Declaration of the 24th São Paulo Forum in Havana

The 24th annual meeting of the São Paulo Forum gathered left-wing political parties from more than 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries between 15 and 17 July. The organisation’s final declaration, previously published here by Brazil de Fato is below.

1. Latin America and the Caribbean are facing today, 28 years after establishing the São Paulo Forum, the impacts of a multifaceted reactionary, conservative offensive aiming to reestablish neoliberalism. This is a result of converging interests and concerted efforts between global transnational capitalist elites, the United States government as its hegemonic center, and their allies in the ruling classes in our region.

2. This multifaceted offensive has managed to make leftist and progressive forces pull back by overthrowing governments and staging parliamentary and judicial coups. To do that, the imperial Right and the oligarchies subordinated to it have amplified the mistakes and limitations of transformative forces, which suffer setbacks but also have huge potential for struggle. This fundamentally explains the unfavorable change in the governing correlation of forces in today’s scenario.

Looking into the nature and gravity of the mistakes and insufficiencies is the sovereign prerogative of each country’s political parties and social movements.

3. The military and parliamentary coup against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2009); the parliamentary coup against Fernando Lugo in Paraguay (2012); the election defeat of the Front for Victory in Argentina (2015); the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil (2016) through a parliamentary, judicial, and media coup; the victory of conservative or ultraconservative right-wing figures in Chile, Paraguay, and Colombia; the conviction and imprisonment without evidence of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to stop him from running for president in Brazil; a conspicuously divided arena of people’s movements and organizations when it is time to face reestablished neoliberal agendas; the vilification of politics that benefits the Right’s plans in important countries in the region; and the publicly strengthening of figures and projects that are deep-rooted in fascism in several countries are, among many other aspects, indicators of the neoliberal offensive, a challenge leftist forces have to face and overcome for the benefit of the people.

4. The Right’s actions have close links to the expantionist, predatory nature of capitalism and the interests of financial capital that rule it.

5. The facts speak for themselves: between the last Meeting of the São Paulo Forum (Managua/2017) and this one in Havana (2018), the negative impacts of the concentration of property ownership, power, and wealth in the hands of a global elite has become more profound, as this elite is determined to impose better conditions for themselves to increase their profit rates at any cost.

6. This is seen in the destruction of nature, with growing negative impacts on the weather; in the attempts to sell public resources such as water, land, and oil to and allow their predatory use by transnational companies; in the attempts to privatize public funds; in the attacks on labor and social rights; the outrageous inequality and inequity increase; the destruction of productive forces through war to boost the economy of the so-called core countries; the increasing migration flows and suffering of millions of human beings who struggle when they are forced to migrate; and the offensive carried out by transnational interests against our nations’ national sovereignty to make the free movement of capital easier.

7. These realities, made even worse by the dangerous performance of the Trump administration as it is aiming to reverse the declining trend of US hegemony, significantly increase the risks to world peace and to Latin America and the Caribbean’s ‘Zone of Peace’ status. Latin America and the Caribbean will continue to be a top priority for the US foreign policy, as the control over the region is crucial in the US’s eagerness to keep an unsustainable unipolar world order.

8. The United States and its allies need to consolidate the perception that the history of the continent has entered an unstoppable regressive phase in favor of capitalism. While the reaction against progressive and leftist administrations was immediate, the right-wing political parties that used to impose the neoliberal restructuring became extremely weak and discredited, and now they are unable to derail the social change brought about, as the case may be, by political movements of the São Paulo Forum. This is why they feel a need to employ a destabilizing strategy that includes a media warfare, an economic warfare, and a lawfare, as well as foreign interference and criminalization of social movements and protests, among others, to mount this new kind of coup (whether judicial or parliamentary) or devise election defeats.

Faced with this reaction of imperialism and local oligarchies against progressive forces, we reject this idea of ‘end of a cycle’ as strongly and emphatically as we have rejected, in the past, the idea of ‘end of history.’ Latin America’s progressive forces will continue to fight for a world based on social justice.

The White House and its allies are aiming to achieve exactly the opposite of that: to divide, co-opt, demobilize, and discourage. This is reason enough for us to promote, with facts and ideas, a sense of unity in the Left and the arena of people’s movements and organizations to organize and fight.

9. Preserving the experiences of sovereignty, strengthening of democracy, and people-driven governments with anti-imperialist projects, pushed by left-wing and progressive parties; offering solid support and encouraging emancipation efforts and anti-capitalist ideals of social and people’s movements that work for that; boldly working to consolidate long-lasting peace, with social justice; and promoting efforts to advance the sovereign integration of what José Martí called Our America become political imperatives and proofs of honor for the continental Left.

10. In 1990, the São Paulo Forum emerges as a space of collective work and building for the plural Latin American and Caribbean Left, to face an international scenario marked by uncertainty and disorientation that ultimately led to the end of the USSR and the so-called socialist camp. Since then, continuing its critical thinking and political formulation tradition, the São Paulo Forum is once again faced with the challenge of critically looking into what has been done, reuniting forces, and making new efforts to keep building the necessary consensus to face today’s right-wing offensive.

11. The political parties that are members of the São Paulo Forum come to this 24th Meeting with superior political accumulation, which in turn is multiplied by the Forum’s articulating efforts, as we are completely aware that predatory capitalism cannot offer alternatives to humanity. This leads to people’s agitation and potentialities for progressive and left-wing transformative action, if leftist and progressive forces can manage to reorganize, work side by side with social movements, train cadres, and improve their projects for change, some of which are clearly socialist leaning. There are enough examples in Latin American and Caribbean history that prove that, when there is unity, determined and capable political guidance, clear goals to guide fights and improve combat morale, and deep roots in lower and working classes, the number of options to challenge – and even defeat – any counter-revolutionary, conservative, and reestablished neoliberal offensive greatly increases.

12. Giving in to defeatism, supporting or tolerating the personality politics and sectarianism that emerge and spread in hard times, and accepting or promoting the loss of confidence in the political ability of our exploited peoples not only would be an insult to the heroes and martyrs in the region’s history of emancipation struggle, but also a gratuitous, unnecessary concession to the United States and its international and local allies.

13. We oppose the imperialism’s plan to undermine our nations’ sovereignty and take control of our natural resources with a true Latin American and Caribbean internationalist spirit, with firmness and non-negotiable sense of dignity, offering our noble peoples’ emancipation plan.

14. Let us work to strengthen the struggle for social justice and emancipation, for full political sovereignty and economic independence, for sovereignty of the peoples’ rule, and for world peace. Reclaim the best emancipation experiences of social and people’s movements in the region!

In this context, we, the delegates and invited members who took part in the 24th Meeting of the São Paulo Forum in Havana, Cuba, representing Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, Europe, and North America:

1. Call to strengthen the global movement for Peace. Reality calls us to join forces to exert pressure by all means possible.

2. Warn that the representatives of big transnational capital – government, corporate, military, economic, media, and ideological alike – are operating in the highest-ever levels of concerted efforts that we know of. Our conclusion, therefore, is that all leftist forces in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America must devote a practical, mutual effort toward internationalism.

3. Watch concernedly as the imperial Right is concerting operations in the United Nations Security Council; for Zionism in the Middle East; to encircle Russia in Eurasia militarily; to stop the People’s Republic of China, in Asia, from advancing as a global economic power with peace and cooperation proposals; to destroy, in Latin America, Latin American and Caribbean social justice, democratic, and internationalist projects that our political forces carry out; and to fragment the Caribbean using different methods, including colonial ones, as is the case in Puerto Rico.

4. Ratify the following causes and lines of action designed at the 23rd Meeting of the São Paulo Forum, which took place in Managua last year:

– Make the defense of the CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), the biggest unity experience of the last 200 years, the primary political goal of all our parties and social and people’s movements, in every school, university or space of intellectual production. Promote the idea of integration among our peoples, which itself will be an advancement as we face the divisive policy carried out by the United States and its allies. We trust in the value of fair ideas: let us make sure they are heard by each and every one of the Our America’s governments.

– Set a goal with all the Left and patriotic and democratic sectors of Latin America and the Caribbean to adamantly defend the tenets set forth by the Proclamation of Latin America as a Zone of Peace.

– Condemning the militarism that was born from the core of limitless, unscrupulous imperialism is a political need, connected to the survival of our peoples. Turning this defiance into concrete actions in every daily political move is a matter of principle that we ratify.

– Strongly reject the absurd, unacceptable idea that this region of the world belongs to the elites in the United States or anywhere else in the world. Let every day be a concrete reminder of the Second Declaration of Havana to the White House: ‘this great humanity said, Enough!, and started walking. And this walk of giants shall not be stopped until true independence is achieved.’

– Concerting, in every international space wherever possible, every action that can weaken the levels of domination and hegemony of the United States in our countries, regardless of secondary differences nations or sectors may have, is crucial and possible. The empire has chosen to prioritize the elements of a cultural and symbolic warfare. As an offensive response to that, let us reclaim the traditions of freedom from each and every one of our countries. Let us honor those who have forged them. Let us stop the cultural banality of the North that looks down on us and forces itself upon the rich history of the countries we represent.

– Carefully understanding how the international Right is developing their plans to destabilize emancipation-driven experiences by the people and governments in Latin America and the Caribbean is a paramount need. This will be more effective if we are able to create a solid system to exchange collective experiences and information. The São Paulo Forum can play a key role in this sense, especially through political education efforts.

Similarly to the delegates of the 23rd Meeting in Managua, and for understanding the following causes are still valid, we:

– Reiterate how important it is to approach and carry out concerted efforts with the Left in Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. We are committed to this new step to make the united anti-imperialist action more effective and systematic between the two regions. The PIE and the São Paulo Forum have the conditions to make this goal possible.

– Denounce, this time with additional reasons, the meddling role of the OAS, which keeps being used by the United States government as a Ministry of Colonies. The work of its secretary general, marked by a despicable subordination to the White House’s interests, proves this role every day. The OAS and the Lima Group are today’s Trojan horses against Latin American and Caribbean unity. Let us do everything that is possible to stop their destructive advances.

– Condemn the unconventional, far-reaching war promoted by Yankee imperialism and their European, Latin American, and Caribbean allies against the Bolivarian Revolution. The revolution has become the White House’s immediate strategic goal to defeat. For us, therefore, it is the major goal of solidarity in these circumstances. Just like a year ago, in Managua, the São Paulo Forum is alert and permanently in internationalist solidarity against the international intervention in Venezuela.

– Keep intact the solidarity with Argentines, Brazilians, Hondurans, and Paraguayans who refuse to accept the backward movement to neoliberalism in their respective countries, after having governments that, in their own ways, sought economic growth, a better redistribution of wealth, the guarantee of social rights, the expansion of people’s participation and democracy, ensuring national sovereignty, and strengthening regional integration in the field of the BRICS, all to fight social, regional, and gender inequalities, racism, or simply that their foreign policy challenged the hegemonic logic of the foreign policy of the United States.

– Reaffirm our absolute conviction in believing in peace, in accordance with the Declaration of the CELAC, which in January 2014 declared Latin America as a zone of peace. For this reason, we support the request of the political and social forces of Colombia for the Colombian government to comply with the implementation of the Havana Agreements, keep the process of dialogue with the ELN open and take real steps to stop the assassination of former fighters and social, political, environmental, and human rights defenders. We denounce the actions of the national and international ultra-right to boycott peace. It is clear that the White House, the international Zionism and the most backward forces of the continent insist in the oligarchic groups of Colombia to continue to be a shock troop in favor of transnational interests in South America. The fight against this strategy, which has already placed one of the CELAC countries as a member of the aggressive NATO, is vital.

– Strongly reject the interventionist policy of the United States in the internal affairs of Sandinista Nicaragua, a country that is implementing the same formula used by US imperialism in countries that do not respond to its hegemonic interests, causing violence, destruction, and death through the manipulation and destabilizing action of terrorist coupist Right groups, which boycott the pursuit for dialogue that constitutes the best way to overcome the current crisis and achieve peace, which is essential for the continuation of the process of social transformations promoted by the FSLN of the government headed by Commander Daniel Ortega, which has significantly reduced poverty and social inequality in this fellow country.

– Stand in solidarity with the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation and with the government of comrade President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, who energetically face the media war, the lawfare, the economic boycott, and other forms of destabilization, and we commit ourselves to accompanying them as international observers in the presidential election of February 3, 2019.

The 24th Meeting of the São Paulo Forum calls and encourages Bolivia and Chile to find a solution to Bolivia’s landlocked situation that contributes to a true integration of our peoples, respecting both countries’ sensitivities and based on dialogue and international law.

– We reiterate the Sao Paulo Forum rejects the White House’s policy, which criminalizes Latin American and Caribbean migrants and, in particular, our Central American brothers and sisters. A world without borders and with universal citizenship is what guides our struggle for emancipation.

– We reject any form of racism, intolerance, and discrimination. We promote the full exercise of women’s economic, cultural, social, and political rights and the elimination of patriarchal culture.

– We demand the withdrawal of MINUSTAH forces that, following a mandate from the anti-democratic UN Security Council, have occupied Haiti for more than a decade.

– We condemn drug trafficking, human trafficking, and terrorism and denounce the double standard of a system that claims to fight organized crime while also protects its big promoters and main responsible parties. We defend the legal cultivation and the traditional beneficial use of the coca leaf.

– We proclaim the access to water and common goods (land, clean air, energy, etc.) as a human right. We fight against the depredation of the environment and the threat to biodiversity and the ecosystem in general.

– We support the demands of Caribbean small island states to be compensated for the human damage caused by slavery and to have access to resources that allow their resilience in order to face climate change.

– We demand the unconditional, total, and definitive lifting of the economic, financial, and commercial blockade of the United States government against Cuba, and the compensation, to the Cuban people, for the damages caused in more than half a century of aggression of all kinds.

– We demand the return to the people of Cuba of the territory occupied by the illegal US naval base in Guantánamo.

– We support Argentina’s historical claim on the sovereignty of the Malvinas, South Georgia, and South Sandwich Islands.

– We demand the elimination of all US military bases in the region (77 total, which, combined with the 4th Fleet, cover the entire region), and of all foreign military bases in any and all countries, wherever they may be.

– We defend the rights and the cultures of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants, and we take on their struggles for the restitution and full exercise of their historical rights.

– We demand the total decolonization of the Caribbean and particularly support the independence of Puerto Rico, as on July 25, 2018 the American military invasion of this Caribbean nation reaches the one-hundred-and-twenty-year mark. We also assert ourselves for the elimination of all forms of colonialism and neocolonialism.

– We support, respecting the principle of self-determination of peoples, the nomination of President Evo Morales – constitutionally empowered and supported by the American Convention – for the 2019 elections, and we reject the destabilizing plans promoted by the the country’s right wing, the OAS, and the embassy of the United States.

– We demand the immediate release of Lula, after a conviction and imprisonment without evidence, as well as his right to be a presidential candidate in Brazil’s October elections, respecting the will of the majority of the Brazilian people.

Free Lula! Lula is Innocent! Lula for President!

5. As we did a year ago, we reaffirm that Latin America and the Caribbean are still fighting! And they maintain the decision to act with optimism, determination, and greater sense of unity.

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

Ever onward to victory!

Translated by Aline Scátola and Pilar Troya