São Paulo, Brazil
For National Policy Reforms, for Deepening Regional Integration.
Against the background of capitalist crisis it is necessary to make progress on national policy reforms, for deepening regional integration processes.
As a result of discussions during the trade union meeting of Nuestra America, held in Quito in May 2008, the Letter of Quito has been released, which puts forth a set of arguments that aim the unity of all the working class of America and elevate its leadership in the struggle to face the impacts of the global capitalist crisis in our region and in building alternatives that allow social changes so necessary all over our continent.
The platform for unity of action agreed at this meeting set out three main themes:
1.Protection of labor and social rights Full employment The State should assume its role as a promoter of economic and social development Reduction of worked hours without decrease of wages Against precarious work Against privatization Universality of public policy: education, health, welfare, housing and transport. This labor meeting Nuestra America adheres to the campaign: “Education is not a commodity” Against the discrimination in employment by gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.
2. Integration solidarity and sovereignty: The solidarity between the people and support for political and social reforms Unity against the imperialist military offensive and its allied and corrupt forces in the region
3. Struggle in defense of food sovereignty, on energy resources, water, biodiversity and environmental sustainability.
All this has absolute validity in the current situation and continues to be part of our lines of action for the fight, so that one of our goals for the Second Meeting of the Association Nuestra America is to update and deepen them, trying to draw our plans for future actions.
The Global Economic Crisis is the Crisis of Capitalism
Engendered by the capitalist system’s own contradictions and the exhausted neoliberal model, the current global conjuncture presents us a deepening stage of crisis, which in its complexity and scope denotes still unpredictable consequences.
The current world economic order – expressed by its system of economic relations and means of domination, based on free trade, financial speculation, the destruction of the environment, the indiscriminate use of non-renewable energy sources, the unequal distribution of food, the power of transnational corporations, the use of arms to impose their will, among others – proves to be unsustainable, leading mankind to the very limits of poverty and social exclusion. Attempts to reverse this crisis by the old capitalistic schemes will just serve to its own deterioration.
The global nature of the current crisis and its complexity ultimately involve a combination of crises: economic, financial, energy, environmental and food distribution.
From there come other features that indicate the state of crisis, as the political and social crisis besides of the paradigms of capitalism.
In our region, the impact of the current stage of the crisis is reflected in rising of unemployment, through the permanent intention to reduce wages and working conditions, the effect of which becomes apparent from the migration fluxes in the zone.
The Latin American Process
1. The political and social developments in Latin America should be deeply analyzed to search and determine the connection points among different transformation process that are happening nowadays on the Continent. The distinct phases of confronting neo-liberalism can be described as resistance, building alternatives, and now confronting the right counter-offensive.
2. By a chronological analysis we should remember the series of popular manifestations occurred in the region since the “Caracazo in 1989; the native peoples manifestation against the 500th anniversary of the ‘discovery’ and, at same year, against the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)-1994, Zapatistas claimed by a resistance to the new hegemonic wave. Manifestations against the World Trade Organization (WTO), initiated in Seattle, USA, in November, 1999, have revealed the range of disturbance of the new hegemonic model and the potential resistance struggle. In January, 2001, the World Social Forum convened the building of the “other possible world”.
3. We qualify that resistance phase as a defensive one in face of the regressive change with titanic historical proportions, dealt by the passage from a bipolar world to unipolar one, under the U.S. imperialism hegemony and the regulatory neo-liberal model. After two decades of resistance and construction of an alternative, we can define the need to pass from defensive to offensive in the working class and people’s movement to affirm a project to be free of liberalism proposed by the capitalist system.
4. At the governmental level, the consolidation of neo-liberal hegemony happened through the passage of right-wing generation which imposed dictatorships in the Southern Cone with neo-liberal projects taken up in Great Britain and in USA in 1980’s. They sought to generalize themselves in the 1990’s around the world with the bankruptcy of socialism in Eastern Europe.
5. A “third way” began to be sustained in – during the governments of Clinton and Blair that imagined such ideas as possible – various political projects in the region, plotting the virtuous association between capitalism and democracy, occupying much of the political spectrum of our Continent. This compact’s strength began to be shaken by the election of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 1998, consolidating its position in Latin America from that moment, with the electoral defeat of the main promoters of that model, thereby revealing their failure.
6. After major social and political struggles against neo-liberalism, the people inflicted significant defeats on imperialism, for example, the fight against the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) , through which, with the assistance of social movements and progressive governments, its original shape was defeated. These processes are designed to look for own and sovereign ways to nations and peoples and to confront the imperialist hegemony in the region. We appreciate especially the experiences of Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and their processes that point to a radical change of model, so facing the imperialist offensive.
7. The electoral victories that followed Chavez in Venezuela and Lula in Brazil (2002) – Kirchner in Argentina (2003), Tabare Vazquez in Uruguay (2004), Evo Morales in Bolivia (2005), Rafael Correa in Ecuador (2006), Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua (2006), Fernando Lugo in Paraguay (2007) and Mauricio Funes in El Salvador (2009) – presented a different scenario than previously thought, while considering the different realities and even the contradictions that exist in these processes.
8. As an example that in politics nothing is linear, and that the processes of progressive or revolutionary changes act in support of one kind of dispute with the ruling class that refuses to stop driving our people, in recent days warning light has come: the repression unleashed in Peru, the coup in Honduras and the deployment of U.S. military bases in Colombia after the dismantling of the military base in Manta, Ecuador.
9. The fundamental process in Latin America and the Caribbean has been the dynamic of the working class ands peoples’ resistance during last 20 years. This is the material basis for political changes and the presence of governments with a critical message to the hegemonic policies of the 1990s. Peoples and their struggles are the guarantee of the anti-capitalist trend within the framework of capitalist crisis. This is the basis of our expectation to move from defensive to popular offensive.
10. Cuba sustained for 50 years its revolutionary project and the popular struggle has re-opened the socialist perspective in recent years in the region. The articulation of popular struggle and projects of political change can change the history of the region and in the same territory in which the first neoliberal policies were prepared in the early 1970s, we can think about the origin of a perspective of emancipation. It is no coincidence that our America was the region that made contemporaneously the idea of another possible world.
Integration process and its necessary coming together
11. Under the light of the process of change that today Latin America and the Caribbean are living, with all their rich diversity, contradictions, levels of advances and setbacks, successes and accumulation, it is pointed out that the struggle for integration and continental unity moved widely by a long history, which confirms its validity in the current stage.
12. The launch of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) as an expression of a new kind of integration, the Bank of the South, the continental gas pipeline and the adherence of Venezuela and Bolivia to Mercosur, being qualitatively different processes, gave an ampler scope and strengthened an axis of governments that, in addition to favor their regional integration processes, begin to build models of rupture with neo-liberalism, post-liberal models. The electoral victory of Fernando Lugo (2008) in Paraguay extends the field of progressive governments of the continent, and El Salvador is added to this as well.
13. Boosting the integration projects which we hope can converge, such as Mercosur, the Andean Community, Caricom, the ALBA-TCP and UNASUR allows putting an end in the old reality of the open veins of our America. An integration that without being a copy of geocentric models, can reflect the reality of our region and constitute a benefit for our peoples, based on solidarity, integration, taking into account the asymmetries in our economies as an alternative to neoliberal globalization.
14. There will be no increase with productive development and social justice for our countries if we remain isolated. Latin America and the Caribbean make up the continent of hope. Our wealth is incalculable, but their integration into the world depends on the strength and legitimacy that their integration processes can achieve. The hegemonic countries aspire to keep us divided so they can sign free trade agreements in its sole benefit. We should answer them with integration.
15. We welcome and strongly support the creation of UNASUR which includes initiatives such as the Bank of the South as an axis for a future political unity of the countries and peoples of South America and with the proposal to create the South American Defense Council. Its strength will allow go on the permanent organization, integrated just by Latin American countries, without exclusion.
16. However, it is worth mentioning that it is not the same support paths pro-capitalist or anti-capitalist and by the socialism. It is a tension that exists between the rich and diverse reality of our countries. We must encourage the integration of our peoples related to the production of material goods or the exchange of goods and services, to reach and involve the reaffirmation of our own history, our identity, roots and culture, or the right to education and to advance knowledge, or the enjoyment of freedom, which has as objective the construction of collective identity, respectful of diversity that enriches ourselves.
17. The current stage of the crisis awakened the need to consider a new economic order and in particular a new international monetary system, which it is dropped the U.S. dollar standard, taking into account the impact of emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil in new economic relations and international trade.
What to do?
18. We should begin from the fact that each one of these transforming processes that occur in the region has its own characteristics, as a result of multiple factors such as historical heritage, its struggles, its political culture, its economic potential, etc., that are factors which provide a particular degree of authenticity.
19. For this reason there can be no single formula to find the solution to the anxieties that afflict us. For this, one has to take into account its own characteristics and possibilities, understanding that there is one common denominator: we has seen transformation processes, some more revolutionary than others, but the real changes which apart us from exhausted neo-liberal model, some of our countries are inclusive going towards to socialist construction processes, with own codes as an clear and viable option.
20. One factor that has characterized these processes is the political will to a new kind of integration. This new style of integration has its emblematic figure in ALBA, excellent initiative and all efforts did under its principles are made to the theme of regional integration, which can lead to acts totally finished and perfect. In fact, ALBA is so far the only integrator expression able to demonstrate concrete results with remarkable economic and social benefits.
21. The innovative sense of ALBA is marked done by the Latin American authenticity without the mediation of traditional circles of economic and financial power in service of imperialism, also fits the political flexibility of countries participation, making possible their total or partial adhesion without any conditionality, according their needs and interests, being present at the first place the political will of governments to find solutions to their fundamental problems, in benefit of their peoples.
22. Even knowing that there are some experiences of direct participation of the social organizations in projects registered under the view of ALBA, as well as any other effort to provide it the direct participation of social movements, the ALBA unfortunately lacks space and opportunity for action of many social actors that recognize their virtues and are interested in monitoring his political perspective.
23. Although the ALBA was and still be in perspective a viable option to demonstrate the potential of this new conceptualization of integration, it has been developing other expressions based on the autonomy of the countries of the Latin American region, such as the recent UNASUR.
24. However, despite the doubts, criticisms and expectations that the emergence of UNASUR rise in social movements, there is a recognition of his virtues and political and strategic importance, especially in the current crisis caused by widespread gendarmes of the capitalist system and whose impact will be felt more intensely, sooner or later in our region, meaning the same response niches that allow to face them, if we take into account the degree of economic vulnerability of most economies in South America.
The Re-articulation of the Right-wing
25. In the current phase, our region is marked by the upsurge in clashes between the leftist and progressive governments and right-wing opposition, encouraged by the strong support of successive U.S. governments in the social, political and ideological levels. The claims of marginalization of the State’s role are getting importance as a central unifying theme in all debates and controversies.
26. However, from 2007, after the relatively amazing quake about the proliferation of progressive governments in the region, the right-wing retakes its initiative capability, in which field it reviews the old oligarchic right and the social-democrats currents that adhered to neo-liberalism -taking advantage of the spheres where its hegemony it was not been touched, or in which essentially retain its strength: economic and media power.
27. This counter-offensive takes different forms depending on the country, but with common elements: the critic to the State’s presence and its regulatory methods of the processes of regional integration and South-South.
28. Topics such as “corruption” – always focused on governments and the State – the shortage, the autonomy of regional governments against State centralization, the supposed “threats” to “freedom of the press”, as identified by the right with the private press, are again put into scene.
29. In Brazil, the campaign of denunciation against the Lula administration, in Venezuela, after the attempted coup of 2002 in defense of private media monopolies, to report corruption and shortages; in Bolivia against the agrarian reform, the new Constitution and use of new taxes on exports of gas from the central government to carry out social policies, while in Argentina against the reforms of price controls, export retentions and looting of natural resources by multinationals; in Ecuador against the new Constitution and new forms of state regulation, in Uruguay against labor laws and so on.
30. The constitutional reforms by free elections by the peoples in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, are a substantial advance in the construction of the new America.
31. The 50 years of Cuban Revolution completed in 2009 are of extreme importance to our people which has struggled for a society without exploited or exploiters.
32. In a more particular analysis, we should know that to deepen the idea of international integration it is necessary to emphasize the importance of a productive development model – with an emphasis on labor, social justice and deepening democracy – seeking the benefit of the vast majority of peoples of our America and of future generations.
33. There will be no real integration (social, cultural, productive) without processes of national changes. The tasks that appear, before the reunification of the right and the project of capital to overcome the capitalist crisis with even more capitalism, in other words, greater exploitation of labor and natural resources; what is shown to the workers is the prospect of organize the subjective strength to resist to these projects and build an alternative power national, regional and global.
Our Proposal, Our Tasks
The Coordinator Group of the II Trade Union Meeting of Nuestra America, proposes to open a discussion and generate a debate based on these principles, calling for the entire organized labor movement in the Americas – regardless of their political or ideological position – placing as unique condition, their commitment to the defense of class interests, their internationalist solidarity and willingness to find a way to unity of action.
Unity, Solidarity, and Struggle!