Two important meetings in Caracas
In December, Caracas was the setting for two significant gatherings. It is no surprise that the capital of Venezuela was the location for these two meetings. Venezuela today is not only witnessing a deepening class polarisation but is also the scene of a powerful movement of the poor fighting to reclaim their dignity and sovereignty. It was here, the birthplace of the Bolivarian revolution, that the World Forum of Intellectuals and Artists in Defence of Humanity and the Second Bolivarian Congress of the Peoples (CBP) took place, each in its own way a reflection of the process unfolding today in Venezuela.
From December 1 to 5, the In Defence of Humanity conference provided a venue for hundreds of intellectuals from 52 countries not only to debate the questions crucial to the survival of our planet, but to study first hand the complexities of the unfolding Bolivarian revolution. Unsurprisingly, it was the intervention of the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , Hugo Chávez, which was the key talking point of the event. Miguel Urbano Rodrigues, whose article was initially posted on resistir.info, wrote that Chávez's opening and closing speeches were marked by two central threads. The first was Chávez's clear enunciation by that in order for the revolution in Venezuela to survive, the process had to radicalise.
According to Rodrigues, "Taking up the idea of deepening the Revolution, [Chávez] emphasized that it will be entering a new phase. It would be prolonged. He presented socialism as the only alternative to neo-liberalism, the system of imperial domination that threatens humanity."
The other main point was that for this new stage to be successful, not only would increased international solidarity be essential, but so would the internationalisation of the revolution itself. Rodrigues noted that Chávez "repeatedly insisted that the Bolivarian Revolution is more than a national revolution because, faced with imperialism's hostility, it will be able to survive only if it can break through its isolation and assume the shape of a revolution that all progressive humanity is ready to defend. In other words, international solidarity has become not only vital, but a factor in its survival."
During his closing remarks at this gathering, Chávez announced his intention to provide an office and resources in Venezuela to initiate a "network of networks" of social organisations and institutions around the world involved in building alternatives to neo-liberalism.
The second meeting, which ran from December 6 to 9, was an opportunity for some of the powerful parties and political and social organisations from Latin America and the Carribean to come together and discuss the key issues facing the defiant peoples of the Americas. The CBP has its origins in the mid-1990s as a response by patriotic forces from across Latin America and the Caribbean, including at that time Colonel Hugo Chávez, to the need for Latin American unity. In the latest congress, representatives from such diverse organisations as the Movement of Landless Peasants in Brazil, the Cuban Communist Party, the Ecuadorian indigenous organisations Pachakutik and CONAIRE, Movement towards Socialism from Bolivia, independence fighters from Puerto Rico, piquetero (movement of the unemployed) organisations and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo from Argentina and from the Salvadorian Farabundo Martí Liberation Front joined with activists from the Bolivarian Circles and popular neighbourhood assemblies in Venezuela to discuss and resolve common plans of action in the struggle for Latin American and Caribbean integration and unity.
According to the Organisational Secretariat of the CBP, the CBP does not pretend to convert itself into a political party for the region, but rather "respects the tempo, rhythms, tactics and strategies of the popular organisations in each country".
It adds, "It is an instrument for struggle as well as an instrument for construction. Construction of a proper ideology, construction of an identity based in our historical roots, in our culture, construction of a real Bolivarian doctrine for liberation and construction of a mass emancipatory movement of our Americas.".
Following are the final declarations of both conferences.
At the World Meeting of Intellectuals and Artists in Defence of Humanity, gathered in Caracas, the birthplace of the liberator Simón Bolívar, intellectuals and artists from fifty-two countries and diverse cultures all agreed to build a wall of resistance against the project of global domination that is being imposed on the world today.
We are living in an era in which United Nations decisions are not respected, international laws have been broken, and the basic principles of non-intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign nations—and the concept of sovereignty itself—have been lost.
The Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war and protection of civilians have been violated; detainees are tortured and tormented; an illegal jail has been constructed in the usurped territory of Guantánamo Bay. The invasion and devastation of Iraq, threats against other nations of the Middle East, the ongoing martyrdom of the Palestinian people and the interventions by superpowers in Africa reveal the intention to impose, through blood and fire, a world order based on force.
The objective of many of these aggressions is to appropriate the natural reserves of hydrocarbons, minerals, water and other elements of biodiversity of the least developed nations. We support the right of the people to maintain control over these resources and to repel expropriating interventions.
The crimes against the Iraqi people show the extreme complicity between the mass media and governments, which meanwhile declare themselves defenders of human rights. The city of Fallujah, now being razed, will remain a symbol of heroic resistance in a tragic moment of history.
Part of this hegemonic project is the collection of an illegal foreign debt and the attempt to annex economically Latin America and the Caribbean through the FTAA [Free Trade Area of the Americas] and other trade and financial accords, damaging possibilities for independence and real development. Meanwhile, there is increased danger of new forms of intervention and aggression, in the face of growing social movements and the process of positive change now taking place in the region.
The notions of "preemptive war" and "regime change", proclaimed as official doctrine by the government of the United States, are used to threaten all countries that do not submit to imperial interests, or that have a specific strategic importance. One example is the recent intervention in Haiti.
Today, as never before, it is necessary to mobilise solidarity with Venezuela, Cuba and all popular causes on the continent. We express our solidarity with the people of Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and all who resist imperial occupation and aggression.
A crucial component of global opposition to imperialist adventures, together with those who in Europe, Latin America and other parts of the world have stood against the war, is undoubtedly mobilising the most conscious sectors of the US people. We condemn terrorism and oppose the political manipulation of the "war against terrorism" and the fraudulent appropriation of values and concepts such as democracy, freedom and human rights. We reject the definition of the people's resistance struggles as terrorism and the calling of the oppressor's aggressions "war against terror".
While incalculable financial resources are wasted in the military-industrial complex, a silent genocide takes place every day due to hunger, extreme poverty, curable illnesses and epidemics. The daily suffering of the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, as a result of the policies promoted by the international financial institutions, is ignored by those who intend to dominate the world and the global elites who benefit from neocolonial plunder.
The absence of effective proposals for real solutions to these problems is another sign of the dehumanisation that characterises our era.
We join the struggles of workers, farmers and all those exploited and excluded: the unemployed, the first indigenous people of original cultures (first nation peoples), the people of the African diaspora, immigrants, women, sexual minorities and children without protection, victims of the sex trade.
We support and commit ourselves to the re-vindication of those who defend their rights and their identity in the face of the totalitarian and homogenising intentions of neoliberal globalisation.
Lacking basic access to food, medicine, electricity, housing and potable water, an enormous part of humanity is sacrificed by a system that exhausts natural resources and destroys the environment through irrational, wasteful consumerism, and puts the survival of the species itself at risk.
The vast majority have limited access to education, excluding them from the benefits of new technologies in information and the production of medicines. The dominant economic system generates the commercialisation of intellectual production, privatises it and turns it into an instrument to perpetuate the concentration of wealth and the domestication of consciousness. We must stop the WTO in its obsession to transform the world into commodities by annihilating cultural diversity.
The concentrated ownership of the mass media has made freedom of information a fallacy. The power of media, at the service of a hegemonic project, distorts the truth, manipulates history, foments discrimination in all forms and promotes resignation toward the current state of affairs, presenting it as the only possible option.
We need to take the offensive through concrete actions. The first of these, agreed upon at this summit, will be to create a "network of networks" of information for artistic action, solidarity, coordination and mobilisation, uniting intellectuals and artists with popular struggles and Social Forums, guaranteeing the continuation of these efforts and linking them in an international movement "in defence of humanity".
It is also essential that we work to counteract the propaganda of the hegemonic centres and to circulate emancipatory ideas through all channels: radio and television, the internet, alternative press, film, media and others, to broadcast coverage of projects of development, participation and popular education, so that they become benchmarks for the reconstruction of the utopias that have made history.
Venezuelan reality proves that popular mobilisation can give power to the people, promoting and defending massive transformations in their interests. We express our gratitude to the Bolivarian government, the people of Venezuela and President Hugo Chávez for their commitment to the future of this international movement.
At this hour of great danger, we reaffirm the conviction that another world is not only possible, but necessary. We reaffirm our commitment and make an open call to join the struggle for that world with more solidarity, more unity and more determination. In defence of humanity, we reaffirm our certainty that the people will have the last word.
Declaration from the Second Bolivarian Congress of the Peoples
This second congress reaffirms the decision made to fight united for our definitive independence, at a historic moment marked by a favourable change in the correlation of forces in Latin America and the Caribbean in favour of the people, expressed in the victories and advances made in the electoral processes and in the fight for the construction of humanist development models, alternatives to the policies of neoliberal capitalism. For this it is necessary to continue with the united work of parties, social movements and popular struggles in defence of our interests, inspired by the examples of the Bolivarian revolution of Venezuela and the socialist revolution of Cuba and by the multiple gains and advances which are made daily by organised people across all of Latin America and the Caribbean.
In this sense, the intense deliberations of the congress have allowed us to arrive at the following decisions:
- To work to turn the Bolivarian Congress of the Peoples into an international movement, which brings together the political and social forces of Latin America and the Caribbean, encourages their unity and articulates their struggles based on the self-determination and the well-being of our people; always having as a reference point the emancipatory thought of Simón Bolivar and the legacy of all the generations of fighters who struggled for the independence, integration and union of our peoples.
- To encourage the solidarity and cooperation of our peoples, through concrete tasks that reflect a shared vision of integration based on solidarity and humanism, by means of the consolidation and creation of networks that articulate our efforts, and that socialise experiences and advances of our peoples on a local, regional and national scale.
- To declare 2005 the "Year of the Offensive and Advance of Unity of the Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean", initiating, amongst other things, the creation of Bolivarian networks of mayors, of parliamentarians, of alternative media outlets, of popular units of production and wherever else it is necessary to create or consolidate such networks.
- We undertake to continue pushing the struggle for democratisation and respect for international law, coordinating joint actions and mobilisations against the militarist and interventionist policy of the Bush administration and its allies; against its policy of pressure and blackmail towards democratic governments; against the domination of its armed forces with military bases in Latin American territories, such as Colombia, Guantánamo, Comalapa in El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Ecuador; against the monopolisation of private mass media and the voracity of transnationals; against the extortion that is the external debt and the pressures imposed for the signing of agreements disadvantageous to our economies such as agreements on free trade and ALCA [FTAA—Free Trade Area of the Americas].
- We denounce the violations by the Bush administration of international and humanitarian law, putting in danger the existence of humanity and peace between the peoples; manoeuvring in international organisations to weaken their stances and to put them at the service of imperial and unipolar interests. In this sense, we express our most energetic rejection of the candidacy of Francisco Flores to be secretary general of the OAS (Organisation of American States), among other things for having supported and attempted to garner support for the illegitimate government of Pedro Carmona, the result of a fascist coup d'etat against the democratic government of Hugo Chávez, violating the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the principles consecrated in the Democratic Charter of the OAS.
- We reaffirm that the system of democratic coexistence that we propose must have as its ultimate aim the complete well-being of our peoples; in this sense we support the Social Charter that the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has presented to OAS and we commit ourselves to deepening and increasing discussion on the principles contained within it, as well as to initiate days of mobilisation in support to its approval.
- We support the creation of the South American Community of Nations, in so much as it has as its essential aim the social, cultural, political and economic emancipation of the peoples of Our America.
- We reaffirm that one of the main problems for our peoples, a result of the poverty that they have been subjected to, is hunger, and in this context we consider that food sovereignty is a fundamental policy necessary for the eradication of this scourge. It is for this reason that we promote the creation of a Latin American Bank of indigenous and native seeds, with its headquarters in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and with offices in other countries and the participation of all peasant and indigenous organisations, with a dynamic towards the strengthening of the Coordinadora Latinoamericano de Organizaciones Campesinas (Latin American Alliance of Peasant Organisations) and Via Campesina.
- We agree to a commitment to initiate continuous and systematic actions in each country, to fight corruption and impunity and to clarify the truth, as well as strengthen the application of justice. Within this same perspective, we agree to implement the systematic exercise of social management as an instrument directed, among other things, to strengthening the fight against corruption in its diverse manifestations, fomenting and promoting spaces of participation so that the peoples can exert social management over the public function and administration of the resources of the state. In the same manner, we call on all governments, particularly of the United States of North America, to conform to applicable treaties and laws, to implement mechanisms that allow the extradition of officials involved in corruption to their country of origin, as well as the return of the products of these acts. The national chapters of the Bolivarian Congress of the Peoples are committed to identifying each one of these cases, based on a coordinated continentwide mobilisation to demand the prosecution of those who deserve it.
- We commit ourselves to work for the unity of the working class in Latin America and the Caribbean in the search for paths towards the construction of scenarios of action, political struggle and alternatives. For this aim we propose the formation of a working party that promises action in favour of studying and taking the necessary steps towards the construction of a Latin American organisation of workers. As part of this, we call for the realisation of a Forum of Workers from the Energy Sector to come together in the second quarter of 2005. We will also outline and execute a plan of action in front of the ILO [International Labour Organisation], based on the guarantee of the defence of the lives and human rights of workers.
- We reaffirm our solidarity with the indigenous peoples and their organisations in their fight for the reclaiming of their ancestral rights, concretely by our decision to initiate a struggle for the creation of funds for the development and participation of indigenous peoples. We also commit ourselves to promote the necessary reforms at a constitutional and legislative level that will allow the development of policies for indigenous peoples, along with promoting education and research into indigenous peoples' medicine, art, sport, science and literature.
- The participants in this congress commit ourselves to continue deepening and elaborating a program of integration oriented at the endogenous and sustainable development of our nations and the deepening of democracy. For this reason we identify ourselves totally with the well-known initiative known as ALBA [Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas] as the basis for this new program that will allow us to promote just trade, based on the cooperation of our peoples, preserving natural wealth for their use and benefit, along with their cultural patrimony.
- Today more than ever we assume the commitment to fight for the defence and promotion of the elementary principles of human rights and international humanitarian law, as a programmatic axis for our proposals and political tasks. In this context, struggles for our rights and liberties, both civil and political, established in the UN Charter and other conventions and treaties, have particular importance because they are being violated constantly, in all their manifestations, by North American imperialism and its allies.
- In the face of the electoral advance of popular forces in our region, as well as increasing North American interference, media manipulation through terror and fear and the threat of fraudulent processes initiated by the oligarchies that are resisting their loss of power, we commit ourselves to creating spaces for technical and political support, to assist and advise effectively the political forces that are participating in Latin American and Caribbean electoral processes, before, during and after each election, and we commit ourselves to giving support and shared common observations to such forces.
- We agree to create a permanent political secretariat, with its initial headquarters in the city of Caracas, birthplace of the liberator Simón Bolivar, where representatives of the different political and social forces that are attending this congress, will sit at regular intervals to follow up on the implementation of resolutions that emerge from here, and to coordinate plans for action and cooperation that were established in the different panels and roundtables that took place, with the commitment to presenting a calendar, in the first fortnight of January 2005, for the accomplishment of these decisions.
- Finally, with the purpose of measuring the advance of commitments decided upon and advancing qualitatively in the objectives that we have considered since the foundation of our congress, we will have in each congress and meeting one commission that evaluates and determines how they are advancing, as well as the implementation of the corrective measures necessary to make any agreements viable.
Having concluded the Second Bolivarian Congress of the Peoples on the 180th anniversary of the heroic Battle of Ayacucho, and having observed the efforts of the organisers in carrying out the meeting in the best conditions, we make clear our deep gratitude to President Hugo Chávez Frias, social leaders and the Venezuelan people for their solidarity, hospitality and efforts so that the congress could have a high degree of active participation, generating proposals and conclusions that have made it a successful popular event.
Long live the unity of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean!
Honour and glory to our heroes and martyrs!
Long live the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela!
Long live the socialist revolution of Cuba!
Long live the Latin American revolution!
Long live President Hugo Chávez Frias!
Long live the Second Bolivarian Congress of the Peoples!
Caracas, December 9, 2004. 180 years since the battle of Ayacucho.