The 24th annual meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum began July 15, in Havana, at a critical time for the continent and for the left’s struggle worldwide.
Given the occasion, GranmaInternational conversed with José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, member of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) Central Committee Secretariat and head of its international relations department.
What has the Sao Paolo Forum represented to date?
It must be recalled that the moment in which the Forum was founded was one of great uncertainty – for some, very similar to these times – and some figures like Lula and Fidel were vital. They saw that socialism could not disappear, that an alternative was needed, so that all those left parties, all those political forces that had a distinct view of society continue the struggle against the capitalist system – exploitative in its essence – so that it not continue imposing itself on our peoples.
There was no intention to impose anything, establish norms or lines, but rather to sit down to discuss the disappearance of the Soviet Union, so the concept that a truly just society could exist was not lost, that history was not over. It was an extraordinary moment that remedied the disarray that existed.
Later in Havana, in 1993, Fidel spoke of the need for unity of left-wing forces as the only alternative, a life or death question. Continuing could not be renounced, because life had shown that when forces on the left are united they can win in representative democracy systems; in elections they could take power and move societies toward more just models.
And despite the obstacles and threats, the destabilization attempts of all kinds, it has been shown that when there is unity, they can struggle and continue winning despite the adverse conditions, as seen with projects like the Bolivarian Revolution, or what the Citizens Revolution in Ecuador achieved, or that of Evo Morales in Bolivia, the Sandinista Revolution, in the Brazil of Lula and Dilma with the PT in the lead.
The possibilities that emerged in Latin America were until then unthinkable, and the moment arrived when the United States was obliged to accept Cuba at the Summit of the Americas, previously unimaginable, thanks to the solidarity of the left with Cuba.
What was seen with the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) was consolidated with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). And thus the empire’s action became harsher, to attempt to keep this from happening.
We have seen how the supposed struggle against corruption has been raised to overthrow progressive governments, that what was happening in the region on the basis of the spirit of solidarity and cooperation generated was totally antagonistic to the imperialist system. So judicial means were sought, economic war, violence, attempting to reverse these achievements and impose the Monroe Doctrine.
This meeting in Havana is being held, therefore, at a critical moment to achieve understanding, comprehension of the importance of the FSP in the construction of integration, for the common good.
No one has ever presumed to say what must done, but rather asserted something essential: the only way to move forward is on the basis of left unity.
Look how interesting the situation in Mexico is, an overwhelming victory for Andrés Manuel López Obrador. What does this mean? Within the context of the discussion, of dialogue, it can be understood that when the forces unite, what seemed impossible can happen.
There is talk of pessimism…
It’s the same thing they attempted when the USSR disappeared, predicting the end of history and making it appear that, from then on, there was nothing beyond capitalism. And the disarray began, the division, the splitting of the left; sectarianism became harsher, the divorce of revolutionary parties from social movements. In the United States, a large number of trade unions disappeared.
But the social movements, for example, have to date achieved greater articulation in the struggle and this is a reality. Of course, they represent the people, those facing problems everyday and needing a different society to be able to live.
It’s important to understand, and to propose the possibility of left forces discussing among ourselves a political program, because it is difficult to achieve unity around only electoral questions. A political projection of the society must be conceived as well, and this program must be implemented if the elections are won.
But for this, a sense of the historic moment is needed - as Fidel told us in his conception of Revolution – because at times, some things are correct, they are required, but at a certain moment, hard to accomplish. This is what the Cuban Revolution has done: resist, continue struggling, always counting on the power and strength of our people, who have sustained the revolutionary process.
This is about left forces uniting without losing their identities, but on the basis of a political program. What is impossible is transforming society without the unity of left forces, and that they take power.
At this time, there is nothing more solid than the FSP, in which existing problems can be discussed, as well as ways to build unity. Thus, in Havana, the European left will meet with our region and there will also be representatives of movements and social organizations, artists and intellectuals. The media war will be discussed, but from an optimistic point of view and the conviction that together we can accomplish things.
Twenty-five years later, a FSP meeting in Havana…
It gives many people, who could be thinking in a different way, the opportunity to understand that the Cuban Revolution continues to be the same one, unique, with the same Party in the lead; to understand what we did during the Sixth and Seventh Congresses, that was reaffirm the future and the concept of a more just society, that we have not lowered our banners or our weapons, but quite the opposite. So they understand that we are perfecting our society, adjusting ourselves to the current times, including our relations with the United States, which are very well defined and we hope to normalize, like those with any other country in the world, but there are principles that we will never renounce.
This meeting allows friends from the whole world, member of the FSP and guests from other regions, to see that Cuba is firm in its concepts and its principles, and what has been achieved is precisely because of our unity.
The presence of Martí and Fidel…
The objective of the tribute to Fidel in a special plenary dedicated to his thought and relationship to the FSP, to unity, is to dialogue and see how his ideas are renewed, how much is left for us to do, and that this is understood in its full magnitude.
Our Revolution is moving to the beat of the conceptions and principles of Fidel, of what he was able to make a reality, of the principles he disseminated worldwide.
What predominates in the Cuban Revolution, what we would like to predominate among those who want to struggle, is the thought of Fidel, which is the most advanced on earth as revolutionary, transformative thought, coming to the rescue of that which supposedly disappeared with the USSR, that is the real possibility of transforming society to become more just, with all and for the good of all, as Martí also taught us.
That is why the presence of Martí and Fidel is constant in all of us, with two essential ideas: independence and the construction of a country with social justice, which make it easier for great followers of Mart’s thought to understand socialism. They accompany us every day, and will always do so, in this vital battle for unity.