An Analysis of the Struggle in Latin America and Rojava

The context in Latin America is very similar, in many respects, to that of the Middle East. These similarities exist because of the inhuman exploitation of the European nation-states in their period of colonialist and imperialist expansion. Since the beginning of the “discovery” of the American continent, the original peoples have been suffering from the external intervention of capitalist states and their economic interests, motivated by monopoly aspirations. Because of the process of extermination and assimilation carried out in both continents, the consequences of this horrible period can be seen up to today.

Not surprisingly, from the beginning of the occupation of the territory, the natives offered great resistance to the “civilized” mentality and to their capitalist understanding of “progress”. This was one of the reasons why the colonizers committed several genocides (physical and cultural). The cultures found in the territory were diverse, dozens of already organized ‘states’ were subjected to colonial domination through force, extermination and genocide. Like the Incas, Mayas and Aztecs Civilization. In addition to the great empires that existed, thousands of tribes lived in these territories and organized themselves in different ways. However, it is common to find tribes that lived in a communal decentralised way of life, as the case in Brazil, for example. With about 300 different ethnic groups and 270 different languages, most of the tribes survived from subsistence agriculture, there was no centralized form of power, the economy was based on exchange and equitable division of surplus, religion was not dogmatic or monotheistic, the education of children was the responsibility of the community, no time was not linear and animism was common to all tribes. Multiculturalism and the diversity of these tribes and ethnicity have remained present within these societies and many still survive the process of assimilation today. It is not difficult to find similarities between these forms of organization and the societies that inhabited Mesopotamia in the Neolithic period, the difference is that instead of a city-state being the colonizer, in the case of Latin America, the nation-states were the colonizers with their capitalist and ultra-nationalist mentality.

Beyond the Nation-State

It is not possible to be free while being organized as a nation state, it is necessary to build an alternative to the state and its mentality. This alternative is the reorganization of society around the political and moral society (ahlaq), this can be observed initially in the early socialism in the societies of the neolithic period. From this analysis, democratic confederalism emerges, the Rebêr Apo paradigm expressed and implemented by the Kurdistan liberation movement in all its dimensions, from the Bakur Mountains to the Rojava revolution. This is why these democratic ideas of the party can contribute to the advancement of society in Latin America and Africa and develop a truly free space. Even more so because these are societies rich in multicultural diversity, with communal origins and a strong heritage of resistance, as well as Kurdish society.

Since the reorganization of the party around the new paradigm, it is not difficult to observe and see these similarities between Kurdish and Latin people. All of them went through an extremely violent colonization process, they had (and still have) their territories occupied and exploited, they have serious problems related to the patriarchal mentality. However, Rêber Apo’s ideas are not so well known in Latin America, due to the small or non-existent Kurdish community in these places. It is crucial that we try to connect with the existing struggles in these societies and develop together the alternatives to live free from the oppression and slavery of the capitalist system. Both continents have many stories of resistance, anti-colonial movements, guerrillas who fought for national liberation and riginal societies that still resist and try to keep their beliefs, way of life and form of organization alive.

These ideas would certainly be welcomed by the Latin American people, as women’s liberation, ecology and freedom are issues that are already being addressed by existing movements. An easy example to note is the growing empowerment of feminist movements on the continent, as can be seen in Chile, Mexico, Argentina, etc. However, as much as they can mobilize millions of women in the streets and have achieved some improvements throughout history, they still find themselves chained to the patriarchal system and unfortunately see dozens of women being killed every day by this disgusting system. It is not by chance that these movements know the Kurdish Women’s Movement well, and no doubt, from this awareness, more fruitful relations of unity, mutual aid, bases of international solidarity, etc. could be created. These would be the first steps towards leading a unified struggle against the patriarchal state and internationalizing the women’s revolution that is taking place in the Kurdish movement. The problems caused by the capitalist mentality can easily be observed, for example, the destruction of the environment and the global climatic consequences generated by unrestrained exploitation in the name of so-called “progress”. The same term and the same mentality that the colonizers had in the 16th century… with the passage of time, the terms could change, but the practice and the mentality is usually the same until today

It is true that there are also many differences between the Latin and the Kurdish people, but we should focus on these similarities to better understand how the process of the development of Democratic Confederalism can take place in the Latin territory. There are factors to consider that should be exposed, for example, for the Kurdish revolutionary movement the first step in building a revolution is to know one’s own history. The idea of a democratic nation is crucial for the development of a people, as is the concept of Welatparez (defender of the nation). This topic is still considered a taboo within Latin American progressive movements, since they either completely deny the idea of nationhood or else find themselves in the real socialism conception of proletarian nationhood under the dictatorship of the proletariat as the path to be followed until the dissolution of the state. We can then point out issues to be taken into consideration:

  1. Historical cultural genocide of the original Latin peoples and the Kurdish genocide;
  2. Process of nation-state formation in Latin America and the Middle East;
  3. Influence of religious institution and the new Pentecostal neocolonialism as well as Muslim religious dogmatism in Kurdistan;
  4. The consequences of patriarchal mentality and the inhumane rates of violence against women in both territories;
  5. The subjugation of native peoples and the destruction of the environment as a result of capitalist ‘progress

1. The historical cultural genocide of Latin American indigenous peoples and the Kurdish genocide

It is a fact that the genocide promoted in Latin America by European nations, especially Spain and Portugal, can be considered one of the largest genocides ever to have occurred in history. According to sociologists Marcelo Grodin and Moema Viezzer, the genocide perpetuated against the native and resistance peoples in the American continent was 70 million deaths during the colonizing process of the territory. All this brutality was committed in the name of “civilization” and “capitalist progress” and is still seen by many as a necessary evil. The scars of this inhumane act have never even healed, since this process continues under a new mask of national and international elite interests. The process in which the peoples of the Latin American continent are involved differs from the genocide perpetrated against the Kurdish people in its form and purpose, but not for a second in its consequences and in the trauma caused to these peoples, as well as in the resistance and insurgency responses.
The Latin continent had been invaded by the forces of expansionist capitalism, the colonialist nations can be compared to an advanced civilization invading planet earth. For the people of the region, it was a force from another world. According to historical accounts, the sounds of the Spanish cannons were understood as the roars of an angry God when Spaniards and Aztecs fought for control of the land. As an outside force, the colonizer had an interest in exploiting the land, expropriating the resources, and enslaving the people of the region – treating them as soulless, savage, and animalistic communities. With the extermination of the original peoples, the colonizers began to repopulate the territory with settlers from their countries of origin, creating an ethnography distinct from the original in the region. This had benefited from European immigrations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

2. Nation-state formation process in Latin America and the Middle East.

As briefly discussed above, it is necessary to take into consideration the formation of nation-states in Latin America and in the Middle East. Since the Latin independence processes had as protagonists the national elites of these territories, which in turn were originally from the European continent, but seen by them as subordinates for being mestizos or born in Latin territory, the national independence process was in many cases only a bureaucratic change of bourgeois regimes. From the international European bourgeoisie with state control in Europe, to the national European or pseudo-European bourgeoisie with state control in the territory of origin. Thus, the peoples that historically suffered from the colonizing process continued to be marginalized from society and ignored by the state. These states, formed since their conception as failed states or with their natural wealth completely destroyed and stolen, as was the case of Haiti and other Central American countries. Because of this, the way the European nations found to keep the power game in their favor was to grant the recognition of the independence processes of the territories once occupied by them, in exchange for a mercantile system that favored the European companies instead of the national elite of these new states.

In the Middle East, where the capitalist civilization began, as well as the great empires of history, the process of nation-state formation created real chaos in the region. From the socio-economic point of view, to the military one, triggering a series of wars in the region in search of hegemonic power. Rêber APO points out, for example, how the nation-state mentality created 22 Arab nations under the same territory, defending the idea that a confederated democratic system could recognize the existing nations in the region and respects their pluralities. Quite the opposite of what can be observed in the region, involving wars for economic, religious, hegemonic and other reasons. Just like the partition of Africa, the formation of the borders established in the Middle East after World War I took into consideration only the interests of the European nations. Precisely because of this, the formation of a Kurdish nation (as a state) was never accepted, and instead, the territory – rich in natural resources, was divided among puppet nations that Europe could control and benefit from. Of course, with the advance of the socialist ideology since the formation of the USSR and its influence in the region, anti-imperialist forces were formed in the region, such as the Baath party of Assad and Hussein. But these showed a complete lack of interest in creating a truly socialist model that would respect all the peoples from the region and opted to maintain the order established by the mentality of capitalist modernity and the nation-state, with the motto of “one nation, one language, one people” and committed the most diverse atrocities against minority peoples.

3. Influence of the religious institution and the new Pentecostal neocolonialism as well as the Muslim religious dogmatism in Kurdistan.

The role of the religious institution cannot fail to be addressed, since it was a protagonist in the genocidal episode of the original populations in Latin America. Just as it played a key role in the formation of the O.M. nation-states and in the well-known holy wars that took place in the region for centuries, something that cost the lives of thousands, if not millions. During the colonizing process, the Catholic church joined the European scientific positivism of the 15th century to declare the native Latin peoples as non-human beings, soulless, servile for forced labor. With its project aligned with the national interests of Spain and Portugal, the Catholic church grew and spread its dominion into territories never imaginable possible to reach. Those who were not killed or enslaved were converted and assimilated under the Christian faith.

In the Middle East, with the rise of Islam in the 7th century and its rapid expansion throughout the region and then towards North Africa, southern Europe and the center of the Byzantine Empire, the process of conversion to Islam was by force. Several religious wars were fought and entire empires subjugated to the Islamic faith. Both processes had profound consequences in the region, and these were the dominant religions in each part. However, in Latin America the original traditions managed to survive the Christian domination process – however few compared to the pre-colonial continent. While in the Middle East, the Islamic faith has been adopted by the vast majority of the peoples there, whether their line be Sunni or Shiite. Especially in Kurdistan, feudal characteristics are still present in the society. This culminates in an extremely believing people who live according to their distorted faith. Rêber APO himself says that democratic Islam must be taken up again, since Mohammed was the last democratic Muslim. Just as he analyzes original Christianity and post-Theodosius Christianity, the Roman emperor who made the Christian faith official as the Roman faith.

In other words, Rêber APO criticizes the religious institution from the moment it becomes part of the dominant force of the state and abstains from its original function. It becomes a mechanism of social control and maintenance of the current order – the same criticism made to liberal positivism and unethical scientism. Since religions, as well as science, are not aligned with social truth, these are at odds with their pure intentions and become mechanisms of control, persecution, and oppression by the state.

The new conservative wave that assails the world, and especially Latin America, has the Evangelical Church as the protagonist of its actions. Moved by economic interests, with a liberal agenda and based on the English Protestantism that sought to comply with the dominant classes, it has shown itself to be a true weapon of popular domination and social control. If the indigenous evangelization practices were not enough (nothing more than bandeirantes excursions nowadays disguised as social actions), the evangelical church has increasingly had representation within the electoral political process in several Latin nations, but especially in Brazil and Bolivia. In the case of Brazil, during the 2018 elections it became clear the church’s intentions to support the fascist candidate Jair Bolsonaro. After his election, the Brazilian state became a lobby of millionaire pastors and their missions around the globe, as well as the growth of an ultraconservative agenda within the parliament. In Bolivia in 2019, it was church-linked conservative forces that ousted Evo Morales with a racist coup d’état supported by foreign nations like the US and Macri’s Argentina. In Kurdistan, Erdogan during the 2008 elections appealed to the Muslim Kurds for their support, promising social and structural improvements in the Kurdish regions under the slogan of “Kurds and Turks, brothers in faith.” Well, it is clear that this was nothing more than an electoral lie, which won him 47% of the vote and secured his election.

4. The consequences of the patriarchal mentality and the inhumane rates of violence against women in both territories

The capitalist system is dependent on the patriarchal mentality, since patriarchy and power are correlated since the formation of capitalist civilization. To destroy one, it is mandatory to destroy the other. Perhaps this is the point of the paradigm of the Kurdish revolution, which can be better related not only to Latin America (despite its absurd rates of violence against women and an extremely sexist, sexualized, and patriarchal society) but also to other regions of the world, be they from the North or South. Rêber APO points out very well that the first colony to exist in the world was the oppression of men over women. It is even painful to think that this power relation has remained standing for 5,000 years; surely it has had its moments of disturbance and positive revolts in search of more rights for women. But unfortunately they did not break the dominant order and in recent years we have seen just the opposite, a regression to hierarchical slave relationships. The lies of the liberal system and its false perception of freedom surely play a key role in maintaining the patriarchal system.

The revolution in Rojava becomes a paradigm shift when it proposes a system that recognizes women’s rights and furthermore puts them at the forefront of a social revolution. There have been few revolutionary experiences throughout history where women have had so much participation, so deserved, in the revolutionary process. It is clear why such an experience has been so successful in so many ways. Fellow women in the Kurdish movement say that it is possible only by observing the society among the various parts of Rojava, to know when women’s participation is more present and when it presents problems. But let’s be frank, there is still a long way to go. Kurdistan is not limited to Rojava, and certainly in the other parts of the territory the patriarchal mentality has not been abolished, the struggle is long, continuous and arduous. However, due to the paradigm developed by the party and its praxis, the difference in the relationship between men and women in Kurdistan and the neighboring nations is remarkable.

Latin America faces a serious problem when it comes to the understanding of women as social beings, still reduced to subordinate positions in jobs or to an over-sexualized pretty face, to the image of the fiery Latin woman. The role of sexuality, the role of the state, of the public security forces, of the judiciary, always thinks against the woman. Especially when it comes to a black woman, of humble origin. There are many cases of impunity for rapists and abusers in society, because they are shielded by a structural patriarchal and racist system. The indices of aggression against women continue to grow, feminicides continue to be present, impunity continues to prevail. It is more than clear that the state and its mentality do not have the conditions to solve the issue. The feminist movements, despite massive and representative, are not heard by the institutional forces and little is transformed into practical results. It is past time to create popular women’s institutions like the ones in Rojava, for example Kongra-gel, where the solutions to the problems are left to them by themselves. Of course, the whole system must be created around this, but the point is, it is past time to take the reins of our decisions in society and really get results with revolutionary practices. The Zapatista National Liberation Army – EZNL is a good example to take into consideration in the territory, since Chiapas had the highest rates of violence against women, after 26 years of the Zapatista revolution and the implementation of the Caracoles, it became one of the safest environments for women in all of Mexico. In addition, the EZNL began to notice the importance of the issue together with the internationalist issue and has promoted twice the international women’s meeting – precisely to address these issues, which the comrades of the Kurdish movement of the Jioneolojy committee attended.

5. The subjugation of native peoples and the destruction of the environment as a result of capitalist ‘progress’

The process of destruction and vegetal extraction of the Latin American and Kurdish territory is still present today. Evidently by different means, but in the end it is all about the same productivist capitalist mentality. While in Latin America the big international corporations finance deforestation, illegal logging, extractivism and the destruction of the ecosystem for the plantation of soy, the sale of wood around the world, gold mining, etc. In Kurdistan it is with the help of the military attacks by the fascist Turkish army that the Kurds called “contras” linked to Erdogan’s fascist party (AKP) set fire to the forests of the Kurdistan mountains with the intention of driving away the guerrillas and at the end of the forest fire, cut down the trees and sell the burned wood. This is happening in large numbers in Bashur right now, while Turkish aircraft are attacking the guerrilla positions and setting the surrounding forests on fire, Turkish cons and farmers are cutting down the trees and selling them for a banana price in the market, causing the desertification of the already degraded soil.

I don’t want to address here the actions committed in both territories, it is clear from who is doing it and why they are doing it. The question is, we are very close to the point of no return. When it will not be possible to recover or roll back the damage done to the environment, and this in turn is causing global changes that are culminating in the death of thousands, a climatic exodus never seen before, and the destruction of ecosystems and their fauna. This is literally the ecological apocalypse…the predictions that were made for 30 years from now have been proven right now, at this very moment. Animals are dying by the millions, entire species are threatened with extinction, cities are being swallowed by rivers and seas, and destroyed by typhoons, landslides and forest fires. But the system’s response is to invest billions of dollars in extramundane technologies for the colonization of other planets ‘in order to ensure the survival of the species’. In other words, repeating historical mistakes rather than learning from them. It is almost logical that this would be the solution presented by capitalist modernity, since it has been present since that period of the first colonizations…it is like fascism…all media around the globe announce in amazement the fascist rise of recent years in the five continents of the world. “The fascist resurgence”, well how can something that never ceased to exist resurface?

If the other justifications addressed by the revolutionary movements are not enough to cause their immediate indignation and the will to take a radical stance, at least that the near and certain end of all life as we know it is reason enough for this radical change. In Rojava, every day the communes seek ecological and sustainable alternatives for maintaining the system, initiatives like Make Rojava Green Again are much more than planting trees and trying to reforest the lost and desertified territory – which was once vast in vegetation and water. Fighting for a solution in Rojava is fighting for a solution here too, wherever “here” it is. Our fight for the maintenance and defense of ecology goes beyond invisible border barriers and ideological disagreements among ourselves, it is about fighting for the future of all life on planet earth. For this, it must be said, it is impossible to be an ecologist and defend the capitalist system at the same time.

Well, it is clear that the struggles in Latin America and Kurdistan have a lot in common, because it is a struggle against the same system, against the same mentality, against the same manipulation and oppression. However, it is clear that the existing relations between the organized movements in Latin America and the Kurdish organized movement have not yet developed deep relations that could enable the construction of an internationalist revolutionary project. This is because the Kurdish process is far beyond the Rojava Revolution, and the few internationalists from the Patria Grande who were in Rojava do not have sufficient practical conditions for the construction of a movement of these proportions. It is clear that it is in the interest of the Kurdish movement to have deeper relations with other organizations around the globe and to participate in the revolutionary processes of other peoples, counting on its experience and experience of almost 50 years of anti-capitalist struggle. The party itself started the training of its guerrillas in a revolutionary camp in Lebanon, which included Palestinian revolutionary forces, members of the German RAF, the Irish IRA and the Spanish ETA, who were also there for their ideological and military education. The PKK had 11 martyrs in Palestine while fighting side by side with Palestinian guerrillas against an offensive by the fascist Israeli army! The PKK is the line of anti-capitalist revolutionary internationalism and the increasing participation of internationalists within the party is living proof of this.

Several international initiatives exist today, especially in Europe, such as RiseUp4Rojava and Defend Kurdistan. It is past time that we continue the work started by Alina Sanchez, Sehid Lêgerîn, and develop the revolutionary apoist organizational structures on the Latin American continent as well. There is only progress to be made with such a development. The truth is that we are lagging behind, time is against us. The reactionary forces are gaining strength and the institutional and reformist left remains a palpable alternative for a large portion of the population. However, the phenomenon of the recent uprisings in the Latin continent are proof that the flame of revolution is still alive within Latin hearts! There are still those who dare to dream of another world! The EZNL itself has adopted a new strategy and is dedicating itself to building a closer internationalist line, the 421 Squadron is traveling the world and making contacts, spreading the Zapatista ideology, showing people around the world that another world is possible! And they will also be in Kurdistan, this could be the beginning of a relationship that will shake the structures of the capitalist system in the years to come. The truth is that the revolution in Kurdistan has never been so threatened as it is now, the war with the Turkish fascist army is taking on more proportions than in the 1990s, and everything indicates that the betrayal of Barzani’s KDP will trigger a new Kurdish war – something that the PKK is trying to avoid at all costs.

Internationalist solidarity alone will not be enough to defend the greatest revolution of our century, one must be an active part of that revolution. You have to dedicate yourself entirely to building an alternative, and if you have to give up the life of the system and go to Kurdistan to start this new life, what’s to stop you from doing it? What is there to lose? We live a life of illusions, a life that is not ours. Maintained only by the love and care of those close to us, but at what cost are we thinking of ourselves in moments of crisis like the one we are experiencing today? How many thousands believe in an alternative to the system, but not at the cost of compromising their realities? How many claim to be part of the revolutionary left? Well, the revolution is calling! This is the time. There are always paths open to those dedicated to living for the revolution and those dedicated to collaborating for the revolution. However, at the end of the day the truth is that movements, parties, revolutions, are built with committed people. As Alinha Sanchez said in a letter to her comrade-in-arms, Vilma:

“We need to get organized, Vilma! It is urgent and cannot be postponed! Otherwise, the struggles don’t accumulate, don’t generate a sense of belonging, don’t widen the gaze without losing the horizon. If our objective is as clear as the water, the forms must also be clear (this was Apo’s answer, in a very difficult moment for the women of the movement) (…) They became a block and emerged with solidity from the autonomous women’s organizations. I don’t see any other way. At least this is one that has shown that a lot of internal struggle is necessary, but weaves in a lot of time, as you say. Think about it, if we can organize as women, structurally organized, discussing what I was saying to Manu, the social contract, the structure, which also involves the situation, does not exclude it. That revitalizes the organization of society in general. That’s what we mean by liberating women to liberate society as a whole. Women, with all that each of them reflects and represents, and a woman, with all that for society energizes and regenerates. We can aim for the bigger picture and organize as women there, or we can organize as women to organize the people. With our views, broad, more quantum, inclusive. Without falling into the fact that it is a women’s issue. I want to believe that we can. But we have to show this vein of emancipation. Our struggle is already an example.””( Letter Alina Sanchez to comrade Vilma, page 03, Lêgerîn Magazine 02).

But the truth is this, the revolution is already happening, it just needs committed people to take it a step further and expand to other corners of the world as well. Who, if not you? When, if not now?