Chilean communists hold 22nd Congress

The following is based on a story from the Communist Party of Chile’s newspaper, El Siglo.

Full of hope and enthusiasm, delegates from all over Chile participated in the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of Chile (CPC) last week in Santiago. During four days of impassioned and respectful discussion, open debate and exchange of experiences, more than 350 Communists met to define party policy for the next four years.

The new Central Committee considers its mandate to be building and rebuilding the party in new conditions, with a 'people-based political vision, building a broad-based anti-neoliberal movement.'

Beginning on June 4, thousands of local and regional meetings were held to discuss the challenges facing the CPC today. The Congress ran from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3. Gladys Marín Millie, outgoing General Secretary, gave a report on the first day in the Hall of Honor of the former National Congress building. The beautiful old building was where the Chilean Congress met during the years of President Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government, which was overthrown in a CIA-backed bloody coup in September 1973.

Leaders of numerous Chilean political movements and organizations, as well as the president of the Central Union of Workers and leading cultural figures, including Voldya Teitelbom, former Party leader and published author, who recently won a national literature prize, attended.

In addition to the Chilean delegates, representatives of fraternal parties from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, China, Ecuador, Greece, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United States attended the Congress.

Among the issues before the Congress was the election of a new Party leadership. Enthusiastic applause greeted the announcement to the final plenary session that Marín had been elected as the new President and Guillermo Teiller as the General secretary. Close to 40 percent of the incoming Central Committee members are new, and the Congress hall was filled with many young faces.

A tribute to Allende took place at the statue of the martyred president, and there was also a ceremony at the Memorial to the Disappeared and Executed Political Prisoners. Party leader Jorge Insunza, whose oldest brother’s name is inscribed on the wall along with the thousands of others murdered by the Pinochet regime, said, 'it is very, very hard on us to come here,' but 'we do so not simply to remember the past, but because of the fight for the present and future' of the Chilean people.

The official closing ceremony of the Congress took place at a park with the snow-covered Andes serving as a stunning backdrop. Hundreds of Party members and friends gathered to listen to music and speeches and to celebrate the success of the Congress and the Communist Party.

Marín said her speech there, 'A new historical moment is being created in our country. There is fatigue, there is desperation, but we must be able to pick that fatigue and desperation off the ground, to turn it into organization and struggle.'

Remarks of Gladys Marín at the Communist Party of Chile’s closing ceremony:

'The most important thing that we want to say is that the people, the workers, the farmworkers, the fishermen, the poor, the majority in our country, can keep depending on the Communist Party.

'The Party will continue to contribute to the organization and struggle of the people, in order to change this unjust neo-liberal system, to keep on fighting for a democratic Chile, for every man and women of Chile.

'This neoliberal, capitalist model, imposed during the dictatorship by means of the most brutal repression and open terror, must be changed. This model is the cause of the injustices that we all know, the fact that economic power is concentrated in the hands of a few very rich.

'Accumulated riches are a crime when, out of Chile’s slightly more than 15 million people, 12 million are living below the poverty line. We need to change Chile, change the world. The time has come for each local area to have a labor union for day-laborers, temporaries, and the unemployed, because today the vast majority of the workers fall into this category. It’s time to organize, to strengthen the Unified Workers’ Central labor federation, to take back the democratic tool of the strike.

'We are here to say that Chile is not Chile without the Communist Party, because we are part of its history, we are part of its culture, we are part if its suffering, and we are part of its happiness.

'Venceremos, mil veces venceremos!'