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‘Ni un paso atras’ — Not one step backward!

Labor meeting in Nicaragua denounces imperialism

Published Sep 2, 2011 8:42 AM

More than 300 delegates, representing 134 working-class organizations in 27 countries of the Americas, met August 25-27 in Managua, Nicaragua. In plenaries and workshops, delegate after delegate described the suffering in their country caused by neoliberal economic policies, brutal political repression and the capitalist recession.

Four years ago the World Federation of Trade Unions initiated the “Encuentro Sindical Nuestra América” (ESNA) [the Union Meeting of Our America]. Previous conferences were held in Ecuador, Brazil and Venezuela.

Víctor Mendibil, secretary general of the judicial workers union (FJA) of Argentina and a communications coordinator for ESNA, laid out the goals of the conference: “In agreement and unity with the working class of the continent, we will give an alternative response to those initiatives that aim, at a global level within a reformist framework and with close ties to the dominant economic powers, to be the social arm of the World Bank or the IMF.

“We, with a deep spirit of class and liberation, will work within ESNA with the prospect of building a large movement that will help transform society and advance along the path of social justice, the integration of our peoples, sovereignty and peace. To the advances the multinationals are making against workers’ rights,” he added, “we should put up a barrier and for this, dozens of delegations in Managua were here today in class solidarity to develop that strategy of the workers against the multinationals and imperialism.”

The first day of ESNA began with a rally in solidarity with the Cuban Five. Irma Sehwerert, the mother of René González, was joined by former Nicaraguan foreign minister and former president of the U.N. General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto; secretary-general of the Nicaraguan National Federation of Workers, Gustavo Porras; secretary-general of the Confederation of Cuban Workers, Salvaldor Valdés Mesa; and Tomás Borge, co-founder of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN).

Delegates applauded loudly for Juan Barahona, leader of the National Resistance Front of Honduras. Since the right-wing coup overthrew democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya two years ago, union leaders, students, workers and more than 500 campesinos have been murdered. Nevertheless, Barahona was optimistic about the struggle, saying, “We are organizing and mobilizing for total power.”

Humberto Montes de Oca, interior secretary of the Union of Mexican Electrical Workers (SME), described the struggle of 44,000 workers who were fired by the state-owned power company and physically removed from their jobs by the military. They have been occupying the Zocalo plaza in Mexico City since March 3 in opposition to privatization.

Chilean delegates described the struggle of students and workers in their country. For months, students, teachers and supporters demonstrating for a better educational system have defied arrests and police attacks to continue fighting for free public education. While the ESNA was in session a young student was killed by police gunfire.

In contrast the Nicaraguan government, led by President Daniel Ortega, comandante of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation, has been reducing poverty and inequality, providing health care and education, and building new homes for workers. An important factor in Nicaragua’s success has been the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas, ALBA, which also includes Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The FSLN, which overthrew the hated Somoza dictatorship in 1979, accepted electoral defeat in 1990. But Ortega was elected in 2006 for a five-year term.

The delegates repeatedly chanted, “¡Ni un paso atrás!” — Not one step backward!

The final resolution solidarized ESNA with “the dignified resistance of the people of Libya,” the Palestinian people, the Cuban people and the Five Heroes, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, the Chilean students, the people of Colombia and all of the peoples of “Our America.”

A special resolution offered unconditional support to the re-election on Nov. 6 of Ortega, praising the Nicaraguan government for proving that “there are alternatives and our revolutionary parties of America can change conditions of social injustice” created by “traditional parties and oligarchies linked to and subordinate to imperialist interests of international finance capital.”

The resolution stated clearly that “capitalism is confronted with one of its deepest, most integral and most systemic crises” and “the salvation of humanity is only possible with a new social system, socialism.”

Ortega closed the conference, praising the document and blasting capitalism and imperialism. After Ortega’s speech, delegates joined hands to sing “The Internationale.”

The next ESNA will be next year in Morelia, the state capital of Michoacán, Mexico. For more information visit www.encuentrosindical.org.