From 23rd to the 24th February, around 200 young people and workers from all the territories in Spain participated in the 19th Congress of the Student’s Union. In an electric atmosphere of struggle, enthusiasm and confidence, we redouble our commitment to the defense of public education, the rights of working women, and democratic rights, as well as our commitment to transform society. To all of us who attend this wonderful meeting we have no doubt: The future is ours!
It was a fantastic congress both in terms of the quality of all the interventions and the representativeness of the participants: fighters from Vigo, Oviedo, Gijón, Bilbo, Gasteiz, Iruña, Barcelona, València, Málaga, Almería, Huelva , Seville, Granada, Madrid, Guadalajara, Badajoz, Cáceres, Zaragoza, Salamanca, León … explained in detail the role that our organization is playing in the defence of public education, promoting the strike of ‘8M’ and against the Right, in all cities and areas of the State. But the meeting also transcended borders. An international delegation demonstrated the way to break down the walls that the capitalists want to raise to divide and confront people: the international solidarity of all the oppressed. At the Congress, we have comrades of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) from England and Wales, France, Belgium, Germany and Portugal.
Among the attendees there were activists from the workers’ front, invited by the Student Union, and representatives of struggles and important sectors, such as Amazon, pensioners, taxi drivers, the PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca – which takes direct action to stop evictions and campaigns for housing rights), comrades from the Association of Transsexuals of Andalusia and, with special mention, the relatives of the young people of Altsasu [eight youth from the town of Altsasu, who face judicial repression].
In defence of democratic rights
The young people who participated in the Congress are aware that we live in a convulsive historical moment, marked by two sides of the same coin: on the one hand, the exemplary mobilization of the youth and the working class in defence of our rights, against cuts and privatizations, and the oppression which this system puts us under. On the other hand, the savage response of a State inherited from the Franco regime, whose main priority is to end the mobilization in the street and crush all those who dare to question capitalist order and justice.
In this sense, one of the points that marked this magnificent meeting was the unanimous support to the struggle of the people of Catalonia, fighting for a Catalan republic of the people, workers and youth. The Sindicat d’Estudiants en Catalunya has played a leading role in the fight against the Francoist repression of the Popular Party government, calling nine student general strikes against the reactionary offensive launched by the ‘78 regime. The Student Union has always defended the right to decide and, of course, we raise our fists with all the young people who fight for a republic today, to change their living conditions from beginning to end: ending cuts, evictions and oppression of all kinds. We also explain, as Comrade Borja Latorre, from Barcelona, expressed, “to get a Catalan republic with these slogans and based on a method of fighting in the streets, would be a great opportunity to extend the struggle against the right and capitalism in the whole State”.
March 8th – we will make history again
Another of the fundamental points that ran through our Congress, from beginning to end, was the struggle we are carrying out with the Union of Students, and Free and Combative, in defence of the rights of working women and youth, and organizing and promoting the feminist general strike sets for 8 March. This year, March 8th takes on special relevance. The youth, who last year played one of the most prominent roles in the mobilizations, understand that the reactionary block of the People’s Party (PP), Citizens–Party of the Citizenry and Vox represents a real danger to women’s rights, as young people, and as daughters of the working class. That is why we consider it paramount to absolutely paralyze everything, and to achieve this goal, we call the mixed-student general strike. If we want to strike a blow and send a powerful message to the capitalists and machistas responsible for our oppression, we have to call our partners to empty the classrooms and workplaces to join us, and to show that we have the strength and determination and that we are the majority. As comrade Ainoa Murcia from Seville, said: “We reflect on the methods of the fight against sexual harassment of Google or McDonald’s workers and we reject the gender divisions that pretend to make our movement weak. Our fight is against this system.”
We rise up against all attempts to make our struggle harmless and innocuous for the capitalists. For this reason, we say clearly that the abolition of sexual slavery, prostitution, surrogacy and pornography must be recorded on the flag of March 8th. Laura Calderón, of the SE and Free and Combative of Madrid, delved into the criminal scourge that these multimillion dollar businesses represent for most poor women, how the procurer lobby tries to infiltrate our ranks and how the fight for their eradication is a priority for the revolutionary feminists, who fight for our rights, for our bodies and our lives.
There is no doubt that this year we have a very big challenge ahead, but the strike of March 8 is moving forward with strength and reflects the power and pressure generated by this wonderful movement. In that sense, we celebrate with enthusiasm the call for a general strike of 24 hours, promoted by the Federation of Education of the CCOO – as explained by its Secretary General, Paco García – which calls on workers to fight together against gender violence.
Capitalism is barbarism
Internationalism was present throughout the meeting. We discussed the struggle of the youth and workers in Mexico after the electoral defeat of the right on July 1, we showed solidarity with the Venezuelan people against imperialism and reaction, and we detailed the political earthquake that was created by the Trump government. We were fortunate to have present at Congress the voices of comrades who participate in the first line of the battle to get rid of the Theresa May government in Britain, in the explosion of the ‘yellow vests’ in France and against the austerity policies of the Portuguese government.
Undoubtedly, one of the movements that is having the greatest influence at an international level amongst the youth, and demonstrating the dead-end that capitalism supposes for the majority of the population, is the fight against climate change. Emily Burns, a comrade from the PSL/LSP, in Belgium, described the uprising of tens of thousands of young people in that country against those responsible for the environmental catastrophe of our ecosystem: capitalists that defend the economic interests of a minority, even if that means the destruction of the planet.
The Congress approved unanimously that the Student Union actively joins the European climate strike, on 15th March, and called for a student general strike and demonstrations on that date.
One of the most exciting moments of the two days of Congress was the ¡No pasarán! session. This was dedicated to the fight against the extreme right, in defence of the methods of struggle of the working class and historical memory. Comrades of the Student Union, together with groups in struggle, and comrades of the Revolutionary Left, founding organization of the Student Union, are part of this process.
The struggle against the reactionary, Francoist character of the State and capitalist justice, ran through the entire session, from the first intervention to the last. We stand in defence of decent pensions, and we are inspired by the determination with which pensioners take to the streets in defence of their rights. The memory of all those who lost their lives against the Franco dictatorship is the held by our organization and by all combative youth. We are united to the fight against the attacks of the extreme right in Germany, and we highlight the exemplary struggle of the people of Catalonia against Franco’s repression.
But, without a doubt, the moment that most moved and shocked all the attendees was the participation of the relatives of the young people of Altsasu. From the Student Union we want to thank Bel, Edurne and Alfredo, for being able to count on their presence and their fight testimony. The forcefulness with which they have responded and continue to respond to this Francoist judicial assembly is an inspiration for all those who struggle to transform society. The youth of all the Spanish State stand with Ohian, Jokin, Jon Ander, Julen, Adur, Aratz, Iñaki and Ainara, and we shout with force: Altsasukoak askatu!
We are the flame of the revolution!
The anticipated general elections on 28th April were echoed in the political discussion at the Congress. We made it clear that the Student Union will contribute, with all our strength, to the electoral defeat of the reactionary bloc of the PP, Cs and Vox – the firm defenders of this rotten and criminal system. But we will not do it to extend a blank check to Pedro Sánchez or the PSOE [social democracy], but to insist on the idea that only voting is not enough. You have to defeat the right at the polls, yes, but also in the streets. The only way to defeat the policies of the right and force the parliamentary left to make a policy in the service of the interests of the workers and the oppressed, is to continue with the mobilization on the streets -as we did the compañeros and compañeras of the SE after the elections in Andalusia – and build combat organizations.
During Congress, we also chose the governing bodies of the Student Union – our state executive, as well as the general secretariat. We bid farewell to our comrade, Ana García, who has played a leading role all these years. Ana represented us in the tough struggles and in the great victories, such as the elimination of the Francoist revalidations. We chose comrade Coral Latorre as new State spokesperson
The entire congress was covered, from the first minute to the last, by our determination to fight against all kinds of oppression, in defence of the rights of LGTBI people, against racism, xenophobia and imperialist wars … and for the need to organize ourselves against a sick system that implies massive unemployment, precariousness for youth and workers, cuts, privatization of health and education, and the destruction of the environment. What we experienced at the XIX Congress of the Student Union is the strength that youth have, and when we join our struggle to that of the working class, as a whole, and we fight, side by side, with all the oppressed and for the socialist transformation of society, a genuinely socialist and revolutionary alternative.
It was an unforgettable Congress, which also shows the enormous task that lies before us. Comrades, the future is ours!