On the arrest and extradition of Joaquin Perez Becerra

A dangerous and revealing act

The arrest and extradition (23rd April 2011) by Venezuelan authorities to Colombia of Joaquin Perez Becerra, a Swedish citizen, militant, journalist, author and director of the internet information network ANNCOL (New Colombia), constitutes an important and revealing development.

This militant was handed over to a blood-soaked regime by a government and a leader that proclaims the “revolution” and periodically makes sharp anti-American statements, and at the same time likes to savage “Neo-liberalism” and maintains good-friendly relations with socialist Cuba. Clearly this action cannot be interpreted by the statements of Chavez who declared that “they passed me a hot potato”, due to the “red notice of Interpol” that follows those who “are called terrorists by the US and Colombia”.

The above mentioned excuses cannot convince anyone. On the contrary, they create concerns for all militant and progressive people who know that the so called “war against terrorism” declared by the US targets, the people’s movements. As the 62 communist parties that participated in the international meeting of 2002 noted:

the events of 11th September constituted an alibi so as to launch an unprecedented offensive against the freedoms and rights of the peoples on the pretext of declaring war on terrorism. Imperialists label as terrorist every resistance movement which struggles against capitalist globalization and the decisions against the interest of the people taken by international organizations (such as IMF, World Bank, WTO, EU, etc.), anti-imperialist movements which struggle against imperialist interventions and wars and against NATO, as well any social and national liberation movement and struggles against dictatorship and fascist regimes” (international meeting of communist and workers’ parties, Statement 2002).

Who did he hand over?

Becerra, before he escaped in 1994 from Colombia to Sweden as a political refugee, had served as municipal councillor in the city Corinto for the “Patriotic Union” (Union Patriotica-UP), which is a legal political formation that participated in local, parliamentary and presidential elections in Colombia.
The reactionary regime of Colombia and the paramilitary death squads have murdered two presidential candidates of the UP, 13 MPs, 8 senators, 11 mayors, 70 municipal councillors and thousands of trade unionists, farmers and students. The murders have continued up to the present day. The life of Becerra is under threat and his wife has been killed in an attempt to assassinate him.

The government of Colombia considers that Becerra is a leading cadre of the heroic guerrilla of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC) an organisation that both the US as well as the EU regards as “terrorist”.

In summary, Becerra was a thorn in the side of the Colombian government because his activity contributed to the exposure of what was really happening, namely of the persecutions and the murders which have never stopped.

The discussion about the “legitimacy” of this act

There are many voices which note that the unacceptable act of the extradition of the militant to the Colombian authorities was illegal. Actually, this is not the main issue, since the act of Chavez cannot be judged only according to legal criteria, namely according to whether it was a “legal act”, or reflected “international law” and agreements. And the reason is not only that over the last twenty years international law has been interpreted according to the interests of each imperialist power but also that it has changed significantly compared to the period when it reflected the correlation of forces between the USSR and the socialist powers on the one hand and the US and the capitalist powers on the other. This is shown clearly by the use of the UN in the imperialist wars and interventions as well as by the constant incorporation of the new reactionary changes into the international law such as the concepts of “terrorism”, “radicalism”, “extremism” which are used by the bourgeois power as an “umbrella” for the repression of the popular movements.

Thus, this act cannot be judged on the basis of legal terms, especially as it was preceded by the arrest of three militant partisans in Venezuela and their extradition to Colombia. There is a need to examine the deeper causes of this political behaviour and draw conclusions for the international communist, labour and anti-imperialist movement.

Retreat of the movement from the political line of rupture

The statements of Chavez that he handed over a militant allegedly for “patriotic reasons” so that “his country not be accused of aiding terrorism” are revealing. Can someone be a revolutionary when he defines the interest of his country according to criteria formed by the bourgeoisie and particularly concerning what they today call “terrorism”?

However, this statement did not come out of the blue. It was preceded by the expulsion of FARC by the “Forum of Sao Paolo” where many governmental “left” and “socialist” parties-movements in Latin America participate and play a leading role. As it is noted in the documents of the 18th Congress of KKE, “in Latin America, but also more generally, it is attempted to condemn and reject the armed revolutionary struggle, using FARC as the excuse. This political stance, which has been widely adopted by pro-imperialist forces, but is also supported by the forces of reformism and opportunism, concerns the armed struggle against occupation and the resistance to dictatorial and despotic regimes. It also concerns the development of the revolutionary movement, the right to protect one’s self against the repression and weapons of the bourgeois class and bourgeois political forces. In essence, this stance argues that the movement should abandon the policy of breaking with and overthrowing the system.”

This empty “anti-imperialism” is dangerous

Various parties that participate in the “Forum of Sao Paolo” such as the party of Chavez proclaim that they fight against imperialism but they identify it with the USA which they characterize as an “empire”. In reality these forces essentially restrict the anti-imperialist struggle to a one-sided approach, merely against the US while imperialism is regarded as an issue of “foreign dependence” and American interventions, an issue of restriction of national rights and not as monopoly capitalism, as the highest stage of capitalism, where all the capitalist countries are incorporated regardless of the level of their economic development.

Thus, these forces do not see (or they do not want to see) that the relations of dependence that exist in the imperialist system are due to the uneven capitalist development and can be resolved for the benefit of the people only if each country breaks with these bonds that keep it in the framework of the imperialist system, namely if it organises its economy on the basis of the satisfaction of the people’s needs, socialising the basic means of production, implementing central planning and imposing workers’ and people’s control. In other words they deny important laws of the socialist revolution and construction, such as the dictatorship of the proletariat. On the contrary they describe another “socialism” which is given the nickname of the “21st century Socialism” which in reality is one more approach for the management of capitalism that promotes the demands of the bourgeois classes for a better position in the global imperialist pyramid. They strive to do this through the choice to form interstate capitalist organisations-unions such as Mercosur (“common market of Latin America), Unasur (Union of South American countries), ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America) and CALC (Community of Latin American States) which recently held its first preparatory meeting.

These socio-economic and political processes are in progress and require the convergence between the bourgeois classes in the region. They also show that in the case of Becerra we do are not merely dealing with an “error” of Chavez but with a choice that is harmonically linked to the class choices of capital in Latin America. Furthermore, this is expressed by the re-heating of relations between Venezuela and Colombia after the election of the Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, despite the persistence of Colombia in its agreement with the US on the use of seven military and air bases by US forces.

Elisseos Vagenas
Member of the CC of the KKE,
Responsible for the International Section of the CC

Los autores

Comité por la libertad del periodista alternativo, Joaquín Pérez Becerra, quien está preso en Colombia y le están haciendo un "juicio" amañado que viola todo el ordenamiento jurídico nacional e international