Washington’s refusal to allow Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro to over-fly its colony of Puerto Rico on September 19 attracted little attention in the North American and European media.
But in Latin America this arrogant gesture drew immediate outrage. It recalled the July 2 denial by four European countries — France, Italy, Spain and Portugal — of landing and refuelling rights and passage through their airspace to Bolivia’s president Evo Morales while he was returning home from a trip to Moscow.
This unprecedented attack on Bolivia’s sovereignty, clearly at Washington’s behest, had been defended on the fallacious grounds that Morales’ plane harboured US espionage whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Evo Morales was quick to take the lead in the Latin American response to this latest incident involving Venezuela’s Maduro. Initially, he called on the presidents of countries in ALBA and UNASUR to boycott the current session of the United Nations General Assembly to protest the US “aggression”. However, discussions with his counterparts resulted in an agreement instead to attend in force the UN meetings in order to raise their objections. (Maduro deferred on the grounds of an alleged plot to kill him if he went to New York, the UN headquarters.)
Morales also proposed to the other Latin American presidents that they consider collectively expelling US ambassadors from their countries, as Bolivia did a few years ago to protest Washington’s interference in its internal affairs. And he proposed that they discuss the possibility of launching international legal proceedings against USPresident Barack Obama for his repeated violations of international law and diplomacy.
In his UN address on September 25, Morales called for establishment of a people’s tribunal, with support from international human rights organisations, to try Obama for offences of “lèse-humanité”. As examples of Obama’s crimes against humanity he cited the aerial bombing of Libya, events in Iraq and the US worldwide interventionism aimed at seizing possession of “our natural resources”.
Since the death of Hugo Chávez earlier this year, Morales has emerged as the Latin American leader most engaged in exposing the crimes of the US and other imperialist powers and projecting an alternative anti-capitalist approach on a continental and global scale.
He was quick to turn the act of air piracy on July 2 into a mobiliser of official and popular anti-imperialist action. Following an emergency summit in early July of a number of Latin American presidents to protest this incident, the Bolivian government, along with Bolivian social organisations grouped in the Pacto de Unidad, proceeded to organise a people’s international summit in opposition to imperialism and colonialism.
Held in Cochabamba July 31-August 2, the summit was attended by some 1200 persons representing 90 organisations in Latin America and Europe. During the three days, a formal declaration drafted by the Bolivians was debated, amended and supplemented by six mesas or workshops.
Originally, five mesa topics were planned: on Political sovereignty, Economic sovereignty, Decolonisation and anti-imperialism, International human rights treaties and Espionage. At the initiative of some delegations, including Venezuela’s, a sixth was added: Communications counter-offensive.
On the final day, August 2 — exactly one month after the July 2 incident — participants joined in a massive closing rally and march through Cochabamba that was addressed by Evo Morales. Estimates of the number of those demonstrating ranged up to a million.
“We have to form an alliance”, Morales told the rally, “we have to unite our anti-imperialist social movements, political parties and governments of Latin America and the Caribbean with those in Europe to liberate ourselves from North American imperialism. This August 2, for me, is the day of anti-imperialism.” He called for building “a world movement for sovereignty and for the liberation of the peoples”.
The final declaration, as amended by the mesas, was read out at the rally. In addition, many websites published as well the full text of the resolutions adopted by the mesas. To my knowledge there is no English translation of the full text of the declaration or the resolutions.
I have translated large excerpts of the declaration, along with a summary of some sections, while noting the addition of some further demands adopted by the relevant mesas. Taken together, these statements provide an insight into the major themes and perspectives of the left today in Latin America in particular.
Read the translations at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
[Reprinted from Richard Fidler's blog, Life on the Left.]