Bolivia: Global trade unions call for anti-capitalist struggle

July 28, 2014
Participants in the 'Anti-Imperialist International Trade Union Conference' in Cochabamba. It adopted a thesis that outlined an

After the June summit meeting of the G77 + China leaders held in Santa Cruz, the Bolivian government and the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) sponsored an “Anti-Imperialist International Trade Union Conference” in Cochabamba over June 30-July 2.

The conference was attended by representatives of unions in 22 countries who are affiliated with the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU).

Founded in 1945 as a post-war international labour group, parallel to the United Nations, during the Cold War years the WFTU became a federation mainly of unions led by members of pro-Moscow Communist parties.

Although it declined precipitously after the fall of the Soviet bloc, in recent years the WFTU has experienced a certain revival, and now claims a membership of 86 million in 120 countries. The Cochabamba conference marked the integration of Bolivia’s COB in the federation.

At its closing plenary session, the conference adopted an “anti-imperialist political thesis”. It outlined an “anti-imperialist, anti-colonial and anti-capitalist” strategy aimed at pointing the way towards a socialist world.

It is a strong statement of solidarity with anti-imperialist liberation movements and the “process of change” in Bolivia and other Latin American countries.

Addressing the closing session, Bolivian President Evo Morales called on workers around the world to prepare to confront new forms of imperialist aggression and plunder in the coming years. In this connection, he identified four phases in history when the world’s empires had agreed to “carve up” the world among themselves in spheres of influence.

The first, he said, was the Treaty of Tordecillas in 1494. In the treaty, Spain and Portugal “divided Abya Yala” (the indigenous name for the western hemisphere) with a declaration that what is now Latin America belonged to them as invaders.

The second division was the Berlin Conference, meeting in 1884-85, in which the major European powers divided Africa among themselves.

The third division took the form of a secret agreement in 1916 (the Sykes-Picot Agreement) between Great Britain and France to divide the Middle East between them at the end of the First World War.

Today, said Morales, the great powers are engaged in the fourth “imperial carving up” of the world, not through treaties but through the United Nations Security Council, and using NATO to “invade and secure control of natural resources”.

Morales did not mention another division of the world: the post-WWII agreements between Stalin and his wartime allies Britain and the United States, to divide the world between imperialist and Soviet spheres of influence.

The thesis began by stating: “The peoples of the world, and especially the popular sectors, are suffering the consequences of a crisis of capitalism. This is a crisis unlike any we have seen before, a crisis that is both global and structural.”

It said: “The consequence of this is that there are a billion people who go hungry, according to the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations], and since the crisis began the number of poor people has increased by some 100 million.

“But while poverty and hunger are the most visible effects of the crisis of capitalism, all of this is linked to the peoples’ loss of social rights, especially labor rights. Capital will attempt to ride out the crisis on the backs of the workers.”

It noted: “Nevertheless, neoliberal recipes cannot resolve even the problems of the countries at the centre of the world capitalist system.”

As a result, the thesis said: “The crisis of the capitalist world system and the geopolitical struggle for control of natural resources is leading the peoples and workers of the world towards a scenario in which it is necessary to choose between one of two projects in contention ― socialist emancipation or neoliberal restoration.”

[Republished from Richard Fidler's blog, Life on the Left, where you can read the full thesis.]

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