The World Peace Council Regional Meeting for the Americas and the Caribbean was held on July 18 and 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada, with the participation of representatives from ten peace organizations from the American continent, presided by the WPC President, Socorro Gomes, and the Regional Coordinator, Silvio Platero.
Present at the meeting were leaders and peace activists from the host organization, the Canadian Peace Congress, the Brazilian Peace Council (Cebrapaz), the Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples (Movpaz), the U.S. Peace Council, the Mexican Movement for Peace and Development (MOMPADE), the Dominican Union of Journalists for Peace (UDPP), from COSI in Venezuela, the School of Peace in Colombia, the Jamaican Peace Council and the Committee in Defense of the National Patrimony of Sovereignty and Dignity (CODEPANAL) of Bolivia and Iraklis Tsavdaridis, Executive Secretary of the WPC.
The meeting approved the report submitted by the Regional Coordinator, which summarized the work in favor of peace in the continent. It was evidenced that, though modest, there were advances in the actions to denounce and social mobilization against the actions of U.S. imperialism and its allies.
The participants also took note of the reports presented by each one of the organizations attached to the WPC and by other guest organizations containing the main actions in the respective national scenarios since the most recent similar meeting, held in Buenos Aires in 2014.
The meeting welcomed the Third Trilateral Conference aimed to coordinate actions among the peace councils of North America – Canada, Mexico and the U.S. – that is taking place immediately after this Regional Conference in Toronto.
The celebration of the WPC Assembly in Sao Luis, state of Marañao, Brazil, on November 17-19, 2016, will be one of the essential work tasks for the organizations during the rest of the year. Therefore, the participants of this Toronto meeting agreed to mobilize all possible forces in order to ensure the largest presence of organizations, personalities and people in favor of peace in our region and other world zones, with the purpose of increasing global condemnation of imperialism and the arms race and in favor of disarmament, as well as to collectively call for a world of peace, cooperation, progress and social justice.
The participants confirmed that this peace meeting in Toronto was celebrated in the context of a complex political situation in the world and in the region that combines the general crisis of capitalism and the aggressive military escalation of imperialism and NATO in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia with their renewed craving for hegemonic political and economic control over Latin America and the Caribbean, using “soft coup” strategies to stay and reverse the progressive and popular democratic processes in several countries of the continent and to restore neo-liberalism. All these things are accompanied by a strong media campaign aimed at confusing the peoples and discrediting Latin American leftist leaders.
In this regard, the regional meeting stated its deep concern over the increased political and military meddling of U.S. imperialism and its NATO allies in several countries and world zones, as it attempts to counter national stability and the sovereign right of the peoples to live in peace and consequently places humankind on the edge of another world war of unpredictable but dire consequences.
On the pretext of fighting terrorism and the organizations responsible for it, such as the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and others that in their day were themselves created and financed by the United States, NATO and the governments close to it such as that of Saudi Arabia, Turkey among others, imperialism intervenes in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and other Middle East countries with the purpose of reorganizing the region geopolitically according to its hegemonic interests. The permanent hostility by the zionist state of Israel against the people of Palestine continues to be a key piece of that strategy of domination.
In this regard, the organizations attending the meeting reiterated their strongest condemnation of the imperialist attempts to create a new Middle East, and renewed their solidarity with the peoples of that region who are victims of imperial abuse, while at the same time demanding the full and immediate retreat of all foreign occupation forces from those territories.
The recent NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland was a new expression of that warlike vision that, among other militaristic strategies, is besieging Russia and extendingNATO’ssphere of military influence to the Asia-Pacific region, all of which was vigorously rejected by the peace-loving peoples who challenged the desired imperialist supremacy,saying NO to NATO and YES to Peace.
In this context, the regional meeting declared itself fully in favor of the campaign for member nations to unilaterally withdraw from NATO as a set of concrete steps toward the ultimate dissolution of that aggressive military pact.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the imperialistic siege of the governments of Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and El Salvador extends the strategy that already proved successful in Argentina while imperialism seeks to extend a new version of the Condor Plan, threatening peace throughout the continent.
In the face of this situation, the peace-loving, patriotic and popular forces mobilize to defend the social gains they have achievedin their independence and sovereignty. Correspondingly, the participants in the meeting reiterated the full validity of the “Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace”that was approved by all Heads of State and Governments of the region, brought together at the Second Latin American and Caribbean State Summit (CELAC) Summit held in Havana, Cuba, in January, 2014.
Likewise, the meeting acknowledged that in the face of the challenges imposed by the new imperialistic onrush against the Latin American and Caribbean peoples, the Proclamation becomes an essential political bulwark for the defense and preservation of peace in our continent.
The regional meeting greeted the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and the beginning of the long and complex process of normalizing bilateral links between both countries, while at the same time it reiterated rejection of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by one U.S. government after another against the Cuban people for more than five decades. At the same time it pronounced its support for closing the Guantánamo Naval Base and the torture enclave set up by the United States in that area, and demanded returning to Cuba that territory in its eastern province that has been illegally occupied for more than a century.
The meeting noted the upcoming celebration in Cuba of two significant international events for peace in the region in the present political context of opposition to the new imperialist domination strategy: the First International Seminar “Realities and Challenges to the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as Zone of Peace,” to be held in Havana on September 21-23, 2016, and the Fifth International Seminar for Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases that will take place in Guantánamo on May 4-6, 2017.
The participants in the meeting also strongly denounced the aggressions against the people and Bolivarian Government of Venezuela resulting from the brutal economic and media war staged by U.S. imperialism and the fascist Venezuelan oligarchy with the clear intention of destroying the Revolution, its social achievements and the legacy of the ever present Commander Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías.
It was agreed to support the report of COSI and other Venezuelan organizations to request of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States the immediate dismissal of Secretary General Luis Almagro for exceeding his authority in a brutal attacks against the institutions of the sovereign Venezuelan state by openly interfering in the internal affairs of a member state, acting against one of the basic principles of the OAS. Likewise they supported the immediate transfer of the Presidency Pro Temp of Mercosur to Venezuela as established by the rules of that organization.
The peace-loving representatives here joined their voices in solidarity with those of other peoples in the region to demand the end of those aggressions and at the same timediscarding the spurious and absurd presidential decree declaring Venezuela a threat to the national security of the United States. They firmly supported the sovereign right of the Venezuelan people to decide their own fate and their own future by themselves,without external meddling and in a climate of peace. They likewise endorsed the initiatives for dialogue with the opposition promoted by the revolutionary government of Venezuela headed by President Nicolás Maduro, which have received increasing support in the continent and worldwide.
The meeting greeted with genuine joy the signing in Havana of the peace agreements between the Colombian government and the FARCEP guerrillas. It constitutes a firm step on the road to a definitive and sustainable peace for the people of Colombia and opens a new period of democracy in that dear nation. At the same time the meeting declared its support for the beginning of a similar negotiating dialogue between the Government and the ELN.
The peace organizations from the region also condemned unequivocally the attack against democracy, social rights and national sovereignty in Brazil through the cunning coup that temporarily suspended the democratically elected president, Dilma Rousseff, from her post, by means of an infamous and corrupt judicial political process aimed against the head of State, the Workers’ Party of Brazil (PT) and its historical leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. They also expressed their fullest and militant solidarity with Centro Brasileiro de Solidariedade aos Povos e Luta pela Paz, the Brazilian Peace Council, and the Brazilian workers and people in their struggle to prevent the seizure of the social achievements from more than a decade of PT governments. The meeting also recognized that the events in Brazil are part of the anti-popular and reactionary strategy of the United States, repeatedly striking against the regional integration process, in which Brazil is a leader.
The regional meeting expressed its solidarity with the people of Argentina over their legitimate right of sovereignty over the Malvinas, also known as Falklands, and South Sandwich islands, and reiterated the call for a respectful and effective negotiation between the British and Argentinean governments to end that dispute.
The ongoing colonial situation in the Caribbean sub-region received the strongest rejection from all representatives gathered in Toronto, who in addition declared their support for the right of the Puerto Rican people to independence and self-determination.
The meeting expressed opposition to the indefinite presence of foreign military forces in Haiti, which have contributed very little to the peace and political stability of that Caribbean nation, and demanded the rapid withdrawal of MINUSTAH forces from Haitian territory.
The abandonment of all foreign bases and military enclaves in the region was also demanded.
The regional meeting recognized that the ascendancy of rightwing and reactionary forces in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and elsewhere resulting in part from the success of neoliberal policies to enrich those who are already very wealthy while impoverishing the vast majority. These are policies that parallel war spending and violence caused in many other countries. In the U.S., violence abroad is reflected at home in the rise of a police state and militarization of the police and is exemplified by police murders of African Americans, Islamophobia, anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions and the resulting resistance such as the U.S. movement called “Black Lives Matter.”
Attendees also condemned the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TTIP for the Atlantic and TISA (International Treaty for Offering commercial Services) as having less to do with trade than handing national sovereignty over to the giant corporations to further destroy workers’ livelihoods and the environment.
The struggles and vindications of the rights of indigenous peoples received full support by the fighters for peace gathered in Toronto, who committed to showing a more effective, visible solidarity with the just cause of our brothers and sisters who are resisting genocide and struggling for sovereignty.
The meeting endorsed new requests for participation in the WPC from the Foundation for the School of Peace of Colombia, the Jamaica Peace Council and the Committee in Defense of the National Patrimony of Sovereignty and Dignity (CODEPANAL) of Bolivia, all of which will be considered for approval by the Executive Committee of WPC in Brazil in November.
The participants in this peace meeting of the American continent convened to celebrate the next WPC regional meeting for the Americas in the Dominican Republic in 2018 at a place and date to be determined; and we likewise agreed to convene WPC subregional meetings during 2017.
At the end of the meeting, the representatives of the Peace Organizations of the continent expressed their recognition of and warm appreciation to the Canadian Peace Congress for its effective role as host and the courtesies granted to the participants.
Toronto, Canadá, July 19, 2016