Spanish – The fundamental document outlining the agenda of the Sao Paulo Forum is the so-called Consensus of Our America, elaborated by the Forum’s Working Group’s meeting in Managua in February 2017, under the leadership of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
The document begins by glorifying the persona of Fidel Castro as an example of “unity and internationalism and then invokes the “invaluable historical heritage” of “exemplary protagonists in the battle against colonialism,” including Manuel Marulanda, Nestor Kirchner, and Hugo Chavez.
It also says that the document is inspired by the “ethical legacy” of Che Guevara, famous for having dragged hundreds of Cubans to the firing squads without a trial, as Guevara himself acknowledged in a speech at the UN on 11th December 1964, where he defiantly said, “We have shot. We shoot, and we will continue to shoot for as long as necessary.”
After knowing who wrote the “Consensus” and what its source of inspiration is, let’s see whom it engages. Read this:
“This document is the result of work developed from a set of ideas and concepts to contribute to the development of progressive and revolutionary processes in the various regions and countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. As of today, it is a collective document of parties and organizations of the subcontinent. The name refers to a unit that is both a declaration and one that revolves around a program and a political practice.”
One hundred twenty parties and movements from 27 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are members of the Forum. The following are members from Colombia: Patriotic March, Progressive Movement, Humane Colombia Today, Green Alliance Party, Colombian Communist Party, Alternative Democratic Pole Party, Present for Socialism, Patriotic Union, and Citizen Power Movement. The FARC and ELN also participate in meetings of the Forum and fully share its ideology. Fecode, Asonaljudicial, and the CUT are industry unions that have long been openly politicized and controlled by the Forum parties.
The entire assessment of the “Consensus” is based on the Marxist thesis of the inevitable collapse of capitalism, pursued relentlessly by its insurmountable contradictions. It relies on the denial of economic and social progress that capitalism has brought to the world. For the communists, the theses of “growing misery” and “inevitable collapse” are unquestionable. Therefore, they feel as though they are enlightened bearers of historical truth, called to lead humanity to communism. From there stems the intransigent dogmatism that characterizes them and their willingness to do anything -like shoot as long as it is necessary.
The fact that the words “communism” or “socialism” do not appear in the “Consensus” is striking. In fact, it is difficult to find them in any Forum document. Does this mean that the Forum parties have given up on taking us – whether we want it or not – to the communist paradise, the final destination of humanity? No way!
Point 11 of the section titled “The reality we want to transform (diagnosis)” reads as follows:
“We recognize the existence and coexistence of diverse forms of the plural economy (state, community, social cooperative, and private) under a planning regime in which the state controls the strategic sectors and organizes their interrelation. We must respect all forms of property democratizing the means of production, defending in solidarity the small and medium industrialists and producers, fostering and strengthening the forms of state and associative property that grant greater levels of freedom of production and association.”
Planning, control of strategic sectors by the state, state ownership: that is socialism or communism, in Latin America and anywhere in the world.
Here are a few more quotes to make it clear that the objective of the Forum is to transform capitalist systems of production, put an end to private property, establish state property, and impose communist ideology and values from the state.
“We recognize the successes of these more than twenty years of work of the left organized in the Sao Paulo Forum, and almost twenty years after the victory of President Hugo Chavez. There are positive balances of the colossal economic and social battle, although we have not yet been able to transform the capitalist system of production.”
“The state must own enterprises that are productive, efficient, and healthy, especially in strategic areas such as Energy, Finance, Telecommunications, among others.”
“This strategy involves assigning the state a central role in the construction of objectives and the establishment of incentive systems and the ideological and normative construction.”
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the economies of “real socialism,” the words “socialism” and “communism” lost their old charm. Instead of evoking the “beautiful paradise of humanity,” they were associated with the appalling reality of the totalitarian regimes from which, in those years, people fled en masse to Western European countries in search of freedom and progress. That is why the Cuban communists, who founded the Forum and lead it today, understood that their political proposal could not be based on a general message of invocation to communism, but should be fragmented into specific messages addressed to different audiences. That is why the discourse is transformed and filled with diverse themes such as the environment, gender, corruption, feminism, education, youth, equality, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.
This is such an important point that, the final part of the document, titled Political Instruments for Change, where the Forum 17 parties are given instructions to “implement this program,” says the following:
“A truly popular and left-wing force must have specific policies towards all social sectors such as workers, small and medium entrepreneurs, youth, students, women, the marginalized minorities.”
And this other one, which explains the importance of the ideological manipulation of the youth in the strategy of the parties and movements of the Forum:
“It is our priority to learn to understand how the subjects to whom we address our message, especially the young people, view life and objective and subjective needs. The active and militant incorporation of the new generations in the struggle for superior societies is an urgent necessity. The youth is already the main protagonist in many scenarios, and we must recognize the importance of their participation as one of the main historical subjects, so we must fight to prevent the enemy from depoliticizing, neutralizing, or appropriating this large sector of society.”
The diversity of the messages and the audiences they target also implies the diversity of the messengers. This explains why the left presents itself through different organizations and movements. Each one is in charge of carrying one or several specific messages addressed to different audiences, thus obscuring the fact that all those messages and messengers are articulated in one program, one organization, and one global strategy whose objective is the establishment of socialism throughout Latin America.
Previously, before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of socialism, the strategy and political action of the communists was guided by the concept of a single communist party, which was the vanguard of the proletariat, in turn, led the other social classes. The left has not renounced the single party or centralized democratic system, which is still in place in countries such as Cuba and Nicaragua, where the Forum firmly holds power. In large and complex countries, where capitalism seems more consolidated – Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay, it applies the tactical division of the parties and movements, which appear and disappear, change their names as the goods in the market change their labels and packaging. Despite their apparent diversity, all move towards the same objective.
The drafters of the “Consensus” express it with absolute clarity:
“Their forms of organization can only be defined in each place or country, based on accumulated experiences, the history of struggle, and the concrete reality where they operate. This statement does not imply the existence of a single organization when this is not possible, but to find under certain principles, the best forms of association to enhance and articulate our knowledge and experiences of struggle. Regardless of diversity, a series of principles can be valid to achieve political organizations capable of successfully overcoming the challenges we face and leading the processes of change and achieving the objectives embodied in these proposals.”
The dispersion of left-wing forces and their mimicking into various movements with specific proposals is a crucial element of “unity in political practice.” Two other things are vital for understanding what is happening in Latin America: the construction of popular power and the infiltration of the armed forces.
On the importance of people’s power, let us read the following:
“The construction and consolidation of popular power in the economic and political spheres is fundamental. It is an indispensable condition for the development of the program and the strategic goals of the necessary structural changes that allow the democratic consolidation of institutionalism, appropriate in each case to the realities of each country or region.”
And it explains that:
“The need to be efficient in the electoral field forces us to prioritize regional presence, precisely where the voters are. However, reality has shown that where we govern, it is prudent to organize grassroots structures in strategic spaces such as large companies, universities, and other places where politics is practiced daily.”
In Cuba and Venezuela, the illustrative experiences of this “popular power” should be sought.
In 1959, Fidel Castro created the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). Initially, they were groups of thugs in charge of intimidating the “enemies of the revolution.” Today, they persist by forming a hierarchical structure; each block has its own, from which the CDRs of the neighborhood emerge, then those of the zone, then the municipalities, then the provincial ones, and finally the national CDR. Any Cuban over the age of 14 can “voluntarily” belong to the committee of his block. The president of the committee is elected for his commitment to the revolution and fulfills his functions – which include keeping records of the population and providing information on each citizen to the Communist Party and the Department of State Security with the help of a person in charge of surveillance, an ideological person in charge, and a person responsible for voluntary work. Some eight million Cubans, 70% of the population, are members of the CDRs.
In Venezuela, the “popular power,” in charge of defending the Bolivarian revolution, is exercised by the “Chavista collectives,” which are armed by the government and militarily trained. They operate as absolute masters of the zones they occupy. In addition to carrying out “cultural projects” financed by the government, they are in charge of the distribution of food, the infamous CLAP boxes, which gives them enormous power over the population. There are hundreds of these collectives, some of which – like the Carapaicas, the Tupamaros, La Piedrita, and Simon Bolivar, which operate in Caracas – have sophisticated weaponry – AK rifles, and tear gas – and receive training from the FARC. Many of these collectives combine their political activity with drug trafficking, car theft, and other criminal activities.
Hooded gangs – allegedly infiltrated in peaceful demonstrations organized by the left – can be the germ of “popular power” in Colombia.
About the army, we can read the following:
“It is necessary to democratize and subordinate the command structures of the army and the organs of internal order to the political power freely instituted by the popular will and serving the national interests.”
In Venezuela, they seem to have achieved complete subordination of the army to the interests of the left through corruption and drug trafficking. Evo Morales in Bolivia did not manage to do so. In Colombia, the left is beginning to seek that subordination by undermining its morale. The Bogota media and the left are systematically questioning the legitimacy of the actions of the army and the security forces. It is not unlikely that the politicians of the left are carrying out ideological work between the officers’ corps and the troops themselves.
The government and its supporters are trying to dissuade people from participating in the strike by pointing out the excellent performance indicators of the Duque administration and denying the falsehoods wielded by its promoters. This is good for people of goodwill, but not to dissuade the campaigners who have a clearly destabilizing objective in accordance with the orientations of the Sao Paulo Forum, as seen by the analysis of the document Consensus of our America and explicitly stated in the foundational document of the 25th meeting of the Forum held in Caracas:
“The modalities of the struggles in development are different in each case, and must be studied according to their particularities, without losing sight, not for an instant, of the continental character of the historical confrontation in progress.”