The rope has tightened in a country crossed by the continuity of the mobilizations, a general strike and the fierce repression of the Lukashenko regime.
There have been more than two months of protests, with mobilizations that say “enough authoritarianism!”. Last Sunday, more than 100,000 people mobilized again despite warnings of receiving “live ammunition.” The regime repeated its response every weekend: repression and hundreds of detainees. That night, the deadline of the “popular ultimatum” launched by former presidential candidate Svetlana Tijanóvskaya for Lukashenko to resign, repression to end and political prisoners to be liberated, or “on October 26, a national strike will begin in all the country´s companies, the roads will be blocked…”
Monday that day came. From early on, there were assemblies trying to elect Strike Committees and paralyzing production, though partially, in establishments such as Belkommunmash, Grodno Azot, the Belarusian Automotive Factory, the MTS telephone company, the Tractor Factory and other work places. Students from various universities demonstrated their support for the strike in front of the Belarusian State University, the Minsk Linguistics and the National Technical University, among others. Workers, students, teachers, retirees and women won the streets. Many cafes, restaurants and shops were closed.
In state-owned companies, anti-strike pressure was directly exerted by riot control officers, in other workplaces repressive actions were carried out by the KGB, police officers and factory managers serving the regime. Although the government has said that it was a day of normal activity, the truth is that the first day of struggle was felt, mainly in Minsk and the most important cities.
What will happen the next few days? It is Uncertain. The mobilization continues strong, although call by Tijanóvsjaya and the Coordination Council arrived quite late, letting the best moment of the protests pass. Furthermore, such a measure has not been carried out in years, organizational experience is lacking and both independent unions and labor activists are victims of all kinds of attacks. There is also the concrete possibility of losing your job, without having an extended strike fund to support it. However, the workers and the people continue to fight with the tools they have at hand, therefore, the first task of revolutionary socialists is to support them.
We do not place any confidence in Tijanóvskaya, who resorts to EU imperialist exploiters like Macron and Merkel. Nor in her method of calling a strike to kick a tyrant out, from exile and via Telegram. For the next days it will be decisive whether the workers and the people organize themselves from below, deciding what to do and how to do it in assemblies. Whether they take the fight into their own hands by forming pickets to guarantee the cessation of activities and defend themselves from repressive attacks. If democratic coordination bodies are formed between the different mobilized sectors, they can deal a severe blow to Lukashenko.
We are living historical events. The people are rebelling against authoritarianism, against the consequences of the capitalist crisis and the health disasters of the governments in the face of the pandemic. It happens in Chile, Indonesia, Algeria and many other countries, including Belarus, where a brave people face an authoritarian president and the repressive regime that has mounted during decades of dictatorship. As long as there is struggle, there is hope. The last word has not yet been said.
The harshness of the confrontation, the perspective and the fact that the last word has not been said, indicate that the task of the revolutionary socialists is to support more than ever the Belarusian people in struggle by promoting internationalist solidarity, as we have been doing from the International Socialist League. At the same time, it makes clear the urgent need to build a political alternative of the working class and the people, an anti-capitalist Workers Party, independent of the liberal bourgeois opposition and the state capitalist bureaucracy.