On August 13, the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) celebrated its 80th 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 academician 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 Colombian Communist Party 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.
Other prominent figures present were Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo representing the MOIR Party, the Communist Youth head Geovanny Libreros, and Carlos Lozano, director of the Party's weekly newspaper Voz. Lozano ran recently for Congress as a Polo candidate. 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 former senator, had explained that "Voz is the Colombian Communist Party, and the Colombian Communist Party is Voz." Cepeda was assassinated in 1994.
Photo: Visitors crowd the left booth at Bogota's International Book Fair. (PCC)