After an absence of almost 20 years, Puerto Rico once again has a Communist Party, founded on June 19 in the city of San Juan at the Electrical Workers union hall. News of the refounding of a communist party in Puerto Rico was reported in newspapers throughout Latin America, Spain and in Spanish-language newspapers of the United States.

In a resolution proclaiming the founding of the Communist Party of Puerto Rico, they state: “The deepening of the now irreversible capitalist crisis and its ever worsening effects against the working, dispossessed and exploited masses makes it more necessary than ever” that there be an active Communist Party in Puerto Rico.

The crisis in the world communist movement of the early 1990’s resulted in confusion among Marxist-Leninist parties throughout the world, leading to the demise of a number of communist parties. One of these was the Puerto Rican Communist Party, founded in 1934, though another factor leading to the destruction of that party was the merger of another a left group which acted as a faction.

Ten years later in 2001 a group of former members of the PCP and others formed Communist Refoundation of Puerto Rico with the goal of reconstituting a Marxist-Leninist party in Puerto Rico.

One of the goals of Communist Refoundation was educational, to prepare communist cadre with the study of economic, history of the labor and communist movements in the world and in Puerto Rico, and Marxist theory and practice. To this end they formed the Lenin School which has classes in the south and western parts of the country.

“We direct this ideological work mainly to the youth and the working class,” CPPR spokesman Miguel Cruz Santos told progressive Swedish journalist Dick Emanuelsson. “Socialist organizations had let go of the work of educating cadre and we have retaken that as a basic task to move our work forward. We cannot develop the revolutionary struggle of our class without having cadre that is prepared.”

Cruz Santos told Emanuelsson that the lapse in ideological and educational work has led to a “social-democratization” of the revolutionary movement.

Another goal of Communist Refoundation is the unity of all forces that fight for socialism, irrespective of their ideology. In this regard, the communists have participated in the Socialist Front, a coalition of different socialist organizations and individuals. Even though the members of the Socialist Front work together to develop joint policies in struggle without attacking one another within it, each organization is free to develop its own ideological perspective and criticize opposing ones in its own work.

The CPPR will continue this work, according to its 74-page political program, but not the exclusion of other practical political work.

Among the immediate tasks that Puerto Rican communists have decided to work on is to fight to restructure the unfair and regressive tax structure. Communists are demanding the end of the sales tax imposed a few years ago after the government stop providing almost all services due to a financial crisis.

The CPPR also demands the end of highway tolls “which fall upon the backs of wage workers” as well as raising taxes on corporations and even higher taxes on “non-productive, speculative, financial corporations,” as well as cutting deductions which only benefit the rich.

High on the priority for the Puerto Rican communists is fighting for labor rights. The “CPPR is on the front lines in the struggle in defence of the labor rights won and for the ongoing broadening of those rights…” declares the party program.

Currently the pro-statehood government of Luis Fortuño is attempting a “labor law reform without loss of rights” to bring Puerto Rican employment laws to follow US labor laws. This would mean rolling back rights and benefits that Puerto Rican workers have won which are better than those under US laws.

Another part of fighting the anti-worker plans of Gov.  Fortuño is revving up the fight against his neo-liberal Public-Private Alliances (PPA) which seeks to privatize services provided by the government and has resulted in the lay-off of tens of thousands of workers.

Other arenas of struggle for the Puerto Rican communists include the fight to preserve and strengthen the co-operative enterprises by exempting them from taxation, strengthening the Co-op Bank, and stopping the privatization of co-ops through the PPAs. Puerto Rico has historically had a vibrant co-op movement.

Besides other questions like defense of the rights of immigrants, women, LGBT people, education and the environment, Puerto Rican communists put a special emphasis on the national question.

While there continues to exist a “relationship of colonial subjugation” of Puerto Rico by the United States,  “the colonial question is a priority political issue” states the PRCP Program.

“Humanity has categorically condemned colonialism since the middle of the 20th Century, and for good reasons; it embodies a form of exploitation that is particularly repugnant since it destroys the opportunity nations have to organize and establish their own State for their own economic, social and cultural benefit and not for the colonizing country’s thieving capitalists. Colonialism tends to corrupt and make vile the peoples dominated by this form of oppression, creating sick and mutilated societies, lacking feelings of solidarity and with an absence of a vision for the future,” proclaims the CPPR.

They note that even though the world condemns colonialism to the point where “Puerto Rico is one of the few countries” that is still under colonial domination, that still doesn’t prevent the bourgeosie of the imperialist countries from such a system of colonial exploitation. “Puerto Rico is effectively one of the last colonies on the planet and home to 80% of the peoples of the world under this shameful system of exploitation.”

Conscious of countries that have obtained their formal independence but are under neocolonial economic and political domination by the imperialist countries, the Communist Party says a sovereign Puerto Rican national state cannot be designed the “colonial burocracy of the United States” nor can there be any restrictions on political nor social liberties, type of social system the people decide upon, nor relationships with any other country and this includes whether to form a “federation with republics of the Caribbean or Latin America.”