capitalist development, of the stage tasks and class alliance is expressed in the “1958 Programmatic Declaration ” approved by the XVII UCP Congress.

The strategic premises established in this document will be seen, later, in the performance of the UCP during the events between 1968 and 1973. The declaration begins to affirm that it has its “natural riches, Uruguay could build an independent and developed economy and ensure a happy life, of material and cultural well-being, even a several times larger poblation than it currently inhabits”, however, these possibilities contrast with the “the economy backwardness, the slow social and cultural development and the sufferings of the workers and the people “whose cause is” the appropriation of the main production means by foreign monopolies and a privileged minority of large exploiters: landowners and great capitalists, it allow the seizure of the fruits of the national labor, block progress, condemn the workers to a tough exploitation and to make the popular masses vegetate in a life without horizons “. The “Declaration” identifies Uruguay’s dependence in the penetration of foreign monopoly capital, especially North Americans who control the great meat refrigeration, banks, textile factories, metallurgical, overseas transport, media, etc. The dependence is also expressed in the foreign debt as a mean of domination and looting, subtracting millions of dollars from the country that escape through the profits of the companies and the interests and the debt amortizations[1].

The imperialism is supported – according to the Declaration – by the national scene, by the big landowners and big capitalists, who are “its agents and accomplices” in the exploitation of the Uruguayan people. However, the document establishes that as a result of the economic crisis and the North American policy there is a differentiation of the big bourgeoisie in two layers: “One of great capitalists sold in body and soul to North American imperialism (…) the other, is formed by big bourgeois, who have their capital invested mainly in the national industry and are beaten by the interests of the American plundering policy.”  In consequence, one of the fundamental tasks of the stage consisted in the expansion of the class alliance which should include the big national bourgeoisie “beaten by north America capital”

The summary of the staging of the bourgeois-democratic revolution for Uruguay is formulated in the following terms: “The main contradiction of Uruguay’s social-economic structure is the contradiction between the productive forces that strives to develop and the relations of production, based on the dependence of the imperialism and the monopoly of the land, which hold back that development. It also expresses itself in the contradiction between imperialism, the large landowners and the great anti-national capitalists, and the Uruguayan people, the workers, little and medium farmers and ranchers, the intellectuals and students, the state and private employees, the retired, artisans and small merchants, and the national bourgeoisie “(p15).

The “agrarian and anti-imperialist” revolution would open the way to a broad development of the productive forces within the capitalist framework, and only later would the socialist revolution be possible. The struggle of the stage was the conformation, based on this correlation of class forces, of a “democratic government of national liberation” that would carry forward the first historical stage, always guaranteeing private property: “the property of industrialists and merchants nationals (the great conciliatory bourgeoisie) and peasants and tenants who are not large landowners who do not conspire against popular power, will be respected and defended by law “(page 16).

Finally, the “Programmatic Declaration” establishes the “Uruguayan path” of the revolution, pointing out that although a social revolution can not be carried out in a “gradual, evolutionary, reformist (…) way, , however, it does not mean that is obligatory the civil war”  but “it is possible to conquer political power through peaceful means and convert the parliament into an authentic organ that executes the popular will “(p.17).

The UCP would enter the 1960s with the aim of winning a sector of the national big bourgeoisie to an “agrarian and anti-imperialist” revolution and privileging the parliamentary strategy as a peaceful way to fulfill these historical tasks, through tactics of the political unity of the left with the ‘progressive’ political forces in a Popular Front, that is, of the working class with the local bourgeoisie.

From the 68s strikes to the 71s elections

Since the mid-1950s, an acute economic crisis began in Uruguay. Since 1957, inflation has risen, the real wage has begun to fall rapidly, there has been a decline and stagnation of the GDP. It was about the crisis of the so-called Industrialization Model by Import Substitution. The impasse of the economy and popular discontent was reflected in the urns with the “National Party” triumph of the in 1958, after 94 years of the “Colorado Party” in the government. The crisis will worsen during the next eight years of the white government (National Party), promoting the masses mobilitation.

Towards the middle of the decade, in 1966, the unification of the Uruguayan trade union movement took place in the CNT (national worker´s central). The political instability of the regime and the rise of popular fights unify the different sectors of the international and national bourgeoisie behind a perspective of a “hard-line” government against the workers. In this picture, in 1967 a new constitution of repressive (and presidential) characteristics was approved and at the end of this year Pacheco Areco assumed as president.

The political orientation which the UCP developed in the convulsive years of Pacheco Areco’s government, is significant in that it shows its role and intervention in a period of strong social and political crisis.

The ‘Pachecato’ (Pacheco Areco´s goverment) was characterized by a consolidation of the authoritarian method by which the government attacked the workers’ living conditions, and curtailed democratic liberties, of expression and of reunion through the Prompt Security Measures. Repression and killing of protesters, political persecution through arrests, the closure of newspapers, the banning of organizations and parties of the left, arbitrary arrests, dismissals and militarizations of strikes were commonplace during this period that had its most important points in 1968 and ’69. Pacheco’s repressive policy against the workers ‘movement was aimed at guaranteeing the wage freeze policy, in the midst of an enormous inflation, which brutally reduced workers’ living conditions for the benefit of financial capital.

Under these conditions there is a phenomenal rise of the workers’ struggles between June of ’68 until the end of ’69: factories occupations, indefinite strikes in various unions, street fighting and on the occasion of the funeral of the communist student Liber Arce, the greatest history manifestation; almost half of Montevideo´s population.

In April of 1969 the indefinite strike of the meat processing industry workers that lasts four months is unleashed. In June, a national general strike of the CNT demands the solution to the conflicts, replacement of the dismissed, adjustment of the salaries to the living cost and in the future strikes are unleashed in the majority of the unions (AUTE, the Banking Association, municipal workers, graphics, journalists, etc). The Executive Branch intensifies the repression, imprisoning more than 800 trade union leaders, students and political activists, deploys the military mobilization in UTE, ANCAP, OSE and Telecommunications and closes new newspapers. According to Héctor Rodríguez, member of the Textile Workers’ Congress (COT), this did not push back the working class, from the union bases only claims of measures of struggle arrived. The COT proposes on June 25 to declare the indefinite general strike of the CNT; The first Secretariat and the Representative Board then – with a majority of the UCP – vote against this proposal.

In this context, the controversy that developed within the trade union movement [2] in the recent CNT, on the tactics that the powerful organized workers movement of the time, had to develop in the face of authoritarian advancement revealed the existence of two positions divergent. The debate revolved around the need to give a joint response through the application of a general strike of the entire trade union movement to break Pacheco’s policy. The mainstream of the leadership of the CNT linked to the UCP opposed this proposal, defending the line of moving forward with a plan of concrete actions that would avoid a definitive and frontal outcome against the government.

The trade union leader of SUNCA and the PCU, Mario Acosta puts it in this terms: “The situation in the country is so tense and the economic dilemmas are so closed within the current lanes, that to a certain extent it is a matter of life or death for the oligarchy to impose that policy (…) In such a situation that the relatively weaker contestant accepts to go to a decisive battle, it is suicidal. “And continues,” the workers’ and popular movement, instead of becoming embroiled in a frontal clash with a Government that is evidently willing to pay a high political price for the rigid application of its line and that continued to control the state forces, should get out of the trap and find another way out “[3].

In the first Congress of the CNT held in May 1969 is crystallized in several documents presented by unions and union leaders, a criticism of the actions of the majority of the management of the Central criticizing him to carry forward a tactic to contain the real potential that could acquire popular mobilization.

The report to the first Congress of the Banking Association of Uruguay of May 1969 says: “The tactics developed, in many of its aspects by the form of its application, did not ‘wear away the enemy’ as much as the unions themselves in their application ( …) In our opinion, the concern not to aggravate the political situation led to the application of a tactic that was oscillating from ineffectiveness to quietism “.[4]

For his part, Hector Rodriguez goes further in the criticism by stating that the basis of the tactics opposed to the general strike was to avoid direct confrontation with the government, arguing that there were no conditions in the workers’ movement for such action. Leading the way out of the crisis made a “political exit” that would manifest itself in the 1971 elections. To make this statement, HR relies on an article published in El Popular on January 30, 1970 by the senator of the PCU, Enrique Rodríguez. reference to the tactic developed states: “If this tactic was fair, if it led not to a premature total confrontation but to achieve the erosion of the enemy by pushing him into entanglement in his inevitable contradictions while the people maintain in the essentials their fighting presence, the result of that tactic must be expressed with some clarity, now when what we would call “the political exit” opens up. In other words, the tactics used fulfilled the role of creating better conditions for the people to act in the political period that is now approaching? In some way that was one of the foundations of the behavior assumed before the “measures”. And well: it can be doubted that also in this terrain – strictly political electoral – the results of the tactic used will yield without fail mature fruits, we do not doubt it ”[5]

Thus, from UCP´s point of vew, the discussion on the tactics to be used by the trade union movement to confront the government was subordinated to the formation of an electoral alternative for the 1971 elections, hence the rejection of the position that the CNT should discard the general strike to break the government of Pacheco. It was on the eve of the conformation of the Broad Front, which would result from an alliance of the main parties with influence in the popular movement -especially the Communist and Socialist Party- with parties representing sectors of the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie, such as the PDC and the list 99. The alternative of the FA was consistent with the foundations of the strategy of the PCU, outlined in 1958. The polyclassic alliance in the field of elections that represented the Frente Amplio, had according to its promoters clear objectives: “The electoral it is important insofar as it constitutes a means to make a program a reality. It does not matter much, in addition, as it represents the only real effort to prevent a violent revolution in Uruguay, “declared Rodriguez Camusso, who was leaving the National Party, in the newspaper Marcha in 1970 and then joined the FA. The gradual and democratic way of integration to the State was the strategy defined in its own beginnings: “The FA will be a political force that fights for power to carry out transformations through democratic means” -these was- “to implement a political apparatus capable of agglutinating the genuinely national popular forces to exhaust the democratic ways so that the people, through their struggle and their mobilization, could carry out the great transformations for which the country claims “(Constitutive Declaration of the FA, February 1971).

When the elections of November 1971 approached, the debate continued and became clear in the trade union movement. In the 2nd Congress of the CNT the controversy over trade union tactics of previous years was again developed. The central report of the representative table was pronounced against the vote to the traditional parties and indicated its support to the recently created Frente Amplio in the following way: “the actions that we were able to fulfill, the achieved triumphs, the achieved unity have been the factors that they have allowed the people today to join an anti-oligarchic and anti-imperialist political expression and that their access to power be a concrete and close alternative “[6]

In opposition to this report, eleven guilds [7] presented a document in minority questioning the orientation of the table, stating that the conflicts “were directed and directed by the majority of the CNT, but in reality they were isolated by the majority of the leadership”. The same report clarifies the role that the trade union movement must play in the face of the elections, also questioning the report of the majority of the CNT board “clearly outlines an electoral political solution intended to divert the struggle of the workers and at the same time put the CNT at the service of elections. We must be clear that the union struggle does not have in any way the limit of an electoral act “[8]

In this way, the eleven unions criticized the tactics of the majority of the CNT, dominated by the PCU, to impose a reflux to the workers’ struggles as a way to channel the growing popular discontent towards parliamentarism, drowning the most radicalized sectors of workers and students activism that could lead the masses to an insurrectional situation. Thus, the UCP affirmed its claim that through the Frente Amplio, an experience of “peaceful passage to socialism” would be made based on the retreat of the great mass mobilizations of 68-69.

“Unit of civilians and the military”: The UCP in front of the communiqués of February of 1973

In the elections of 1971 Juan María Bordaberry of the Colorado Party triumphs, with little parliamentary support, and continues in the decisive lines with what was done by Pacheco Areco. In the first months of 1972, the General Assembly approved the suspension of individual guarantees and declared the “State of Internal War”, giving free rein to the repression of all opponents. In this context, it attacks and defeats the tupamaro movement that in 1970 had reached its greatest size and mobilization; The 20th Section of the Communist Party, where eight Communists die (Nahum et al., 1997) besieges and bullets. The rise in the price of food continues to increase and during that year, ten general strikes of the CNT are taking place, without a joint offensive by the trade union movement. In as much, the Armed Forces had assumed the conduction of the fight “antisubversiva” and begun to outline its own political strategy, against the impasse of the political regime.

In February 1973, the appointment by the Bordaberry government of Antonio Francese as Minister of National Defense unleashed an institutional crisis. In response to this designation, on February 8 the Army and the Air Force are quartered and take to the streets with tanks and armed for war, take television channels and radio stations.

In the occupation of national televition channel 5 they transmit a statement in which they argue their opposition to the designation of Francese that “will take back (to the Armed Forces) the overcome time of being an armed arm of economic and political interests, of backs to the fulfillment of their specific missions of national security and the interests of the nation “(Alvaro Rico, 2008: 717). The Navy remained loyal to Bordaberry and the next day blocked the port of Montevideo, barricading itself in the Old City. Without success to twist the arm of the insurgents, Bordaberry ended up accepting the resignation of Francese. On February 12, the so-called Pact of Boizo Lanza took place, which closed the crisis, where the creation of the National Security Council (COSENA) was resolved, with General Gregorio Álvarez as general secretary.

The crisis revealed that the Armed Forces saw the need to arbitrate in the social and political crisis that had opened up. A month before, a document of the Board of Commanders-in-Chief of December 12, 1972, stated: “Political power would aspire to the Armed Forces returning to ‘their barracks’, that is, to their traditional status, and not gravitating in the national leadership. The Military Commands, permeated with the serious national situation, the popular expectation for the great national solutions and their responsibilities with respect to national security have decided to gravitate in the national leadership “. The pretension to arbitrate over ‘all sectoral interest’, if not ‘the armed arm of the economic groups’ reveals that they intended to regiment the whole of society, first of all the working class, to safeguard the interests of the State and The bourgeoisie. In the context of the confrontation with Bordaberry, the incited rebels issue communiques 4 and 7, on February 9 and 10 respectively. These documents present the ‘intentions’ of the Armed Forces and a social, economic and political program that includes a series of measures of presumably ‘nationalist’ characteristics. Among the economic measures are: “eliminate oppressive external debt, by containing all those expenses of a superfluous nature”; “Eradication of unemployment through the coordinated implementation of development plans”; “Redistribution of the land”; “Creation, promotion and defense of new sources of work and the development of the base industry”; “Establish provisions that allow monopolies to be fought as effectively as possible, by implementing measures that allow greater dispersion of property and greater public control of the means of production”; in relation to the workers’ movement, a regimentation policy is proposed: “Keep the Armed Forces out of union and student problems unless they arrive by their intensity, to endanger security”, “Proceed at all times in such a way , to consolidate the democratic-republican ideals in the bosom of the entire population, as a way to avoid the infiltration and capture of adherents to Marxist-Leninist doctrines and philosophies, incompatible with our traditional way of life “(Communiqué 4).

Through these communications, the Armed Forces managed to create expectations on the left and broad sectors of the workers’ movement regarding the existence of progressive or peruanist groups [10] within the Armed Forces – which opposed the right-wing Brazilianists. In the vision of the PCU, the situation of the country confronted two blocks: the oligarchy – made up of imperialism, the landowners and the big buyer bourgeoisie – and the people – made up of workers, retirees, students, small producers and the progressive national big bourgeoisie . The program of this sector of the Armed Forces expressed in communiques 4 and 7 came to be placed within the progressive forces of society, that is, on the side of the people. Therefore, the PCU will propose the “union of honest Orientals” and that the contradiction is not “military-civilians”, but “oligarchy-people”, calling on the Armed Forces to converge with the people against the oligarchy; under the proposal of “Fuera Bordaberry”.

In El Popular on February 9 the PCU fixes its position: “Why do we think, in general, the document of the Armed Forces is positive? (…)” and respond by pointing out their support for the economic measures proposed in the communiqués, although they advise the Armed Forces about the “mistake” of considering the Marxist-Leninists contrary to the democratic-republican ideals that the last point of the statement. For the UCP “This is a clear mistake, which even contradicts the rest of the document that could lead to confusion for a large part of the workers who would feel discriminated against, to the detriment of better understanding the objectives of the Armed Forces, restricting their repercussion on the masses (…) Marxism-Leninism is not incompatible with democratic and republican ideals or with our way of life “. Finally, they affirm that “the Marxist-Leninists, the Communists, members of the broad current of the Frente Amplio, agree in essence with the measures set forth by the Armed Forces as immediate solutions for the situation that the republic is experiencing and, of course, not incompatible with the ideology of the working class (…) it takes the effort of all honest Orientals, without distinction of civilians and military with the sole determination to be patriotic to believe in the PEOPLE “

In this way, the crisis of February highlighted the strategy of the UCP of wanting to place in the direction of an “agrarian and anti-imperialist” revolution a sector of the repressive apparatus of the bourgeois state, such as the army. That is to say, with its behavior the UCP bet on a supposed Peruvian variant of the coup, disarming politically the working class and impeding its independent intervention in the open crisis. The illusion was revealed that the military, as an essential part of the alliance of the working class with the national bourgeoisie, could liquidate the landlords and the feudal remnants and promote an independent capitalist development in agriculture (agrarian reform) and industry. Did this illusion make sense, even in the event that a “Peruvianist” military current had won the internal army of the Armed Forces? No. Well, the problem was that on the basis of the position the stageist characterization of “bourgeois-democratic, agrarian and anti-imperialist” revolution was: in Uruguay the big national bourgeoisie (and its different layers) was deeply intertwined with landowners and banks, associated for the exploitation of cheap labor; it is a rickety national bourgeoisie incapable of carrying out any deep social transformation. That is to say, there is no class capable of taking charge of the task of developing capitalism in agriculture and industry. The resolution of the agrarian question and the development of the productive forces can only be solved by a revolution led by the working class that not only fulfills the unresolved democratic tasks but also begins to travel through socialist tasks, as part of the Latin American revolution and worldwide.

By Peruvianism reference was made to the military regime of Velasco Alvarado in Peru, which gave a coup d’etat in 1968 and governed until 1975. Alvarado promoted a series of measures of bourgeois nationalist characteristics, such as the nationalization of the National Bank, oil deposits, iron and steel , fishing and cement and had an agrarian reform.


In the development of this article, an attempt was made to unravel the strategy and tactics of the UCP in the face of a period of unprecedented aggravation of the class struggle. In the sense in which the Bolsheviks understood it, while tactics are limited to measures relating to a particular problem of the class struggle, the problems of revolutionary strategy imply a combined system of actions which, in their relation, succession and development, must bring the proletariat to power and around which the tactical methods of the moment are subordinated. From this point of view, the UCP lacked a revolutionary strategy, since it insisted on amputating the political independence of the proletariat and on taking the “progressive” layer of the national big bourgeoisie to power; firstly, through the “democratic way”, stopping the union struggle and direct action of the masses towards the 1971 elections; and in second place in the support to a fraction of the military in February of ’73.

It was revealed, finally, in a role of stabilization of the bourgeois order in the capitalist State.The lessons of this experience are enormously important for the workers and the exploited who fight for social emancipation.

*Leader of  the Workers´ Party of Uruguay. Sociologist and Professor of the Cathedra of Political Economy at the “Universidad de la República” (UdelaR).


[1] Different is the current position of the UCP that supports the payment of external debt by the Frente Amplio government.

[2] Both in the press, the newspaper “El Popular” and the weekly magazine “March”, as well as in the congresses of the CNT of 1969 and 1971.

[3] CNT: Documents and Congresses / 2, Fight and trade union controversy 1968-1973, Volume I. Uruguay Independent Center, Montevideo, 1985, pp.90

[4] Report to the First Congress of the Banking Association of Uruguay of May 1969 in CNT: Documents and Congresses 1 Fight and Trade Union controversy 1968-1973 Volume II. CUI, Montevideo, 1985.

[5] CNT: Documents and Congresses / 2, Fight and trade union polemic 1968-1973, Volume IV. Uruguay Independent Center, Montevideo, 1985. pp. 50-51.

[6] ídem. pp. 25-26.

[7] Union of Workers and Administrators of General Electric; Unique Union of Enrique Ghiringheli S.A; Union of Workers and Employees CICSSA; Union of Workers of SERAL; Fruit and Vegetable Syndicate of Salto; Intergremial Plenary of Mercedes; Uruguayan Health Federation; Union of Workers, Employees and Supervisors of FUNSA; Syndicate of the Medicines and Related Industries; Union of TEM Workers and Employees.

[8] Idem. 73.


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