Amid global uncertainty, ALBA Movements forges unity and hope

The continental platform of social movements will hold its third continental assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to analyze the current situation and define strategies for the next period.

April 22, 2022 by Zoe Alexandra
Laura Capote and Gonzalo Armúa of ALBA Movements Operative Secretary.

The continental platform, ALBA Movements, will hold its third continental assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina from April 27 to May 1. The platform, composed of people’s movements from across the Americas, will welcome more than 200 delegates to discuss the current political moment in the region and the world, evaluate the work of the last period, and analyze the urgent tasks of the platform.

During the five days of work, the delegates will participate in cultural events, panels on the international and regional situation, work in commissions, and attend a people’s market.

The last assembly of ALBA took place in 2016 in Bogota, Colombia. Since then the situation in the world has changed drastically. The crisis of capitalism has become more acute with tens of millions suffering from economic instability, hunger, and unemployment, and new existential challenges have appeared such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

At the same time, progressive sectors in Latin America and the Caribbean have made great advances with electoral victories in Peru, Honduras, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.

For ALBA Movements, this scenario of increased global instability only reaffirms the need to strengthen unity among the people, not only of the region, but of the world. To understand more about the expectations of this historic assembly, Peoples Dispatch spoke with Gonzalo Armúa and Laura Capote, members of the Operational Secretariat of ALBA Movements.

Peoples Dispatch: We are on the eve of the Third Continental Assembly. Tell us a little about your expectations for this Assembly after two years of the pandemic and years without face-to-face meetings.

Gonzalo Armúa: Well, in the first place, there are high expectations because we are coming from a pandemic that due to public health measures forced us to work together virtually at a distance. So, we are looking forward to comrades – those who have been building movements in each territory, in each country – finally coming together and meeting

And on the other hand, there are many expectations because we are living in a moment of uncertainty and changes at the international and regional level. At the international level, our analysis is that we are heading rapidly towards a process of geopolitical transition or at least towards an opening for a multipolar world, which brings challenges, but also brings many possibilities.

In Latin America, a series of electoral victories have allowed for the arrival of new governments of a popular, progressive nature or for at least a break with the neoliberal hegemony in those countries which we can say remained steeped in neoliberalism during the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century. We are talking about Chile and Peru. We also have the recovery of democracy in Bolivia after the coup d’état and we have a series of upcoming elections in Brazil and Colombia, where there are also possibilities of new forces coming to power. To this we must also add the victory in Honduras [of Xiomara Castro], which defeated the coup d’état that had removed Zelaya.

Read more: “It’s time for Our America”: ALBA Movements to hold third Continental Assembly in Argentina

At the same time, within the realm of people’s movements, there have been new struggles and we have seen new sectors that have taken to the streets before and during the pandemic, because the States did not respond to the basic demands related to health, food, decent work, etc. There is an expectation that in the Assembly, we can process all these new events that took place in a short period of time, one after the other or simultaneously. We need this meeting to be able to process, to be able to plan, and also to be able to meet with comrades who have been working for years, who have been fighting in each territory, so that we can continue forging Latin American unity from the movements.

PD: ALBA Movements organizes its work along six guiding principles: 1. Unity of Our America and internationalism; 2. Ideological-cultural battle and decolonization; 3. Defense of mother earth and people’s sovereignty; 4. Economy for good living; 5. Democratization and building people’s power; 6. People’s feminism. Can you talk a little about the importance and relevance of these principles in this context?

Laura Capote: This is precisely the question that we are interested in working on together with the comrades in the assembly. The elaboration of the six principles or the political program of ALBA was one of the main tasks that came out of the second Assembly in Colombia in 2016. Then, in the political coordination and in the Secretariat, we worked with the comrades from different countries in the different meetings and instances to be able to elaborate and expand on the principles.

Something that happens to us a lot in the social and people’s movements in Latin America, which is one of our great weaknesses in our opinion, is that many times we look at the problems of each of the sectors, of the different ages, of the generations and we do not find in some way transversal elements that allow us to carry forward a united struggle of women, youth, peasants, indigenous women, etc. We divide ourselves by sectors, which obviously weakens us in terms of the power with which we can respond to the enemy.

Within this framework, we elaborated these six principles to serve as a big umbrella that could include the majority of the struggles carried out by our organizations. During the Assembly, we have a full day to work on these six principles, to see what elements are missing, and what other new perspectives there are as well.

We have been seeing new problems with this new context in the continent, for example with the return of an increasingly fascist or neo-fascist right-wing, with a more violent, anti-rights, and regressive nature. We have to think of new ways to respond to that. We must find new ways with which we can advance in this offensive, from the perspective of the people and from the perspective of building a project of unity, of life, and of respect.

Read more: ALBA Movements fortifies its commitment to build internationalism and La Patria Grande

This new context implies that in the case of our six principles, that there will be new perspectives, new principles, new lines within these same areas of work, and it also means that we have to make the necessary revisions.

We have also been reiterating the importance of reevaluating in what way some may be more of a priority than others, in terms of urgency. And also those that imply the unity of the organizations within the framework of ALBA, or in some way to advance in our coordination as an entity and also because we see that we have been one of the few platforms that despite the pandemic continued working very hard.

PS: In this moment of global uncertainty, Latin America has been a beacon of hope, of joy and of the possibility of change. In this context, what does a platform of movements represent, what are the key tasks that lie ahead, and how do you intend to take up the challenge of continuing to build?

GA: Well, a central task that is fundamental to the movements and that today is more valid than ever, has to do with the unity of the people throughout the region, because we see that capitalism at this stage is above all global, it is worldwide and the people of the world and in particular of Latin America, face different forms of oppression, exploitation and plundering but it obeys the same pattern that characterizes a system.

Therefore, the need for unity goes beyond making declarations. It has to do with a historical necessity, because none of the countries, none of the nation states can carry out a process of liberation, a process of equality, a process of expansion of rights, if it does not unite with the different countries, with the different people.

We are seeing that the Nation State as it was formed in the 19th and 20th centuries cannot provide answers to the demand to expand rights, and no national process can solve the structural problems that currently exist for all the people of the world. We are talking about a moment where the rate of inequality among the richest 1% of the planet is worse than ever before. We are talking about a moment where Mother Earth, nature, is reaching its limit in terms of the sustainability of human life and life in general. And in addition, we are also seeing that the social degradation generated by this system is leading to increasingly obscene levels of violence.

The need for continental unity is about facing a common enemy of the people, it has to do with retaking processes of organizational struggle in terms of popular economy, in terms of solidarity, in terms of processes of liberation. Perhaps the reason Latin America is a constant source of alternatives to the system is that when it was liberated in the process of independence in the 19th century, it happened as a whole, when there were still no limits, the borders we know today, and this is also what brought forth the defeat of the largest empire of that time, the Spanish colony.

From these historical experiences, from a continuous process of struggles that goes back even to the conquest itself, the people of Latin America have not ceased to fight against the different forms of imperialism, of colonialism, and this is also expressed today.

There is an accumulation of experiences of struggle, an accumulation of organizational experiences that we need to turn into continental experiences, that must become regional experiences and that at the same time can be expanded to other continents in unity with other people.

That is why ALBA has the challenge of continental unity. But at the same time, this assembly is going to address the challenge of unity with the people of the global South, together with comrades from Africa, from Asia, from the people who, within the so-called first world, are also being oppressed within Europe, within the United States. As I said at the beginning, the system is increasingly destroying everything that remains outside of that 1% that keeps the wealth, keeps the goods and above all, is thinking of a project for fewer and fewer human beings on this planet.

The challenge is enormous, but we trust in the historical projects that we inherited and also in the struggles of our people of Latin America and of other people of the world.

LC: There is also an important element that we have discussed many times, which that there is a tremendous lack of horizons, of possibilities and utopias to carry forward. It is as if we have already been defeated.

As ALBA, we carry a very important responsibility. It was born from the heart of two of the greatest contemporary revolutionaries, who not only had a revolutionary vision for their countries, but also a revolutionary vision at the regional level.

When Fidel and Chávez thought of ALBA, they initially thought of it to unite the governments. When Chávez advances in the proposal towards the unity of the movements in ALBA, it was precisely taking into account that it is really the coming together of the people that will allow that coordination at continental level, which also inherits the Bolivarian vision of transformation in unity and with an American power that would counter the model of the Monroe Doctrine and the model that the United States wanted for our continent.

We also have the responsibility in this third assembly to rejuvenate the desire to continue fighting and to continue building in the different countries, and also to believe that it is possible, to believe that we can see the end of capitalism, and not as we are told the end of the world. And precisely what we want is to show is that we are already seeing the end of capitalism, we are living through this process and the answer is whether or not it is going to be chaos or it is going to be something else.

It also depends on the people and on what we decide to do. I believe that the possibility of new horizons and new utopias that we build with our own hands, is also a responsibility of ALBA because it is a composition of movements, of people who never thought only as individuals but in the collective and who seek, through their links with social organizations and their grassroots work, to transform the conditions of this continent.

We have the potential and an enormous responsibility to carry the name of ALBA with us, a historic name that brings with it the goals and objectives that Fidel and Chavez set us and that rest on our shoulders and we want all of us in the assembly to take on.

That is why this third assembly is so important, especially at a time when, after the pandemic, it seems that the triumph of individualism is even more evident. And where we want to respond to that with a collective body that fights for socialism, that believes in socialism as a project, a socialism of our own, a socialism with an Indigenous, Black, women’s, feminist and peasant face. It is the responsibility to be up to the needs of the historical moment and the project that we want.