*By Valentín Pacho: Former General Secretary of the CGTP Peru, former Deputy General Secretary and Vice-President of the WFTU.

Historical background

The emergence of trade unions in Peru dates back to the late nineteenth century, promoted mainly by anarchists, had its heyday until the second decade of the twentieth century, under the leadership of politically and ideologically trained union leaders who organized unions of artisans of various specialties and workers of the first factories and services of that time. And, between 1904 and 1910, they formed unions of bakers, port workers, transport workers and in 1923 they established unions of agro-industry, sugar, textile, farm day laborers, the creation of organizations and regional federations, promoted protest mobilizations, strikes of great importance, as a consequence they suffered persecutions, repression and imprisonment; the anarchist unionists promoted education and the workers’ press. Peruvian anarchists were not known for union yellowing or opportunism, they were consistent with their ideals.

Decline of anarchism

From the third decade of the 20th century onwards, the anarchists began to lose influence in the face of the impulse of the socialist and communist trade unionists, who assumed greater predominance in the main trade union organizations. In this context, in 1929, the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (Confederación General de Trabajadores del Perú, CGTP) was founded by José Carlos Mariátegui, a printing industry worker and prominent Latin American Marxist of the 20th century. But for more than three decades the CGTP was declared illegal by the military dictatorships and governments of the oligarchy: the main leaders of the affiliated unions of the base and of the workers’ confederation were victims of persecution, imprisonment, torture and assassination by the repressive forces under the accusation of being communists. However, the working class and peasants developed great struggles and historic strikes.


Between the 40’s and 70’s of the 20th century, there was a greater growth and strengthening of trade unions in Peru. At that time the delirium of the Cold War imposed by U.S. imperialism was booming, which unleashed an anti-communist campaign in Latin America and policies of domination, its priorities being: repression and liquidation of trade union and social organizations accused of being communist, absolute control of governments, right-wing political parties and trade unions.

Those in charge of executing the mandate of imperialism were: the powerful trade union of the United States, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the U.S. State Department; for this purpose they created in Latin America the Inter-American Regional Organization of Workers (Organización Regional Interamericana de Trabajadores-ORIT) in 1951, an organization dedicated to campaign against the WFTU, to promote reformism, corruption of trade union bureaucracies to disaffiliate themselves from the WFTU and thus divided the unions. And, in 1960 the AFL-CIO and the CIA created the American Institute for Free Labor Development AIFLD (Instituto Americano para el Desarrollo del “Sindicalismo Libre” IADSL), funded by the CIA and major U.S. transnational corporations, with headquarters in Washington and branches in each of the countries of Latin America: AIFLD‘s mission is to indoctrinate, train, educate mercenary trade unionists, opportunists at the service of the interests of the ruling class and the policies of imperialism, responsible for promoting divisionism, union yellowing and corruption of trade union bureaucracies, and in 1961 following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution by order of President John Kennedy the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was established, Agency of the United States for International Development. And in 1983 the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was created by the US government of Ronald Reagan, also to finance trade union events, political parties and coups d’état in the Latin American region.

All these organizations of imperialism develop their actions in Peru. In this complex context the trade unions developed their struggle, led by the class-oriented trade union confederation CGTP that despite being outlawed by the dictatorships, achieved its legalization in 1968 and then affiliated to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and faced the intense campaign of accusation of being communists by the class enemies. The consequences were that many class conscious leaders and militants and social fighters were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, and assassinated. Today the CGTP is one of the most important trade union confederations in Latin America, respected by the trade union movement and popular organizations and the Peruvian People, because of its consistent historical course.


Since the 1990s, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have multiplied in the world, spread in each of the countries of the five continents, with multi-million dollar financing from powerful foundations, governments of the European Union, the United States, as well as transnational corporations.

In Peru, according to information from the Peruvian Agency for International Cooperation, there are about 2.180 NGOs both registered and unregistered: The action of NGOs has strengthened the work they do:  AIFLD, USAID and NED and foundations including Friedrich Ebert, as well as the envoys of several trade unions of the European Union such as Belgium, Spain through CC.OO and others, who call themselves “cooperators” bearers of “solidarity aid“: all these are effective instruments of the ruling class, whose actions are aimed at financing training seminars and training projects for the leaders and members of trade unions that accept such “cooperation”, but also finance right-wing and social democratic political parties that call themselves left-wing: the objective is to depoliticize and de-ideologize in order to neutralize the class-oriented struggle in the trade union militancy.

The challenge for the class-oriented trade unions in Peru is very complex, but they are aware that only with the action of the masses with revolutionary class consciousness will they be able to defeat neoliberal capitalism that oppresses the working class and the People of Peru.

June 2022

















*By Valentín Pacho: Former General Secretary of the CGTP Peru, former Deputy General Secretary and Vice-President of the WFTU.