Camejo in NY: (was The Permanent Revolution debate is a useless, phony debate ? What can a poor boy do ?)

David Walters dwalters at
Tue Jul 8 14:03:57 MDT 2003

Just on Josès point about Peter Camejo, then "Pedro" Camajo.

Peter applied this 'turn' toward the Cuban Revolution very seriously. He
even received support from what was to become both wings of the Trotskyist
opposition to Barne's, including me.

I was in NY at that time and I thought, and still do, that Peter's proposal
was brilliant, even though I thought the 'rationale' for it, a 'turn to
pro-Cuban socialists' was utter nonsense, I knew what Peter was trying to
do, which was to break out of the stupid, abstenionist, and very sectarian
SWP election campaigns the Party was known for. Oh yeah, boring too. Forgot
that, for the most part they were very boring.

Peter proposed to a NY Local meeting (a Local was composed of more than one
branch in an area, and in the case of NY, it included Newark, two branches
in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, take or add a branch).

At that time there were various groups, mostly in the Puerto Rican
community, including but not exclusively, the PR Socialist Party, El Comité
and various other groups the SWP had worked with, including milieus of
Salvadorian and Nicaraguans radicalizing under the impacts of the
revolutions in Central America. This was also before CISPES came into
existence but the BPR and February 28th had active cells in NY.

Peter proposed a "socialist front" very loosely modelled on the PST "Workers
and Socialist Pole" campaign from 8 years earlier in Argentina. He said,
"look, the Party's orientation is 'toward the Cubans', blah, blah, let's
implement this concretely, around a set of demands we can all agree on:
No support for the Democrats (or Liberals)
Full support for unions and against NY's then austerity drive.
Community control of the schools,
For a Labor Party, etc. etc."

It was a creative application of the Transitional method, the tactic of the
United Front, etc. It would of thrust the SWP into the leadership position
on the left, isolated the WWP who would of abstained, and made the SWP
dozens, if not hundreds of recruits.

Barnes rolled out Olga Rodriquez to try to smash Peter, along with a carde
of full timers from West Street. They slandered him, they attacked him etc.
Peter, who was living next door to me at the time, warned me in advance
about what was going to happen. He said "Just wait, you'll see, David". Glad
I didn't bet him.

I think we had about20, 25% of the vote. It was the beginning of the end,
kind of, for what was to happen to the rest of the opposition shortly there
after. Oh yeah, they also forbade Peter from talking politics to any of the
30 or more young Latino youth he recruited in the Garment District. Within a
year, I was out, as the party began shedding members by ones and twos until
the big expulsions 4 years later.


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