Message at the XXIV Sao Paulo Forum in Havana; ‘Resisting is as Important as Lashing Out’

By Sergio Alejandro Gómez, Deny Extremera San Martín, and Irene Pérez on July 15, 2018

The convening of the XXIV Forum of Sao Paulo, with more than 400 delegates from left-wing parties and movements in Latin America and the Caribbean, are once again meeting in the Cuban capital to discuss the need for unity in the face of the offensive of the right in the region.

Founded in the early 1990’s by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, and the Brazilian political leader and then president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the organization is meeting in this period of attacks against progressive and left forces, using unconventional methods of war. However, it also comes just after registering a historic victory in the Mexican elections and an unprecedented electoral advance in Colombia, where Gustavo Petro took more than 40% of the votes.

Mónica Valente, Executive Secretary of the Forum, highlighted the strategic and political importance of this meeting in her inaugural address when she explained, “The visionary idea of these two leaders to constitute an anti-imperialist and anti-neo-liberal political platform, under the slogan of unity and consensus, at the time seemed like a utopia that we could never reach. But over the years, the idea of a sovereign, integrated Latin America and the Caribbean, with economic and social development for all, proved possible, true and concrete,” she added. “Since Hugo Chávez in 1998 we started to build a real alternative of a new present and a new future for the people of our region.”

Valente cited the achievements of the preceding stage including the strengthening of Mercosur, the creation of UNASUR, ALBA, Petrocaribe and finally ELAC, with the proclamation of Latin America as a zone of peace.

However, she warned that, as it was in the 90’s, today there is a “strong counteroffensive of imperialism and neoliberalism. It is not a small thing to say that the attacks we suffered are the most brutal we could imagine when we are in the process building this new Latin America and the Caribbean,” she said.

The Executive Secretary, who is from Brazil, acknowledged that much of what we are suffering today is due to “our own mistakes, however we cannot stop considering that this brutal counter-offensive is a reaction of capitalism in its wildest form comes from a high degree of capital concentration in the transnational banks and corporations “.

“In politics, resisting is worth as much as lashing out,” she said, citing the examples of the Bolivarian revolution, Sandinista Nicaragua and Lula’s struggle for freedom, while remaining a favorite in the upcoming elections in his country, despite the political persecution against him.

Valente called for an in-depth analysis of the current situation and what the forces and conditions of the left are. “This XXIV Forum can have the same historical importance of the 90’s when the Berlin Wall fell,” she said.

Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, spoke on behalf of the small Caribbean states. After pointing out the practices of domination by imperialism and monopoly capitalism, he said that, “We do not have to be Marxists to appreciate it, simply understand what that policy can do to us and what we can do to prevent it.  Imperialism has divided us a lot and today there are many offensives like the ones we’re seeing in Argentina, in Brazil. ”

“There is a common threat throughout the region,” he said, and after recalling the stories where men such as Bolivar and Marti stand out, he said: “It has been a difficult struggle, and the current one will be no less. I see that many of the young people here will continue the anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal struggle. For this we must build the broadest unity. ”

The first session of the event was chaired by the Second Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Ramón Machado Ventura, with the assistance of the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralphs Goncalves, the Puerto Rican independence fighter, Oscar López Rivera, and the Former President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, among other Latin American personalities.

Among the 439 delegates attending there are also many invited representatives of parties and movements from Asia, Europe and Africa.

The Forum of Sao Paulo emerged as a mechanism to seek the unity of the forces that are looking for an alternative to neo-liberalism in Latin America and the Caribbean, after the fall of the socialist camp. For nearly three decades it has remained a benchmark for social struggles and political debate in the region.

Source: Cubadebate, translated by Resumen Latinoamericano, North America Bureau