The parties of the Workers Left Front Unity (FIT-U) in Argentina have announced a virtual Latin American and U.S. conference to be held on August 1. The conference will be preceded by three panels on July 30 and 31. The event was originally organized by the FIT-U organizations for the early spring but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The conference was initially organized to start an exchange among sectors of the left, the labor movement, and other social movements around the profound neoliberal crisis and process of class struggle opened in Latin America in 2019. However, in light of the deepening social, political, and health crises across Latin America and the world, this international initiative proposed by the FIT-U organizations has a renewed relevance. And given the uprisings unleashed in the United States against racist police violence, the conference also welcomes the participation of organizations of struggle from North America. This international event is organized around the following slogans and points of unity:
- Make the capitalists pay for this crisis
- End imperialist intervention in Latin America
- Expel the IMF. Ensure the non-payment and cancellation of foreign debt
- Solidarity with the struggles of workers and precarious youth around the world! No layoffs or wage cuts. Down with racism and police violence and repression
- In the face of the pandemic and the capitalist crisis, workers must provide their own solutions!
The uprisings in the U.S., which have shaken the world and cornered Donald Trump, have reverberated across the world and inspired solidarity actions in countries from France to Brazil. The outrage and repudiation of police violence and racism that erupted after the brutal murder of George Floyd is coupled with the growing discontent and despair of the masses due to the combined effects of the pandemic and a deep recession. In the U.S., 49 million workers applied for unemployment benefits in a period of 16 weeks. Low wages and a for-profit healthcare system are pushing homeless, unemployed, precarious, and informal workers to their deaths. This is the background of the current uprising against police terror and racism. Meanwhile, as Donald Trump sends federal agents to kidnap and harass protesters in major cities, the Democratic Party is trying to pacify this massive protest movement and divert it into votes for Joe Biden in the November election.
The rebellion not only represents a huge blow to the Trump government, but it also puts on notice all of the Latin American governments that are in one way or another beholden to U.S. imperialism. Consequently, this uprising is a call to action for all working and oppressed people across Latin America.
The pandemic has highlighted the antagonism between the health and life of the workers and vast majority on the one hand, and the capitalist system on the other. Multi-billion dollar bailouts have ensured the preservation of capitalist profits while any economic aid allocated to the public has been wholly insufficient. The world’s masses have faced the coronavirus with deteriorating health systems that have been ravaged by years of cuts due to government fiscal adjustment plans and privatization.
In the midst of a pandemic that has taken the lives of over 600,000 people globally, bourgeois governments have consistently prioritized capitalist profits, forcing workers to continue production without regard for their health and safety. This is especially true in Latin America where poverty and extreme deprivation create fertile ground for the spread of the virus, wreaking havoc in poor neighborhoods.
But the outbreak of the coronavirus has only aggravated a capitalist crisis that was already well underway. The world is heading for an economic depression only comparable to the one that followed the crash of 1929. The International Labor Organization (ILO) foresees unemployment on a massive scale, but also the rescue of big businesses, banks, and multinationals through further fiscal adjustment, layoffs, immiseration, social inequality, and unprecedented environmental disaster. We are facing a deep crisis of capitalism that has its roots in the Great Recession of 2008. And faced with the second global capitalist crisis in just over ten years, large sectors of workers and youth around the world are beginning to draw the conclusion that this system does not work.
Meanwhile, within the framework of the trade war promoted by U.S. imperialism against China, the U.S. seeks to reinforce its imperialist domination across the world, particularly in Latin America. The speculative cycle that followed the massive bailouts of the 21st century led to further capital flight from Latin America, which resulted in usurious debts to foreign governments and austerity plans under the tutelage of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
But the U.S. is not only revamping its imperialist aspirations through economic extortion, but also through direct interference, as is evidenced by its aggressive policy against Venezuela. The U.S. and China are battling each other for control over the natural and strategic resources of the region through partnerships with extractive capitalist corporations.
In this context, Latin America has become another center of the pandemic as well as social crisis. Under the government of the ultra right-wing Bolsonaro, Brazil is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic. Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador have also suffered massive destruction due to the pandemic, destruction made exponentially worse under the reign of right-wing governments. However, even “left” or “popular” governments, such as those in Argentina and Mexico, have refused to interfere with the interests of big business in order to confront the health and social crisis. On the contrary, these governments have maintained a line of subordination to imperialism — just this month, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Argentinian President Alberto Fernández met with Donald Trump to arrange further structural adjustments through vulture funds and the IMF. Both are working to make sure that businesses thrive while workers pay the costs of this capitalist crisis.
It is clear that the social contradictions that motivated the massive Latin American uprisings in 2019 have become more acute. Therefore, it is unsurprising that on the horizon we can see the opening of a new phase of class struggle and rebellion initiated by the most exploited sectors of society. Against the background of the national uprising in the United States, the beginnings of this process can be seen in the new national days of protest in Chile, the demonstrations in Ecuador against President Lenin Moreno, and the growing discontent of the Bolivian masses with the coup plotter Jeanine Añez. It is expressed in the outpouring of anger and protest against Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, the mobilizations of the student movement in Colombia, renewed protests in Nicaragua, as well as the developing workers’ and youth resistance in Argentina.
The virtual Latin American and U.S. conference is thus framed in a moment of historical crisis which poses huge challenges for the working class and oppressed across the world. We call this conference to formulate emergency measures to combat both the pandemic and the austerity plans that are hitting working people the hardest and make to plans to fight for them; we will make the capitalists pay for the crisis. We invite the Left, the combative workers’ movement, the rebellious youth, the feminist and environmental movements, as well as committed intellectuals to be part of this conference and debate the next steps of this struggle. We convene under the banners of class independence, workers’ governments, and internationalist socialist unity across Latin America and beyond.
- Round table: “World crisis and rebellion in the empire” — Thursday, July 30, 11:30am EST
- Panel discussion: “The Latin American workers’ movement in the face of the capitalist crisis and the pandemic” — Friday, July 31, 10:00am EST
- Panel discussion: “The Latin American situation” — Friday, July 31, 12:30pm EST
- Latin American and U.S. Virtual Conference — Saturday, August 1, 7:00am EST