By Jerry Goldberg
The Anti-Imperialist Solidarity Encounter, for Democracy and against Neoliberalism, that took place in Havana, Cuba from November 1-3, 2019, was a historic event in advancing the struggle against U.S. imperialism. The conference was attended by 1332 delegates representing 789 social and people’s movements from 86 countries. The delegates were all anti-imperialist, pro-socialist, and united in their defense of the Cuban Revolution.
The overwhelming tenor of the conference was that after a period of right wing reaction, there is a rebirth in the struggle of the workers and oppressed in challenging imperialism. This rebirth is demonstrated by the tremendous demonstrations in Chile calling for a new constitution to put to rest the years of reaction ushered in by Pinochet, the elections of progressive governments in Argentina and Mexico, and the inability of U.S. imperialism to overturn the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
The call for freedom of Lula, the leader of the Workers Party of Brazil, was voiced repeatedly at the conference, with the Cubans delivering 2 million petitions calling for Lula’s freedom to Workers Party representatives at the conference. In fact, just days after the conference Lula was released from prison despite continuing his defiance against trumped up charges.
The conference had a deliberative character, with dozens of speakers participating in plenary sessions, and the convening of six thematic commissions. The workshops were: Solidarity with Cuba; Peoples before free trade and transnationals; Decolonization and colonial war. Strategic communication and social struggle; Youth: strategies and continuity in struggles; Democracy, sovereignty and anti-imperialism; Integration, identities and common struggles.
What was striking about the workshops and plenaries, was how representatives of revolutionary struggles all over the world are grappling with the ideological and programmatic challenges of the current period, as the necessity and prospect for a revolutionary revival is emerging. The conference could have been a one or two week congress, and perhaps such an event, that has been lacking in the communist movement for years, is on the agenda.
The unifying force of the Congress was the solidarity of all the movements with the Cuban revolution, and recognition of the role Cuba has played in maintaining itself as a revolutionary socialist beacon in the face of unprecedented economic attacks and the continuing embargo by U.S. imperialism. The fact that Cuba had the political courage to convene such a revolutionary conference was in itself a statement of the role it has played in upholding socialist ideology in the post-Soviet era.
The final plenary of the conference was an especially exciting event. It was highlighted by a one and ½ hour talk by Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela . President Maduro traced the past 30 years of struggle in Latin America, and how it was Fidel who upheld the revolutionary socialist mantle in the years of despair and division after the collapse of the Soviet Union. What was most striking about Maduro’s powerful and gripping speech was his optimism that the period of reaction is coming to an end, and his confidence in the survival of the Bolivarian Revolution in the context of a revolutionary revival across Latin America.
The conference adopted two documents. The first was a Declaration of Solidarity with the Cuban Revolution. The second was the Final Declaration of the Anti-Imperialist Conference, a document that is a powerful programmatic call for action.
In the month since the convening of the Anti-imperialist Conference, the revolutionary struggle in Latin America has experienced two setbacks. The first was the coup that removed Evo Morales in Bolivia. And more recently was the election in Uruguay, where the left forces led by the Broad Front suffered a narrow defeat.
But the strength and determination expressed by the broad delegations at the anti-imperialist conference, indicates that these are only setbacks in what still is an overarching period of revival for the left. At the center of that revival stands Revolutionary Cuba, defense of which continues to be critical for the entire world as the ideological center of revolutionary socialism. Combined with the growth of Socialist China as an economic and technological counterweight to the former hegemony of U.S. and Western imperialism, and the defiance of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, socialism remains standing strong as the only road forward for the future of humanity.
In his speech to the final plenary, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, president of the Republic of Cuba, summed up the historical significance of the November 2019 Anti-Imperialist conference. His remarks concluded:
You have called today for unity among political forces and the social and popular movements of the left, to continue to raise consciousness, generate ideas, and organize for the struggle.
We see this struggle in the battle for the truth. We must defeat the lies on which wars of all kinds against our peoples are launched: informing, persuading, mobilizing, marching with the poor of the earth, who have grown tired of lies and abuse. Proposing and creating programs that respond to the most pressing demands of workers, students, farmers, intellectuals, and artists.
The approved Action Plan confirms that progressive sectors are aware of the urgent need for unity, if we really want to build together an anti-imperialist, emancipatory project, committed to genuine and long delayed integration.
On behalf of Cuba, we would like to reaffirm that the new generation of Cuban leaders, trained and educated by the historical generation of Fidel and Raúl, are revolutionaries, socialists, faithful to Fidel and Martí (Applause), and that we will not yield a millimeter in our positions in favor of independence, sovereignty, and social justice. And joined with the peoples who struggle and resist, we will always uphold solidarity as a fundamental principle, to which we owe so much.
This is why we make our own the words of Fidel, when, more than 50 years ago, referring to the early solidarity that the Revolution found with its cause, he said: “The world has shown solidarity with Cuba and that is why Cuba feels more and more solidarity every day with all the peoples of the world.”
In memory of Fidel and Chávez, two of the greats of Our America, whom we were fortunate to meet, listen to, and follow in the most altruistic practice of solidarity, we look to their work as a guide for the new, challenging times that await us.
I believe we all feel that great avenues are opening up, where free men now walk to build a better society. (Applause and exclamations)
A better world is possible, and urgently necessary! Let us fight for it!
Ever onward to victory!”
Jerry Goldberg attended the Anti-Imperialist Conference November 1-3.