WHAT IS THE APRA? by Victor Raul Haya de la Torre
[Biographical information from Britannica: Born Feb. 22, 1895, Trujillo, Peru died Aug. 2, 1979, in Lima/ Peruvian Marxist political theorist and activist who founded and led the Aprista Party, which has been the vehicle for radical dissent in Peru since 1924. He critiqued many aspects of political life in Latin America, including militarism and US imperialism. The son of wealthy parents, Haya de la Torre became a student leader and was deported in 1923 after leading a mass demonstration protesting the dedication of Peru to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In exile in Mexico City, he founded (May 7, 1924) the Popular Revolutionary American Party (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana [APRA]), known as the Aprista movement. APRA was dedicated to Latin-American unity, the nationalization of foreign-owned enterprises, and an end to exploitation of Indians. In the excepts below, he explains APRA's philosphy and programs. He ran unsuccessfully several times for the presidency of Peru and suffered exile several times as well.
Haya de la Torre returned to Peru to run as the Aprista candidate for president. Peru's oligarchy threw its support behind Colonel Luis M. Sánchez Cerro. After a hotly disputed election Sánchez Cerro was inaugurated, and Haya de la Torre was jailed until Sánchez Cerro was assassinated in 1933.From 1934 to 1945 Haya de la Torre lived in hiding in Peru but became widely known through his underground activities and writings. In 1945 APRA took the name People's Party (Partido del Pueblo) and threw its support behind José Luis Bustamante y Rivero, who won the presidential election. Haya de la Torre, nonetheless, then 50, really controlled the government. His supporters in the Congress, however, were unable to pass their reformist measures over the conservative opposition. In 1947 Bustamante outlawed the People's Party, and, after General Manuel Odría overthrew Bustamante (1948), Haya de la Torre took asylum in the Colombian embassy in Lima from 1949 until 1954, when he was allowed to go to Mexico. He remained there until 1957, when constitutional government in Peru was restored.
In the 1962 presidential election Haya de la Torre was the Aprista candidate. Odría and Fernando Belaúnde Terry were his principal opponents. After a bitter and violent campaign and an indecisive electoral outcome, the contest was thrown to the Congress, in which the Apristas were the leadingbut not majorityparty. The army, however, was determined to prevent Haya de la Torre's victory, and it took over the government and annulled the election. New elections in June 1963 gave Belaúnde the presidency. Political parties were banned by the military junta that overthrew Belaúnde in 1968, but when a constituent assembly was elected in 1978 to write a new constitution, APRA was the largest party and Haya de la Torre was assembly president. Until his death, Haya de la Torre was his party's candidate for the election scheduled for 1980.]
THE STRUGGLE ORGANIZED IN LATIN AMIERICA AGAINST YANKEE Imperialism, by means of an international united front of manual and intellectual workers with a program of common action, that is the APRA, the four initial letters of the following words: Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (Popular Revolutionary American Alliance).
The program of international action of the A.P.R.A has five general points which serve as a basis for the national sections: (1 ) Action of the countries of Latin America against Yankee Imperialism. (2) The political unity of Latin America. (3) The nationalization of land and industry. (4) The Internationalization of the Panama Canal, (S) The solidarity of all the oppressed people and classes of the world.
The A.P.R.A is a young organization formed by the young men of the new generation of manual and intellectual workers of Latin America. It was founded in 1924 and has organized sections in various countries in Latin America and also in Europe, where the number of anti-Imperialist Latin American students is pretty large. The principal sections of the A.P.R.A. are at present working in Mexico, Buenos Aires. Central America, Paris and other places in which for political reasons the action of these sections is not publicly allowed. A Central Executive Committee directs the action of all the sections.
The Labour Monthly [London], December, 1926, -pp. 756-759; also included, in Spanish, in El Antimperialism y el APRA as "Que es el A.P.R.A.?"
The United Front
The A.P.R.A. organizes the great Latin American Anti Imperialist united front and works to include in its ranks all those who in one way or another have struggled and are still struggling against the North American danger in Latin America, Until 1923 this danger was regarded as a possible struggle of races-the Saxon and the Latin races-as a "conflict of cultures," or as a question of nationalism. From the "Gonzalez Prada" Popular University of Peru a new conception of the problem has arisen: the economic conception. In 1924 the First Pan American Anti Imperialist League was formed in Mexico and also the Latin American Union in Buenos Aires. The Anti Imperialist Leagues were the first endeavor of the international united front of workers, peasants and students against Yankee Imperialism, The Latin American Union was founded as the Anti Imperialist Frente Unico of the Intellectuals. As a matter of fact, the Anti Imperialist Leagues have no fixed political program, but only that of resistance to Imperialism, and the Latin American Union has simply intellectual activity. The A.P.R.A. was founded in 1924, with a program of revolutionary and political action, and it invites all the scattered forces to form themselves in a single united front.
The Class Struggle Against Imperialism
The history of the political and economic relations between Latin America and the United Status, especially the experience of the Mexican Revolution, lead to the following conclusions:
(1) The governing classes of the Latin American countries-landowners, middle class or merchants-are allies of North American lmperialism.
(2) These classes have the political power in our countries, in exchange for a policy of concessions, of loans, of great operations which they--the capitalists, landowners or merchants and politicians of the Latin American dominant classes-share with Imperialism.
(3) As a result of this alliance the natural resources which form the riches of our countries are mortgaged or sold, and the working and agricultural classes are subjected to the most brutal servitude. Again this alliance produces political events which result in the loss of national sovereignty; Panama, Nicaragua. Cuba, Santo Domingo, are really protectorates of the United States.
The lnternational Struggle Against Imperialism
As the problem is common to all the Latin American countries, in which the dominant classes are allies of Imperialism in joint exploitation of the working classes, it is not an isolated or national question, but is international among the twenty Latin American republics. But the governing classes encourage divisions among these republics, assisting the Imperialist plan which fears Latin American unity (covering eight millions of square miles and about ninety millions of inhabitants). The Governing classes stir up national feeling and national conflicts, as in the case of Peru against Chile, Brazil against Argentina, Ecuador and Colombia against Peru, etc. Every time that the United States intervenes as an "amicable mediator," they arrange matters purposely so that no definite settlement can be arrived at which might produce a principle of unification. The recent question of Tacna and Arica between Peru and Chile is the clearest demonstration of this policy of Imperialism.
Imperialism Cannot be Overthrown Without the Political Unity of Latin America
The experience of history, especially that of Mexico, shows that the immense power of American Imperialism cannot be overthrown without the unity of the Latin American countries. Against this unity the national dominant classes, middle class, landowners, etc., whose political power is almost always buttressed by the agitation of nationalism or patriotism of countries hostile to their neighbors, are ranged, Consequently the overthrow of the governing classes is indispensable, political power must be captured by the workers, and Latin America must be united in a Federation of States. This is one of the great political objects of the A.P.R.A.
The Nationalism of Land and Industry as the Sole Means of Combating Imperialism
Within the capitalist system, and in accord with the dialectics of its historical process, Latin America would infallibly become a Worth American colony. The United States holdings of values in the world (The New York Times, June 27, 1926) are shown in the following table, exclusive of war debts:
United States holding in Asia . . . . . . . . . . $1,000,000,000
United States holding in Europe
United States holding in Australia
United States holding in Latin America
This introduction of capital into Latin America increases almost daily. From June to October, Imperialism has invested over $50,000,-000. The conflict between the United States and Mexico shows us that Mexico has not been able to nationalize the petroleum industry, which today is still dominated by the menace of a North American invasion in defense of the interests of the Standard Oil Co. (North American capitals in Mexican petroleum $614,487,263). The Platt Amendment of the Cuban Constitution and the cases of Santo Domingo, Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras and Haiti prove to us that national authority is lost in proportion as investments by Imperialism are accepted. The nationalization of land and industry under the direction of the producing classes is the sole means of maintaining the country's power, and is the correct policy for the countries of Latin America.
Latin American Political Unity Pre Supposes the Internationalization of the Panama Canal
The Panama Canal in the power of the United States Government is one danger more to the sovereignty of Latin America. The pro-gram of the A.P.R.A. frankly proclaims the "internationalization of Panama." Dr. Alberta Ulloa, Professor of International Law in the University of San Marcos, Lima, Peru, writes in support of this thesis: "The Panama Canal must be internationalized . . . It is not possible to allow to the United States the exercise of supreme rule in Panama." (Open Letter to the President of the Federation of Stu-dents of Panama, June 1926).
The A.P.R.A. represents, therefore, a political organization struggling against Imperialism and against the national governing classes which are its auxiliaries and its allies in Latin America. The A.P.R.A. is a united front of the toiling masses (workers, peasants, natives of the soil) united with students, intellectuals, revolutionaries, etc. The A.P.R.A. is an autonomous movement, completely Latin American, without foreign intervention or influences. It is the result of a spontaneous movement in defense of our countries in view of the experiences of Mexico, Central America, Panama and the Antilles, and the present position of Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela, where the policy of "penetration" by Imperialism is already keenly felt. For this our watchword is to be the following: "Against Yankee Imperialism, for the unity of the peoples of Latin America, for the realization of social justice."
WHAT KIND OF PARTY IS APRA, AND WHAT CLASS DOES IT REPRESENT?
AN INDOAMERICAN ANTI-IMPERIALIST PARTY WITH A SENSE OF OUR social reality cannot be a single class party. Even less can it be organized along the lines of a European-model party. Less still, can it be a party subject to foreign direction. These are three arguments against the Communist objections discussed in the previous chapter. Furthermore, an Indoamerican anti-imperialist party with a sense of our social reality must be a national party of a united front, one which brings together all of the social classes menaced by imperialism. It must be, then, a party with its own realistic and efficient program and tactics, and with a national command. These objections favor the organization of APRA as a party.
Let us think about these statements:
Imperialism menaces others besides the proletarian class: Imperialism, which implies in all of our countries the arrival of the industrial capitalist era under the characteristic forms of economic penetration, brings with it the economic and social phenomena which capitalism produces in the countries of its origins: great industrial and agricultural concentration; a monopoly of the production and circulation of wealth; the progressive destruction or absorption of small capital, of small manufacturing, of small property, and of small commerce, and the formation of a truly proletarian industrial class.
We should note then, that the class first suffering the impact of capitalist imperialism in our countries is not the incipient working nor the poor peasant, nor the Indian: The worker in small industry and the independent artisans, in being employed by a new form of production backed with large amounts of capital, instead receives a more secure and higher wage which temporarily improves his conditions, and he becomes a member of the industrial proletariat. They sell their labor under better circumstances. The same thing happens to the poor peasant, the peon, and the Indian serf. Upon being proletarianized in a large manufacturing, mining, or agricultural enterprise, they almost always enjoy a temporary improvement in their welfare. They exchange their miserable wage of centavos or in kind for a higher one paid by their foreign master, who is always more powerful and richer than the national master. Thus imperialism in the newly developing countries is a determining factor in the formation and strengthening of a genuine modern proletarian class. This social phenomenon of the class structuring of our proletariat is subject to a spatial process as we shall note further on. It has its characteristic limitations, determined by the conditions and peculiarities of the imperialist expansion over backward countries. The industrial proletariat which is beam-, formed is, then, a new, young, weak class, fascinated with immediate gains, whose collective conscience only appears later to confront the implacable rigor of exploitation within the new system.
Since the great profit of imperialism is based on cheap labor, the wage paid the new worker, although greater than that which he received under previous conditions, is significantly less than that received by a worker in the industrial countries, When imperialist capital comes to our countries, it comes like the catechists of savages showing spangles and mirrors which attract the oppressed with transitory fascination, Thus the industrial proletarian class is formed during the first stage of imperialist penetration, but always under inferior economic conditions as compared to those of advanced proletarians.
For this reason, in addition to large capitalism bringing about an economic state better than that of small capital, just as industrial capitalism is a superior stage to feudalism, the laboring masses who are transformed into a modern proletariat do not perceive the violence of the imperialist exploitation until much later. The type of modern imperialism, especially the North American variety, so advanced in its methods, only offers benefits and progress in the beginning.
Some of these characteristic contradictions of modern imperialism, whose vast and terrible proportions the nascent proletariat does not see in the beginning, have been previously mentioned. But the monopoly which imperialism imposes cannot avoid the destruction, the stagnation, and the regression of what we call generically the middle class. Thus, as industrial capitalism, upon appearing in the most highly developed countries reduces, absorbs, and proletarianizes the petty bourgeoisie of whom only a few are privileged to join the dominant class--imperialism subjugates or economically destroys the middle classes of the backward countries where it penetrates. The small capitalist, the small industrialist, the small rural and urban proprietor, the small miner, the small merchant, the intellectual, the white collar worker, among others, form the middle class whose interests are attacked by imperialism.
A very small segment of this middle class allies itself with imperialism and obtains advantages through becoming a cooperative aide and national front. Under the laws of competition and of monopoly controlling the existence of capitalism, the imperialist form-its culminating expression-destroys the incipient capitalists and proprietors, subjugates them, defeats them, and strangles them with the tentacles of the great trusts, when not under the yoke of banking credits and mortgages. The middle classes of our countries, as imperialism advances, see increasingly restricted the limits of their possible economic progress. They are subject classes which hope to join the dominant classes and are prevented by the imperialist barrier which is of itself the expression of a dominant class intolerant of rivals. Also within the imperialist countries themselves, and in the United States particularly, this phenomenon of .paralyzation of progress of the middle classes is evident. In spite of the fact that they fulfill an economic function in the circulation and distribution of riches for small commerce, and constitute at the same time an ample sector of the market for national consumption, the impulse of the middle classes in the large countries is circumscribed in a vicious circle. It has lost already the possibility of increasing its economic power and converting itself into a bourgeois class. As capitalism is perfected and concentrated, the petty bourgeoisie finds inescapable the boundaries of being a dependent class.
In the countries of incipient economic development, the middle cIasses have a wider field of action. Allied or at war with the large landholding classes, the middle classes know that the future is theirs. For that reason, we see that at the end of the struggle for independence from Spain--which in effect turned over the control of the state to the great national landlords-the Indoamerican middle classes quickly learned the way to power and advanced towards the level of a well-defined national bourgeoisie, However, long before this transformation had been achieved, it was restrained by the entry of imperialism. The conquest of our economy is carried out from abroad, under an ultra-modern and all-powerful system. Upon its arrival, it hurts established interests, enrages in irresistible competition, absorbs, and imposes. Thus, while imperialist penetration produces an upward movement of the working masses, who pass from semi-slavery and servitude, or from elemental forms of free labor to become a proletariat, the middle classes suffer their first taste of defeat. They soon realize this, and reaction and protest are generated.
This is the economic explanation of why the first cries against imperialism in our countries have come from the middle classes, which are also our most cultured ones. In sentimental and purely lyrical forms, the precursors of anti-imperialist protest in Indoamerica have been genuine representatives of the middle classes. From their ranks appear the first agitators and the most determined and heroic soldiers of the initials anti-imperialist movement.
It would be vain to pretend to explain the historic fact that the Indoamerican working classes have not originated the movement of social protest against imperialism, simultaneously with the middle classes, for lack of pugnacity. It is well known that the uprisings of the workers and peasants in Indoamerica have been frequent and have a tong history among us. But their protests have been directed against the visible exploitation, against the instruments of immediate oppression: the feudal master, the employer, the manager, the cacique,* the foreman, or the government supporting them. Much later, and when imperialist exploitation made known its immense weight, our working classes understood the danger and discovered the true economic enemy. When the oppression of imperialism is felt in the form of national and political subjugation-by means of loans, concessions, dispersal of public property, through interventions and outright menace-reality demonstrates to them the need for a unification of forces with the middle classes that have already initiated the anti-imperialist struggle.
Would it be realistic, then, to reject the alliance of the middle classes with the working and peasant classes for the anti-imperialist struggle? Doubtlessly not. Should such an alliance, once formed, be limited to rhetorical protests, to a mere task of resistance, or to noisy popular term for a local political leader, a machine politician.
The middle classes can carry out a valuable political role, as is demonstrated in their cooperation with the Socialist parties of Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, among others. Furthermore, the middle classes that suffer imperialist aggression at the cost of their own existence, have an interest in giving their protest substantial meaning. When the Communists propose to link them to the anti-imperialist movement in the leagues, but only for the purpose of protest and to prohibit them frown political action, there is sufficient cause to condemn the famous leagues to prompt death. The middle classes would only thus take the chestnuts from the fare. And there are many intelligent and capable people in those classes capable of seeing through and disdaining, quite rightly, such an ingenuous tactic! This tactic may be very Communist, very European, and well learned from well-translated books-but it is very stupid.
The oppressed middle classes displaced by imperialism want to fight it, but they wish to do so politically from the ranks of a party dedicated to that struggle, too. The historical task of an anti-imperialist party consists, in the first place, of affirming, the national sovereignty by freeing it from the oppressors of the nation and capturing power in order to carry out its liberating objectives. This is a difficult and arduous task for which the aid of the middle classes, who would be benefited by this liberating movement, is essential.
Not only because of the really complicated characteristics of the imperialist phenomenon but also because of the ignorance of the working masses in the backward countries-an ignorance determined by the agrarian or feudal nature of their economy--an alliance with the intellectuals in the service of the antis-imperialist movement is necessary. The intellectuals in the agrarian countries belong almost completely to the middle class. In the revolutionary history of China and Russia, they have played a decisive function. The leaders of the Russian and Chinese revolutions were intellectuals, professors, economists, or writers. It would be stupid to deny the influence of the intellectual, or the left-wing university man-professor or student-in the liberating tasks of the modern world. Especially in the case of China, an agrarian country, the intellectuals have fulfilled and are fulfilling a memorable role in the struggles against imperialism.
In the Indoamerican countries, the function of the intellectuals has been and is definitive for the anti-imperialist struggle.
With the exception of one or two examples of independence and realism, the philosophy and science of government, jurisprudence, and doctrinary theorizing are nothing in our countries but plagiarisms and copies. On the right and the left, we find the same lack of creative spirit and very similar vices of utopian foreignism and lack of adaptation. Our surroundings and our imported modern cultures have not yet emerged from the sterile stage of transplant. With fanatical ardor we accept without criticism the European maxims and rules. Thus, we raised fervently, a century ago, the slogans of the French revolution. Thus we agitate today under the banner of the Russian revolution or the inflamed slogans of fascism. We live seeking an intelligent master who will free us from thinking for ourselves. Even though our historical process has its own rhythm, its typical characteristics, its intransferable content, the paradoxical thing is that we don't see it and do not wish to see it. We use borrowed descriptions or we look from alien viewpoints. We have the same false security of those who for centuries believed that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun revolved around it. For our ideologues and theoreticians of right and left, our lndoamerican world doesn't move. For them, our life, our history, and our social development are only reflections or shadows of the history and development of Europe. For this reason they don't think for themselves, but assess, measure, name, and follow these factors in accord with the historical classification and political norms dictated by the Old World.
This mental colonialism has established a double dogmatic extremism: that of the representatives of the dominant classes-imperialist, reactionary, and Fascist-and that of those who call themselves representatives of the subjugated classes and speak a Russian revolutionary language which no one here understands. On this opposition of opposites, thesis and antithesis of a borrowed antagonistic theorization, APRA erects as a realistic synthesis its doctrine and its program. An essential part of them is the theory of the anti-imperialist state
An anti-imperialist state cannot be a capitalist or bourgeois state of the type of France, England, or the United States. It is necessary to deny that if we anti-imperialists don't accept as the post-revolutionary objective the characteristic bourgeois type of state, we will fall inexorably under the wheel of imperialism. The quality of the anti-state must be essentially that of a defensive struggle against the greatest enemy. Once the defeat of imperialism is achieved in a given country, the state will become the bulwark sustaining the victory, which presumes a political and economic structure. Imperialism net cease its aggression, and its attacks will have to seek a weak point in the new state mechanism erected by the triumphant movement. The anti-imperialist state must be, then, above all a state of defense, which counterposes to the capitalist system determined by Imperialism, a new system, distinct from the old, which will tend to proscribe the old oppressor regime.
Thus, while the imperialist offensive is apparently pacific during the period of "economic penetration"-and the struggle is not seen clearly until the noose is tightened, when force comes in defense of interests already conquered-the defensive struggle after the defeat of the old feudal state, the instrument of imperialism in our countries, will have to be an apparently peaceful struggle, perhaps, but an implacable one nonetheless in the economic field. For this reason, after the defeat of the feudal state, the triumphant anti-imperialist movement will organize its defense by establishing a new system of economy, scientifically planned, and a new state mechanism which will not be a "free" democratic state, but a war-disciplined state, that limits the exercise of economic rights in order to protect all from the imperialism.
The new state organization must evidently be something called state capitalism which was widely utilized in the period of the imperialist war of 1914-1918 and which in Germany reached a truly extraordinary level of organization. But it is necessary to point out the differences. State capitalism of the type mentioned is a defense against capitalism itself concentrated in moments of danger in its instrument of oppression and of defense. During the European rear, the belligerent imperialist powers established so-called state monopolies. Production and commerce were placed totally or almost totally under governmental control. The bourgeois class in support of the state surrendered its own economic sovereignty. But once the conflict was passed, private capitalism recovered the control of production and the circulation of wealth, and state capitalism, an emergency pleasure, had only served to reaffirm the power of this system.
In the anti-imperialist state, enraged in a defensive economic rear. It is indispensable also to limit private initiative and the progressive control of the production and the circulation of wealth. Tile anti-imperialist state, which will have to direct the national economy, will have to deny individual or collective rights of an economic nature when their use implies an imperialist danger: It is impossible to conciliate-and here is the normative function of the anti-imperialist state--absolute individual liberty in the economic sphere with the struggle against imperialism. The national proprietor of a mine or a hacienda, who sells his property or business to a Yankee entrepreneur; doesn't carry out a merely private contract because that buyer not only invests money in an operation, but one can say that he invests sovereignty. Behind the new interest created by this apparently simple economic operation, is political support, the force of the imperialist power backing that investor, with a point of view which is different from and opposed to that of the country which receives the investment-the interests of the foreigner. Will that be a private operation? Certainly not. The anti-imperialist state will therefore have to limit the individual use and abuse-jus utendi, jus abutendi-and will have to reduce the economic freedom of tile exploiting and middle classes and will have to assume, as in state capitalism, the control of production and commerce progressively.
The difference between the anti-imperialist state and European state capitalism will be based fundamentally on the fact that while the latter is an emergency measure in the life of the capitalist class, a means of security and an affirmation of the system, the anti-imperialist state will develop state capitalism as a system or transition towards a new social organization, not for the benefit of imperialism-which supposes the return of the capitalist system of which it is a form-but for the benefit of the productive classes, which will he gradually trained for their own self-government and the use of the riches which they produce.
If the anti-imperialist state doesn't separate itself from the classical system of capitalism and instead stimulates the formation of a national bourgeois class, stimulates, individualist and insatiable exploitation-supported by the classical statement of democratic-liberalism--it would fall quickly into the imperialist chains from which no bourgeois national organism can escape. For this reason, a vast and scientific organization of a nationalized cooperative system and the adoption of a political structure of functional democracy based on the categories of labor will be indispensable in the new state. Thus, by both means the anti-imperialist state will carry out the work of economic and political education needed to consolidate its defensive positions. Thus, also, it will efficiently and in a coordinated way channel the effort of the three classes represented in it. The anti-imperialist state will direct its historic path towards another economic system which negates and defends itself from the present one for the progressive control of the production and wealth-through the nationalization of the land and of industry says the program of APRA. This must be the keystone of Indoamerican unity and of the effective economic emancipation of our people.