Changes in Latin America and the Caribbean at the heart of the agenda of the SI meeting in Montevideo
3-4 April 2006
Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, was the venue of the most recent meeting of the Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean on 3-4 April 2006. Hosted by the Socialist Party of Uruguay, PSU, and the New Space party, NE, both of which are members of the SI and form part of the governing coalition of President Tabaré Vázquez, the meeting included the participation of leaders and representatives of 28 parties and organisations.
The main themes of the discussions were the current changes in the political situation in the region and the development of common policies to face globalisation and the challenges of regional and global governance in that hemisphere, together with an analysis of national situations.
Opening addresses at the event were given by the President of the Socialist Party and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, Reinaldo Gargano, the President of the New Space party, Senator Rafael Michelini, the Chair of the Committee, Rolando Araya, and the Secretary General of the Socialist International, Luis Ayala.
The meeting’s debates clearly highlighted, in the first instance, the advances made by progressive forces in the region, with the coming to power of a significant number of governments which include the presence of an ever increasing plural left with forces which either belong to the Socialist International or are close to it, or others which have specific local roots. Secondly, the discussions emphasised the new opportunities arising from this new scenario to prioritise the fight against poverty and inequality, as well as towards effective integration in the continent. A shared conclusion by the participants was that policies which only benefited the market in the region were coming to an end and a new era was beginning in which opportunities existed to make greater inclusion, access to education, health and social security for the majority of the people, along with a deepening of democracy, the hallmark of the region’s economy, politics and society. A consensus on the priorities at the heart of the social democratic movement’s vision today for the continent were included in a document which was agreed as the Declaration of Montevideo.
During the deliberations on a number of national situations in the region, particular attention was given to the forthcoming elections to be held in various countries in the next weeks and months, among them in Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil and Venezuela, and in this regard the Committee adopted special resolutions on Peru and Mexico as well as a call for non-interference by diplomatic representatives in the electoral processes in Central America. In relation to Venezuela, the Committee agreed on a visit there in the near future by the Secretary General of the Socialist International and the Chair of the Committee, to hold a dialogue with its member parties, the government and other Venezuelan political actors on the organisation and preparations underway for presidential elections which will be held in December.
The status of Puerto Rico, which is due to receive the attention of the United States Congress, in line with the recent report by the Inter-Agency Task Force established by President Bush, was also a matter for discussion by the Committee and a specific resolution on it was adopted. A resolution on the political participation of women and in support of an increase in their presence in areas of decision-making, as well as a declaration presented by the SI member parties in Argentina and Uruguay in favour of a quick and definitive solution to the conflict resulting from the installation of cellulose processing plants on the Uruguay River, and a message of solidarity with the National Union for Hope, UNE, of Guatemala were also adopted by the Committee. A number of other initiatives arising from the discussions in Montevideo include the visit of delegations and Electoral Observation Missions of the Socialist International to the elections to be held in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Colombia.
The meeting in Montevideo, which received great press attention in the region, was brought to a close with an expression of thanks by all the participants to the authorities and members of the SI in Uruguay for their fraternal welcome and hospitality.