Closing panel at the III ALBA Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo: ALBA Movements
The III Continental Assembly of ALBA Movements held in Argentina from April 27-30 concluded with a panel highlighting proposals and initiatives of people’s movements to transform the world.
After four days of debates and reflection, the III Continental Assembly of ALBA Movements came to an end on Saturday, April 30. 300 delegates from 23 countries had gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina to debate, discuss, and make concrete work plans for the next period.
In the closing panel of the Assembly, leaders from across the region talked about the experiences of people’s movements and organizations in achieving the right to land and work, resisting attacks from the right-wing and imperialism, and building national and international unity of people in struggle. Speakers included Juan Grabois and Ofelia Fernandez, from Argentina’s Frente Patria Grande, Esteban “Gringo” Castro, from the Union of Workers from the Popular Economy (UTEP), Thays Carvalho from Movimiento Brasil Popular, Carlos Ron, Venezuelan Vice-Minister for North America, and Zaira Arias from the Free Peru party.
The session was also attended by Pedro Praga, the Cuban ambassador in Argentina, Argentine national deputies Federico Fagioli and Natalia Zaracho, and Carlos Mirence, the Nicaraguan ambassador in Argentina.
Land, housing, and work
Esteban Castro opened the panel, giving an overview of the popular economy in Argentina, and sharing the experience of the creation of the Union of Workers of the Popular Economy, an instance that marked a breakthrough in the achievement of labor rights in the country. “Having hope is important to develop strategies to think about the future,” he noted.
“During the Macrista process of neoliberal globalization, we were able to achieve better levels of organization to confront it. Our humblest people who were deprived of the formality of work have been building strategies of popular organization,” Castro said.
Juan Grabois highlighted the visions around power and the conquest of the State.
“It is necessary to build popular power, what General Perón called the organized community, something very similar to the communes in Venezuela; to dispute the state entities with a popular sense; and to unite the peoples of the Patria Grande. These are 3 tasks that if we put them in this way are abstract, that mean something for the members of social movements, but not for the great number of the people,” he said.
“Reality is superior to the idea, not because the idea is not important, but because the idea is a grasp of reality. When the idea is dissociated from reality it becomes a slogan. Happiness and good living can have its concrete expression in that expression of Land, Housing and Work,” he emphasized.
Finally, he said “Uniting Latin America and disputing the State implies giving power to the poor. Our organizations have to ask our governments for this. In the Congress, in the Ministries there must be Black people, poor people, women”.
Unity to defeat capitalism and the right
The member of the Free Peru party Zaira Arias emphasized that those present at the ALBA Assembly are united by the desire to transform reality.
“There is a very clear struggle and that is that we are fighting for the poor,” she said. “But we should not understand this struggle as if we were asking for charity, we are asking for justice. In Peru, for example, the right-wing says that the poor are poor because they want to be. But the truth is that our systems reproduce inequality,” she said, pointing out that 1% of the world’s 1% accumulate 82% of the world’s wealth.
“How can we explain that according to official figures, Latin America is the most unequal continent in the world, and that Africa, being the richest continent, has the most poor people,” she questioned. In this sense, she highlighted three guiding points for the region: to put an end to the right-wing; to make visible that corruption is a consequence of the neoliberal model and that it works under the hypocrisy of capitalism, which sustains tax havens and builds mechanisms for the systematic usurpation of lands and common goods; and, finally, to work for the pragmatic and political unity of movements and organizations.
“We are in another era of setbacks with the right-wing, but there is no evil that lasts a hundred years and no body that cannot resist it. We leave the Assembly motivated and united in the struggle to defeat liberalism in our countries,” she concluded.
In this context of greater representation of the ultra-right in the region, Congresswoman in the city of Buenos Aires Ofelia Fernandez discussed the need for creative strategies for struggle.
“We are facing a very difficult moment, with greater uncertainty for my generation. We have to recognize the malaise, we are not in a moment of hope,” she said, pointing out that the rise of the right is a result of the frustration of the population. “It is important to understand that not all disenchantment is necessarily linked to those right-wing forces.” The young member of Congress highlighted that “it is important to think about the origin of this discontent and frustration and we have to understand that it is real”.
She emphasized that now is a time to be creative, recognizing the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all people. “We say creativity because the parameters of reality are no longer the same, all of us and militants feel different after the pandemic. We must think about reinventing and relaunching our agendas,” she said.
The Haitian revolution guides the struggles of Our America
Carlos Ron, president of the Simon Bolivar Institute of Venezuela, referred to the debates held in the different working commissions throughout the Assembly and recalled the idea that revolutionary processes must dialogue among themselves.
“We have to ensure that our revolutions, our historical processes, continue to have relations with each other. We, the peoples, make revolutions so that they remain alive, so that they can be our guide. The Haitian revolution did not end in 1804, it did not end in Haiti. Without the Haitian revolution there was no Miranda, Bolivar, we would not have been free, there would be no Bolivarian or Cuban revolution,” he said.
Likewise, the Venezuelan leader reflected on the attacks experienced by the revolutionary peoples and their resistance that has conscience and memory.
“Imperialism does not understand the people because it never speaks to them. When the right-wing takes to the streets, it does not speak to the people. When the Southern Command comes to Argentina it does not speak to the people. On a day like today, the right-wing took to the streets and it was the people who gave an answer to imperialism: always loyal, never traitors,” he declared.
“ALBA is a space of American and Caribbean unity, because without the Caribbean there is no America. This unity of class and struggle is also with the peoples of Africa and Asia and with all the peoples of the world who struggle,” he concluded.
Thays Carvalho of the Brazil Popular Movement, who gave the closing remarks on the panel declared, “Capitalism has failed to renew its project for humanity. Capitalism in times of crisis renews its attacks and aggressiveness.”
She also emphasized that the year is decisive for Brazil, but also for Latin America. “We have the challenge of organizing the working class and defeating the extreme right and fascism at the ballot box and in the streets together with Lula Da Silva. This election is not a guarantee, we must combine it with the mass struggle and the organization of the working class,” she affirmed.
Following the closing panel, members of ALBA Movements presented the final declaration available below in English.
Declaration III Continental Assembly ALBA Movements
In the lands of Che, of Evita, of the mothers and grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, of Diego, of this south, of San Martin and Juana Azurduy, in this land of struggle and memory, more than 300 delegates from 20 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in the III Continental Assembly of ALBA Movimientos. After the pandemic, in the midst of a complex and dizzying global scenario, and five years after the last assembly happened in Colombia in 2016, delegations from all over the region participated in an intense process of exchange, debate, and strategic projection of our platform of social and people’s movements.
The region and the world have changed radically in the years since our last Assembly. On a global level, the COVID-19 pandemic implied a real leap forward, which sharpened many of the social and geopolitical contradictions already present on the horizon. Millions of avoidable deaths, a classist and colonial distribution of vaccines and medical supplies, and the emergence of a multi-million dollar business for large global corporations, was the partial evaluation of the last two years. Undoubtedly, the latest great regional novelty -perhaps a real historical watershed moment- is the emergence of a new European war, involving NATO and the United States as main protagonists, keeping other powers on alert, and indirectly impacting the nations of the Global South. The conflict’s true essence is the dispute for world hegemony.
In this context, our Latin American and Caribbean region has been one of the most impacted by the devastating effects of the double neoliberal pandemic and COVID-19 experiencing: economic and social crises, impoverishment of the majorities, shortages, hunger, and inequality. However, the contrast of the strength of life in Our America allowed us to see that solidarity, community, and a deep belief in the collective are part of our continental DNA. Of course, this context presented a challenge for the social movements and people’s organizations that promoted ALBA Movimientos, as the streets and the countryside are our main places of building together, we had to find new forms of coordination and integration. However, we maintained the goal of a physical meeting in what would be our III Continental Assembly.
We arrived in Buenos Aires prepared to analyze, reflect, and build proposals for action to transform the reality of our continent and consolidate more bonds of unity among the organizations that are part of ALBA and that dream and build daily with the goal of the Patria Grande.
Argentina welcomes us in the midst of a historic moment of struggle against the International Monetary Fund. We embrace them in their anti-neoliberal struggle with the heat of the barricades as in 2001, and we appreciate and admire their history of struggle for memory, truth, and justice for the 30,000 disappeared detainees.
US imperialism and its European partners have come a long way since their counter-offensive launched more than a decade ago: dictatorships, coups, minor electoral victories, and the deployment of all forms of intervention under the umbrella of hybrid warfare have been applied mercilessly on us, and on our continent.
This is evident in the exportation of “security” models such as those promoted by private companies in the Caribbean, which send paramilitary and mercenary groups to selectively assassinate and attempt coups d’état as was the case with Operation Gideon in Venezuela. It also includes the installation of US military bases in our territories, and the implementation of drug trafficking as a method of disciplining and carrying out violence against young people in poor neighborhoods, to generate huge profits for wealthy lords of the ruling class.
State and para-state repression has been commonplace in our region. We see it in the Mesoamerican region where hundreds of community leaders who defend life, water, and the commons are assassinated daily. It is also present in Haiti, where gang violence is increasing with the objective of destroying societal unity and social organizations. Haitian people not only have to face the high levels of violence and poverty brought about by the so-called “humanitarian missions” that were nothing more than colonial outposts, but they also face measures such as the construction of a Wall on the border with the Dominican Republic with financing from Israel, creating a wound of inhumanity in the rebellious island of Quisqueya. The OAS, the UN and the extreme right in Haiti are responsible for the deterioration of the living conditions of the Haitian people who suffer the onslaught of an extreme right-wing project that continues with the current government.
We also see it daily in Colombia, where the intensification of the war, the deepening of paramilitarism, persecution, criminalization, and political violence against social leaders and peace signatories in different regions of the country make evident the consequences of US imperialist ambition in our continent, where the permanent violation of human rights by the security forces is no longer even news, as happened with the hegemonic media during the National Strike of 2021 under the government of Ivan Duque who continues to violate the peace agreements signed in 2016.
The advance of the fascist right-wing constitutes one of our main concerns, therefore we denounce the fascist advance of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil who, through state and parapolice violence, assassinates social militants and cuts away the rights of the Brazilian people, who are hopeful with a view to achieve consolidate a victory with Lula in October 2022. Likewise, we reject the permanent coup attempts against the democratically elected government of Pedro Castillo in Peru, who is confronting the Fujimori right-wing and its permanent anti-democratic offensives.
The poverty left by capitalism and imperialism in our region is reflected in the migratory crisis that Mesoamerica is going through, where massive migrations occur as a consequence of exclusions, the absence of opportunities, the repression of authoritarian governments against the peoples, and the dispossession of the territories of dozens of native peoples in the region.
Independence and the struggle for sovereignty is one of the most important legacies left to us by our liberating fathers and mothers. For this reason, we denounce the British occupation of the Malvinas Islands and demand the recognition of Argentine sovereignty over its territory. In addition to the presence of the largest NATO military base in the South Atlantic. “The Malvinas are Argentine, and they are Latin American”. We also accompany the claim of the Puerto Rican people for their independence from the United States.
We denounce the genocidal and criminal policy of the US government against the Cuban people and its Revolution, which in the last three years faced 243 measures to exterminate them. This is in addition to the hostile policy of more than 60 years of economic, financial and commercial blockade, which is the main impediment to the economic development of this brotherly country.
ALBA Movements reaffirms, fist raised and with a full heart, its unrestricted defense of the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela, of the Cuban Revolution, of the process of change in Bolivia, because we are sons and daughters of Chavez, sons and daughters of Bolivar, sons and daughters of Tupac Amaru, sons and daughters of Dessalines.
In this framework, and after reviewing, expanding, and calibrating our historical bases, we reaffirm our six fundamental principles: the unity of Our America and internationalism; the ideological-cultural battle and decolonization; the defense of Mother Earth and the sovereignty of the peoples; the economy for good living; democratization and construction of popular power; and popular feminisms.
From these bases, we also agreed, in this Third Continental Assembly, on a series of priorities and challenges that will guide the political work of our organization for at least the next four years:
1. The defense from the peoples of the most radical transformation processes in our region, based on the premise of Comandante Fidel Castro: “with the revolution everything, against the revolution nothing”.
2. The consolidation of alliances with progressive, popular and leftist governments, based on the autonomy and freedom of action of the peoples and their organizational expressions.
3. The practice of a living and concrete internationalism based on solidarity, and the challenge of massifying its practice and awareness in the bases of trade union, peasant, indigenous, Afro-descendant, women’s, youth, environmental and all kinds of organizations.
4. The strengthening of our Continental System of Political Education, of our communication initiatives, of our solidarity campaigns, and our international brigades.
5. The support and encouragement to the processes of decolonization, still fatally unfinished, picking up the legacy of our historical heroes and heroines of our independence revolutions, as well as the defense of our sovereignty in territories, from the Falkland Islands to Guantanamo, from Isla Navaza to Guyana Esequiba.
6. The participation of ALBA Movements, as a regional process, within the International Peoples’ Assembly (IPA), the expression of the political unity of the peoples of Asia, Africa, the Arab-Maghreb region, Europe, North America and Latin America and the Caribbean. The integration and internationalist unity of our region is a necessary condition, but not sufficient, to confront the global capitalist system.
7. The strengthening of an organic structure that has allowed us to act in a unitary way in our process, develop national chapters and prioritize unity in diversity in initiatives such as training schools, solidarity campaigns, communication processes, international brigades, and many others.
From the south of the world, we launch a continental call for organization and struggle. We are sure and certain that, even in difficult times, or much more in them, it’s time for Our America, because the time of America, the time of the peoples, never ends.