On the 15th of July, the XXIV annual meeting of the São Paulo Forum was opened in the Cuban capital of Havana, in which 430 delegates from Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe participated. The main theme of this large-scale international event was the struggle for the preservation of Latin America as a “region of peace”. What are the main trends identified by the São Paulo Forum? How does the Latin American region intend to cope with the new challenges of the international agenda?
It is worth turning to the history of the emergence of the São Paulo Forum. This discussion platform was created on the initiative of the legendary leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, the founder of the Workers’ Party (Portuguese – Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and other important regional figures in order to promote the collective reflection of progressive movements and parties.
In accordance with the main idea of creating the Forum, the regional inspirers believe that it is called upon to resist the neoliberal offensives in Latin America. The main task of this platform is the destruction and prevention by progressive governments of the consolidation of reforms in favor of any single class. The second and no less important goal is the preservation of the Latin American region as a “zone of peace”, endorsed by CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries), established in 2011.
Founded in 1990, the São Paulo Forum has become a barometer of regional sentiment, and annually acts as a “beacon” for the Latin American “left”. To date, more than one hundred parties and organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean have interacted within this large-scale discussion platform.
This year at the XXIV meeting of the São Paulo Forum, delegates for two days (July 15-17) in the Cuban capital discussed the main strategies and actions aimed at curbing the “right” attacks in the region. Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel received during these days his colleagues: Nicolás Maduro and Evo Morales, as well as the President of Salvador, Salvador Sánchez Cerén. The Forum was also visited by former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, her colleague from Mozambique Joaquim Chissano and representatives of the Communist parties of China, Laos, Vietnam and other countries.
On the 17th of July, the Forum participants adopted the final declaration, in which it was inadmissible and absurd that the United States and the new elite “grown up” by the White House again try to dominate the region. They condemned Washington’s interference in the internal affairs of the sovereign states of the Latin American region and the prosecution of a number of Latin American leaders.
On its first day within the framework of the Forum, a “heated” discussion took place on the position against colonialism in favor of the anti-imperialist doctrine of solidarity and peace. During the meetings of this international event there were meetings of regional secretariats, national leaders, III Seminar of the “left” wing of the São Paulo Forum, the meeting of the “Network of intellectuals in defense of humanity”.
This year, the São Paulo Forum was held in difficult times for the region in the context of a series of complex events: a state crisis in Nicaragua characterized by the destabilization of the government of President Daniel Ortega, the persecution of former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, and the intention of the Bolivian leader, in defiance of Bolivia’s Political Constitution, to run for a new one term of office. By the way, referring to the last of the above problems, the participants in the XXIV meeting of the São Paulo Forum supported the nomination of Bolivian President Evo Morales for the fourth presidential term in 2019, as a result of which a corresponding resolution was adopted. Delegates motivated their support for the Bolivian leader in that the idea of the Forum presupposes a constitutional nomination of the authorities based on the self-determination of peoples, which is enshrined in the American Convention. Under democracy, it is the people who decide how and with which leader to continue economic growth and advance progress.
It is worth recalling that during his first presidential term, Morales, who came to power in January of 2006, in 2009 carried out a constitutional reform that prohibits nominations for more than two consecutive terms. The Constitutional Court of the country did not count Morales’s first term as president, and he was able to be re-elected in 2014. The ruling party of Bolivia, “Movimiento al Socialismo” (MAS) intends to re-nominate his candidacy, which will require a repeated referendum or constitutional reform.
“On the sidelines” of the Forum, the situation in Brazil, as well as the presidential elections in this country, which will be held in October this year, was repeatedly discussed. As delegates of this discussion platform spoke, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the founder of the São Paulo Forum, is currently at an “intermediate point” of uncertainty. However, none of the participants doubts that if he gets freedom and is acquitted in a corruption case on charges of which he is in custody he will be able to become the next president of the “South American giant”.
The most acute topic of the Forum was a heavy political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Participants expressed deep concern over recent information about the deployment of Venezuela’s weapons and military aircraft on the border with Colombia. According to many countries, these actions “contradict the spirit of proclaiming Latin America a zone of peace at the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2014”. The participating States of the São Paulo Forum also called on the authorities of the Bolivarian Republic “to start a real national dialogue”.
According to the participants, the new meeting of the São Paulo Forum will contribute to the momentum of the revolutionary and progressive forces of Latin America in response to the onslaught of the “right” and the hostility of the US to governments and peoples who oppose their hegemony and interference. Undoubtedly, this discussion platform since its foundation has a clearly expressed ideological orientation. The annual meetings of the Forum emphasize the role of the “left” forces in the unity of the Latin American revolutionary movement. At present, progressive “left” movements are going through difficult times in the entire subcontinent, for this reason the São Paulo Forum is very important for strengthening the unity of the “left” camp in the region.