21stINTERNATIONAL MEETING OF THE COMMUNIST AND WORKERS’ PARTIES
18th to 20thOctober, 2019 - Izmir, Turkey
Intervention of Raja Collure, Chairman, Communist Party of Sri Lanka
At the outset let me convey the fraternal greetings of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka to all the participants at this meeting. The CPSL expresses its profound gratitude to the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the joint hosts for their commitment in making this important annual event of the Communist movement a reality. We are also thankful to the TKP for their warm hospitality and the excellent facilities provided for the success of this meeting .
The centenary of the Communist International is an occasion to pay our tribute to its contribution to the development of the international Communist movement. Having stood againstthe reformist sections of the Second International which deviated from the previously accepted internationalist and anti-war positions proceeded to bring together the revolutionary forces of the international working class into one whole. It fought against the vulgarization and distortion of Marxism. The foundation was laid to build the International Communist Movement as a mighty force enwrapping the entire world.
The Communist International provided the guidelines to combat capitalism in the era of imperialism. The Soviet Union was safeguarded as the bastion of the international working class. It drew up the tactical line for the Communists in the colonies by advising them to build alliances comprising the working class, the peasantry and the national bourgeoisie in the fight for the liberation of the peoples in the colonies. Considering the global threat of fascism which had emerged as the most reactionary and violent segment of the capitalist class the 7th Congress of the Communist internationalheld in1935 decided to build popular fronts comprising different political forces which were opposed to fascism apart from the working class.
Unfortunately we could not be a section of the Communist International because it was founded about two months after its dissolution.
The (second world) war time alignment of forces led by the Allies- the Soviet Union, Britain, France and the United States in the fight against the Axis powers led by the fascist forces which sought to dominate the worldcould be interpreted as an extended application of the popular front concept at the international level to defeat fascism.
Today the Communists in different countries seek to establish alliances with anti-imperialist forces for the attainment of certain common objectives and often for the overthrow of dictatorial or authoritarian regimes backed by imperialism. In Sri Lanka the CPSL has advocated the formation of alliances for the overthrow of pro-imperialist regimes for over a period of sixty years to defend the national interests and interests vital to the people, with rewarding results.
The Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka will take place on November 16th, this year. It is being held in the background ofa worsening economic situation and the deterioration of the working and living conditions of the people. The growth of the economy is expected to drop to 2.7% this year (the lowest among the countries of South Asiat) compared with over 6% growth on an average which remained effective in the period prior to 2015, ie. beforethe present government assumed office.The currency exchange rate which was at Rs. 131 per US dollar in January, 2015 has increased to Rs. 184 by October, 2019. Sri Lanka government’s debt has increased from 71.3 % of the GDP in 2015 to 82.9 % of the GDP by 2019.
Apart from the state of the economy several other issues have come to the fore at the elections. The government’s accession to the ACSA agreement with the USA to provide wide ranging facilities tothe US armed forces within the territory of Sri Lanka has come under heavy criticism. The proposedSOFAagreement under negotiation is to bestow exemptions to the US military personnel from adhering to the local laws relating to passport and customs requirements is another controversial issue. An agreement with the Millennium Challenges Corporation which has been proposed to be entered into by the government is to provide infrastructure facilities for the movement of US military forces is widely opposed by the Sri Lankan public. Through these agreements the USA seeks to reinstate the military facilities that it lost as a result of the by dispossession of Diego Garcia under an international adjudication.
The present government which implements neo-liberal policies has commenced the disposal of national assets as well as strategic entities to foreign ownership. Already the HambantotaHarbour which lies along the international shipping route to the East has beengiven on a 99 year long lease, a virtual sale. Many other national assets have been identified for similar sales. The CPSL which is vehemently opposed to this policy is operating in league with other forces which hold similar positions.
The safeguard of the hard won social gains are also under threat from the present government. There are plans to expand the activities of the private sector to areas covered by free health services and free education. Funds running into trillions of rupees made up of contributions for terminal benefits by private sector employees are to be turned over to the private sector for its investments endangering the security of those funds.
Elections to local authorities were inordinately delayed because the government had noconfidence that it could win them. The elections to the Provincial Councils have been indefinitelypostponed for the same reason. In other words the government has failed to hold elections when they have become due.
The forthcoming Presidential Elections are fought by the opposition on these and other issues affecting the people. The defeat of the present government at these elections is amatter of national urgency. A grand alliance under the leadership of former President MahindaRajapakse, which includes the Communist Party of Sri Lanka as an important constituent, has been formed to fight the elections. Although MahindaRajapakse is not the Presidential candidate the opposition alliance is confident that the elections would result in a change of government.