WE do not dare to speak for the Party of the European Left (EL), nor is it our duty to, but some elements of the Latin American experience could be very valid for Europe, stated Carlos Marsán Aguilera, deputy head of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) Central Committee International Relations Department, speaking with Granma International, on the occasion of the celebration of the “Third Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean Seminar: Shared Visions from the Left,” which took place in Havana as part of the 24th Annual Meeting of the São Paulo Forum (SPF).
Below, we share details of the interview with our readers.
BUILDING ANOTHER SPACE FOR IDENTIFICATION
The third Seminar is an expression of the growing interest of the EL in the political processes taking place in Latin America and the Caribbean, despite this Party being relatively young.
In 2004, a group of leftist European parties decided to form the Party of the European Left to go beyond the already existing Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left. That same year, member parties won several seats in the European Parliament elections, which take place every five years.
Today, the EL has 22 member and eight observer parties. The former fully accept the Party statutes and, therefore, are the most active in its activities. The latter, on the other hand, while not fully sharing the EL political manifesto, remain attentive to its processes, as a means of European unity and left visibility.
The EL Executive Board has a president and six vice presidents. Current President Gregor Gysi represents Germany’s Die Linke Party, has long-established ties to Latin America and has served as a MEP. The EL was previously led by Pierre Laurent, current general secretary of the French Communist Party, for almost six years.
From its founding, the EL had among its fundamental objectives a reform of the EU with the intention of achieving a bloc less subordinated to the interests of capital. However, this perspective has been questioned and evolved. Currently, the majority of EL members advocate a vision that has more to do with re-founding the EU on new bases.
They believe that what was known at the time as the European welfare state has to be recovered, and a Europe representing its citizens and not the interests of capitalist companies has to be created. In addition, as part of this very evolution, issues have been raised relating to the demand for labor rights, gender equality, and popular participation, among others.
A REFERENCE FOR THE EL
When the EL emerged, Latin America was experiencing a profound process of political, economic and social transformations. For example, Chávez had won the presidential elections in Venezuela in 1998, assuming office in 1999, and became the spearhead of the progressive and revolutionary left in the continent.
For the EL, developments in this region and the São Paulo Forum constituted an important step in the battle against monopoly interests and imperialist dominance. In a certain way, they also offered examples of how to advance the convergence of leftist political parties and social movements.
In this regard, the 24th Meeting of the São Paulo Forum saw two working sessions, in which two essential themes were proposed: the areas of common intervention in the political and economic relations between the European Union and Latin America; and tax evasion, a shared battle against the power of oligarchies.
The first point aims to achieve greater coordination between the actions of the Latin American and European left, especially in terms of free trade agreements, preferential treaties, tax havens and the predominance of transnational corporations. In short, the global fight against financial capital. While the second will seek to build further political bridges for the development of joint actions.
Today, struggles must be waged on a global level, as a common battle against cultural hegemony, unconventional warfare, imperialist domination, the loss of national sovereignty and campaigns against leftist leaders.
The global offensive of the right can be seen in the advance of austerity policies in Europe, which increasingly limit the working class, as well as the precarization of labor markets and harsh laws that result in the erosion of those gains made by workers over a century ago.
For example, the Austrian government recently passed legislation that allows the working day to be extended to 12 hours. Not to mention the case of other European countries where employees don’t even have a fixed work contract. And then there is the anti-immigrant campaign, designed to spark fear and insecurity, and allow the violation of basic citizen rights, such as the right to privacy.
This is why it is so important to connect the vanguard of the struggle in our continent with that of the European and other continents; to take a step further in the coordination between the Latin American and European left; in the identification of common interests and in the construction of a space for unity and solidarity.
We have seen how, for example, the attacks on Venezuela come not only from the United States, but also from Europe, where hostile sanctions are promoted and a media campaign to distort the reality and condemn President Nicolás Maduro is underway.
The European left must also ensure that the events taking place today are analyzed objectively, as has been the case with Cuba and the denunciation of the criminal U.S. blockade. We need a space for mutual identification around this and other wrongs because, beyond our differences, we have common challenges.
• The Marseille European Forum was held in November 2017 in the French city of the same name, with a similar intention to that of the São Paulo Forum, that is, to offer a space to build unity among leftist forces of the region, which would transcend political parties to also include trade unions, women’s organizations, and other social sectors. As part of the event, the Second Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean Seminar was held, marking a further step toward a first bi-regional congress planned for a not too distant future.