Bringing together over 100 participants from 33 member parties, organisations and guests of the Socialist International, the SI Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean convened in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 9-10 April 2010, hosted by the SI member parties in that country, the Socialist Party (PS) and the Radical Civic Union (UCR).
At its opening, the meeting was addressed by the leaders of the two host parties, Ernesto Sanz from the UCR and Rubén Giustiniani from the PS, followed by the Secretary General of the Socialist International, Luis Ayala, and the Chair of the Committee, Martín Torrijos.
The Committee focused its discussions on four main themes: (i) Solidarity as a central pillar of social democracy: current humanitarian challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean; (ii) The role of the state, governments and public policies in the region to stimulate the economy, to combat poverty and to reduce inequality; (iii) How to advance the social democratic priorities of jobs, health, education and social security in the region; and (iv) Strengthening democratic institutions and deepening citizen participation.
Under the first theme, special contributions were made by leaders from Haiti and Chile, two countries which have been recently shaken by devastating earthquakes. A Resolution on Haiti was adopted by the Committee reaffirming its solidarity with the Haitian people, calling for continued support for the reconstruction of the devastated areas, and urging the SI member parties in Haiti to strengthen their strategy of unity with other democratic political forces in the country leading to a new political force for real change. A Declaration on Chile was also adopted in which solidarity with the Chilean people was expressed along with appreciation for the efforts of the ‘Concertación’ to ensure that the financing of the reconstruction be carried out in a speedy and equitable way as well as appreciation for the great contribution it made in government in transforming the political, economic and cultural life of Chile. A Motion in Solidarity with Brazil was also agreed following the recent natural disasters in the State of Rio de Janeiro which caused hundreds of deaths and injuries.
Following extensive debates on other issues of the agenda during the one and a half day meeting, the Committee agreed on a Declaration on the International Financial Crisis, a crisis which had originated in the economies of the North with serious repercussions on the whole world economy, including those of Latin America and the Caribbean. A Declaration on Puerto Rico was adopted reiterating the Committee’s call for SI member parties to support the unanimous request by the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation for the General Assembly to examine the case of Puerto Rico, as well as a Declaration on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) reaffirming support for the Argentinean position in relation to sovereignty and calling on the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations in order to reach an early just, peaceful and definitive solution to the dispute in line with relevant resolutions and declarations of the United Nations and the Organisation of American States. On these last two issues the Committee agreed that the Chair together with other members should convey the views of the Committee at the next meeting of the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation.
On the situation in Venezuela, the Committee heard a Report from the Socialist International mission which had visited Caracas in January this year, which will be presented to the next Council, and contributions from the Venezuelan delegates. Following debate, a Declaration on Venezuela was agreed on by the Committee, expressing its concern in regard to the respect for human rights and democratic freedoms in that country, requesting the liberation of political prisoners and the return of refugees, reiterating its call for dialogue between all the political actors, and requesting that the Committee Chair and SI Secretary General visit Venezuela with a view to promoting this dialogue and understanding.
The Committee also agreed on two further statements, one on the future work of the Committee, and the other on the forthcoming Europe and Latin America Summit in Madrid on 18 May as an opportunity for exchanges among those social democratic heads of state and government attending.
Other meetings of the Committee