The SI Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean met in Managua on 20 - 21 October, hosted by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, FSLN.
In its second meeting of the year the Committee addressed the first theme on its agenda, ‘Strengthening democracy and its institutions’ and as its second, ‘Building and ensuring an economy with opportunities and progress for all’ to respond to the two major challenges of the region: ‘deepening democracy, and economic and social development’.
The event, which was chaired by the Secretary General of the SI, Luis Ayala, counted on the participation, among the representatives of the host party, of Daniel Ortega, the presidential candidate for the National Convergence in the presidential and legislative elections of 4 November. The meeting benefited from the participation of more than 70 representatives of SI member parties in the region and other delegates. The committee issued a declaration that encompassed its discussions as well as resolutions on Haiti and Puerto Rico.
The members of the Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, SICLAC, at their second annual meeting in the city of Managua on 20 and 21 October 2001, hosted by the Party of the Sandinista National Liberation Front:
Discussed issues related to the strengthening of democracy and its institutions, as well as how to construct and guarantee an economy of opportunity and progress in order to respond to the two major challenges facing the region: the deepening of democracy and economic and social development.
Convinced that an increasingly participatory democracy permits the consolidation of democratic values, attitudes and behaviour within government and its social and economic structure, we resolve to continue working together so that all our member organisations may continue to contribute to greater citizen participation, which may thus become an ever more efficient instrument for the exercise and control of political power.
To this end, we consider that initiatives of citizen participation must also be developed by both central and local government, so that citizens truly play an active role in formulating and implementing public policy; this would be a significant milestone in the consolidation of a truly democratic political system.
Taking as our starting point the Mexico Declaration of the SI Committee on Local Authorities, at its meeting on 23 and 24 July 2001, we consider it important to continue promoting stronger local government, to be achieved through greater administrative decentralisation, so that municipalities can really develop and do more to benefit the majority of citizens, since municipal governments are the closest to the people and thus best placed to know their needs.
However, the exercise of participatory democracy is not a reasonable prospect as long as there is still little investment in human capital, scanty provision for public education, health-care and nutrition and a chronically high level of unemployment, nor as long as a broad sector of our people are marginalised from the advances of science and technology and a great majority are living in extreme poverty.
We reaffirm our rejection of the neo-liberal ‘minimal state’ approach, which abandons millions of their fellow citizens to their fate and leaves them to languish before the indifference of the free market.
It is difficult to make the effective exercise of governmental authority, or good governance, a reality, when the state, which should protect its citizens from any limitation or attack on their inalienable human rights and from the economic, social and cultural marginalisation to which they are subject, is incapable of carrying out this vital task, because of its own weakness in essential aspects of a truly responsible state.
Equally, we believe that it is impossible to establish or deepen a democracy characterised by its participatory nature and linked to sustainable, fair and egalitarian economic development, without achieving effective relief from the suffocating problem of external debt afflicting many of our countries — a subject given special attention by the Socialist International at its meeting in Paris on 5 October 2001.
In this context, we urge the International Financial Institutions to move as rapidly as possible to extend the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative to the countries of this region, implementing the cancellation of their external debt and thus freeing up new resources which will allow the economies of our poorest countries to alleviate somewhat the effects of the harsh structural adjustment programmes.
Confronted by the reality of globalisation, we consider it necessary to deepen regional integration, within a progressive context, in order to respond to the challenges of poverty and social inequality in Latin America.
The possible victory of the National Convergence in Nicaragua represents a potential opportunity for relaunching the active implementation of the San José Accords between the European Union and Central America.
The development of cooperation between these two regions and the reinforcement of the integration process in Central America, drawing on both Latin American and European experience, would be extremely positive.
SICLAC urges SI member parties to take action in support of this.
The indissoluble link between democracy and freedom on the one hand and modernisation and development on the other continues to imply new challenges, as well as certain threats which we do well to pinpoint. One of these, keeping pace with development and modernisation in what is known today as the ‘global village’ and acquiring new and ever more sophisticated forms, is corruption.
We note with the deep concern the advance within all strata of our societies of corruption which corrodes the foundations supporting the major institutional pillars of our democratic development, rendering it fragile and volatile. For this reason we call urgently for the struggle against corruption to be supported and implemented clearly and firmly, so as to contribute to real economic, social and cultural development.
Equally, too, we note with the greatest concern the chronic problem of terrorism, which threatens to become a major obstacle to the achievement of our goals of deepening democracy and of real economic and social development. No effort must be spared in the struggle to wipe out this scourge.
We are actively committed to combatting terrorism openly and resolutely, and thus welcome the clear position taken by the National Convergence led by the Party of the Sandinista Front and their firm condemnation of all terrorist actions.
We consider that the struggle to wipe out all forms and practices of terrorism is an essential one, since terrorism constitutes a clear threat to human rights and thus to the global democratic community, and we consider it equally important that this complex struggle against terrorism does not lead to the erosion of the individual rights of our citizens or the sovereignty of our nations; we shall be concerned to ensure that this does not happen.
Firm in our wish to move forward through the strengthening of democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, all the parties of social democratic and socialist inspiration in the region reaffirm our commitment to continue working for the deepening of democracy and for sustainable, just and egalitarian economic development, with equality of opportunities for women and men.
We support the action of the National Convergence headed by the Sandinista National Liberation Front in giving a central place in their action programme to women’s rights, through the Convergence’s platform for Nicaraguan women.
Recognising that only respect for the dignity of individuals enables them, freely and in full consciousness of their freedom, to elect their own governments, we applaud the National Convergence led by the Party of the Sandinista Front which is playing an active and leading role in the strengthening of democracy through its participation in the forthcoming elections, to be held on 4 November 2001.
The Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean recognises how important it is that the electoral process in the Republic of Nicaragua takes place in an environment of freedom, fairness and full participation, so that democracy can continue to deepen in Nicaragua and in the region as a whole.
Meeting in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, on 20 and 21 October 2001, the Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, SICLAC, alarmed by the deteriorating political and social situation in Haiti:
1. Condemns the increasingly frequent violations of the rights of independent journalists and opposition political activists, as well as other citizens.
2. Deplores the fact that until now the process of negotiations on Haiti has not been able to achieve a political agreement — an agreement which is necessary in order to establish conditions conducive to the holding of fair and democratic elections in that country.
3. Urges its member parties and other like-minded parties to continue realistic negotiations to bring Haiti out of political crisis, peacefully and with the least possible cost to society as a whole.
4. Encourages its member parties to form, with other like-minded parties, a broad social democratic movement capable of helping the Haitian people to fulfil their democratic aspirations and bring about an economic and social transformation in their daily lives.
RESOLUTION ON PUERTO RICO
The Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, SICLAC, meeting in Managua, Nicaragua, on 20-21 October 2001, associates itself with the demands of the people of Vieques, Puerto Rico, who voted in a referendum held on 29 July this year, by a majority of 70 per cent, for an immediate and permanent end to military exercises and return of occupied land by the US Navy.
SICLAC warns against the use of any pretext for ignoring the popular mandate of the people of Vieques, which strengthens the demand already issued by the Legislative Assembly of Puerto in the name of all Puerto Ricans.
Furthermore, SICLAC warmly welcomes the release from prison of Rubén Berríos Martínez, President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, PIP, and Honorary President of the Socialist International, following the completion of his four-month sentence to Federal prison for acts of peaceful civil disobedience on the land occupied by the US Navy in Vieques — acts with which the Socialist International expressed at the time its full solidarity.
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
SI Secretary General
Popular Socialist Party, PSP
Revolutionary Left Movement,MIR-New Majority
Oscar Eid Franco
Socialist Party, PS
Dominican Revolutionary Party, PRD
Hatuey De Camps
Luz del Alba Thevenin
Democratic Party, PD
Socialist Party, PS
Party of the National Congress of Democratic Movements, KONAKOM
Italian Democratic Socialists, SDI
Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI
María Elena Chapas
Party of Democratic Revolution, PRD
Sandinista National Liberation Front, FSLN
Víctor Hugo Tinoco
José Pasos Marciaq
Gustavo Adolfo Vargas
Oscar René Vargas
Puerto Rican Independence Party, PIP
New Space Party, PNE
Democratic Action, AD
Socialist International Women, SIW
Parliamentary Group of the PES
Emilio Menéndez del Valle
Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation, FMLN
Hugo Róger Martínez
Social Democratic Convergence
Enrique De León
Roberto Arana Báez
If you are looking for an earlier meeting, please consult the LIBRARY section.