John Catalinotto & Teresa Gutierrez / Workers Daily World – 2008-04-01 21:51:55
MEXICO CITY (March 30, 2008) — Political activists from 40 countries and 90 socialist and communist parties worldwide — some of them in power in their countries or participating in the government — took part from March 13-15 here in Mexico City in the 12th of a series of annual seminars organized by the Labor Party of Mexico (Partido del Trabajo — PT) to discuss key issues facing the working class and the world’s people. Hundreds of people from Mexico also participated.
Among the many vital questions discussed was one that recent events had imposed on the seminar: the attack by the near-fascist Colombian regime inside Ecuador on March 1 that killed revolutionary leader Raúl Reyes and about 16 other people, including some Mexican students who were visiting the encampment.
Mexico’s rightist politicians and corporate media attacked the students as “narco-terrorists” and baited the PT for having invited the Colombian guerrilla organization, the FARC, to the seminar in the past. Since 2002 FARC representatives have been unable to get visas to visit Mexico.
Relatives of the wounded and murdered Mexican youths spoke at the seminar. To its credit, the seminar condemned the Colombian regime for the assault on Ecuadoran sovereignty.
Another central question for the mostly Latin American participants was the development of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. Marelis Perez Marcano, a deputy in the Venezuelan National Assembly, spoke at length defending the gains of Venezuelans since Hugo Chávez was first elected president in 1998 and describing the situation in glowingly optimistic terms.
The party named Homeland for All (Patria Para Todos — PPT) had several representatives present, who, while defending the Bolivarian Revolution, raised many critiques of the current situation.
Besides the Venezuelans, others also participated in this discussion in a spirit of solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution.
PT Mexico Hosts the Meeting
The PT, host of the seminar, is one of the two major registered Mexican parties that supported the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2006. López Obrador, the leader of Mexico’s social democratic left, narrowly lost that election in what many believe was due to electoral fraud by the right-wing parties.
In Mexico, the PT is almost exclusively engaged in electoral politics and is the second-strongest left party in parliament. The strongest party of the social democratic left is López Obrador’s Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).
Under the leadership of its secretary general, Sen. Alberto Anaya, the PT has for 12 years now hosted this broad international discussion among both social democratic and revolutionary parties worldwide. Among the parties in power that took part in this 12th Seminar on “Parties and a New Society” were the communist parties of Cuba, China, Laos, Vietnam and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.
The parties now running governments that oppose neoliberalism in Latin America — such as the FSLN in Nicaragua, the Workers Party in Brazil, the presidential parties in Bolivia and Ecuador as well as the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), also were there.
Parties that were former guerrilla movements from El Salvador and Guatemala also took part, as did a representative of Batasuna from the Basque Country. There were also trade unionists and economists present.
There was a large delegation from Cuba, with a major report from the Committees in Defense of the Revolution, a mass organization of neighborhood activists. The hundreds of people in the audience always cheered and applauded any mention of Cuba, of Fidel Castro or of the legacy of Che Guevara.
Organizers set up the three-day agenda to cover the following topics:
• The construction of an alternative project to the nation.
• Neocolonialism and the counteroffensive of imperialism to the advances of the left.
• Thematic forums, including migration; natural resources and the environment, including global warming; means of communication; electoral systems.
• Case studies, including Nicaragua, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, China, Belarus.
Aside from Venezuela, probably the most controversial discussion took place in examining the developments in China.
Events in Mexico
As the seminar was taking place, there were two important struggles unfolding in Mexico itself. The SME, the union of electrical workers, with a long history of militant labor struggles, was on the verge of a strike to take place midnight, March 16.
The electrical workers voted that day to accept a contract with a 4.25 percent increase in wages and a government promise not to privatize the electrical power industry.
On another front, the PRD was organizing a mass demonstration for March 18 demanding there be no privatization of PEMEX, the oil company nationalized 70 years earlier that same date. Some tens of thousands joined the action.
These struggles, and that of Mexicans against the NAFTA “free trade agreement” that has turned the country into a major importer of corn, were also introduced into the seminar.
The working group for next year’s seminar is planning to focus it on a discussion of the capitalist economic crisis centered in the United States and its repercussions on the rest of the world.
Gutierrez and Catalinotto represented Workers World Party at the seminar. Gutierrez, who is also on the organizing committee of the May 1 Coalition, presented a paper and discussed the struggle for immigrant rights in the US.
Catalinotto presented a paper and discussed the potential for a revived workers movement in the imperialist countries, especially the US, as a result of imperialist globalization.
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