International solidarity key to resisting rise of the right

Tuesday evening’s International Solidarity Forum gave delegates great insight as to why the right is on the rise in Latin America. A first-class panel of trade union activists, moderated by USW’s Laura Ramirez, outlined challenges facing labour and society in general in South America and the Caribbean.

CLC President Hassan Yussuff, who is in his second term as President of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA), opened the evening session by emphasizing the importance of the region to Canada.

Panelists Victor Baez, General Secretary of TUCA, Toni Moore, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Gerardo Martinez from the Confederación General del Trabajo de la República Argentina, and Antonio Lisboa of the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (Brazil), were asked about the rise of the right in their region.

Victor Baez said that what was happening in Latin America is happening across the world, such as the election of Donald Trump the United States. He warned that Canada is not immune, as shown in the past by the Harper Conservatives. He said that, often, it was large corporations and mass media that determine which government survives.

Antonio Lisboa echoed Baez’s contention of the role of the mass media. “Mass media and the lazy elites are part of the coup d’état,” he stated.

Toni Moore spoke about the dependence of Caribbean countries on economies in North America and Europe. The economic downturn in 2008 created high unemployment, particularly in countries so dependent on trade. “If Europe sneezes, in the Caribbean, we catch the flu,” she said.

Gerardo Martinez spoke of the importance of democracy and making alliances. He said that Argentina and the region had had little experience with democratic governments and that progressive groups and unions need to work together.

Lisboa talked about the formation of the Popular Brazilian Front and People Without Fear as hopeful developments – these groups convinced 48 million people to join a work stoppage on April 28th of this year.

All panelists agreed: international solidarity is essential to resisting the rise of the right anywhere.

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