By Bernardo Corrêa (sociologist, PSOL Brazil/Movimiento Nuevo Perú) – Translated by Maíra Mendes
On 20 and 21 June 2017, the World Conference of the Peoples: for a world without walls towards universal citizenship was held in Tiquipaya (Cochabamba). The Conference was convened by the government of Evo Morales and Bolivian social movements, shortly after Donald Trump’s announcement of the construction of the wall separating the United States from Mexico. The event was attended by more than 4,000 delegates from 43 countries around the world.
At the opening, the president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia stated that no human being should be considered illegal and highlighted initiatives such as the advanced Ecuadorian legislation that guarantees full rights to immigrants in that country. Both Bolivia and Ecuador innovated with the so-called Human Mobility Law in this regard. He said that the main causes of the migration of peoples are imperialist military aggressions such as in Syria, global warming and the resulting environmental disaster, then the search for better living conditions of populations affected by the crisis and neoliberal policies. Today, 3% of the world’s population is immigrant, totaling 250 million human beings, 50 million of whom migrated forced by circumstances and 40 million of the total are Latin American.
Evo Morales strongly condemned the US exit from the Paris agreement and said that Trump’s provocations, as opposed to frightening and weakening, reinforced anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggles. In this sense, he expressed his solidarity with the Cuban people in face of the new embargo announced by Trump and against external intervention in Venezuela. He called for the need for unity among peoples and collaboration between countries to defeat the attempt to erect walls that separate them. He further stated that capitalistically developed countries, especially in the global north, owe much to the work of immigrants, who carry out the most precarious jobs and much of the productive work.
Also present, former President of Ecuador Rafael Correa, among other issues, emphasized that current logic increasingly globalizes the spaces of capital and restricts the transit of citizens, treating them only as consumers. Insisted that 0.7% of the world population concentrated 45.6% of the wealth and 73% of the population had only 2.4%: “Every piece of bread eaten by someone poor equals 2200 pieces eaten by the rich” Correa said. It is therefore necessary to have priority in the fight against inequality, not against immigrants. Vice-president Alvaro García Linera, a representative of the movement in defense of black immigrants from the United States, former president of Spain Zapatero, representations of the UN, of Pope Francisco and of Unasur were also at the table.
Composition and main debates of the Conference
There was a lot of diversity among the 4,000 delegates to the event, but essentially the delegations were made up of representatives of trade unions, trade union centrals, peasant and social movements, intellectuals and political parties (reformists, Stalinists and revolutionaries). The most notable presence was Latin American with robust delegations from Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador, as well as representations of Cuba, Chile, Brazil and Argentina, among others.
Amid strong support for the Evo Morales government, some delegates also made some criticisms and demands on the government, such as the need to increase indigenous and women’s presence in management posts, the need for renewal of leadership and other demands.
In addition to the debate surrounding immigration, which was the focus of the event, themes such as the new embargo on Cuba, in which solidarity was unanimous, and Venezuela’s troubled political situation clashed. A visible majority stood in Maduro’s defense, although there were more critical sectors (especially us, some interventions from Bolivia and Movimiento Nuevo Perú).
The Conference, although not widely publicized in the international press, strengthens the struggle against Trump’s plans and also reveals the strength of the Bolivian process that led to the consolidation of the Plurinational State as a conquest of that people. For our part, we have established contacts with organizations from Chile and Bolivia (including the vice presidency representative for international affairs) to try to move forward in our international articulation.
November, between 6 and 10, there will be an event honoring 100 years of the Russian revolution promoted by the government where Linera, Pablo Iglesias and Zizek will be promoted by the vice-presidency.
Social movements, citizens of the world, gathered in Tiquipaya, after listening the testimonies of migrants and refugees and debating collectively from our historical memory and the plurality of our identities, we approved the following Statement, with the purpose to manifest our vision and proposals to the States and the International Community in relation to the so called Migrational Crisis.
We, the peoples of the world are aware of the necessity to keep thrusting with bigger strength a new world order, with the following characteristics:
The establishment of complementarity, equity and solidarity relationships among persons and peoples; the recognition and universalization of access to basic services and fundamental rights, which can not be an object of profit and speculation of private groups.
A wider citizen participation in the elaboration and implementation of the public policies transcending oligarchies, dynasties, monarchies and other forms of political hierarchies.
A new international financial architecture, where multilateral organisms do not exist at the service of the transnational capital and guarantees the social property of the natural resources.
The harmonious convivence with Mother Earth and the respect of its rights; assuming that nature can live without human beings, but human beings cannot live without her, violating its rights and destroying the habitat.
The construction of a true lasting peace, which is not just the absence of bellicose conflicts, but also the superation of the structural violence traduced in the equal access to wealth and development opportunities.
We have verified as main causes of this crisis the bellicose conflicts and military interventions, climate change and the huge economic asymmetries between the States and in the interior of them. These destructive situations have their origin in the dominant world order, which generates violence, promotes inequalities, and destroys Mother Earth while searching for profit and resources. The migratory crisis is one of the manifestations of the integral crisis of the neoliberal globalization.
Human mobility is a right rooted in the essence of equality of the human being. However, for most of the cases, it does not respond to a volunteer decision of the peoples but to necessity situations that get to the extreme of a forced migration. To the pain of uprooting the situations of injustice, exclusion, discrimination and exploitation that the persons in transit suffer are added, and of course the attacks on their dignity, their elemental human rights, and against their own lives which they suffer from the receptor countries.
The hegemonic speeches, dominated by the multinational media corporations, promote a negative vision of migrants, hiding the contributions these make in economic, demographic and socio cultural terms to the receptor countries. We look upon with great concern the advancement of neocolonial, intolerant and xenophobic positions which infringe the cooperation between Peoples and constitute a great menace to global peace. Paradoxically, these positions are sustained from the centers of global power, main responsibles of the structural violence, the global inequality and climate change, in detriment of the creditors of the social and environmental debt: the poor peoples.
This is why, that form the social basis we promote the following agenda of proposals to collapse the walls that divide us and build from there a Universal Citizenship, which devotes the right of all to have and enjoy in plenitude the same rights, for the good living of humanity.
1) To overcome the hegemonic perspective of migratory policy which raises an administration of migrations in a “regular, safe and orderly” way, for a humanist vision that allows to “receive, protect, promote and integrate” the migratory people.
2) To reject the criminalization of migrants which covers the fake focuses made on security and control. In particular, we demand the elimination of the “migrant detainee centers”.
Demanding the destruction of physical walls that divide the peoples; invisible legal walls which pursue and criminalize; mental walls which use fear, discrimination and xenophobia to divide ourselves among brothers. In the same way, we denounce the media walls that stigmatize or disqualify migrants, and we aim to promote the creation of alternative media channels.
3) To create a World Public Defensor of the Peoples for the Rights of migrant, refugee and traffic victim persons, among others, which promotes free mobility and human rights.
We request to the people and government of Bolivia, to manage the creation of a secretary of coordination to make effective the fulfillment of the resolutions inside this Statement of the World Conference of the Peoples.
4) To demand to the governments the creation or strengthening of Regional Citizenships that allow inter regional movement and the plain exercise of their rights, as a first step towards a universal citizenship.
5) To demand that the public expenses aimed to war and migrant criminalization, are to be used for the creation of integration programs, which guarantee the plain exercise of the migrants people’s rights.
6) To thrust local policies which allow more integrative cities and societies, where migrants are effectively included in the society, with access to a house, health, education, social security, and under the principles of complementarity, solidarity, brotherhood and diversity.
7) To convoke all the governments of the world to fight in a joint way against the criminal networks that traffic human beings, and declaring human trafficking and slave trafficking as crimes against humanity.
8) To update, strengthen and advance on the multilateral system and its international tools referred to migrant, refugees and their families, and in special:
- a) the “International Convention on rights protection of all migrant workers and their families”, since it has not been ratified by any Northern migrant receptor country.
- b) the Convention on the Statute of ACNUR Refugees and adding new conceptions that refer to displaced person and climate refugees.
- c) to participate actively in the negotiation of the World Pact to be celebrated in 2018 at the United Nations.
- d) claiming in the General Assembly of the United Nations the International Decade for a World Without Borders towards Universal Citizenship.
9) To overcome the “rigid frontiers” tactic, for a vision that understands frontiers as bridges of integration for the unity among peoples and the welcome of refugees, where the struggle against transnational organized crime is faced from a cooperation context between states.
To boost the right living in the places of origin of the migrant people, so that mobility is always volunteer and not forced as an effect of poverty, violence and climate change, denouncing the irresponsible actions of the multinational companies, and applying sanctions to those that impinge against the permanency of the families in their place of origin.
10) To promote the popular mobilization in a global scale, so that the inalienable character of the rights of persons in transit is recognized in the intra and international instances, so that walls, blockades and interventions, that the powerful raise unilaterally to perpetuate inequality and social injustice.