Note: The São Paulo Forum is the largest leftist organization in Latin America, and it has been discreetly at work coordinating and organizing leftists of all stripes since 1990. Below is an English translation of the Final Declaration of the First Meeting of the São Paulo Forum in 1990. The Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought will be publishing a series of English translations of the SPF’s major documents for the first time. Learn more about what the SPF is and how it has united the many Latin American leftist organizations and parties by taking a look at our brief timeline of the history of the São Paulo Forum.
Convened by the Workers’ Party (PT), we, representatives of 48 left-wing organizations, parties, and fronts in Latin America and the Caribbean, met in São Paulo, Brazil.
Unprecedented for its breadth and for the participation of diverse ideological currents of the left, the meeting reaffirmed, in practice, the willingness of the left-wing, socialist, and anti-imperialist forces of the sub-continent to share analyzes and assessments of their experiences and of the current state of affairs in the world. So we opened up new spaces to meet the major goals facing our peoples today and our leftist, socialist, democratic, popular and anti-imperialist ideals.
In the course of an intense, truly honest, plural, and democratic debate, we dealt with some of the major problems that present themselves to us. We analyzed the situation of the world capitalist system and the imperialist offensive, the latter of which is diguised under a neoliberal discourse, launched against our countries and our peoples. We assessed the crisis in Eastern Europe and the model that was imposed upon that region for the transition to socialism. We reviewed the revolutionary strategies of the left in that part of the world and the objectives that the international situation places on us. We will move on with these and other unitary efforts. This meeting is a first step in identifying and approaching our problems.
We will organize a new meeting in Mexico, where we will continue to add minds and wills to the ongoing analysis that we began, we will deepen the debate and seek to advance agreed-upon proposals for taking unified action in the anti-imperialist and popular struggle.
We will also promote the exchange of expert analyses about cultural, social, political and economic issues facing the left in the continent.
We established that all of us, left-wing organizations, think that a just, free, and sovereign society and socialism can only emerge from and sustain itself in the will of the peoples, connected with their historical roots. For that reason we express our common desire to renew the leftist thought and socialism, to reaffirm its emancipatory character, correct misconceptions, overcome every expression of bureaucratism and lack of a genuine social and mass democracy. To us, the just, sovereign and free society to which we aspire and socialism can only be the most authentic of all democracies and the highest justice there is for all the peoples. We reject, therefore, every intention to seize the crisis in Eastern Europe to incite capitalist restoration, nullify social victories and rights, or nourish illusions about non-existing virtues of liberalism and capitalism.
From the historical experience of subjugation to capitalist regimes and imperialism, we know that the pressing needs and the gravest problems of our peoples have their roots in the capitalist system; we also know that these problems can find no solution in it, nor in systems of restricted, subordinate, and even militarized democracies that this system imposes on many of our countries.The way out that our people crave cannot be oblivious to the profound transformations impelled by the masses.
We, the political organizations gathered in São Paulo, found great encouragement to reaffirm our socialist, anti-imperialist and popular views and goals in the emergence and development of vast social, democratic, and popular forces on the Continent that confront the alternatives of imperialism and neoliberal capitalism and their sequelae of suffering, misery, backwardness, and anti-democratic oppression.This reality confirms the left and socialism as necessary and emerging alternatives.
The analysis of the pro-imperialist, neoliberal policies (and their tragic results)implemented by most Latin American governments, and the review of the recent proposal of “American integration” made by President Bush to operationalize the relations of domination of between the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean confirmed us in the conviction that we can achieve no positive result by following that path.
The recent proposal made by the American President is an already known recipe that has now been softened to make it more deceptive. It involves liquidating national assets through privatization of strategic and profitable state companies in exchange for a fund to which the United States would make a contribution of U$ 100 million. It seeks permanent application of the nefarious “adjustment policies” that led to unprecedented levels of deterioration in the quality of life of Latin Americans, in exchange for a tiny and conditioned reduction of our countries’ foreign debt to the imperial government. The offer to reduce Latin American foreign debt to the American government by only U$ 7 billion means nothing to a Latin America whose total foreign debt amounts to more than $ 430 billion, if we include its debt to commercial banks and multilateral organizations. Moreover, the U$ 100 million “subsidy” that was promised to countries that make neoliberal reforms are nowhere close to 0.5% of the U$25 billion that Latin America just sent abroad in 1989 as interest, depreciation, and remission of profits of foreign capital. The Bush plan aims to completely open our economies to the unfair and unequal competition with the imperialist economic apparatus, subject us to its hegemony, and destroy our productive structures, integrating us into a free trade zone, organized by North American interests and hegemony, while they maintain a deeply restrictive External Trade Act.
Thus, these proposals are alien to the genuine interests of social and economic development of our region and are coupled with restriction of our national sovereignty and reduction and management of our democratic rights. They actually indicate an intention to prevent an autonomous integration of our Latin America, one that is directed to meet its most vital needs.
We know the true face of the Empire. It is the one that is manifested in the Empire’s unrelenting siege and renewed aggression against Cuba and against the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, in the overt interventionism and support given to militarism in El Salvador, in the North American invasion and military occupation of Panama, in the projects and steps taken to militarize the Andean zones of South America under the pretense of fighting “narco-terrorism.”
We therefore reaffirm our solidarity with the socialist revolution in Cuba, which strongly defends its sovereignty and its achievements, with the popular Sandinista revolution, which resists attempts to dismantle its achievements and rallies its forces, with the Salvadoran democratic, popular, and revolutionary forces that impel demilitarization and a political solution to the war, with the Panamanian people—invaded and occupied by American imperialism, whose immediate withdrawal from there we demand—, and with the Andean peoples facing militaristic pressure from imperialism.
But we also define here, in contrast with the proposed integration under imperialist domination, the foundations of a new concept of continental unity and integration. This concept involves reasserting the sovereignty and self-determination of Latin America and our nations, fully recovering our cultural and historical identity, and giving impetus for internationalist solidarity among our peoples. It also involves defending Latin American assets, putting an end to the export and flight of capital from the sub-continent, and jointly and unitarily facing the scourge of unpayable foreign debt and adopting economic policies for the benefit of the majorities, policies which are able to fight the misery in which millions of Latin Americans live. Finally, it requires an active commitment to the observance of human rights and to democracy and popular sovereignty as strategic values, putting the left-wing, socialist, and progressive forces before the challenge of constantly renewing their thought and action.
In this landmark event, we now renew our leftist and socialist projects; our commitments are daily bread, beauty and joy, the desire to achieve economic and political sovereignty of our peoples and the primacy of social values, based on solidarity. We declare our full confidence in our people, who mobilized, organized, and aware will forge, conquer and defend a power that turns justice, democracy, and freedom into realities.
We learn from mistakes, as well as from victories. Armed with an uncompromising commitment to truth and to the cause of our peoples and nations, we begin our march, confident that the space that we now open up will be filled by other Latin American and Caribbean left-wing groups with new efforts of exchange and unified action as the foundation of a free, just, and sovereign Latin America.
São Paulo, July 4, 1990.
Translated from the original Portuguese by Alessandro Cota.