WORKING CLASS HISTORY: Communist Party of Peru Leads Revolutionary Internationalist Movement in 1984 May Day Actions

By Mike Talavera

On May 1, 1984, the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) blew up 30 meters of oil pipeline in northern Peru and hung enormous red banners with the hammer and sickle from the antennas of two Ayacucho radio stations to celebrate International Workers’ Day.

“With the first appearance of the sun’s rays the people of the slums saw five meter long banners waving on the metal towers of these radio stations,” one Peruvian newspaper reported. “This took place despite the fact that the antennas are surrounded and under permanent guard.”

Other actions were carried out across the country in honor of the working-class holiday. Police stations were attacked, weapons were stolen, blackouts were imposed through acts of sabotage, walls were painted with revolutionary slogans, and red balloons with hammers and sickles were released.

Additionally, many of the 500,000 Peruvian government workers who had been on an indefinite strike for more than three weeks also participated in May Day festivities, including marches and confrontations with police.

“This May 1 has been a brilliant day of combats and revolutionary successes for our people,” a letter from the Central Committee of the PCP reads, “and it took on a higher significance being part of the worldwide celebration agreed upon by the RIM. The formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement has been a great revitalizing inspiration for the Peruvian proletariat and people, for the revolutionaries, and especially for the armed fighters and communist followers of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and at the same time it has been a hard blow for reaction and electoralist opportunism, especially revisionism.”

Four years earlier, a pamphlet published on May 1, 1980 by the organization Movement of Workers and Proletarians called for the initiation of armed struggle in the country. “We live in a developing revolutionary situation,” the document reads, “which demands that we follow our own path: TO BEGIN ARMED STRUGGLE. Elections have never given the working class or the people power, and it can only be conquered through prolonged and hard armed struggle.”

Two weeks later on May 17, 1980, the eve of the country’s presidential elections, masked militants raided a polling station in the town of Chuschi in Ayacucho and burned the ballot boxes, an action that would commence the armed struggle in Peru that continues today. By 1984, an estimated 15,000 armed actions had already been executed.

The 1984 May Day in Peru came two months after the declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) had been signed by over a dozen Communist Parties and organizations around the world.

The RIM had agreed on slogans for that year’s May Day, including “Long Live Red 1st of May, Symbol of World Proletarian Revolution,” “Build the Unity of the International Proletariat! Hail the Formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement,” and “Break the Chains, Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!” Those chants were echoed in May Day marches and protests in Peru, India, France, Sweden, and other countries.

Although the RIM never officially acknowledged its disbandment, it has been inactive since 2007. It descended into corruption and revisionism, split between camps that wanted to preserve false unity and others that wanted to co-opt it to push their own brand of revisionism.

However, a new current of international solidarity between Communist Parties and organizations has emerged in recent years. This past weekend, a declaration “in support of the Maoist Communist Party in the French State” was published, signed last month by several European Communist Parties and organizations as well as the Peru People’s Movement (Reorganization Committee), the Communist Party of Brasil (Red Faction), and the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist.

At its core, May Day is an international workers’ holiday and it should be celebrated this year and every year in a way that strengthens the solidarity of workers around the world. It is the responsibility of Communist Parties and supporters of Maoism to lead the masses in continuing the tradition of May 1 with the same spirit and enthusiasm as the PCP did in 1984.