Workers still live the impacts of one of the biggest crisis of world capitalism, situation opened in 2007. The situation is still signed by an unprecedented number of attacks on the working class’ living conditions to save the bankers and bosses profits. Imperialism and the bourgeoisie are at war with the working class, cutting wages, rights, and increasing poverty and inequality.
It is also important to stress the environmental question. With the Trump government’s abandonment of the Paris Accords, the consequences on the environment became more alarming. Evidently, the Paris Accord is an extremely limited patch. The commitments made by governments (including Obama’s) did not even reach a minimum goal. The rupture of Trump only evidences the environmental disaster caused by capitalism as a whole.
North American imperialism and the resistance to the reforms and neoliberal plans in Latin America
The election of Donald Trump in the US, a right-wing populist, is an expression of the world crisis and the contradictions of capitalism itself. He was not the preferred candidate of the American bourgeoisie; he emerged already questioned, and he faces strong resistance throughout the world. Among other things, the election of Trump is the expression of a strong rejection of the masses to two great bourgeois parties (Republicans and Democrats).
Despite this, one cannot dismiss the fact that the electoral result placed a right-wing populist in the presidency of the USA. He abuses of a xenophobic, racist, male chauvinistic and “nationalist imperialist” rhetoric. The situation within the USA and their relation to the rest of the world tends to polarize even more.
His campaign had, as one of the central topics, the anti-immigration issue, and he went as far as announcing that the wall on the border with Mexico would be built and it would be paid by the Mexican state. Additionally, he said that the NAFTA accord would be revised to establish conditions that are even more advantageous for the US corporations.
The economic crisis hit Latin America from 2013 onwards, decreasing the continental GDP by 2.4% in 2016. This was directly influenced by the slowdown in the Chinese economy because the investments of the Chinese bourgeoisie decreased and the commodity boom ended in 2011. Venezuela and Brazil were particularly affected. The estimate for 2017 by different agencies and institutes indicates a fragile recovery in South America, pointing to a growth of about 0.9% of GDP.
The policy of imperialism continues to be a deepening of the dependence of Central and South American countries in favor of their own countries’ economies. Thus, expanding an actual process of colonization by expanding the control of the national economies through large transnationals with the systematic destruction of national production and thus, being able to sell their products in these conquered markets, intensifying the indebtedness of the countries, and imposing austerity plans against workers.
In the political field, there were also changes in the continent. There is wear down and a process of crisis that affects most of the continent’s governments, unevenly. Class conciliation governments such as in Argentina (Kirchner), Paraguay (Lugo), and Brazil (Dilma Rousseff) who applied these neoliberal plans and went into a crisis, ended by being replaced by traditional bourgeois governments. Every bourgeois government that enters office continues the social war against workers, by lowering wages, cutting rights, and advancing in a greater submission of countries and the continent to imperialism.
From Mexico to Argentina, it does not matter which kind of government, the recipe has always been the same: cuts to pay the debts, privatization, and structural reforms (labor, pensions and educational).
This economic situation comes together with a strong mobilization process. In the last two years, in several countries, there were general strikes, as in Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, and French Guiana, as well as important mobilizations in Peru, Chile, El Salvador Costa Rica, Colombia, Haiti, and especially Paraguay, where the protesters burned down the Parliament. The workers went to the streets to protest against the austerity plans and for better living conditions.
In Brazil, we must highlight the working class mobilization against the labor and Social security reforms with the general strike, the demonstrations and continuity of the struggle for the “Out with Temer,” and against the corrupt Congress. There were also struggles of the quilombolas, indigenous people, and farm workers, in defense of the native people’s territories and for the Amazonia.
There were also important and massive mobilizations for democratic rights, against repression and against the attempt to criminalize the union and social movements. For example, the denouncement of the 43 students murdered in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, for the reappearance of Santiago Maldonado alive, the freedom for Rafael Braga, the struggle of the black people against police violence in the USA and the attacks on the native peoples of our continent.
In 2017, the struggles for the women’s rights also stand out. The year began with a gigantic mobilization against Trump, in the USA. The mobilizations for “Ni una menos” that began in Argentina influenced all of Latin America and helped to promote massive mobilizations on March 8. The struggle for labor conditions and against violence against women became the agenda of the entire working class, showing the need to join the struggle against male chauvinism in the framework of the fight against exploitation.
In Brazil, the mobilization of the working class against the labor and pensions reforms stood out with a general strike, the demonstrations in the states and the great demonstration in Brasilia, which gathered around 150 thousand people for “Out with Temer” and against the corrupt congress. The social movement, the quilombolas, the natives and farmworkers in defense of the Amazonia and the territories of the native peoples also stood out.
Since 2004, the UN carried out a military occupation in Haiti, named “United Nations Mission for the Stability in Haiti” (Minustah, in French), with the shameful participation of Latin-American troops, under Brazilian command. This occupation is ending now, after several denouncements of assassinations, invasions to poor neighborhoods, repression to worker strikes, rapes and contamination of the country with cholera. But this leaves a government so submissive with violent repressive forces, in addition to a more obvious presence of embassies of the imperialist countries (USA, France, Canada, etc.).
Venezuela is the most affected country by the international crisis. The decrease of oil prices affected this country’s economy and the national framework in this country is dramatic: workers receive 15 dollars per month as a minimum wage. This is the consequence of the policy of maintaining submission to imperialism, despite the anti-US speech, with the maintenance of foreign debt payments and the application of imperialist plans. Venezuelan workers cannot trust the government or the right-wing opposition. We must build an independent class alternative to the Maduro government and the MUD. We stand in defense of the Venezuelan people, against all attacks on democratic freedoms and against austerity plans. For this, the autonomous mobilization of the people, and the workers, in particular, is essential.
The issue of immigration also gained prominence. In the United States, the oppression of immigrants is a fundamental part of the country’s economy, from precariousness to low wages. The policy of repression aims to control the supply of cheap labor force. In Brazil, there is a similar process but on a smaller scale, affecting immigrants from Haiti, Venezuela, Bolivia, and African nations. Big landowners, the agro-business, large companies, and maquilas, take advantage of legal breaches to oppress and subject immigrant workers to conditions of slavery.
We are facing an important process of retaking the struggles and a strong resistance to imperialist plans in the continent. So, we continue committed to the building and strengthening of the international unity of the workers to struggle against social movement criminalization, adjustment plans, reforms, and privatizations, against all forms of oppression and exploitation.
Building the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle in the Americas
The absence of an alternative independent leadership has taken its toll. The heroic resistance of workers and the people run up against the limits of the programs and alliances built by the leadership of the several processes. Union bureaucracies grouped in the CSI (World Trade Union Confederation) and FSM (World Federation of Trade Unions) do not represent us.
The formation of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles (ILNSS) in 2013 and its second meeting in Brazil in 2015 were important steps to consolidate the ambitious task of bringing together an alternative and combative trade unionism movement at an international level.
The construction and affirmation of the ILNSS is very important, in an increasingly globalized economy, in need of unified confrontations against the companies and a bourgeoisie that holds “international” businesses, which demands the development of actions of active solidarity, actions and campaigns coordinated worldwide, whether by categories, sectors, countries, and/or continents. To each of these objective struggles, it is our duty to give them a strategic sense of struggle against capitalism.
The entities present at the 1st Meeting of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle of the Americas declare, through this letter, the effort to build this international militant and independent tool, through discussion and approval in their instances in every country. To this, we propose:
– To build a team in the Americas, open, with Skype meetings every two months;
– To support the local and national struggles of trade unions participating in the Network;
– To defend these unions from the attacks and repression of local governments and bourgeoisie;
– To build sectorial meetings of the Network globally;
– To develop education seminars for a concept of class-based trade unionism, independent of governments and based on workers’ democracy;
– To develop work coordinated and together with sectors of the popular movement.
In addition, all the entities present are committed to making a political and financial effort to ensure the representation of entities from our continent to the global meeting of the ILNSS, which will take place on January 25, 26, 27, and 28 of 2018 in Madrid.
A common plan of action and several motions presented by entities, as well as other campaigns is annexed to this statement.
Sao Paulo, October 17, 2017.