On August 13 the Communist Party of Colombia (PCC) celebrated its eightieth anniversary.  Friends and allies spoke at festivities in Bogota, testifying to respect and gratitude the Party has earned for long, intense, and dangerous struggle. Party leaders touched upon tactics and political goals they depend upon as revolutionary socialists.

Harvard University graduate, economist, and academic Clara Lopez Obregon greeted hundreds of attendees in her capacity as president of the Alternative Democratic Pole, Colombia’s left leaning electoral coalition known also as the “Polo.” As quoted by the Communist Party’s Voz newspaper, Lopez announced, “The best people, the most dedicated, the most honest, the most engaged are in the Communist Party.”  She added that “Eighty years in the life of a people is not much time, but 80 years of struggle in the conditions in which the Communist Party of Colombia has struggled are an eternity because of the difficulties, the stigmatization, and the persecution.” 

Carlos Gaviria also spoke for the Polo: “Colombia doesn’t know how much the Communist Party has contributed to democracy.” He lauded the PCC for “looking to implement the purposes of a just society [while] confronting persecution and intimidation.” “That’s no small thing,” he said. As Polo presidential candidate in 2006, Gaviria garnered 2.6 million votes.

Fitting in as backdrop for the event were the deaths over many years of thousands of Party activists; decades of unrelenting struggle between rich and poor, between city and country; and steady militarization of Colombian society. That the Party’s advance coincided with weakness and division plaguing the world socialist movement is noteworthy.

Party leaders’ ideas of methods and guiding principles were on display. Senator Gloria Inez Ramirez, for example, maintained, “Unity for people’s victory is fundamental,” recalling that “The Communist Party has contributed to organization of the masses and creation of consciousness for revolutionary struggle.”

The Senator, a Communist Party member, holds office under the aegis of the Polo, which, she said “epitomizes an ideology of unity that must be honored by leaders and activists alike.” Ramirez censured examples of imperialist aggression, among them the U.S. blockade of Cuba and U.S. bases in Colombia

Party Secretary General Jaime Caycedo continued: “While it’s a start,” he said, “the ideology of unity by itself [does not represent] a full and completed program; it’s only a declaration of intention.”  “Unity does not come about in a spontaneous manner, we have to build it. We have often claimed that unity of action is a matter of many factors, many mobilizations, and many variations of what comes out of popular struggle, sometimes spontaneously, sometimes less spontaneously.

Meanwhile the question is: What type of unity of action do we need today? I think there is the need to apply a meaning much more qualified and considered, one in tune with processes of unity of action, which relate to the building of confidence at the same level for all…We ourselves have to get out there and put ourselves into mobilizations.” In regard to the Polo: “We have to work there, because there is where they think of us as equals and an integral part of that process

Allies of many stripes attended the anniversary celebration. Groups present, in addition to the Polo, included: the Marxist-oriented Revolutionary Independent Labor Movement (MOIR, by its Spanish initials), its “Red Tribune” newspaper, the Workers’ Party, the “Polo que Suma,” the Maoist Communist Party, the MODEP human rights group, and the “Peace Program of the National Pedagogical University.”  Labor unions on hand were the ANTHOC hospitals workers union, the ADE and FEDCODE educators’ unions, the Fensuagro agricultural workers’ federation, and CUT, Colombia’s largest labor federation.

Bogota Philharmonic instrumentalists, singers, and acting troupes provided entertainment.

At its annual festival in Bogota on July 18, Voz honored the 80th anniversary of the Party and 200 years of Colombian independence from Spain. With a nationwide circulation, “Voz,” in existence since 1957, remains the most prominent leftist newspaper in Colombia. The Communist press began in Colombia in 1932.

Manuel Cepeda Vargas, Voz editor for 19 years and a senator, explained that “Voz is the Colombian Communist Party, and the Colombian Communist Party is Voz.” Cepeda was assassinated in 1994. 

Colombian Communist Party: Eighty Years Fighting for Democracy

By Carlos Medina Gallego, August 20, 2010

Medina is an author, academic, and researcher based at Colombia’s National University. Translated by W. T. Whitney Jr.

This year is the 80–year anniversary of the founding of the Colombian Communist Party (PCC), which, along with its militancy, ought to be celebrated by the entire left and, above all, by the whole country.  The Communist Party is the most important institution of our battered democracy. No similar party has endured the persecution, the scarring, the stigmatization, and the criminal violence against its militant spirit with such determination, nor has any group bet everything, the way it has, to keep alive the rationale for an authentic democracy, that is to say, the right to build a nation out of differences and opposing views.

Without a doubt the nation and its history owes a debt of gratitude to the Communist Party. The country wouldn’t be what it is today if this political organization had not evolved into becoming a forceful overseer and tireless in struggle, along with, of course  other left groups and democratic sectors of the traditional parties, all for the sake of the down and out classes and the dispossessed in cities and the country.

Coming out of the social movements of the 1920’s, out of dreams of justice and equality, leaders of workers’ and peasant groups mobilized to lay claim to the right to work, to strike, and to defend their organizations, and rights to democracy and land. The PCC is empowered through the spirit of Marxism Leninism, through the example and commitment of its men and women laboring amidst the flux and conflicts of different periods, and also through  the necessity for workers and people in general to engage in political struggle for their fundamental rights.

Over eight decades, Party militants were committed to building a strong civil society and a dynamic social movement. They founded labor unions and union federations, encouraged workers and wage earners to fight for better working conditions and a better life. They defended the fundamental right to work, inspired the agrarian movement and joined peasants fighting for land and for better labor relations in the field. They participated in and promoted people’s struggles in the city, especially after rural Colombians, hit hard by the violence of strife between the traditional parties, moved into cities. 

The PCC has not scrimped on efforts to promote the representation of those marginalized within the confines of the country’s political institutions. It has actively engaged in electoral struggles, occupying seats in parliament, assembles, and municipal councils, also serving as administrators in mayors’ and governors’ offices. The impulse toward armed struggle was not far off when conditions of violence seemed to be conducive. But the PCC also knew to keep it at a critical distance in other pressing situations of deteriorating war

It’s not a guerrilla party.  What underlies its partisan spirit is a deep democratic vocation. There’s no other way to explain throughout its long history the Party’s many efforts carried out to meld its aspirations with unifying processes of the Left – with definite support from the traditional parties, and their democratic reforms   

Just as with any living organism twisted about through the passions of human beings that built it, the PCC has not been immune from suffering through disorders of the continental and worldwide left that so often are fixed on ideologies that are sectarian and dogmatic. It has turned away from its peers on the left and engaged in factionalism. On occasion it closed off its own spaces so that new, committed and intelligent generations might lead the party toward a permanent modernization.

On this 16th of July we arrived at the 80-year point from the founding of the PCC. There will be celebratory events during the second half of the year.

I think this anniversary provides a good opportunity to think about and discuss – and passionately if need be – the necessity for a modern left, united as to the challenges and the urgent transformations of today’s world. It would be a left with a genuine vocation for taking charge and taking risks in scenarios of the political and governmental life of the country. The presumption would be that it’s committed to the deepening of democracy and establishing the Colombian people’s well-being, ability to live together, and happiness, all of which represents, I am convinced, the longing of many men and women sacrificed throughout the long history of the Party in this country. Among them and the thousands of anonymous militants that died fighting for a democracy and for rights are: Manuel Cepeda Vargas, Jaime Pardo Leal, José Antequera, Bernardo Jaramillo, Leonardo Posada. 

Happy anniversary!

The article appeared in the Voz newspaper, the on-line version of which is accessible at the PCC web site:  http://www.pacocol.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6068


Partido Comunista Colombiano: Ochenta Años Luchando por la Democracia

Por: Carlos Medina Gallego,  Agosto 20 de 2010

Este año se cumplen ochenta años de la fundación del Partido Comunista Colombiano –PCC – y, su militancia, la izquierda en su conjunto, pero sobre todo, el país en general tiene que celebrarlo. El Partido Comunista es la institución más importante de nuestra maltrecha democracia. Ningún partido como este ha soportado con tanto rigor la persecución, el señalamiento, la estigmatización y la violencia criminal contra su militancia, ni nadie le ha apostado tanto como él a mantener viva la razón de una autentica democracia: El derecho a construir la nación desde la diferencia, desde la oposición.

Sin la menor duda la historia de esta nación tiene una deuda de reconocimiento con el Partido Comunista, el país no sería lo que hoy es, si esta organización política, no se hubiese convertido en veedor vehemente y luchador incansable, con otros grupos de izquierda y sectores democráticos de los partidos tradicionales, de los intereses de las clases humildes y de los desposeídos del campo y la ciudad.

Nacido en las entrañas de los movimientos sociales de la década del veinte, de los imaginarios de justicia e igualdad de líderes obreros y campesinos que reivindicaron en la movilización el derecho al trabajo y a la tierra, a la organización y a la huelga, al bienestar y a la democracia, el PC está investido más que por el espíritu del marxismo- leninismo, por el ejemplo y el compromiso de los hombres y mujeres que construyeron en las dinámicas y conflictos de cada época, la necesidad de la lucha política de los trabajadores y del pueblo en general por sus derechos fundamentales.

Durante sus ocho décadas de existencia, la militancia del partido se comprometió con construir una sociedad civil fuerte y un movimiento social dinámico, fundó sindicatos y centrales de trabajadores, promovió luchas de los obreros y  de asalariados en general por mejores condiciones laborales y de vida. Defendió el derecho fundamental al trabajo; generó un movimiento agrario y acompañó las luchas campesinas por la tierra y por mejores relaciones laborales en el campo; participó y promovió las luchas de la población por el derecho a la ciudad cuando la Colombia rural golpeada por la violencia inter-partidista se convirtió en urbana.

El PC Colombiano no ha escatimado el más mínimo esfuerzo para llevar la representación de los marginados a los escenarios de la institucionalidad política del país, interviniendo activamente en la lucha electoral, ocupando curules en el parlamento, asambleas y concejos municipales, así como en la administración de alcaldías y gobernaciones.  Tampoco fue ajeno al impulso de la lucha armada cuando las condiciones de la violencia se lo impusieron. Pero, igualmente supo tomar distancia crítica cuando las mismas circunstancias de creciente degradación de la guerra se lo exigieron.

No es un partido guerrerista, en su espíritu partidario lo que subyace es una profunda vocación democrática. No de otra manera se explica, a lo largo de su historia,  los muchos esfuerzos realizados para hacer coincidir sus imaginarios con procesos unitarios de la izquierda y con el apoyo decidido a reformas democráticas de los partidos tradicionales.

No ha dejado el PCC, como todo organismo vivo que se convulsiona con las pasiones de los seres humanos que lo constituyen,  de sufrir las enfermedades de la izquierda continental y mundial: apego a las ideologías de manera sectaria y dogmatica, negación de los pares de izquierda, fraccionamientos y,  en ocasiones, cierre de sus propios espacios para que nuevas, inteligentes y comprometidas generaciones conduzcan el partido hacia una permanente modernización.

Este 16 de Julio, se cumplieron los 80 años de la fundación del Partido Comunista Colombiano, que seguramente, estará celebrando a través de distintos eventos en el segundo semestre del 2010.

Creo que este aniversario es una excelente oportunidad para pensar y discutir, si se quiere con todos los acaloramientos, sobre la necesidad de una izquierda moderna, unida a los retos y a las urgentes transformaciones del mundo de hoy; una izquierda  con autentica vocación de poder y capaz de jugarse en los escenarios de la vida política y administrativa del país desde una concepción que se compromete con  la profundización de la democracia y la construcción del bienestar, la convivencia y la felicidad de los colombianos que,  estoy convencido,  representa el anhelo de los muchos hombres y mujeres que han sido sacrificados a lo largo de la historia del partido en la historia del país, entre ellos: Manuel Cepeda Vargas, Jaime Pardo Leal, José Antequera, Bernardo Jaramillo, Leonardo Posada y los miles de militantes anónimos que murieron luchando por una democracia de derechos. 

Feliz Aniversario.