Minatitlán, Veracruz, Mexico, April 8th, 2011
ORGANIZATIONS DISCUSS CONCRETE ACTIONS AGAINST NEOLIBERALISM
AT THE 8TH MESOAMERICAN PEOPLES FORUM
At the beginning of the VIII Mesoamerican Peoples forum, close to 500 delegates of social justice organizations, defenders of human rights, women, youth, indigenous peoples and campesinos expressed in their distinct voices a unified rejection of the economic policies and repressive measures that the Mexican and Central American governments have implemented over the past 10 years.
David Solis Aguilar, secretary of the Shouts of the Excluded Network mentioned that they are hoping to take a different approach from previous forums, with a specific focus on building regional alternatives to free trade. He recalled that since 2001, the Mesoamerican Peoples Forum has met in different cities and towns in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama. He added that they first met in support of popular struggles that rejected free trade and economic development initiatives that were part of Plan Puebla Panama and Plan Colombia. These two projects are currently synthesized in the Mesoamerica Project, as part of a regional integration strategy promoted by local governments and funded with loans from the World Bank.
Within this context Mexican activist Sara Lopez Gonzalez, from The National Civil Resistance against the High Price of Electricity, emphasized her hope to build consensus at this forum, to form a popular plan, against this official regional integration initiative, The Mesoamerica Project. She added that they not only need to organize forums, but also need to build their own Mesoamerican plan, "We want to launch a plan that includes all of us, as we will never surrender an give in to these bad governments."
Likewise, Zulma Larín, of the Sinti Techan Network of El Salvador, said "we are here because we have been involved in the process of constructing the forum since its start in Mexico. After it has travelled all across Mesoamerica, to return to Mexico once again it leads us to these questions: Where do we go with this path we have walked? What to do with all the struggles that are being waged in each of our countries? How do we strengthen social struggles and take a leap forward? "
She added "I did not just come to discuss and analyze, without doing more. This is what we're here to tackle in these three days, with people of diverse ideas and diferent countries. I hope we can agree on a single popular struggle against imperialism. That is our commitment today, to go to our countries with two or three concrete actions that can happen all across Mesoamerica, logical next steps for turning this situation into something better. We hope that following these work days all delegates will return to their countries with specific initiatives."
Of the many denouncements at the Mesoamerican Forum, one that stood out was a thoughtful homage to social justice activist Bety Cariño who was assasinate in 2010 along with other promoters of the autonomy of the indigenous Triqui peoples of Oaxaca, Mexico. Participants listened to testimonies of repression against human rights defenders, the impunity that exists for paramilitary groups and the risks and serious crimes that Central American immigrants face as they cross Mexico including robbery, kidnapping and murder.
In the afternoon, delegates from each country in attendance, of which the majority come from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador addressed the issue in four panels of thematic discussion. The topics of discussion are: the impact of global capitalism, food and energy sovereignty, territorial defense, patriarchy and domination, and militarization and criminalization of social protest. Participants expect that the outcomes of the forum will include the articulation of regional struggles and shared strategies that come out of the common demands.
The Press Committee of the VIII Mesoamerican Peoples Forum