The members of the Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, SICLAC, at their second annual meeting in the city of Managua on 20 and 21 October 2001, hosted by the Party of the Sandinista National Liberation Front:
Discussed issues related to the strengthening of democracy and its institutions, as well as how to construct and guarantee an economy of opportunity and progress in order to respond to the two major challenges facing the region: the deepening of democracy and economic and social development.
Convinced that an increasingly participatory democracy permits the consolidation of democratic values, attitudes and behaviour within government and its social and economic structure, we resolve to continue working together so that all our member organisations may continue to contribute to greater citizen participation, which may thus become an ever more efficient instrument for the exercise and control of political power.
To this end, we consider that initiatives of citizen participation must also be developed by both central and local government, so that citizens truly play an active role in formulating and implementing public policy; this would be a significant milestone in the consolidation of a truly democratic political system.
Taking as our starting point the Mexico Declaration of the SI Committee on Local Authorities, at its meeting on 23 and 24 July 2001, we consider it important to continue promoting stronger local government, to be achieved through greater administrative decentralisation, so that municipalities can really develop and do more to benefit the majority of citizens, since municipal governments are the closest to the people and thus best placed to know their needs.
However, the exercise of participatory democracy is not a reasonable prospect as long as there is still little investment in human capital, scanty provision for public education, health-care and nutrition and a chronically high level of unemployment, nor as long as a broad sector of our people are marginalised from the advances of science and technology and a great majority are living in extreme poverty.
We reaffirm our rejection of the neo-liberal ‘minimal state’ approach, which abandons millions of their fellow citizens to their fate and leaves them to languish before the indifference of the free market.
It is difficult to make the effective exercise of governmental authority, or good governance, a reality, when the state, which should protect its citizens from any limitation or attack on their inalienable human rights and from the economic, social and cultural marginalisation to which they are subject, is incapable of carrying out this vital task, because of its own weakness in essential aspects of a truly responsible state.
Equally, we believe that it is impossible to establish or deepen a democracy characterised by its participatory nature and linked to sustainable, fair and egalitarian economic development, without achieving effective relief from the suffocating problem of external debt afflicting many of our countries — a subject given special attention by the Socialist International at its meeting in Paris on 5 October 2001.
In this context, we urge the International Financial Institutions to move as rapidly as possible to extend the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative to the countries of this region, implementing the cancellation of their external debt and thus freeing up new resources which will allow the economies of our poorest countries to alleviate somewhat the effects of the harsh structural adjustment programmes.
Confronted by the reality of globalisation, we consider it necessary to deepen regional integration, within a progressive context, in order to respond to the challenges of poverty and social inequality in Latin America.
The possible victory of the National Convergence in Nicaragua represents a potential opportunity for relaunching the active implementation of the San José Accords between the European Union and Central America.
The development of cooperation between these two regions and the reinforcement of the integration process in Central America, drawing on both Latin American and European experience, would be extremely positive.
SICLAC urges SI member parties to take action in support of this.
The indissoluble link between democracy and freedom on the one hand and modernisation and development on the other continues to imply new challenges, as well as certain threats which we do well to pinpoint. One of these, keeping pace with development and modernisation in what is known today as the ‘global village’ and acquiring new and ever more sophisticated forms, is corruption.
We note with the deep concern the advance within all strata of our societies of corruption which corrodes the foundations supporting the major institutional pillars of our democratic development, rendering it fragile and volatile. For this reason we call urgently for the struggle against corruption to be supported and implemented clearly and firmly, so as to contribute to real economic, social and cultural development.
Equally, too, we note with the greatest concern the chronic problem of terrorism, which threatens to become a major obstacle to the achievement of our goals of deepening democracy and of real economic and social development. No effort must be spared in the struggle to wipe out this scourge.
We are actively committed to combatting terrorism openly and resolutely, and thus welcome the clear position taken by the National Convergence led by the Party of the Sandinista Front and their firm condemnation of all terrorist actions.
We consider that the struggle to wipe out all forms and practices of terrorism is an essential one, since terrorism constitutes a clear threat to human rights and thus to the global democratic community, and we consider it equally important that this complex struggle against terrorism does not lead to the erosion of the individual rights of our citizens or the sovereignty of our nations; we shall be concerned to ensure that this does not happen.
Firm in our wish to move forward through the strengthening of democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, all the parties of social democratic and socialist inspiration in the region reaffirm our commitment to continue working for the deepening of democracy and for sustainable, just and egalitarian economic development, with equality of opportunities for women and men.
We support the action of the National Convergence headed by the Sandinista National Liberation Front in giving a central place in their action programme to women’s rights, through the Convergence’s platform for Nicaraguan women.
Recognising that only respect for the dignity of individuals enables them, freely and in full consciousness of their freedom, to elect their own governments, we applaud the National Convergence led by the Party of the Sandinista Front which is playing an active and leading role in the strengthening of democracy through its participation in the forthcoming elections, to be held on 4 November 2001.
The Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean recognises how important it is that the electoral process in the Republic of Nicaragua takes place in an environment of freedom, fairness and full participation, so that democracy can continue to deepen in Nicaragua and in the region as a whole.