Santiago Declaration

Meeting of the Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, Santiago, Chile, 30-31 May 1997

Original: Spanish

The Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, SICLAC, and its member parties, meeting in Santiago, Chile, express their fraternal thanks for the hospitality offered by the Party for Democracy, the Radical Social Democratic Party and the Socialist Party of Chile. They also recognise the effort put in by the Secretary General of the Socialist International to prepare for and stage this important event.

Concerning the central topics of the meeting, the Committee formulated policy positions in line with the search for political and social alternatives in which the SI is engaged.

State and market: Latin America, the Caribbean and Globalisation

The meeting recognised the existence of a profound, complex process of globalisation. The Latin American and Caribbean region is part of this substantial change in the economy, in the system of international relations and on cultural, technological and political fronts.

It noted that in the countries of the region neoliberal policies have been promoted which have mostly caused serious social conflicts as a consequence of an extreme concentration of wealth and increase in poverty and lack of opportunities for significant sectors of the population. The women of Latin America and the Caribbean have been particularly affected by this phenomenon, constituting the "poorest of the poor".

It is in this context that SICLAC understands the rejection of neoliberalism by electorates all over the world. And it is conscious that this model has exhausted its possibilities, insofar as it fails to give answers with any real social content, which has led to important victories for democratic socialism in Europe.

SICLAC maintained that it is necessary to build economic systems which make viable sustainable development with decent jobs, which preserve rights to health, social provision, education, which strengthen democratic institutions, protect the environment, respect diversity, promote values of solidarity and create appropriate legislation that helps to overcome discrimination and ensure equality of opportunity for men and women.

For these aims to become reality, the SI Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean considers it necessary to advocate for the inclusion of a democratic clause and a social clause in regional and international economic agreements, which would preserve the region's essential democratic institutions and labour rights.

Governability and democratic institutions

SICLAC was emphatic in pointing out that a serious threat to the democracies of the region is posed when the rewards of economic growth are concentrated in increasingly smaller and more privileged social sectors contrasting with large concentrations of poverty. These sectors, moreover, are hard­hit by violence, drug­trafficking and corruption.

Faced with this reality, SICLAC, identifying with the ideals of building political, economic and social democracies, considers it vitally important to open up the broadest possible channels for popular participation. Only in this way will it be possible for governments and political and social advocates to unite in seeking proposals that can bring about progress and the modernisation of our societies, together with a solid majority social support base.

It will only be possible to attain this goal if progress is made in forging broad alliances between progressively­minded political causes which have a definite sense of social justice. Equally, SICLAC underlines the need for an active role for the State, and to reform and modernise it so that it can carry out its role in bringing about equality of opportunity, market regulation, sustainable development and technological progress.

SICLAC reaffirmed its decision to work towards an integrated Latin America and Caribbean. It considers that present circumstances are more favourable for achieving this objective than in the past.

The Committee is to evaluate the effectiveness of the present bodies and institutions for integration of Latin America and the Caribbean, in order to recommend courses of action which contribute to improving these and adapting them to the new realities which derive from globalisation.

It will not be possible to achieve strong modern democracies unless women gain sufficient presence in representative posts. Therefore SICLAC resolved to promote actions to bring about progress in this direction.