The deliberations of the Sao Paulo Forum [FSP] in Caracas concluded on Friday night [July 6]. It would be no exaggeration if we were to say that it was the most well-attended and varied forum since its creation, in the city of Sao Paulo, in 1990. Numerous parties and social movements from Latin America and the Caribbean came together in that city, together with a significant contingent of sister organizations from Europe, Africa and Asia. The final results of the conclave are, in a certain sense, positive, although in some respects there are many things to improve as we will see in what follows. Positive, because the multitude of parties and social movements that attended the event had the opportunity to exchange opinions, compare experiences and participate in a rich and needed reciprocal learning experience. Positive as well because, in the face of the renowned ideological eclecticism of the forum – with the participation of parties which could only be categorized as on the left with a show of the imagination – the closing speech delivered by Comandante Chávez set out a new agenda which the parties and organizations of the FSP should consider very carefully in their upcoming meetings. In the first place, by enquiring, as Chávez did citing a passage from the work of Marx, about the character and nature of the transition in order to replace capitalism with an historic new type of society. Because beyond the necessary criticism of neo-liberalism and its still heavy legacy, the problem is capitalism; what has to be conquered and subverted is capitalism. Or is it that the struggles led by our peoples, with their tremendous sacrifices and their thousands of lives offered up for the construction of a new society, were only for passing from neo-liberalism to neo-keynesianism, or to developmentalism, or to the mirage of a “green capitalism”? With his astute questioning, Chávez was pointing out one of the principal theoretical weaknesses of the Caracas Declaration approved by the FSP. Second, because continuing with that same reasoning he was warning that socialism will not fall from the sky like some product of economic determinism, as Eduard Bernstein suggested at the end of the nineteenth century, but rather through the intervention of a plural and heterogeneous revolutionary subject. Clearly, this subject needs to become conscious, to be educated and organized, in order to respond to the requirements of praxis. And he crowned his incisive reflection with a question: what will these social forces which gathered in Caracas do the day after, when they return to their home countries? How will they organize their struggles, what is the plan of battle, who will assume which responsibilities in executing that plan? Questions which are not just pertinent but urgent because the bourgeoisie, the oligarchies and imperialism do not just hold forums – Davos being the most important – but they also have entities which organize their forces and plan and coordinate their battles, and these same entities are deployed on global terrain and not just in their national space. Our enemies do not just deliberate but also act in an organized fashion; they cannot be successfully confronted simply with beautiful declarations. This, it seems to us, is one of the fundamental unresolved matters not just for the FSP but as well for its sister organization, the World Social Forum. Faced with an imperial bourgeoisie and their strongly organized local allies we cannot oppose them just with militant abnegation and cries denouncing the inhumanity of capitalism, cheerfully detached from the decisive issue of organization.
The declaration approved in Caracas condemns the coup attempts against Evo Morales, Mel Zelaya, Rafael Correa and the most recent against Fernando Lugo. It regrettably forgets to mention the coup perpetrated against Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, in the year 2004.  This is a serious failing because the forgetfulness cannot be dissociated from the unfortunate presence of troops from various Latin American countries – Brazil, Chile, Argentina, amongst others – in Haiti, when what is really lacking in this suffering country are doctors, nurses, teachers. But Cuba, whose generous internationalism is one of the most honourable signs of the revolution, is taking this on. On another topic, it would have been appropriate that the declaration of a forum of leftists should have demanded the closure of the military bases which number 46 – according to the last count of MOPASSOL (Movement for Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity amongst the Peoples) – extending over all of Latin America and the Caribbean. Although Washington would not modify its belligerent posture in the slightest, a unanimous demand supported by more than one hundred political parties – including various in government – would have contributed to highlighting, before the eyes of public opinion in Latin America and the United States, the threats contained in the presence of these bases in Our America. The same can be said in relation to the affirmation which assures that our region is a de-nuclearized zone. This was true before the signing of the Uribe-Obama treaty; now we do not know because no one except the White House knows what type of arms – nuclear or not – the Pentagon introduced into Columbia once it renounced the right to inspect the shipments which enter or leave its territory under that treaty. And finally, the declaration speaks of the "limited achievements of the bilateral Free Trade Treaties". We believe that this expression is unfortunate, as proven by the most mature experience in this matter: the Mexican case. Before the signing of NAFTA with the United States and Canada, Mexico was self-sufficient in food and food inputs; today, after 18 years of “free trade”, it has to import 42 percent of the inputs necessary to its food supply. Before, its bill under the category of imported foodstuff was 1,8 billion dollars; in 2012, that will be some 24 billion in that same currency. This does not appear much like an “achievement”.
And finally, it is hard to understand how the authorities of the FSP denied the right to be heard – not just the entry of the Patriotic March as a political organization affiliated to the Forum, in spite of all the support presented by political parties inside and outside Colombia – to Senator Piedad Cordoba, one of the principal figures in Latin American politics and considered throughout the world as a meritorious candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for her steadfast efforts to facilitate the liberation of hostages under the control of the guerilla forces and to reach a political solution to the tragic Colombian conflict. Apart from reporting on the painful situation in her country, Cordoba needed to denounce the death threat, sent in writing, barely two days ago, against thirteen militants of various human rights organizations. Legalistic chicanery, inadmissible in an entity which claims to be on the left, deprived us of hearing her testimony, and did not pass unnoticed by President Chávez. And something similar occurred with the Hondurans from Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE), a party which represents better than any other the resistance to the government of Porfirio Lobo whose sad record in the category of murdering journalists (24 since the coup took place), plus the numerous crimes and imprisonments of farmers and militants, would have merited a gesture of solidarity from the FSP, even if it were minimal, given that one of their leaders, Rafael Alegría, was present among us. We will have to struggle to ensure that exclusions like these not come back to repeat themselves in the future. As can be inferred from these lines, we have to abandon the triumphalism which at some moments saturated the deliberations of the Forum and move forward in the constitution of a space for fraternal in-depth discussion, without concessions, and safe from all classes of bureaucratic blockages or formalisms which could asphyxiate it. This discussion is all the more important inasmuch as the mission of the FSP is supposed to be to change the world, and not just to interpret it (or lament its state). And to change the world in the direction of socialism requires theoretical clarity, because “there is no revolutionary praxis without revolutionary theory”. And the times we are going through demand and cry out for revolution. It is appropriate to recall, for the measured and moderate spirits who circulate in the FSP, what Walter Benjamin said: the revolution is not a train out of control but the application of the emergency brakes. The train out of control, which is headed for the abyss, is capitalism. And if we do not stop it in time, the whole of humanity will suffer the irreparable consequences of that disaster. There is no worse thing than a timid engine driver, vacillating at the moment he needs to apply the emergency brakes. At a time when, as Dantón said, “audacity, audacity and more audacity” is what is required, moderation far from being a virtue, becomes a mortal sin.
(Translation by Donald Lee, for ALAI).