At a press conference in January 2022, U.S. President Biden referred to “everything south of the Mexican border” as the “front yard” of the United States. These outrageous comments were a serious warning sign that the United States government remains committed to its imperialist and colonial ambitions in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The 9th Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in June 2022 was an example of the U.S.’s attempt to assert its hegemony over Latin America and the Caribbean. However, it was a complete failure. The Biden administration tried to isolate countries which resisted U.S. imperialism by excluding Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua from the summit. As a result, heads of state from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Bolivia boycotted the summit, alongside leaders from several Caribbean countries. Many of those who did attend took to the podium to denounce the exclusion and to call for an end to the United States' cruel policies of sanctions and blockades.
In response to Biden's farce of a summit, peace and social justice activists from across the Americas held alternative actions which built unity between people from across the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean: The People’s Summit for Democracy held in Los Angeles from June 8-10, and the Workers' Summit of the Americas in Tijuana, Mexico from June 10-12. Both the People's and Workers' Summits called for an end to U.S.-led sanctions and attacks against Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua and for the immediate release of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, who is unlawfully detained by U.S. authorities.
1. People’s Summit for Democracy – Los Angeles, U.S.
The People’s Summit for Democracy was convened by Alba Movimientos, International Peoples' Assembly, CODEPINK, ANSWER Antiwar Coalition, American Federation of Teachers - 1521, and the Poor People's Campaign - California Chapter, among other union locals and social justice organizations. It was co-sponsored by over 250 organizations including: Vancouver’s peace coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC), and Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice.
The program from June 8-10 included three days of art, music, speakers, debates, workshops, panel discussions, and performances. The actions culminated in a dynamic march of 2,000 people through the streets of Los Angeles to the location of Biden’s summit.
2. Workers' Summit of the Americas – Tijuana, Mexico
The unified voices of people from across the Americas against U.S. intervention, sanctions and blockades in Latin America and the Caribbean was also heard loud and clear south of the U.S.-Mexico border at the Workers' Summit of the Americas held in Tijuana, Mexico from June 10-12.
More than 30 co-sponsoring organizations came together for this successful action, including the Anti-Imperialist Workers' Platform (PCOA), the Alliance for Global Justice, CODEPINK, Unión del Barrio, the International Action Center, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and civil society organizations and unions from Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice was the only sponsoring organization from Canada.
Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice had two delegates at the Workers' Summit, Alison Bodine and Michael Larson. They joined over 140 participants in Tijuana, alongside over 100 more people participating in the program online for two full days of presentations and workshops. The third day was a march and rally which brought the demand of “U.S. Hands Off Latin America and the Caribbean!” and “Free Alex Saab!” right to the criminal U.S./Mexico border wall.
Speakers from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua with a strong message of unity against escalating U.S. aggression in the region were a highlight of the Workers' Summit. They included: Rosario Rodríguez Remos and Miguel Ángel González, Workers’ Central Union of Cuba (CTC); Nelson Herrera, Secretary of the Vice-Presidency for the Working Class of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV); Braulio Álvarez, Farmers' Leader and Deputy to the National Assembly of Venezuela; and Fausto Torres Arauz, a central leader in the Rural Workers Association (ATC) of Nicaragua; among others.
Building Active Solidarity with Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua
The first workshop of the Workers' Summit focused on the urgent necessity to build a more united and stronger movement in solidarity with Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. This workshop also featured a special section on the campaign to Free Alex Saab, a Venezuelan diplomat being unjustly held in U.S. jails for his work procuring food, medicine, and fuel for people in Venezuela to alleviate the impact of the cruel and unilateral U.S. sanctions. William Camacaro, a prominent social justice organizer and Venezuelan living in the U.S., chaired the panel, which included Camilla Saab, the wife of Alex Saab, Roigar Lopez from the Free Alex Saab Movement in Venezuela, Roger Harris of the Task Force on the Americas in the U.S., Brenda Lopez from US Hands Off Cuba, Los Angeles, and Alison Bodine, the Coordinator of the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.
During the workshop, Alison appealed to participants not to leave the Workers' Summit without a plan for coordinating and unifying our work in defense of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua over the next year.
As Alison urged, “Campaigns in solidarity with Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua are indeed part of the working class struggle locally and internationally. These campaigns give a perspective to the working class locally and internationally that they are not alone, and by joining working class struggles, we are stronger and more effective. When we leave this Workers' Summit, let’s push together for a united front to carry out our campaign of international solidarity – a united front that I call a united front in defense of the Troika of Resistance Against Imperialism in Latin America: Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.”
The failure of the Biden Administration’s Summit of the Americas demonstrates a weakening U.S. control of Latin America and the Caribbean. However, at the same time, the U.S. government is also escalating their attacks on the people of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. As people living in Canada and the U.S., it is our responsibility to stand with these countries in defense of their sovereignty and self-determination.
More about the People’s Summit and the Workers' Summit of the Americas can be found on their websites:
Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette
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