Declaration of Porto Alegre

Committee convenes in Porto Alegre, 24-25 October 2011

Original: Spanish

The Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, meeting in Porto Alegre on 24-25 October 2011:

Underlined that its regular meetings have allowed the promotion of the role of socialist, social democratic and labour forces in the region and the strengthening of ties of cooperation and political relations between the members of the International. It also recalled that during recent years, and particularly in the last decade, the region has been particularly engaged in the global activities of the International, as demonstrated by the holding of the XXII Congress of the organisation in Sao Paulo in 2003, recent Council meetings in Santiago (2006), Vallarta (2008) and Santo Domingo (2009), and the next Council which will be held in San José, Costa Rica, in January 2012. Latin America and the Caribbean, affirmed the Committee, are today part of the identity and the action of the global social democratic movement;

The Committee expressed its appreciation to its member in Brazil, the Democratic Labour Party (PDT), for its hospitality and warm welcome and opened its meeting commemorating the 50th anniversary this year of the Movement for Legality led by Leonel Brizola, one of the most important social democratic personalities in the region during the second half of the 20th century, and founder of the PDT. The Committee highlighted that figures such as Brizola in Latin America contributed significantly to spreading social-democratic ideals and values, transforming the region into a pillar of the movement;

The Committee expressed concern at the slow pace of the global economy’s recovery from the financial crisis which began in 2008. In this respect, it reiterated that the bailouts carried out to confront the crisis, which have mobilised huge amounts of money, should put the people at the centre of their objectives and protect them before concentrating on the rescue of banks and financial markets;

Regarding Latin America and the Caribbean, the Committee pointed out that although the economies of the region have until now survived the financial crisis better than industrialised countries, in a global and interdependent economy no country is immune to international economic contingencies. For this reason, the Committee underlined that the countries of the region should be alert to the possible changes in the global scenario as some signs could already be observed that could affect the situation in Latin America and the Caribbean, such as the slow-down of the Chinese economy.

Likewise, the Committee reiterated that in order to confront the crisis, the region should reinforce policies that promote growth before implementing fiscal austerity measures, especially if those measures affect social protection, healthcare, education, housing and other programmes. The Committee considered a priority the strengthening of policies to promote stable employment in the region. It also mentioned Brazil as an example of a major emerging economy which has upheld sustained growth during recent years, whilst at the same time implementing programmes of social protection which are internationally recognised, demonstrating the importance of promoting policies of social investment to achieve a persistent, fair, inclusive and sustainable growth in the region;

Referring to social movements in the region and in the world during the recent months, whose followers have come to be known as indignados, the Committee underlined that they represent a clear protest against international financial speculation and as such, their demands coincide with those of the progressive political forces. The Committee underscored the view that the region should promote policies that strengthen and make more effective the regulation of these financial activities and their tax burden.

The Committee reiterated that faced with the international financial crisis, it is only through policies which promote greater equality and opportunity that economic growth will be ensured.

With regard to the strengthening of democratic institutions and the security of citizens in the face of transnational organised crime, criminal behaviour and drug trafficking, the Committee noted that the region shows worrying levels of fear and victimisation, high rates of homicides, kidnappings and other violent crimes and a larger number of people incarcerated compared with other regions. Responding to the demands of the people for more secure living conditions, the Committee declared that the fight against criminality is a duty to citizens of the first order and as such, it must be placed high on the agenda of social democratic political forces in Latin America and the Caribbean;

The Committee recalled that the progressive response to criminality is built around proactive measures and crime prevention. In this respect, the Committee agreed to promote policies that attack the very causes of crime, and this must be among the first concerns of the parties of the Socialist International in the region. Marginalisation, lack of opportunities, segregation and exclusion are at the root of the problem. At the same time, the Committee indicated that punitive measures should be conducive to the rehabilitation of the offender and to their reinsertion in society upon completion of their sentence. The Committee drew attention to the worrying prison conditions in the region, the overcrowding and the fact that it was prison itself which in many cases was a new cause of criminality. With regard to penal laws and the judicial institutions in charge of applying them, the Committee highlighted the need to have laws that discourage crime and a system that intervenes in a timely and efficient manner, guaranteeing a judicial process which respects the rights of the accused;

The Committee also examined the impact of transnational organised crime, in particular drug trafficking during recent years in the region and the challenges that these illicit activities represent for the democratic institutions. A policy of progressive public security must respond to these challenges going beyond national borders, fomenting international collaboration in relation to prevention and punishment of these truly transnational criminal organisations. With respect to drug trafficking, an efficient action of prevention and combat should involve the producer countries, the countries of transit and the final consumers. Coordinated, joint and multilateral action is imperative to tackle transnational crime in its entirety, giving special importance to the fight against corruption in public bodies and to private clandestine concurrence with these illicit activities involving huge amounts of money laundering.

The Committee, after discussing reproductive health and a woman´s right to decide freely in regard to her body, called on the member parties in the region to continue discussions on this issue, for the drafting of public policies that guarantee sexual and reproductive rights, give access to comprehensive healthcare and, in general, protect the lives of women and the young.