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Vol. 81/No. 30      August 14, 2017

(special feature)

Sao Paulo Forum discusses struggle against imperialism

Youth organize to build Oct. World Festival in Russia

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Over 300 delegates from 32 countries came together here to participate in the 23rd annual Sao Paulo Forum July 15-21. “It is an honor, in the land of Sandino, to welcome everyone in the name of the Sandinista National Liberation Front of Nicaragua [FSLN], Daniel Ortega and all the Sandinistas,” Jacinto Suarez, international secretary of the FSLN, told delegates at the opening session.

Large delegations came from Cuba, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mexico, along with delegates from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and invited guests from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

The Sao Paulo forums began in 1990 at the initiative of Cuban President Fidel Castro and Brazilian Workers Party leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. They aim to bring together left political parties and activists from throughout the region to discuss and debate political perspectives to counter Washington’s ongoing interventions and to advance the fight for sovereignty and independence.

This year anti-imperialist youth at the forum took the occasion to discuss building the World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, Russia, Oct. 14-22.

“We must all come to the defense of Venezuela,” José Ramón Balaguer, a member of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee Secretariat and head of the Cuban delegation, said at the opening session, pointing to the importance of the fight to defend Venezuela’s sovereignty against Washington and the pro-imperialist opposition forces. This is important for the sovereignty and independence of all countries in the region, he said.

“We demand an immediate end to hostile actions and interference in Venezuela by the United States,” Balaguer said.

“Our country is in a serious and very difficult situation,” Roy Daza, representing the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), told delegates. He said that the Constituent Assembly election called for July 30 would proceed. At the same time, he said that the PSUV is “ready to engage in a national dialogue” with the opposition in Venezuela and with the government of the United States, while demanding an immediate end to violent protests against the government of Nicolás Maduro.

Gabriel Aguirre from the Young Communists of Venezuela (JCV), the youth group of the Communist Party of Venezuela, said they disagreed. We oppose any negotiations with “fascist” opposition forces in Venezuela, he said.

Several meetings, workshops and seminars were held during the forum, including a women’s meeting, an indigenous and Afro-descendants workshop, and one on the anti-colonial struggle. One of the largest was the youth meeting, with more than 100 young people coming together to discuss perspectives. Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican independence fighter who was framed up and jailed in the U.S. for 36 years, opened the meeting. A growing worldwide campaign was waged to win his freedom, and he was released in May.

“Cuba’s revolution showed the importance of the youth. It helps in other countries like no other country in Latin America can,” López said. “We have to emulate that example.”

“In October we will celebrate the World Festival of Youth and Students,” said José Maury de Toro, secretary general of the World Federation of Democratic Youth and a leader of the Union of Young Communists of Cuba. “It will be a great pleasure to have Oscar there with us to show the world what solidarity can accomplish.”

Maury and some 20 representatives of youth organizations in the Americas region met the following morning to discuss political preparation for participation in the festival in Sochi. Over 1,500 delegates are registered to participate.

Ronald Hidalgo Rivera, second secretary of the Union of Young Communists of Cuba, thanked delegates “for all the solidarity against the U.S. blockade on Cuba,” noting that Washington continues its efforts to undermine and overthrow the Cuban Revolution.

Jacob Perasso, representing the Young Socialists in the United States, emphasized the need for youth groups across the hemisphere to campaign for “U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!” and an end to U.S. sanctions and attacks by the Organization of American States.

Perasso saluted López’s presence and spoke about the deepening class struggle in Puerto Rico, saying the fight against U.S. colonial rule should be supported by all working people in the U.S. Perasso also pointed to the importance of speaking out against Washington’s economic war against the Cuban Revolution and demanding Washington get out of Guantánamo.

One ongoing discussion at the forum was what the election of President Donald Trump signified about developments in the U.S. working class. Most middle-class left groups, and many of those at the forum, said Trump’s election reflects the fact that U.S. workers are becoming more racist, sexist and reactionary.

Perasso argued that workers in the U.S., like their brothers and sisters south of the border, are seeking a way forward out of the brutality and carnage wrought by today’s deepening crisis of capitalism. They aim to find a way to take on the government of the Democrats and Republicans in Washington that does nothing to meet their needs, to “drain the swamp,” as the Trump’s popular election slogan goes. Many voted for Trump, Perasso explained, not because they were excited about his ideology, but in hopes of a change, as many had done earlier when they voted for Barack Obama. In fact, workers are less racist and more open to revolutionary change than in many years.

“The Young Socialists and Socialist Workers Party find growing interest in our revolutionary program and activities as we join discussions with workers in the U.S.,” he said, “including among workers who voted for Trump.”

“We point to the example of the Cuban Revolution,” Perasso said, “and explain the need for workers and farmers in the U.S. to follow its example and make a socialist revolution.”

The forum ended in a festive atmosphere as delegates joined a rally of some 200,000 people July 19 to celebrate the 38th anniversary of the Nicaraguan Revolution, which dealt a blow to imperialism in the region. Speakers included Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, president and vice president of Nicaragua; Evo Morales, president of Bolivia; Salvador Sánchez Cerén, president of El Salvador; and Oscar López Rivera. Miguel Díaz-Canel, vice president of Cuba, also participated.

There was a lot of interest by participants in revolutionary literature brought by members of the Socialist Workers Party, Communist League of Canada and Young Socialists to the forum. Delegates purchased 181 books by revolutionary leaders, including 22 copies each of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? and The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes, and Is Socialist Revolution in the US Possible? by SWP leader Mary-Alice Waters, as well as three Militant subscriptions. The second bestseller was Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, also by Barnes, with seven copies.
Related articles:
End US economic war against people of Cuba
SWP: Emulate example of the Cuban Revolution!
Celebrations in Cuba, U.S. mark Cuban Revolution
Protest US attacks on Venezuelan sovereignty!
Sign up for ‘In Footsteps of Che’ brigade to Cuba!
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