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THE military coup in Bolivia and the ensuing mass protests in the face of brutality means that the situation there is perilous.
In Chile, millions are demonstrating against austerity and inequality while subjected to Pinochet-style policing in a terrifying assault on democracy.
In Brazil, the people are celebrating the release of Lula while continuing to resist the far-right attacks by Bolsonaro.
The Haitian people have been in the streets in perpetual protests for months against poverty and the corrupt government of Jovenel Moise.
Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua are continuously aggressively targeted, attacked, sanctioned and blockaded and their people continue to resist against all odds.
Right now it seems that in every country across the continent brave people are standing up. They are opposing the disastrous neoliberal policies that have left millions impoverished and disenfranchised.
They are protecting their social gains. For example, since 2006, when Evo Morales was elected, Bolivia has had the fastest-growing economy in Latin America and poverty was reduced by 42 per cent. People are fighting for dignity and a fair future for all their peoples.
Today we must build our solidarity movements to support the people of the region, in their struggles for independence, sovereignty and control of their own destinies, free from intervention and aggression from the US and its proxies.
It is why this year’s conference has become so important. It brings together individuals and organisations, academics, politicians, trade unionists and campaigners to learn, share and develop real solidarity that can make a real difference.
We need to understand that the situation across the continent is complex and very different in each country. It is a mistake to view the political landscape across the countries as one and the same.
Street protesters in one country are often representing a fundamentally different cause to those in another country. All Latin American leaders are not the same.
There is however just one increasingly far-right neoliberal philosophy that drives the elites across the continent in the pursuit of wealth and power at the expense of the poor, the marginalised and the indigenous.
Of course this is not confined to this region, but it is in Latin America where the United States tries to exert its greatest control, and where the starkest divisions are being fought over right now on the streets by ordinary people, young and old, students and workers.
It is the masses against the power of the often racist local elites, backed by the police and army, ultimately supplied, funded and controlled from Washington itself.
On one side you have United States with its economic, political and military power, with the IMF, the multinational corporations, the billionaire-owned compliant media, the local elites and the compliant Organisation of American States with its puppet general secretary Luis Almargo.
In every situation the battle is over sovereignty and ultimately the wealth and resources of each country, be it lithium and gas reserves in Bolivia, the riches of the Amazon in Brazil or oil in Venezuela.
The naked and open ambition of the US-based multinationals to get their hands on these reserves is startling in its voraciousness, but increasingly unsurprising. Nowadays anything goes in the drive for profit and greed, including blockades, invasions, sanctions, shootings, lawfare and military coups.
On the other side you have the mass movements and trade unions who lead the fight for the mass of the people against the power of the elites, often in the face of extreme violence.
This brutal formula is not new. For 200 years the Monroe Doctrine has declared that Latin America is the “back yard” of the US and it would not tolerate any competition there from European or other countries, nor any uprisings from the local people.
This Washington vision of “the Americas are for the Americans” has not changed one bit, and with the decline of the capitalist system they are acting with open and desperate impunity. Now Trump and his racist, imperialist doctrine has unleashed a new wave of brutality across the region that will stop at nothing to assert its control.
In 1961, shortly after the Cuban revolution, while US planes bombarded Havana, Fidel Castro declared, “the imperialists cannot forgive us” because “we have made a socialist revolution right under the very noses of the United States.”
A common saying from progressives across the continent can often be heard saying that “our problem is that we are so far from God, and yet so close the United States.”
Indeed the application of US hegemony across the region has cost millions of people lives in enforced poverty and political and military crackdowns over the centuries.
Yet today we can see the people are rising and resisting in their millions, and little by little, country by country, the elites and their US backers can be defeated. There is little choice for progressives here but to choose which side you are on in this epic struggle.
Please don’t just be a bystander, but rather become a protagonist and can get involved in the campaigns for solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the water at this critical time. Our solidarity is not only greatly appreciated — it can make a real difference.
Rob Miller is director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.
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