By now most everyone is familiar with the situation in Honduras, wherein the incumbent neoliberal stooge, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and the corrupt electoral tribunal (TSE) have tampered with the vote in order to block the Bolivarian candidate, Salvador Nasralla, from rightfully taking the presidency. For those who are not yet aware of what has happened, Anticonquista and TeleSUR have both published excellent articles detailing the background of corruption and political action in the country, we highly recommend taking a look if you want to know more. This episode has a lot to teach us about the prospects for revolution in Honduras in particular, and Latin Amerika in general, as well as some bitter lessons regarding bad leadership overall.
We should lead first by stating that we have the utmost respect and admiration for the Bolivarian resisters to imperialism and parasitic neoliberalism, and fully support the revolutionaries of Venezuela, Bolivia and elsewhere. That is not the question at hand, however. What is remarkable about Salvador Nasralla, yet unfortunately common among the more right-wing elements of the Bolivarian movement, is the lack of conviction necessary to ensure the victory of the masses in installing a government which represents them; one that can fulfill the tasks of strengthening proletarian forces and begin the struggle to build the dictatorship of the proletariat. Certainly in Nasralla’s political alliance there are many left-wing revolutionaries, who are using this movement as a way to gain traction as was done in Venezuela, where currently proletarian forces have been very successful in penetrating important political and cultural institutions.
Yet, there is a problem of leadership here. Nasralla continues to claim that the alliance will not give up in its pursuit of justice, and they have time and again reiterated that they do not recognize the presidency of Hernandez—the corrupt neoliberal tyrant. Unfortunately there is very little bite. If anything, what we have seen from the social democratic and petty bourgeois leadership of the electoral alliance, Libre-PINU, has been a retreat from the energy of the masses in opposing dictatorship. Calls for calm have replaced the angry cry for justice in the country, and it seems that, despite the best efforts of the people, their leadership is not willing to risk what the people have risked. This is not the only place we have seen this kind of absentee leadership in left coalitions. Much the same has been seen in Brazil, where impressive revolutionary feats by the people and their mass organizations are effectively hampered by the backward leaders of the Workers’ Party (PT). After all, Temer came to power from the vice presidency which the PT had given him, and now they propose to the revolutionary masses that they can be trusted to lead in their name. Weak and incompetent center-left leadership has given nothing to the revolutionary masses.
Figures much like these came to the fore in the most deadly months of turmoil in Venezuela, those who wished to “cross the aisle” to seek peace, forsaking the proletarian forces for a more stable, petty bourgeois alliance with the oligarchs and criminal neoliberals. Luckily, in Venezuela the narrative was eventually won by the revolutionary faction of the PSUV allied with the proletarian parties and mass organizations. Nevertheless, treacherous pandering had taken a toll on the resolve of the Bolivarian government. Indeed, this weakness in leadership stems from disconnection with the masses of people, and although Nasralla is a perfect populist, he is far from united with the people. What might one expect from a former CEO of PepsiCo in Honduras? Most of his politics prior to the current presidential bid have been oriented around “corruption”, and the professional issues of the bourgeois state. Needless to say, it is unclear to what extent he is really dedicated to the cause of Bolivarianism, and we have seen the destructive results of those who are not first servants of the people coming to power at the head of a Bolivarian coalition. One need only look at “Lenin” Moreno in Ecuador, to see the folly in believing that such leaders are absolutely trustworthy.
The people care deeply about the fight against corruption, no doubt, but what the people ultimately need is a break from the social system which has kept them down: capitalism-imperialism. First and foremost among the convictions of any leader looking represent the interests of the masses must be anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism. For Nasralla, it is unclear whether this is truly the case. Given his political weakness, and willingness to act according to his own interests in his repeated calls for calm and overreliance on international bodies to vindicate his victory, it is very difficult for us to see how his leadership is what the Honduran masses need right now. It does not even approach the kind of leadership exhibited by Morales or Maduro, let alone that of Lenin or Mao. Of course he never aspired to follow in the footsteps of Lenin or Mao, so the comparison is not entirely honest, but that is also the problem. Nonetheless, it is the leadership of great revolutionaries that the Honduran masses require, not sterile anti-corruption paladins.
The energy of the masses is being effectively wasted on him. That is a very sad thing, but ultimately we must have faith that they can promote their own leaders. Until then, we must be very skeptical of the petty bourgeois, even big-bourgeois “leaders” who try to divert energy away from the overthrow of dictatorship and toward “civic consciousness”. Elections can have power, most certainly, but ultimately it is only the force of the people and their revolutionary mass organizations that can transform society, not the so-called power of the petty bourgeoisie, divorced from the true interests of the masses. It would be a mistake to say that the success of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela is due to the electoral processes that the PSUV and its progenitors had succeeded in. Rather, it is the revolutionary mass organizations which continue to infect, break up, and capture hegemonic power with the support of the Venezuelan proletariat. In Honduras, we must realize the same is true, and that the usefulness of individuals like Nasralla is finite, perhaps already obsolete, and should not be clung to for longer than is necessary. Real leaders are necessary at this critical moment, ones that will place proletarian interests first in their political program.
The situation in Honduras is replete with lessons for all of us, and we should take note. This is not some irrelevant electoral spat, but a real mass struggle that has serious implications for the future. We must have solidarity with our comrades in Honduras, and celebrate real leadership among the masses as they face down the dictatorship of capital, foreign and domestic.
It is right to rebel!