Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The high-level session of the IX Summit of the Americas begins tomorrow in Los Angeles, California. The United States is once again hosting the conclave, after the first one in Miami in 1994. But hosting has been a bit too big for them, because for “their Summit” they not only took too long to send out invitations or to tangle organizational issues, but instead of focusing on discussing the real problems affecting the region with all those involved, they decided to put on the veil of “democracy” to exclude and, as a consequence, several leaders informed their disagreement with the decision, or announced that they would simply not participate.
On the other side will be the Summit of the Peoples and for Democracy, which will begin on the same day. But this one has not counted on the consent and good will of the US government, nor will it be held in large halls like the Summit of the Americas. On the contrary, last Friday, a group of ultra-right-wingers broke into one of the premises where the event is being coordinated, with the aim of occupying the space through the use of violence.
“For an hour we were defending our space, in the middle of that the police arrived, and instead of preventing what they were doing, they only observed and did not intervene in any way. What’s more, they prevented us from removing these extreme right-wing activists,” Manolo de los Santos, co-director of The People’s Forum, one of the U.S. organizations in charge of preparing the People’s Summit, told Granma in an exclusive interview.
He said that the attack was not only against their space, “but also against what it symbolizes, which are the socialist ideas, the work with the communities and the workers’ struggles”.
De los Santos told our newspaper that the organizational team continues with their minds and morale high, that they have received signs of solidarity from different parts of the world. “This type of attack is a phenomenon that the left has to face today,” he denounced.
Regarding the Summit of the Peoples and for Democracy, he explained that there are already more than 225 groups that will attend to interact in the official program, which includes panels and cultural activities.
“We are very motivated because we have already confirmed the presence of more than a thousand people, while many more are expected to participate in the demonstration on June 10, which we have called the March against the Exclusion Summit.” It is important to remember that this mobilization will take place after much negotiation with the Federal Government in Los Angeles, which, at first, denied permission.
He pointed out that, under the political umbrella of the Summit, other actions will take place in the city, related to the defense of the Amazon, in favor of Cuba and Venezuela, the right to housing and for [the rights of] immigrants.
“The important thing for us in this process of organizing the People’s Summit is to break with these policies of exclusion, to achieve greater social cohesion of popular movements, trade unions and the peoples who are in struggle in our continent,” said Manolo de los Santos.
This is an event that, despite the diversity of ideas, tries to raise as many voices as possible, without exclusions based on political interests; that is the difference between one Summit and the other.
Posted: Saturday 04 June 2022 | 10:12:56 pm. Updated: Saturday 04 June 2022 | 11:27:41 pm.
Marina Menéndez Quintero | firstname.lastname@example.org
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Despite the fact that they have been denied permission to march on June 10 through the streets of the city of Los Angeles, the People’s Summit 2022, which, as every year since 2005, is held parallel to the misnamed Summit of the Americas, will demonstrate on that day.
The confirmation was given by Manolo de los Santos, coordinator of the event, when asked by Juventud Rebelde. But the question was just the newspaper’s excuse to extend in a dialogue via whatsApp, to ask the also co-director of the People’s Forum organization and a member of the International Assembly of the Peoples, his vision about that refusal. The importance of an appointment that is held, he said, “at a key moment”, as well as the reasons on which the decision to hold the march is based despite everything, among other issues related to the exclusionary Summit of the Americas that, in his criteria and that of many, is already a failure.
“We decided -and we have already told the Police Department and we have asked them to communicate it to the federal government- that we, with or without permission, are going to march in the city of Los Angeles; not only because it is our democratic right, but also because it has been many years of struggle, and what we come to express are not only complaints but demands, demands that our peoples of the entire continent have against this exclusionary Summit,” he said in reference to the presidential meeting.
De los Santos spelled out the details of the refusal that comes after a semester of preparation for the Peoples’ Summit and “exactly three months” after the organizers requested permission to mobilize in the city.
“We asked the Los Angeles Police Department for it and we were confident that the democratic and legal process here in the United States was going to guarantee our right to free expression.
“We had been waiting for months for a response, until last week, finally, they informed us that the federal government and the Secret Service had not yet authorized that march and that, therefore, they could not give us the permit.”
“We have denounced it,” said the social activist, who considered that “this Summit of the Americas, which already has a character that excludes progressive countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, is also excluding the peoples, and the same people who reside in this city, who are living a very strong economic and social crisis.
“On top of that, to say that this Summit of the Americas, which is not democratic for all the countries of the Americas, is also not democratic for the peoples who want to express and make their voices and their points of view visible, is too much,” he asserted.
Asked about the central motivations of this meeting of the peoples, De los Santos said that much has changed in our continent since the initial Peoples’ Summit of 2005, in Mar del Plata.
“On the one hand, we lived through a period of great growth of popular forces, of leftist forces; many popular governments came to power. But we have also seen a great period of counterrevolution, we have seen a period of coups, military interventions, of trials against progressive presidents.
“In other words, the U.S. Government has not ceased to lash out against leftist and popular processes in our continent, and I believe that when we arrive at this Peoples’ Summit in 2022, we do so at a time when the U.S. Government has not ceased to maintain that policy of aggression against Latin America and the Caribbean.
“On the contrary, it has deepened it, and it has done so despite the fact that President Joe Biden, in his campaign, had spoken of turning a new page in the history of relations between the region and the United States.”
Rejection of exclusion
The young social activist of Dominican origin also denounced the Biden administration’s attempt to divide Latin Americans; “to decide which Latin Americans are the “good” and which are the “bad” ones, “based on which political, social and economic systems we have decided to carry out.”
“That is why this Summit comes at a key moment. It is a real battle of ideas that is taking place in Los Angeles. And I think there is already a recognition, even within American society itself, that Biden and his Summit have been a failure, before they even started. Because the consensus that they assumed they had in Latin America in their favor does not exist,” he said.
The social activist also valued as very important “the massive rejection, not only of other presidents and heads of state, I believe that of the society and the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean”, to the exclusion of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua from the Summit of the Americas.
“I believe that this has also been dismantling the idea that the United States had consensus in the region and that it could continue to impose its decisions.”
“We have even seen the fragmentation of certain U.S. alliances in the region. Therefore, I believe that this Summit of the Americas will mark a before and after in the relations between the United States and Latin America.
“They will have to realize now that they can no longer maintain the same relationships. That our peoples have the impetus to be free, to be sovereign, to be independent above all else, and that our own integration fronts will have to emerge and be strengthened. And that we, the people in the United States, who identify very much with these causes, want to be part of this integration process”.
Manolo de los Santos affirmed that, for this reason, “the People’s Summit will be a reflection of all the struggles that are taking place in our continent; of the voices of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, which they have wanted so much to exclude, but which will be present, anyway, in Los Angeles.
“Our banners of struggle, the battle for sovereignty, for independence; the struggle for agrarian reform, for quality education for all; the struggle for a health system, to eliminate the “apartheid” of vaccines (anti-COVID-19), all of that will be present at the People’s Summit, and not only by the panelists from all over the continent who will be sharing with us but also in the struggles and political mobilization that will take place.”
Regarding Washington’s refusal to grant visas to the members of the Cuban delegation that would attend the Peoples’ Summit, De los Santos confessed that “to be honest, we were very upset with the denial of visas, precisely when we know that the U.S. government is inviting reactionary figures.
“They denied the possibility of a dialogue with the American people; they were afraid of the presence of the delegation of dignified Cubans who, beyond politics, beyond ideology, were going to talk about concrete and material achievements of their peoples, they were going to talk about everything possible that the Cuban Revolution is doing in these times, not only to improve the quality of life of its own people, but to help the rest of humanity.
“We were left without that live presence, but, in any case, Cuba will be present at the Peoples’ Summit; it will be participating through digital means, and I believe that no matter how much they want to block relations between peoples, we insist that Cuba is not our enemy, Cuba is a friend of humanity, and we have the right to accompany it and walk together with it in this great struggle for humanity.”
A Summit by and for the peoples
MORE than 200 organizations, trade unions and social movements have confirmed their attendance to the meeting, to be held in the U.S. city of Los Angeles under the banner of A Summit by and for the peoples, on June 8, 9 and 10, “to counteract the 9th Summit of the Americas (…)”, announces the call to protest.