By Peter Gellert
MEXICO CITY — Latin American left and democratic parties and movements met here June 12-15. The gathering, a continuation of the San Paulo forum held last year at the initiative of the Brazilian Workers Party (PT), was attended by more than 140 delegates, representing 68 organisations from 22 countries.
The 1991 conference was originally to deal with the economic crisis facing Latin America and the left's response to issues such as imperialist economic strategy, the free trade agreement and regional economic integration.
However, discussion at the conference dealt with virtually all problems facing the left and revolutionary movements in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Among the parties attending were the Communist Party of Cuba, the PT, the FSLN of Nicaragua, the Salvadoran FMLN, Frente Amplio and the Tupamaros from Uruguay, the Colombian M-19, the Tupamaros, the Lavalas Movement (which put Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide in power), the Chilean MIR, the Puerto Rican Socialist Party and others from Peru, Guatemala, Panama, Chile, Venezuela, different Communist parties and organisations from a Maoist, Trotskyist or Social Democratic background.
The conference was characterised by a new openness, a willingness to debate and the conviction of all of the need for unity.
There was unanimity on the need for a united front to defend the Cuban revolution against US aggression.
At a time when sections of the Latin American left are questioning the validity of Marxism and socialism, the PT's call for a renewal of the fight for socialism struck a responsive chord among many.
Reflecting new directions of the region's left, and following developments in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, many delegates spoke of the need to support democracy and pluralism.
"There is a lot of thinking on the left that is outdated", said Gerald Pierre Charles of Haiti's governing Lavalas Movement. "In the same way that Christians discovered liberation theology by re-reading the Bible, socialists should re-read their basic programs to adapt them to Latin American reality."
All agreed that the conference was important as a means of exchanging ideas and sharing experiences.
However, there were many disagreements on the wording of resolutions presented to the conference, which reflected the differences between more radical groups and those from populist or nationalist backgrounds.
A symposium on alternative projects for Latin American integration was planned for February 1992, and a third conference of the region's left is planned for June 1993.
The conference also planned to hold forums on North-South dialogue and on Latin America in the New World Order, and to organise alternative activities to mark the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Spaniards in Latin America.
A working group to implement conference resolutions was elected comprising representatives of the PT, FMLN, FSLN, Cuban CP, United Left of Peru, Mexican Party of the Democratic Revolution, Lavalas Movement and Free Bolivia Movement.