Call of the Indigenous Peoples, Afro-Descendants and Peoples’ Organizations of Latin America
The crisis that COVID-19 has provoked globally presents a crossroads to the peoples of Abya Yala – Latin America. The popular organizations are the first line of resistance against the worst expressions of the decomposing system.
We are going through a complete crisis that threatens life in all its forms. The COVID-19 has become a pandemic at a time when the capitalist crisis is intensifying and economic forces repeatedly try to make the working class bear the onus of restoring the corporate profit rate. This coincides with the weakening of health systems, the deterioration of living conditions and the destruction of the public sector as a result of the neoliberal shift. Asphyxiated by foreign debt, international organizations and the permanent oppression of imperialism against our sovereignty, we are heading for a scenario with very serious consequences.
In an America where we refuse to accept structural adjustment and the imposition of new imperialist policies, and where our peoples have had first hand experience of major popular uprisings in recent months, the pandemic has become a pretext to legitimize the presence of the armed forces on our territories and to implement adjustment measures along with the deterioration of living conditions for the working class. Likewise, this crisis has once again revealed the brutality of patriarchal violence against women and sexual dissidents, as well as the historical exclusion of indigenous peoples and people of African descent, who are forced to face the pandemic in conditions of extreme vulnerability.
In the best tradition of our people, we are organizations representing the people, workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, feminists, Afro-descendants, piqueteras/ros and neighbours. All are putting their bodies, heads and hearts to work out immediate responses, but also to project a way out of this crisis through a path toward a better society instead of returning to capitalist normalcy. This will be possible if we give of our best as peoples. The community ties and the popular, territorial and regional unity that we maintain during this battle will be part of the fabric that will build the horizons of transformation of our Abya Yala America.
Faced with housing shortages, we occupy territories and build houses; faced with a lack of work, we organize cooperatives, recover factories and tackle closures and layoffs; faced with the bosses’ attacks, we fight for better working conditions; faced with the lack of education, we create schools; faced with the oppression of women and dissidents, we build popular feminism; faced with exploitation, we build grassroots trade union organizations and fight against job insecurity and for decent wages; faced with the climate crisis, we develop agro-ecology; faced with monoculture and food monopolies, we build peasant agro-food territories to guarantee food sovereignty and autonomy; faced with militarization, paramilitarism and drug trafficking, we substitute cultures and fight for peace. Our alternative is life against those who offer us death.
In the face of the policy of closing borders and fragmentation, and in the face of xenophobia and neo-fascism proposed from above, we return to the horizon of continental solidarity and the unity of peoples.
Faced with the policies of capitalists aiming to use the crisis as a cover for adjustment, let us intensify and rethink our historical struggles for the defence of territories, life and the socialization of wealth, let us build popular and community power.
Therefore, we demand from the governments and we call on the people to:
- Give priority to life over debt. No to the payment of external debt. We need thorough investigation (full audit) and cancellation of the external debt. It is criminal to skimp on health and rights to repay the IMF and other creditors. Health and social protection systems to cope with the pandemic are the priority. We must recover our strategic wealth and the management of our banks and foreign trade, the permanent source of economic leakage from Latin American countries. Only a policy of economic sovereignty, stemming from the advance of popular power, can mitigate the economic and global crisis we are beginning to experience.
- Fight inequality. Exceptional taxation of the rich, of the profits of banks and big business,of those who organized the flight of capital. That Governments must take on the role of eliminating market-induced inequalities. The necessary investments in emergency policies must be financed by confronting the concentration of wealth, and not by reducing workers’ wages. The production chains of large corporations must be reoriented to produce what is needed to combat the Coronavirus, as well as the diseases we endure without state attention, such as malnutrition, dengue fever, sleeping sickness (Chagas disease) and tuberculosis.
- Urgently strengthen public health systems: urgent and priority investment in the public health system, nationalization of private health and strengthening of state measures to contain the pandemic. The pandemic reaffirms the need for universal healthcare for all, strengthening public promotion of these services. States must take control of the production and administration of all goods needed to address the crisis with the participation and control of workers. The patent system on medicines must be eliminated in order to fully develop research and scientific applications to solve human problems. Original and traditional medicine must be recognized.
- Ensure that every job entitles the worker to full rights. Guarantee a universal income for all, prohibit dismissals and suspensions. It is essential to recognize workers’ rights of so that they can live in dignified confinement. Let this urgency not serve as a pretext to continue developing job insecurity. No to the closure of companies. The state must support the occupation and recovery of companies by the workers.
- Instigate housing and dignified living as a social right; confinement can only be achieved under a roof, with guaranteed basic services and in a healthy neighbourhood. Evictions, payment of rents and services must be suspended; housing policies must be oriented toward a comprehensive urban reform that guarantees access to housing in decent neighbourhoods for all working families. Universal access to water, light and gas and improvement of working-class neighbourhoods: there can be no fight against the pandemic unless all inhabitants have access to drinking water, gas and electricity at home, in the neighbourhood or in the community. No house left without a person, no person without a house. Requisitioning of empty properties for the homeless population and for temporary shelters.
- Fight hunger and guarantee universal access to food. Give priority to funding of cooperative, community and family-based agro-ecological agriculture enabling them to play a major role in the food supply of populations, canteens, picnic areas and community kitchens. Progress is needed in providing access to food, as a means of reviving the economy and avoiding a supply crisis. Guarantee a basic food basket with regulated and tax-free prices. Demand sanctions against price speculation and monopolisation by supermarkets and middlemen. Cancel peasants’ debt, redistribute productive land and establish protection systems and agro-ecological colonies financed by the state.
- Against the commodification of nature, reclaim sovereignty over our common goods such as water, gas, oil, land, strategic wealth that is usurped by economic vampires with the collusion of local governments and entrepreneurs. Demand full respect for the territories of the original peoples and reconsider the economic and extractive model. The exploitation of natural resources must respect the mother earth and the peoples who inhabit it.
- Strengthen health protection and humanitarian aid with a guarantee of sovereignty for the territories of the original peoples, indigenous and African nationalities, especially those whose habitat is in vital ecosystems such as the Amazon, for whom the epidemiological threat could mean ethnocide. Strengthen self-government and its systems for the territorial and cultural survival of the lives of indigenous and Afro peoples. Prohibit evictions and actions that violate the sovereignty of indigenous peoples.
- Enact genuine policies to deal with male violence. With social isolation measures, domestic violence and other forms of violence against women may increase. For women, both cissexual and transgender, the use of information technology is not enough to combat violence against women. It must be prevented and eradicated. Budget for the prevention of femicides and trans-femicides. Provide shelters for people in situations of violence, and special economic subsidies for survivors. Make employment and education plans for women and dissidents.
- Carry out more prevention, not repression: Many governments have used the context of the coronavirus to intensify the logic of repression and surveillance and to increase the imprisonment of the very poor, of community leaders, human rights defenders and defenders of mother earth. It is time to reduce the prison population as a public health problem. There is also a need to upgrade the authorities themselves and the community guards who take care of ancestral territories and are an effective community body entrusted with preserving life.
- Say no to imperialist political, economic and military intervention: we categorically reject the use of the crisis as an excuse for military interference in Venezuela by Yankee imperialism and its partners, the constant murders of indigenous and popular leaders in Colombia, the fierce repression of the putschist regimes in Bolivia and Honduras and the anti-popular government of Piñera in Chile, the expansion of extraction projects in indigenous and peasant territories. We demand the lifting of the blockades against Cuba and Venezuela.
- Bring in Internationalist Humanitarian Aid: We call on governments to request humanitarian aid from Cuba and other countries that have technical experience in the fight against the pandemic and that can help contain the Covid-19 epidemic in the cities where the pandemic has spread the most, such as Guayaquil and São Paulo.
Against the wealth of a few, for the sovereignty of the people! For life! No to the IMF!
While the peoples of Latin America struggle on: Internationalist solidarity! •
Complete list of signatory organizations at CADTM.org website.