Confronting Repression: Trotskyist Fraction Europe’s Anti-Imperialist Stand

Violent repression continues in Jujuy, Argentina, against a mobilization sparked by local authoritarian constitutional reform amid anger over the consequences of imperialist plunder of Lithium. Declaration of the Trotskyist Fraction Europe.

FT Europe statement: Stop the repression in Jujuy! Imperialist multinationals, out of Latin America! Against the plundering of lithium and all natural commons!

In recent days, two images have revealed the imperialist character of the European Union. On the one hand, EU President Ursula Von der Leyen has toured Latin America to secure European multinationals their share in the lithium mining market. On the other hand, the government of the province of Jujuy, Argentina, launched a fierce crackdown on indigenous communities, teachers and young people who were mobilizing against the looting of their territories, poverty wages and the approval of an authoritarian constitutional reform.

These events are occurring against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, militarist escalation and increased imperialist competition to appropriate raw materials and natural resources worldwide. The signatories of this declaration are socialist and revolutionary organizations from Spain, France, Germany and Italy. We condemn the imperialist policies of European governments in Latin America and around the world. We call to support the struggle of the people of Jujuy and to denounce the repression.

Stop the repression of the population of Jujuy!

This week has been marked by images of fierce repression against indigenous communities, teachers, young people and the people of Jujuy. Governor Morales’ police fired rubber bullets in the head (some protesters lost an eye), chased down protesters using mounted police units, and raided homes completely illegally, reverting to the old style of the Argentine dictatorship. We also saw how the police dragged to the ground and arrested the provincial deputy of Jujuy of the Socialist Workers’ Party within the Left-Unity Front, Natalia Morales, as well as clearly identified journalists.

This repression aims to intimidate the workers and the people of Jujuy who are leading an important fight today. They are fighting against an undemocratic constitutional reform, which criminalizes social protest. They fight for the defense of territories and water, against imperialist mining companies. They are also fighting for wage increases in a rich province whose workers are poor, due to the plundering policies of local governments and imperialism.

This Monday, a few minutes after the start of the undemocratic constituent convention, Governor Morales de Jujuy traveled to Buenos Aires to meet with representatives of the major mining companies. As the provincial deputy of the PTS within the Left-Unity Front Gastón Remy denounced: “Morales, the governors of Salta (Sáenz) and Catamarca (Jalill), have invited the mining companies to join the ‘lithium table “and celebrated that in Argentina the mining industry has constitutional and legal means to ravage the land.” A concrete demonstration of the real stakes of the reform of the Constitution of Jujuy. This undemocratic reform was passed by both the Governor’s Party (UCR) [right opposition] and the Peronists, who lead the national government.

In a context of high inflation and a drastic drop in real wages, Jujuy is today a laboratory for government and IMF austerity measures in Argentina. After the next presidential elections in October, whoever wins them, the future government will apply a brutal austerity plan in the continuity of the one already applied by the current Peronist government, in order to carry out the payment of the external debt and comply with IMF requirements. But it is also a laboratory of struggle and resistance that can be opposed to it.

Imperialist states compete for the extraction of “white gold”

“Europe is back in Latin America,” said the president of the European Union commission this week. She has traveled to Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico with the aim of improving business for European capital in the region. The focus of concern has been lithium and green hydrogen from Latin America, which Europe currently imports mainly from China. Von der Leyen’s visit is part of a new imperialist offensive to secure a stranglehold on vital raw materials, investment and markets in Latin America. A few weeks ago, Laura Richardson, head of the United States Southern Command, described the “lithium triangle” formed by Bolivia, Chile and northwestern Argentina as a key area for this country, in its strategic competition with China. Europe does not intend to remain outside this trade.

A month ago, a delegation of European multinationals had already visited the northwestern provinces of Argentina (Catamarca, Salta and Jujuy), accompanied by representatives of the Union, with the aim of getting their hands on part of the lithium sector. The delegation, which visited several mining facilities, was made up of representatives from the EU Embassy in Argentina and executives from Eramet, Adionics, Geolith, Stellantis, Sunlight Group, Solvay, CSR Europe, Société Générale and Tectpetrol. The French company Eramet has significant lithium mining activities in northern Argentina and Chile. The company is 27% owned by the French state. “Lithium is a strategic material, a key source of energy in the digital and green transition,” EU Ambassador to Argentina Amador Sánchez Rico said at the time.

While German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had already visited the countries of the “lithium triangle” at the beginning of the year with delegations from several German metallurgical and mining companies such as Aurubis and DEM, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) was also in Latin America these days to promote her vision of a “feminist and sustainable foreign policy”. Speeches behind which hide the interests of German imperialism in securing supply chains in competition with China.

The pretext of the “green transition” is pure hypocrisy in the mouths of those representatives of imperialist corporate interests who seek a new “green business”, by injecting enormous amounts of public funds, or in the case of companies automotive industry, betting on sending millions of electric cars to market.

Bolivia, Argentina and Chile are among the ten countries with the largest lithium reserves in the world. This material is considered the new “white gold” by large multinationals and imperialist states. It is necessary for the manufacture of mobile phones and electric car batteries. While Europe cynically announces its plans for “green capitalism” through decarbonization and the production of electric cars, its companies are brutally destroying the environment and the lives of the peoples of Latin America through their extractivist policies.

The extraction of lithium is very polluting and destructive for the environment. To obtain one tonne of this material, millions of liters of water are needed. This is why the indigenous communities of northern Argentina denounce the plundering of their territories and their water. Mining companies extract natural resources and make millions in profits, while workers and people in these regions are pushed into poverty. Jujuy is an example in this sense, a “rich province with poor workers” as denounced by Alejandro Vilca and Natalia Morales of the PTS in the Frente de Izquierda. Alejandro Vilca is a national deputy of the PTS, and is part of the list which, in agreement with Izquierda Socialista, defends the pre-candidacy of Myriam Bregman and Nicolás del Caño for the FIT-U primaries concerning the presidential election.

Out the multinationals of Jujuy and Latin America!

All capitalist parties, from Peronism to Radicalism to the far-right of Milei, have a policy of continuing to deliver the natural commons to large multinational corporations and validating looting to pay the illegal, illegitimate and fraudulent foreign debt of the world. Argentina to the IMF. The only political force that denounces this capitulation and participates in the struggle in the streets is the FIT-U (Frente de Izquierda – Unidad, Front of Left-Unity, coalition of anti-capitalist organizations in Argentina). The role of PTS members in the Constituent Assembly has been instrumental in exposing Morales’ frauds, with express endorsement of constitutional reform when it is rejected in the streets. They also demanded a general strike to support the struggle of the workers and people of Jujuy, as well as the need for the sectors in struggle to organize themselves at the base, in assemblies bringing together workers, indigenous peoples and sectors in struggle.

Moreover, the FIT-U is the only political force that proposes a totally different political outcome. Alejandro Vilca, Natalia Morales, Gastón Remy and Keila Zequeiros, leaders of the PTS, for example, presented a proposal to nationalize lithium resources under the control of workers and native communities to end extractivist plunder and manage them in a sustainable way. Their proposal to nationalize lithium reverses the priorities, challenging the pattern of economic plunder and extractivist methods that threaten access to water. Such a program of nationalization of mining companies under the control of workers and indigenous communities is the only way to reorganize production to serve the interests of the population and to prevent these activities from destroying the environment.

For all these reasons, we say: stop the repression! Imperialist enterprises out of Jujuy and Latin America! Immediate cancellation of the external debt! Out the IMF! Long live the struggle of the indigenous peoples and the working class!

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