Cuba: Continental Day for Democracy and Against Neoliberalism

With the certainty that an organized and active people is the best antidote to a return to the past in Latin America and the Caribbean, this November 4 will see activities to mark the Continental Day for Democracy and Against Neoliberalism.

The mobilization is more than a symbolic act, considering the current regional panorama, in which attempts by oligarchies and their traditional allies to recover the space gained by progressive movements are evident.

The slogan bringing people across the continent together is: Not one step back! The struggles for integration, self-determination, and sovereignty against free trade and transnationals continue.

Expressions of support are expected in various parts of the continent. In Havana, the central meeting place for activities is the Plaza Ignacio Agramonte of the University of Havana.

The Cuban capital has gained prominence. It was here that two years ago popular movements and social organizations from across the region, representatives of indigenous peoples, women, campesinos, trade unionists, youth, students, journalists, people of African descent, the religious, intellectuals and artists, gathered to celebrate ten years since the defeat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) at that historic Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata.

The defeat of this neoliberal monstrosity, led by Comandante Hugo Chá¬vez and then Argentine President, Néstor Kirchner, was a great example of the ability to come together and be victorious.

The Havana gathering served to identify a minimum agenda as part of a process of re-articulation among popular movements on the continent.

Current demands revolve around three fundamental principles: the struggle against free trade and transnationals; the deepening of democratic processes and the defense of sovereignty; and the integration of our peoples.

These ideas have been present ever since the beginning of our independence struggles, but have been held back over more than two centuries. Today is the moment the region has been waiting for to witness the return of the ideas of Francisco de Miranda, Bernardo O’Higgins, José Gervasio Artigas, José de San Martín, Simón Bolívar, Tupac Amaru, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Francisco Morazán, José Martí, Eloy Alfaro, Augusto C. Sandino, among many other outstanding Latin Americans and Caribbeans, who understood the importance of integration early on.

Many steps have occurred in recent decades, ever since the first attempts in the mid-twentieth century that allowed for the creation of various integration mechanisms.

In 2001, Chávez and the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, laid the foundations of a new type of integration as part of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

Finally, on February 23, 2010, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was created, by 33 countries of the continent, excluding the U.S. and Canada. This body emerged from the cumulative 200 years of struggle and a common vision of Latin American and Caribbean integration, to form the “Greater Homeland.”

However, there is no doubt that the crisis of global capitalism that began in 2008, and its impact on the region, has weakened our countries and their integration processes.

More than ten years after Mar del Plata, the spirit of the FTAA is today implemented through Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and mega-regional trade or free investment agreements. Right-wing sectors are recovering strength and once again threatening the gains of recent years.

The return to power of conservative elites in countries that led the way in these processes places us in a different scenario and represents a danger to the integration we are building, defending and want to deepen.

This is why once again, this November 4, peoples across the continent are called on to defend integration for democracy and sovereignty, with our own agenda created in the exercise of the self-determination of our peoples, centered on solidarity, reciprocity, cooperation and complementarity, to break with the logic of the market.

Different sectors of Cuban society will come together today, November 4, in the University of Havana’s Ignacio Agramonte Plaza to observe Continental Day for Democracy and Against Neoliberalism.

The events focused on defending the island’s sovereignty were planned by organizations which are part of the city’s Social Movements Articulated with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America.

Marches in several Latin American countries, including Mexico, Peru, Panama, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil have been called to protest neoliberalism, under the banner of “Not one step back! The peoples’ struggle continues for integration, self-determination, and sovereignty and against free trade and transnationals!”

The decision to hold the continental day of protest on November 4 was made by participants in the hemispheric conference held on the 10th anniversary of the defeat of the U.S. sponsored Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, last year in Havana, with the purpose of demonstrating the strength and resistance of the left across the continent.