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XIV Sao Paulo Forum: Left parties debate the current historic conjuncture
By Inés Hayes, with reports from Montevideo by Cristina Camusso and Julio Louis.
Dilemma: From May 22 to 25, the XIV Sao Paulo Forum was held in Montevideo, Uruguay. Under the banner `The Latin American and Caribbean left in the new time, richness in diversity’, 844 delegates from 35 countries in Latin America, Asia and Europe participated in this historic meeting. The first encounter was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1990. The debates over the crucial issues of the 21st century are embodied today in the governments which have emerged through the electoral road. The historic dilemma of reform or revolution once again returns to centre stage.
Sao Paulo Forum was born in 1990 at the hands of the Partido de los
Trabajadores (PT, Workers Party) of
this, the XIV edition of the encounter, it was possible to clearly distinguish
the two positions. While these strategies are being debated within administrations
such as those in
opening of the forum was like a frozen snapshot. Almost as if it was an
expression of desires, the Frente Amplio (Broad Front,
The Cuban, Fernando Ramirez, changed the tone and climate of the encounter. Ramirez put forward the necessity of revolution and gave a historic outline of the situation of the continent when the forum first emerged 18 years ago. ``We are at the end of an epoch’’, he said. He was the first to mention Hugo Chavez and to talk about what the Bolivarian Revolution had meant for turning around the situation in the continent. Moreover, he assured that gaining access to government did not presuppose having access to power.
``We are witnessing an epoch of wars, of conflicts, of environmental problems and preventive wars by the United States’’, detailed Ramirez, mentioning the failure of Free Trade of Americas Agreement as well as the imposition of the free trade agreements in the continent. ``ALBA, Unasur, Petrocaribe and Petrosur are the real path forward’’, he emphasised. [ALBA is the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, an anti-neoliberal trading alliance led by Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia; Unasur unites two existing customs unions – Mercosur and the Andean Community – as part of a continuing process of South American integration; a Caribbean oil alliance with Venezuela to purchase oil at fair prices; Petrosur is a similar oil agreement involving Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina.] Ramirez outlined in detail the way in which the United States was financing the coup-plotting plans in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia and underlined the importance of the unity of parties and movements: ``The struggle for socialism must be constructed by each one of our peoples’’, he concluded.
Integration versus unity
Saturday May 23, the speeches in support of socialism gained more strength.
José Renaldo from the Communist Party of Brazil (Partido Comunista de Brasil)
spoke of the structural crisis of capitalism and marked out
his part, Ricardo Patiño, coordinating minister for policy in Ecuador, outlined
the consequences of the Ciudadana
Revolucion (Citizens’ Revolution) and the risky situation which Latin
American finds itself in, denouncing the ``assassinations of Raul Reyes and
other people in Ecuadorian territory’’ and said that [Colombian President] ``Uribe
will have to prove that a country like Colombia possesses technology that no
one else in the continent has’’. Patiño ratified what Correa had said in
regards to establishing a Latin American regional organisation to replace the
Organisation of American States, without tutelage and with
Patiño highlighted the defeat of the right in electoral politics and the coup-plotting
role of the mass media. ``Latin American unity has its central axis in Unasur.
None of our countries will be able to triumph on its own: the socialist revolution
must spread throughout all of
Following the potent speech by Patiño, there was an intervention by Roberto Regalado, member of the Communist Party of Cuba. ``We talk about neoliberalism but neoliberalism is the capitalism of our day’’, emphasised Regalado, confronting the positions of those who assure that capitalism can be humanised.
Communist Party of Paraguay was also present in the forum. It argued in favour
of its support for the recently elected president, Fernando Lugo, and pointed
out the importance of the peasant movement. The Paraguay Communists assured
that there was a programmatic agreement with
their part, both the Partido Humanista and the Communist Party of Chile harshly
criticised the Concertación government: ``[President Michelle] Bachelet and the
[ruling] Concertación [alliance] are not involved in the Banco del Sur [Bank of
the South], nor in Telesur [a new pan-Latin American TV channel based in
In concordance with a progressive viewpoint, Marco Aurelio Garcia, vice-president of the PT said that many different lefts exist, not just the reformist and revolutionary ones. He put forward the necessity of import substitution and the complementarity of sectors. ``This is a favourable moment for progressive countries’’, concluded Garcia.
a Copernican shift, Osvaldo Peredo, member of the Bolivian MAS [Movement
Towards Socialism] affirmed: ``We are embarking on a socialist project
following the examples of
Ortega: `Only socialism will make us free’
closing speech, given by
The death of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) leader, Marulanda, traversed throughout all of Ortega’s speech. ``Marulanda was an extraordinary fighter in a struggle which is rooted in the deep inequalities faced by the Colombian people. The terrorist is the Yankee government, the European governments, not only because they use military force, but because they have been practising terrorism in a systematic way, assassinating human beings with their economic policies and eagerness to concentrate wealth’’, he stated.
ratified the example of
The dilemma between reform or revolution was present throughout all the discussions and debates in the forum. The mark of this encounter will be the struggle between those forces who propose to moderate capitalism and that those that openly come out on the side of the construction of socialism of the 21st century
[Translated with permission from America XXI, Issue No. 39, June edition, http://www.americaxxi.com.ve]