On 1 May 2019, IMT comrades in El Salvador were very proud to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Militante - BPJ, the paper of the revolutionaries of the BPJ (Popular Youth Bloc). The enormous amount of work that has maintained our publication on a more-or-less regular basis over these past 10 years would not have been possible without the invaluable collaboration of sellers, writers, designers, correspondents, but above all, the help of all our readers. We can say proudly, and without exaggeration, that they are spread all over the country.
A year before the Militante BPJ was first published, we decided in a National Congress to become the Salvadoran section of the International Marxist Tendency, and adopted its methods of organisation and struggle. Following the teachings of Lenin, the IMT includes within its methods the regular publication of a newspaper that can help the construction of a centralised organisation of revolutionary cadres, an organisation that lays the foundations of a Marxist party and has, as its objective, the taking of power for the exploited and oppressed classes. For Marxists, following in the steps of Marx and Lenin, the newspaper is an absolute necessity.
The first publication of the newspaper was preceded by some irregular and homemade-style publications that were distributed in the nationwide protests of the working class and youth. Among them, we published a booklet, a couple of pages long, called, "What FMLN [Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front – the ruling political party] does the working class need?" in 2008, of which we sold hundreds of copies. The first publication of the newspaper was inspired and guided by the patient work of the comrades of the Mexican section of the IMT and was released in February 2009, between the significant municipal and legislative elections and the 2009 presidential elections. The January elections were the prelude to the powerful mass movement that led to the victory of the FMLN presidential candidate – journalist Mauricio Funes.
Help the comrades in El Salvador purchase a printing press!
Our first editorial
The Militante BPJ, following the principles of Marxism, has always aimed at the political unification of the Salvadoran proletariat and all the oppressed classes. It aims to end the dispersed and isolated struggle of the workers, and help free themselves from the yoke of capital and to serve as an open forum to voice the demands of the workers’ movement. It strives to unify, agitate, educate and guide the working class under the method of scientific socialism. Therefore, our publications are guided by the interests of the poorest and most-militant people of El Salvador, whose struggle must ultimately be for the conquest of political and economic power for the revolutionary transformation of society.
That is why our first editorial, entitled "Balance of the January elections: FMLN must be based on the mobilisation of the bases", stressed, from the Marxist point of view, the significance of the FMLN's overwhelming win in January 2009. In this election, the FMLN went from having 32 deputies to 35, and from ruling 59 local councils to 93. This was clearly the prelude to the historic FMLN presidential election win on 15 March 2009.
In this editorial, we concluded the following:
"We must take the FMLN to power and fight for a socialist government. Mauricio Funes (leader of FMLN) has said on several occasions that his government does not intend to implement socialist measures. However, the aspirations of the masses are to radically change the living conditions which capitalism has subjected them to. In a moment of economic crisis of capitalism like the present one, it will be impossible to make a profound change if it is not carrying out a programme along class lines, that is, a socialist programme. Little by little, the bourgeoisie is unmasking itself, faced with the increase to the minimum wage, the ANEP (National Association of Private Entrepreneurs), the so-called "business" sector in El Salvador, threatened to carry out a series of mass layoffs.
“The only way out is the nationalisation of the banks, the land and the major Salvadoran industries to be used under workers' control. The workers will not hesitate to support these measures if they are carried out by the workers themselves. In addition, once Funes is in power the bourgeoisie will not hesitate to use all their means to drown the FMLN. It is necessary to take these measures to protect the government of the workers... The presidential election will demand the unification of the militancy at the national level, it will need a very strong link with the trade unions since these are the natural organisations of the workers, the senile decay of capitalism only further increases the need for the militancy of the FMLN in its political formation. Socialism is the ideological banner under which the new layer of militants of the left must be forged."
10 years after this editorial, we can confirm that our observations on the FMLN's political programme were correct. A movement like the one that led the party into power was the driving force of an intense revolutionary process, which had to defend and deepen itself in the streets, and not in the halls of bourgeois government, as Funes and the party leadership did. Now we see the results of the Stalinist reformism of the leadership of the FMLN in the rise of the Bonapartist government of Nayib Bukele.
In this decade, from our pages we have celebrated the steps taken forward by the working class through the governments of the FMLN, but we have also been harsh critics of the wrong decisions of the government, and as activists of the FMLN (until 2018) we also published harsh criticisms of the leadership of the party. Our position earned us opposition, slanders, attacks by party bureaucrats and, of course, from the right through their media mouthpieces, for example, when they used our publications as cannon fodder to attack the FMLN.
10 years of progress and setbacks
Throughout this convulsive process of successes and failures for the working class and for the Marxist revolutionaries, we have managed to publish 77 issues in total. Of course, in a convulsive society, this has not been easy. We have sometimes had to advance alongside the dizzying pace of events without letting ourselves be carried away by the whirlwind.
We have sometimes celebrated genuine steps forward, and sometimes even illusory steps; for example, following a national and international campaign and years of personal savings, we were deceived into acquiring an industrial printing machine that never properly printed our publications. Today “Marjorie” (as she is nicknamed so affectionately by the comrades), lies in pieces to be sold and serves as an unpleasant but invaluable testament to the bad intentions of the merchants of capital.
Collateral victims of violence in the country
But this has not been the most dramatic and sad thing we have had to go through. We cannot forget when two of the main collaborators and brilliant activists of our organisation were victims of a dramatic and violent altercation. A terrorist set fire to the bus on which the comrades were travelling home at night, but they miraculously survived. However, they never were the same again. Comrade FV suffered serious head trauma in trying to escape the blast which left irreversible alterations to his cognitive, physical and emotional abilities. Although comrade EG physically recovered, she was absorbed with the tasks that come with being a single mother in a sexist, exclusionary and rotten society, with no opportunities for improvement for young and working women.
Although we did the near-impossible, with support from all sections of the international, in trying to return their lives to normal, our attempts were almost in vain. This is the result of the violent and perverse society that capitalism has created, and that we as revolutionaries must try to transform by dedicating our lives and energy to the cause of the socialist revolution.
Only four years had passed since our first publication when this terrible incident occurred. The organisation and therefore our newspaper was on the verge of disappearance, because our comrade FV at that time acted as our chief editor. Together with EG, they were outstanding leaders who were fully committed to the organisation. Despite this blow, and after months of disappointment, frustration and dispersion, we did not lose heart. Our firm belief in the ideas of socialism helped us to continue the work with the few activists who remained. The theoretical clarity of Marxism was the spring that encouraged a new stage of work.
But this new endeavour was not easy, we almost had to start over again. Although we had inherited the methods and the experience, our forces had been reduced by more than half. Despite this, and with the invaluable help of the IMT, we managed to regain our momentum, taking our newspaper from irregular publications to a regular release schedule in more or less three years since the departure of FV and EG.
We went from publishing it quarterly to every two months; from three pages of tabloid size to four and then to five, from glossy bound paper to a newspaper format, from four articles up to 12 or more, and from 300 to 500 copies per month. We have built it up to what it is today: a regular, monthly, six-page, tabloid-sized newspaper, with a print run of 600 copies. Our youngest comrades should be proud of the inheritance bequeathed to us by those who, for material conditions, have been left behind on the way. Although they are not with us now, they were the basis of our press is today. We can say that we have not failed in this difficult task.
The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself
Our newspaper, unlike other publications, has always been self-financed by the movement – our esteemed readers. This is a basic condition for independent and objective work, because we owe nothing to any national or transnational institution, or any particular regime or political party. We belong only to the working class and the youth of our country and of all the countries of the world. Our interests are linked to the struggle for the world socialist revolution, to the desire for a different society that the exploited must build.
The economic independence of our press and organisation, which are self-financed by solidarity contributions and comrades’ sacrifices, allows us to publish our political analysis, and report on the struggle of the exploited and oppressed, who have no voice in the big media outlets controlled by capital. In no way do we think that our analysis is shared by all the revolutionary groups. On the contrary, we believe it is necessary to encourage debate over our publications and to contrast our analysis with that of other groups that define themselves as revolutionary and socialist. We invite them to a fraternal debate of the ideas that help us raise the political level of the exploited classes. Such are the fundamental concepts of our press, the Militante BPJ.
We invite all the revolutionaries of El Salvador to send us their articles: our pages have been and will always be open to criticism and to contributions from those to whom we belong – the working class. This newspaper would be merely an idea if it were not for your valuable contributions. We hope in the coming years to truly become the voice of the working class and the youth, who are struggling to change their miserable conditions of life. The youth and workers are exploited and oppressed by the great parasites of society: businessmen, bankers, landlords and the corrupt and traitorous politicians who impede the social revolution.
Towards the professionalisation of revolutionary work
In addition to all the material difficulties, the newspaper has been built by gathering together the best qualities of all our comrades, trying to find the right task to match the skills of each person. We must say that our strength has always been Marxist theory, more so than other tasks related to the work of a regular press. During these past 10 years, no one has been a professional journalist, designer, salesman, printer or publicist. We have done everything in a self-taught way, as necessitated by the material pressures of life, which our time and money to pay for training or full-time commitment to these tasks. The Militante BPJ is a reflection of what collective work can achieve in terms of the tasks of building the forces of Marxism. We must stop at nothing, we learn by making mistakes, and the doors of our newspaper are open for the workers of the factories, for the peasants and also for the students and professionals.
We are proud of the progress we have made and of the professionalism with which each activist now develops their work. Many of us have learned to fulfill the necessary roles in the school of revolutionary struggle. We know that we must professionalise ourselves more and we will continue to do so. We are filled with inspiration when we think that we are the ancestors of a totally different future, that the best designers, publicists, journalists, editors and organisers of society are waiting to join our cause – the cause of all the exploited, because our organisation is of the working class. In this exploited and oppressed class lie all the seeds of talent we need to end this regime, and one day they will bloom. We are just the foundations of a wonderful future. This is our greatest motivation: the unshakeable faith in the socialist future.
Dedicated to the unforgettable comrades Eliza Guerra and Fredy Viera, they will always be a source of revolutionary inspiration.
Help comrades in El Salvador purchase a printing machine
The Salvadoran section of the International Marxist Tendency, Bloque Popular Juvenil, has marked 10 years of publication of its paper BPJ – Militante. From a modest first issue in February 2009, when it was a quarterly three-page tabloid, the paper has improved into a regular monthly paper with a print run of 600 copies, which doubles for the May Day edition.
The paper has become a regular feature in the trade union struggles and amongst the youth, and is well-known amongst the advanced layers in El Salvador. The comrades have now launched a campaign to raise US$5000 in order to purchase a duplicator able to print in tabloid size. They have already collected US$2300 and have a target of raising another US$1400 in the course of the year from comrades, sympathisers, supporters and the sale of merchandise.
We would like to appeal to our readers and supporters to donate towards this campaign with the aim of raising another US$1300 to reach the target.