Embracing “Peace, Sovereignty and Prosperity of the Peoples” as a common goal, over 120 Latin American social and political organizations began Thursday the 25th Meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum (SPF) in Caracas, Venezuela.
Their debates will be focused on the neoliberal offensive against Latin American peoples and its consequences regarding the increase in poverty and inequality. Amidst the United States aggression against the Venezuelan people and government, the SPF will also discuss ways to support peace in the Bolivarian Republic.
This edition of the Sao Paulo Forum includes workshops for analyzing the situation of Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, the end of the U.S. blockade to Cuba, the persecution of left-wing politicians, the murder of social leaders and the judicial process against Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
In the last three decades, the SPF meetings have provided opportunities for political activists, environmental fighters, human rights defenders and social leaders to meet each other and share their ideas and experiences.
The forum’s idea came about when the Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro suggested to former worker unionist Lula da Silva to create an annual international seminar to analyze problems shared by Latin American peoples.
“It is unlikely that both of them would have imagined that the Sao Paulo Forum would become one of the biggest fears for the Brazilian right 30 years later,” Mariana Sanches, a BBC journalist, commented.
“The Soviet Union still existed in 1990; however, Fidel was worried about the neoliberal offensive at the region,” the historian Valter Pomar, who served as secretary of the Sao Paulo Forum from 2005 to 2013, said.
Initially labeled as “Meeting of the Latin American & Caribbean Leftist Parties and Organizations,” the first meeting of what would later be popularly known as “the Sao Paulo Forum” took place on June 1990 in Brazil and brought together about 60 parties. “Currently, there are over 120 organizations from 25 countries,” Pomar added.
While the SP Forum is not the contemporary equivalent of an International Communist, right-wing politicians and rulers have repeatedly sought to discredit it due to its ability to bring together Latin American progressives.
“The right-wing forces criticize the Sao Paulo Forum to attack the left and the Workers’ Party (PT). Bolsonaro and his gang make this a mantra. And most of the time they do it to divert attention from issues that involve them,” Gleisi Hoffmann, the PT president said.
Among such issues, the right-wing political elite is seeking to divert attention from Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro’s involvement in the imprisonment of former President Lula and the subsequent ban on his presidential bid, the Brazilian congresswoman recalled.