September 1, 2018 - No. 29

24th São Paulo Forum 

Final Declaration

Latin America and the Caribbean: We Continue Fighting

Today, 28 years after the founding of the São Paulo Forum, Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing the effects of a multifaceted reactionary, conservative, neo-liberal restoration offensive, the result of a convergence of interests and the concerted efforts of the global elite of transnational capitalism, with the government of the United States of America as its hegemonic nucleus, and the allied ruling classes of our region.

This multifaceted offensive has managed to set back the left and progressive forces by overthrowing governments and with parliamentary and judicial coups. The imperial right and their subordinated oligarchies have amplified the errors and limitations of the transforming forces, which have suffered setbacks but at the same time possess immense potential for the fight. This basically explains the adverse change in the prevailing correlation of forces in today's scenario.

It is the sovereign prerogative of each country's political parties and social movements to examine the nature and gravity of their mistakes and insufficiencies.

The military and parliamentary coup against Zelaya in Honduras (2009); the parliamentary coup against Lugo in Paraguay (2012); the electoral defeat of the Front for Victory in Argentina (2015); the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil (2016) with a "parliamentary, judicial and media coup"; the victory of conservative or ultraconservative right-wing figures in Chile, Paraguay and Colombia; the conviction without evidence and imprisonment of Lula to prevent his candidacy for the presidency of the Republic of Brazil; the conspicuous divisions in the people's forces faced with the restored neo-liberal agendas; the discrediting of politics, which in important countries of the region favours the plans of the right, and the public strengthening in several countries of figures and projects with fascist roots, constitute, among many other things, indicators of the neo-liberal offensive that the left forces are challenged to reverse in favour of the peoples.

The actions of the right are directly related to the expansionist and predatory nature of capitalism, and the interests of finance capital that dominate it.

The facts speak for themselves: between the last Meeting of the São Paulo Forum (Managua (2017)) and this one in Havana, there has been a deepening of the negative impacts of the concentration of property, power, and wealth in the hands of a global elite determined at all costs to impose more favourable conditions for increasing their rate of profit.

This is confirmed by the destruction of nature, with increasingly negative effects on the climate; in the attempts to privatize public goods such as water, land and oil, and their predatory use by transnational corporations; the attempts to privatize public funds; the attack on labour and social rights; the outrageous increase in inequity and inequality; the destruction through war of the productive forces to boost so-called key economies; the multiplication of migratory flows and the suffering endured by millions of human beings who are forced to emigrate, and the offensive against the national sovereignty of our nations by transnational interests to facilitate the free flow of capital.

These realities, aggravated by the dangerous actions of the Trump Administration, which seeks to reverse the trend of declining U.S. hegemony, multiply the risks to world peace and the status of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace. Latin America and the Caribbean will continue to be a priority for U.S. foreign policy, given that its domination is of vital importance for [the U.S.] quest to maintain an unsustainable unipolar world order.

The USA and its allies need to consolidate the perception that continental history has entered an unstoppable, regressive phase in favour of capitalism. Although reaction against progressive and left governments was immediate, the discrediting and extreme weakening of the right-wing political parties used to impose the neo-liberal restructuring disqualified them as instruments capable of derailing the social transformations driven, in different cases, by the political movements of the São Paulo Forum. Hence the need to resort to the destabilizing strategy that combines media, legal and economic warfare, external interference and the criminalization of social movements and protests, among other things, to serve the coups of a new type (judicial or parliamentary) or to bring about electoral defeats.

In the face of this reaction by imperialism and the local oligarchies against the progressive forces, we reject the notion of "the end of the cycle" with the same firmness and conviction that we did at the time of "the end of history." The progressive forces of Latin America will continue fighting for a world based on social justice.

The White House and its allies seek to achieve exactly the opposite: divide, co-opt, demobilize and generate discouragement. That is sufficient reason for us to take up in word and deed the unity of the left and popular forces to organize and fight.

Preserving the experiences of sovereignty, of the expansion of democracy and governments of a popular, anti-imperialist character fostered by left and progressive parties; offering determined support and encouragement for the emancipatory efforts and anti-capitalist ideals of social and popular movements which work for this; working boldly to consolidate lasting peace with social justice and encouraging efforts that further the sovereign integration of what Martí called Our America, have become political imperatives and the tests of honour for the continental left.

In 1990 the São Paulo Forum emerged as a space for collective agreement and building of the Latin American and Caribbean plural left in the face of an international situation marked by the uncertainty and disorientation generated by the disappearance of the USSR and the so-called socialist camp. Today, following its tradition of critical reflection and political formulation, it once again is dealing with the challenge of critically examining the path taken, reuniting forces and making renewed efforts to continue building the consensus required by the offensive of the right that is underway.

The political parties that are members of the São Paulo Forum come to this 24th Meeting with greater political experience, which in turn is multiplied by the coordinating efforts of the Forum, and fully aware that predatory capitalism is unable to offer alternatives to humanity. It will spark popular rebellions and the potential for transformative actions of progressive and left forces if they reorganize, act along with the social movements, train cadres and improve their projects for change, with some of these having a clear socialist orientation. There are enough examples in Latin American and Caribbean history that prove that where there is unity, decisive and capable political leadership, clear objectives of struggle and a combative spirit, and roots in the popular classes, the options to contain and even overcome any counterrevolutionary, conservative, neo-liberal restorationist offensive are multiplied.

Giving in to defeatism; sponsoring or tolerating the personal politics and sectarianism that emerge and proliferate in times of setbacks; accepting or promoting the loss of confidence in the political capacity of our exploited peoples today would not only be an affront to the heroes and martyrs of the struggle for the emancipation of the continent, but a gratuitous and unnecessary concession to the USA and its international and local allies.

Faced with imperialism's plan of undermining the sovereignty of our nations and taking control of our natural resources, let us oppose it with the emancipatory plan of our noble peoples, with an authentic Latin American and Caribbean internationalist spirit, with resolve and a non-negotiable sense of dignity.

Let us work to strengthen the struggles for justice and social emancipation, for full political sovereignty and economic independence, for the sovereignty of the peoples and world peace. Reclaim the best emancipatory experiences of the social and popular movements in the region!

In this context, from Havana, Cuba, the delegates and guests to the 24th Meeting of the São Paulo Forum, representing Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, Europe and North America:

I. Call for strengthening the world movement in defence of peace. The present reality demands adding more forces to exert pressure by all possible means.

II. Note that the representatives of big transnational capital -- governmental and private, military and economic, media and ideological -- are operating jointly more than we know. We conclude, therefore, that all the forces of the left in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America must exercise internationalism in a mutual and practical way.

III. Note with concern how the imperial right operates in concert in the UN Security Council; in favour of Zionism in the Middle East; to militarily encircle Russia in Eurasia; to prevent the People's Republic of China, in Asia, from continuing its advance as a world economic power with proposals for peace and cooperation; to destroy the social justice projects of a democratic, Latin American and Caribbean internationalist nature in Latin America that are advanced by our political forces; and to impose divisions on the Caribbean by different means, including colonial ones like in Puerto Rico.

IV. Reaffirm the validity of the following causes and guidelines set out by the 23rd Meeting of the São Paulo Forum held last year in Managua:

- To make the defence of CELAC [Community of Latin American and Caribbean States], the greatest unifying accomplishment of the last 200 years, a political priority to be promoted by all our parties and social and popular movements, in every school, university or space of intellectual activity. Just sowing the idea of integration in the conscience of our peoples, will in itself be an advance against the divisive policy pushed by the United States and its allies. We trust in the worth of just ideas: let us ensure that they are heard by each of the governments of Our America.

- To make the resolute defence of the tenets of the Declaration of Latin America as a Zone of Peace the objective of all the left and patriotic and democratic sectors of Latin America and the Caribbean.

- Repudiation of the militarism spawned in the bowels of imperialism, which has no limits or scruples, is a political necessity linked to the survival of our peoples. We reaffirm that it is a matter of principle to give concrete expression to this repudiation in every daily political act.

- To energetically reject the absurd and unacceptable idea that this region of the world belongs to the powerful elites of the United States or any other country in the world. Let each day be a concrete reminder for the White House of what was affirmed in the Second Declaration of Havana: "... this great humanity has said Enough! and has started walking. And its march of giants will not stop until it wins true independence ... ."

- It is essential and possible to organize in every available international space any action that weakens the domination and hegemony of the United States in our countries, without regard for our secondary differences of a national or sectoral nature. The Empire has chosen to prioritize the components of a culture war and a war of symbols. Let us respond by going on the offensive by rescuing each of our country's traditions of freedom. Let us honour those who forged them. Let us prevent the cultural banality of the North that looks down on us from being imposed on the rich history of the countries we represent.

- To know how the international right is implementing its destabilization plans against the emancipatory government and peoples' experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean is vitally necessary. This will be more effective if we create a solid system of exchanging collective information and experiences. The São Paulo Forum can play a central role in this area, particularly through its political education efforts.

Like the delegates to the 23rd Meeting in Managua, and to convey that the following remain valid causes:

- We reaffirm the importance of the rapprochement and concerted action between the European left and the Latin American and Caribbean left. We commit ourselves in this new stage to make the united anti-imperialist actions of both regions more systematic and effective. The [Party of the European Left] and the São Paulo Forum are in a position to make this goal possible.

- We denounce, this time for additional reasons, the interventionist role of the OAS [Organization of American States], which continues to be used by the government of the United States as its Ministry of Colonies. The actions of its secretary general, marked by a despicable subordination to the interests of the White House, proves this every day. The OAS, together with the Lima Group, are today's Trojan Horses against Latin American and Caribbean unity. Let us do everything possible to prevent them from continuing their destructive advance.

- We condemn the non-conventional broad-spectrum war being waged by Yankee imperialism and its European, Latin American and Caribbean allies against the Bolivarian Revolution which for the White House has become the immediate strategic objective to defeat. Let it be for us, therefore, the greatest objective of solidarity in these circumstances. Just like a year ago in Managua, the Forum of São Paulo remains on alert and in constant internationalist solidarity against international intervention in Venezuela.

- We maintain our solidarity with the Argentinians, Brazilians, Hondurans and Paraguayans who refuse to accept going back to neo-liberalism in their respective countries, after experiences with governments that, following their own paths, sought economic growth, the best redistribution of wealth, the guarantee of social rights, the expansion of popular participation and democracy, ensuring national sovereignty and strengthening regional integration within the BRICS, all to combat social, regional and gender inequalities and racism, or that simply challenged with their foreign policy the hegemonic logic of U.S. foreign policy.

- We reaffirm our unwavering conviction in support of peace, in accordance with the Declaration of CELAC, which in January 2014 declared Latin America a zone of peace. For this reason, we support the request of Colombian political and social forces for the Colombian government to comply with the implementation of the Havana Agreements, keep the process of dialogue with the ELN [National Liberation Army] open and take real steps to end the assassination of former combatants and social, political, environmental and human rights defenders. We denounce the actions of the national and international ultra right to boycott peace. It is evident that the White House, international Zionism and the most backward forces of the continent persist in getting the oligarchic groups of Colombia to continue being a shock troop for transnational interests in South America. The fight against this strategy, which already finds one of the CELAC countries as a member of the aggressive NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization], is vital.

- We strongly reject the interventionist policy of the United States in the internal affairs of Sandinista Nicaragua, a country in which the formula that is being applied by U.S. imperialism to countries that do not respond to its hegemonic interests is being implemented, causing violence, destruction and death through the manipulation and destabilizing action of terrorist groups of the right-wing coup forces, who boycott the search for dialogue, the best way to overcome the current crisis and achieve the peace that is essential for the continuation of the process of social transformation promoted by the FSLN [Sandinista National Liberation Front] through the government headed by Commander Daniel Ortega that has significantly reduced poverty and social inequality in that sister country.

- We stand in solidarity with the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front and with the government of compañero President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, who are energetically facing a media war, judicial warfare, an economic boycott and other forms of destabilization, and we commit ourselves to accompany them as international observers in the presidential election of February 3, 2019.

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

- We renew the São Paulo Forum's rejection of the White House policy which criminalizes Latin American and Caribbean emigrants and, in particular, the Central American brothers and sisters. A world without borders and with universal citizenship is what guides our emancipatory struggle.

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

- We demand the withdrawal of MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] 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 standards of a system that claims to fight organized crime, while protecting its big promoters and main responsible parties. We defend the legal cultivation and traditional beneficial use of the coca leaf.

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

- We support the demands of the small island states of the Caribbean to be compensated for the human damage caused by slavery, and to access resources that permit their resilience in the face of 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 compensation to the Cuban people for the damages caused by 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 U.S. naval base in Guantánamo.

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

- We demand the elimination of all the U.S. military bases that exist in the region (77 in total, which together with the Fourth Fleet cover the entire region), and of all foreign military bases of any country, wherever they may be.

- We defend the rights and cultures of the Indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants, and take up their struggles for the restitution and full exercise of their historical rights.

- We demand the total decolonization of the Caribbean and in particular support the independence of Puerto Rico on July 25, 2018, one hundred and twenty years after the U.S. military invasion of this Caribbean nation. We also pronounce ourselves in favour of the elimination of all forms of colonialism and neo-colonialism.

- We support, adhering to the self-determination of the peoples, the nomination of President Evo Morales -- constitutionally empowered and supported by the American Convention [on Human Rights] -- for the 2019 elections, and we reject the destabilizing plans promoted by the right of that country, the OAS and the embassy of the United States.

- We stand in solidarity with compañero Rafael Correa Delgado, a popular and progressive leader of our region. As a result of a rupture in the rule of law and due process, compañero Rafael is also a victim of political persecution and use of the justice system as an instrument of revenge and intimidation, which we reject. The international arrest warrant that was issued against him outrages us.

- We greet the democratic and resounding triumph in Mexico of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, elected to the Presidency of the Republic. The triumph of MORENA, a member of the São Paulo Forum, opens hope for the dreams and struggles of the peoples of Our America. United We Will Make History.

- We demand immediate freedom for Lula, following his conviction and imprisonment without evidence, and his right to be a presidential candidate in the October elections in Brazil, respecting the will of the majority of the Brazilian people. Free Lula! Lula is Innocent! Lula President!

V. As we did a year ago, we reaffirm that Latin America and the Caribbean are still fighting and maintaining their resolve to act with optimism, decisively and on a more unified basis.

Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

(Translated from the original Spanish by TML. Photos: E. Morales, Trabajadores)

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