As democratic and progressive citizens, gathered around the defense of the basic principles of freedom, equality, solidarity, sovereignty and social justice, we hereby declare our coincidence in this PROGRESSIVE MANIFESTO. We present it as a starting point of a process of collective building of an alternative political project for Latin America and the Caribbean, We hope it serves as a reference in order to formulate national progressive proposals in our countries.

The members of the Grupo de Puebla, through its Executive Council, its Latin American Council for Justice and Democracy, its Parliamentary Group and its Center of Thought Marco Aurelio Garcia consider:

Humankind is facing its greatest challenge: life on planet Earth is endangered. In this context, the tragic sanitary crisis unleashed by Covid-19 has meant irreparable loses in Latin America, in terms of lifes, while it has also aggravated and deepened the economic and social crisis, which had been dragging on for years as a consequence, among others, of brutal or hybrid blows which progressive governments in the region have received. Likewise, some administrations have defended negationist postures about the pandemic, showing their incompetence and negligence and endangering not only their countries but every country in the region.

The pandemic has unveiled the deep inequalities that are a consequence of the neoliberal model and it has been shown by the vaccine distribution. Such unjustice can be observed in the deep asymmetry in its production and distribution even though millions of lives depend on this process. The pharmaceutical industry concentrates the possibility of allocating the vaccine while holding a dominant position to negotiate with the countries of the Global South, and even affecting the COVAX initiative launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to guarantee equitable access. We see with a lot of worry the possibility that countries with both low and medium income cannot access the medication. Only through solidarity and equality humankind will be able to overcome this pandemic.

The neoliberal model, which relies on the capital financing, promotes extreme inequality and precariousness on the job market, it makes the Welfare State and democracy fragile, it undermines social rights , threatens the environment, it leads to recurring economic crisis and it has become incompatible with sustainable growth and social justice. The decline of the neoliberal model and its subsequent economic and social crisis had led to the growth of the far right in some countries, which endangers democracy, even in countries with a significant democtatic history. This model, which is incompatible with life, must be substituted by one that can claim solidarity, justice and substantial democracies. It is urgent to take a new path for the people of Latin America, the Caribbean and Iberoamerica.

In order to achieve this goal it is essential to recover integration, unity and political concertation. Latin America and the Caribbean have only a few times in history been so divided, while it is urgent to achieve unity to face the challenges in the near, medium and large term.

In the midst of a pandemic, there are several threats on Democracy, the Rule of Law and the separation of powers, and particularly, judiciary wars or lawfare which affect fundamental rights of the leaders of progressiveness. It has become necessary to play a closed defense of democracy in the middle of a particular moment in which authoritarianism is a real possibility. In the face of such aggressive conservative and neofascist nationalism, it is necessary to answer with more social presence of theState and claiming the Welfare State

Considering all of the above:

1. To institute a solidarity-based development model. We need to implement a new solidarity model that guarantees the consolidation of Latin America as a zone of peace in the world, ensures the continuity and strengthens its democracies, allows progress in the task of reducing social inequality through greater inclusion, contributes to the internationalization and stable and integral growth of its economies and makes the full enjoyment of human rights a permanent reality.

There is an urgent need to implement this model of solidarity which implies a strategy of ecological transition; vindicates the role of innovation, science and technology and makes them priorities in public spending; resorts to social value chains as a mechanism to be competitive while closing gaps; and incorporates within its ideology the exercise, with rights and duties, of citizenship on a regional scale, especially at a time when the guarantees for migrants seem to be in question and the world is moving towards new forms of segregation.

2. To recover the fundamental role of the State. A secure, egalitarian, free and democratic future cannot be envisaged without recovering an active and leading role for the State, which has been dismantled and weakened under neoliberal dogma. It is not a matter of returning to previous formulas, but of developing its potential as arbiter of the market, in the distribution of collective welfare, and recovering public management and the guarantee of equal access to goods and services of universal access and that represent rights such as health, education, work, culture, food security, drinking water, social housing, energy, communication and information and scientific knowledge.

3. To stimulate the social responsibility of the market. The guarantee of private enterprise and its legitimate development includes the State’s obligation to ensure free competition, defend consumers, protect decent work and avoid monopolistic and oligopolistic practices. Likewise, to favor shared innovation processes to guarantee the quality of public social goods and to eliminate restrictions to intellectual property on social goods, particularly due to the current situation. Therefore, we warn about the possibility of patents becoming an impediment to access to health as a public good.

Private initiative must be in solidarity with the State in achieving its goals in terms of social inclusion, generation of decent jobs and greater democratic participation. The market cannot continue to be the paradise of a few and the hell of many[1].

4. To assume health as a global public good. The pandemic demonstrated the urgent need to consider health as a right for everyone in order to build universal public health systems. In addition, the crisis demonstrated the need for States to be able to produce the necessary vaccines, drugs and hospital supplies. Therefore, States are required to guarantee the universal right to public health, with real and effective access to citizens, including migrants. Health and scientific research policies, production and access to medicines cannot depend on criteria associated with the market, but on the priorities and needs of our peoples.

In this order of ideas, universal access to the Covid-19 vaccine should be a demand of progressivism that sees with concern how its distribution is speculated and subjected to the logic of the market under the regime of private law. The Grupo de Puebla invites the companies, organizations and governments that today control the production and distribution of vaccines to immediately allocate 10% of their stocks for the care in all countries of the world of medical and health personnel who are in the first line of combat of the virus and the elderly population, as well as those with pathologies at risk.

5. To review privatizations and promote more public control and less market in the provision of public goods and services. Not only health should be seen as a public good. Distribution and redistribution exclusively through the market impedes access to basic goods and services for millions of people in vulnerable conditions such as education, housing and security, among others. Similarly, innovation, efficiency, general welfare, social justice, redistribution of income and wealth, and democracy represent ideals that can only be achieved with political will, through collective action, and not through mechanisms that presume the market as a perfect interaction between supply and demand.

6. To protect civil society and equitable access to social networks. Social movements, their organization, social protest and their free expression through networks must be protected and guaranteed by the State. Such protection will be especially important in these times both during and post-pandemic when social discontent resulting from impoverishment, labor informalization and unemployment will increase. Thus, discontent and protest must find democratic and peaceful channels for expression. Democracy must be understood as a process of converting social relations of unequal power into bonds of shared authority2].

7. To deepen and consolidate democracies. The economic and social crisis has been weakening democracies and systems of political representation throughout the world. In Latin America and the Caribbean, this scenario could be even more critical due to the structural weakness of our political systems. We advocate structural reforms to strengthen our democracies, making them more participatory and inclusive. It will be necessary, therefore, to involve the excluded, marginalized and exploited segments in order to turn them into dynamic actors in the public decision-making process. We need systems of government that strengthen and redefine the role of political parties, and that reinstate their representative character while strengthening the mechanisms of direct participation and advancing towards participatory and radical democracies.

8. To resist and combat hybrid warfare. In recent times, the region has been attacked by the so-called hybrid war, an initiative led by the United States that consists of altering the course of our democracies. The main strategy of this new form of warfare consists of coups d’état which, unlike in the past, do not occur by appealing to the military, but by curtailing the powers of Congresses and violating the rights of opponents through actions such as the violation of homes, generalized repression and intimidation in the media and social networks. Such aggression seeks to accommodate Latin America within the geopolitical agenda of the United States and may increase and aggravate poverty, misery and hunger. This new form of coup was carried out against Dilma Rousseff, Fernando Lugo, Manuel Zelaya and Evo Morales.

9. To reject lawfare. The Grupo de Puebla rejects lawfare, which is part of hybrid warfare and has sought to curtail the rights of progressive organizations, movements or parties. These processes that are being carried out, with the support of the United States, against progressive leaders in the region seek to prevent them from electing and being elected through the curtailment of their rights to due process and media stigmatization by de facto powers that have displaced the democratic spaces occupied by the parties. Progressive leaders have the full right to exercise their leadership with guarantees for their life, freedom, mobility, expression and geographic roots. We recall that the judiciary belongs to the people, therefore, it must be rescued as a public service with judges who defend this popular power from sectarian postulates against the citizenry, opposition leaders and for the benefit of the governments in power. In this sense, we highlight the work being developed by the Latin American Council for Justice and Democracy (CLAJUD), created by the Group, against the judicialization of politics and the politicization of justice.

10. To defend Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela from aggression and interference by powers or third states. Many of the countries in the region have been subjected to destabilizing actions through the imposition of blockades, economic sanctions and unilateral policies contrary to international law. These types of anachronistic and outdated positions are even more serious in the context of the health crisis because they affect access to supplies, medicines and means to contain the pandemic. The Grupo de Puebla considers these positions as aggressions against the most vulnerable segments of our peoples, as well as a threat against the integration process. Progressivism promotes solutions in line with the peaceful resolution of conflicts, non-intervention and support for democratic, peaceful and negotiated solutions.

11. To promote an effective fight against political corruption. The Grupo de Puebla understands that the fight against public corruption -with a private counterpart- begins with recovering the concept of public service and eradicating from the State the market practices that turned government decisions into private auctions of goods and public services. In the specific case of political corruption, it is proposed, as an initial step, the integral state financing of all political campaigns. Finally, in this fight against corruption, attention should be drawn to the damage caused by “tax havens”, which make it difficult to trace the resources taken from public bonds and which serve as a vehicle for capital accumulation strategies by transnational corporations.

12. To Generate social value chains. Value creation, through reindustrialization, must begin with the development of social value chains of small and medium-sized enterprises that act by associating inclusive and environmentally sustainable productive links. This project must be accompanied by greater investment in innovation, the development of regional infrastructure and the creation of greater logistical facilities in an international environment in which “selling” has become more important than “producing”.

13. To promote equality, eliminate poverty, create dignified jobs, increase wages and implement robust policies for social inclusion and the elimination of the sexual division of labor. We must work towards the active promotion of social equality and the elimination of poverty, through the generation of dignified work, the recognition of care work, the increase of basic wages and the implementation of comprehensive social inclusion policies focused on a new cycle of growth and a solidarity-based model of development.

14. To establish the Basic Solidarity Income. The Grupo de Puebla proposes, as a starting point to address the social crisis aggravated by the pandemic, which drove millions into poverty, a Basic Solidarity Income (BSI), of a temporary nature, for the duration of the economic and social effects of the pandemic. The BBS should complement existing income transfer programs. The RBS would cover the 83 million Latin Americans who remained in extreme poverty after the pandemic: 16 million more after the pandemic and 214 million more in poverty according to ECLAC data.

15. To promote tax justice. To recover the role of the State, it will be necessary to promote progressive tax reforms, with direct and progressive taxes on income and wealth, the elimination of exemptions and the penalization of tax evasion, easing the tax burden on the poorest, the middle classes and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). In contrast, more progressive taxes should be levied on the large companies and actors in the financial system that generate the most profits.

According to ECLAC, as a consequence of tax evasion, the region loses every year the equivalent of 6.3% of the regional GDP, so that the implementation of such a program is feasible, as long as it is adapted to the different economic and social realities of each country.

It is important to call for fiscal targets to concretize a solidarity-based economic policy. We echo the call of the Independent Commission on Corporate Tax Reform for those who generate the most profits to pay a 25% tax to finance the post-pandemic.

16. To refinance the external debt and support an international financial mechanism to overcome the crisis. Latin American countries could, when they consider it necessary and on a voluntary basis, refinance their external debt with international lending agencies and private lenders. It is estimated that a two-year refinancing of the regional external debt, assuming that all countries request it, would mobilize resources of more than USD 250 billion, which would help finance the reconstruction of the productive structure, the cost of which has been estimated at between 10% and 12% of GDP over the next few years.

At the same time, we could support an international financial effort to overcome the crisis, with the participation of multilateral organizations, such as the World Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), or regional development banks, to access a program of resources and credits in order to boost investments and resume regional economic growth. This would depend on a global negotiation, and could be supported by an international financial architecture at the service of the real economy and job creation, and financed by levies on the global mobility of capital, such as the Tobin Tax and taxes on large digital platform firms.

17. To direct issuance by central banks to governments. European countries are demonstrating that in cases of calamities such as the one we are going through, the financing of programs with issuance resources is legitimate. The space left by negative inflation rates and the need to expand demand to reactivate the economy and rebuild the social fabric would fully justify this mechanism in some Latin American and Caribbean economies. One idea that should be considered is the elimination of the fiscal rule and the direct management of resources for recovery by governments and not by private banks.

18. To establish a new economic policy based on solidarity. Social policy cannot be subordinated to short-term economic priorities. The region requires a countercyclical economic policy, generous in times of scarcity, subject to social priorities in terms of employment and equality, fiscally sustained by progressive taxes and with sovereign control over the inflow and outflow of international capital. Progressive governments, at the beginning of the century, demonstrated that macroeconomic stability can be achieved without sacrificing growth and social inclusion goals.

19. To generate employment and development while ensuring macroeconomic stability and rejecting austerity. Orthodox austerity policies cause enormous damage to our economies and societies, especially in an environment of economic contraction, stagnation of world trade and depletion of private investment. We believe that it is the State’s obligation to guarantee a macroeconomic policy that combines inflation control, the generation of decent employment and the promotion of sustainable development. In many cases, this will imply the modification of monetary policy goals by central banks with autonomy that depends on the protection of the general and collective interest.

20. To Install a new regional financial architecture. The Solidarity Model of Development (MSD) could be supported by a new regional financial architecture to ensure its independence. This structure would be made up of a network of regional banks that would attend to sectoral financing and the re-emergence of the idea of the Bank of the South. An expansion of the current Latin American Reserve Fund (FLAR) is needed to finance the balance of payments. The region must free itself from the conditionalities of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. For financial operations for infrastructure and technological development projects, temporary alliances would be sought with international banks, especially from countries of the Global South, such as the organizations that serve the BRICS and Asian financial agencies, which have already shown interest in supporting investments in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Latin American Integration Association (ALADI) scenario could be used to promote payment agreements in national currencies or strengthen existing mechanisms.

21. To Implement a new industrialization and green transition. In terms of employment generation, we must seek a new development model based on the replacement of extractivist activities with a new industrialization under parameters of environmental sustainability and in the key of ecological transition. Similarly, we must work on a comprehensive rural reform that guarantees access to land for peasants, supporting family and peasant agriculture, promoting low-carbon agriculture aimed at the production of healthy and environmentally compatible food, all within the criteria of increased productivity based on new information and communications technologies. This implies greater support for the demands of environmentalism in its struggle against transgenic crops, the defense of biodiversity and the protection of seriously threatened ecological reserves.

22. To Include good living or living well as a paradigm. Returning to the teachings of the native peoples, the concept of sumak kawsay (good living) or suma qamaña (living well) should be adopted as a frame of reference for the improvement of the quality of life within a historical, cultural and spiritual brotherhood. This notion of the native Andean peoples coincides with the proposal of Pope Francis to stimulate global fraternity, leaving aside the “culture of walls” that ends up enslaving those who build them, enclosing themselves within their own prisons, leaving no room for the recognition of the “other”, the basis of global coexistence[3].

23. To promote the building of citizenship. The concept of citizenship has to do with the place where people are born, where they live and their right to have rights, as well as the possibility to exercise such rights anywhere in the world. Free mobility of people within a geographical space is the essence of integration in the XXI century. ¿How to understand the permanent demand to facilitate the mobility of commodities, services, capital and data in the face of all the obstacles created to prevent the mobility of people? Mobility to be born, to work, to study, to know, to choose and to be chosen, to get a pension or to die with dignity. To build Latin American citizenship, through the elimination of all barriers that make it difficult for a person to exercise its rights within the region is the biggest challenge of this century. The goal, at the end of the process is to not have migrants but citizens of the region and the world.

24. To warranty the access of information, free speech and to promote a more democratic information order. The proliferation of information has not resulted in massive and balanced access. A few years ago it was thought that platforms and social media would serve per se popular causes and the expansion of democratic participation. Reality has shown us an almost monopolic picture of huge conglomerates which have become stronger and have profited from selling personal information and have also served to amplify antidemocratic speech. This has not only contributed to expanding the gap, from an intersectional standpoint, but it has also allowed illegal interference in election processes. Today, several actors in society do not have access to information or new technologies. We must work to make communications more democratic, in a way that access to information and communications become a right, while also protecting the data of all people.

25. To strengthen convergence for integration. The Grupo de Puebla proposes a process of convergence of its current mechanisms of subregional integration[4] until reaching a scenario of articulation and dialogue in ECLAC, where there are currently all 34 countries of the region. The convergence matrix, designed by UNASUR, can be used to identify the strengths, duplicity and specialties of each organism to define the field of action of an invigorated ECLAC, empowered through a Secretary General, with technical support, which can represent the region in the face of a new multilateral systems of government. Convergence does not imply the elimination of forums, conventions or organisms of regional concertation, but a dynamic articulation of those who compose the universe of integration in Latin America and the Caribbean.

26. To support sovereign Latin American integration. The spaces for regional integration must have the following main objectives: the preservation of the region as a peace zone, the building of citizenship, the promotion of development for all, the respect for human rights, the consolidation of sovereignty and the strengthening of the regional market. Likewise, it is indispensable to boost integration in Latin America in order to allow the countries, as a group, to recover their autonomy in front of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the institutions of international financial capital, such as the risk rating agencies , which, under the threat of reviewing such ratings for each country, create exchange crisis and affect the sovereign decisions of economic policy. It is also necessary to prioritize human rights to obligations derived from commerce and investment treaties and to hold them accountable for social and environmental standards, preventing international arbitration procedures to violate the rights of people and nature.

27. To support the reform of the United Nations System in order to strengthen multilateralism and multipolarity. The Grupo de Puebla supports the yearned for reform of the current system of the United Nations in order to make it stronger. There are symptoms of its weakening: the lack of financing for its social subsystem (UNESCO, ILO, FAO, among others); the excessive focalization of its operations of military maintenance of peace; the social; the social conditionalities imposed by the organizations that form its economic subsystem (IMF, World Bank, WCO); and, the absence of decision making democratic systems in its political organs (General Assembly, Security Council). While supporting the necessary reform of the United Nations system, the Grupo de Puebla also reiterates its support of multilateralism as a way of global coexistence, its rejection of hegemony and the need to create a more symmetrical, fair and multipolar international order.

28. To promote knowledge revolution. The new industrialization and a new model of sustainable development will demand that knowledge becomes the source of economic, social and political change that is proposed in this document. The region must massively invest in quality public education, of all levels, so we can have an informed citizenship and the foundation for a development model based on solidarity and innovation. The Grupo de Puebla proposes to destine 2% of the GDP in 2030 to investing in science and technology. This goal is flexible and must be adapted to the particular conditions of each country in our region. We also suggest the creation of a Scientific Mission which can identify and prioritize the fields where this effort must be directed, empathizing in biological investigation, the development of social chains of value, the quality of social services, the attention of tropical diseases, the development of vaccines and other medications, the conservancy of biodiversity, the development of alternative energy sources and the protection of the forest and the water. Likewise, the Grupo de Puebla proposes all countries invest in digital inclusion, as an instrument to make education and information more dynamic.

29. To introduce a cultural agenda for all identities. Integration is born from identity. The Grupo de Puebla rejects the paradigm of just one global identity and it advocates for multiculturalism as the path to regional coexistence with otherness, which implies the recognition of others. In order to achieve respect for such diverse and inclusive identity, it is necessary to build a regional cultural agenda which revalidates roots, narratives and common values, which supports managers and cultural workers while promoting cultural industries, that not only makes this identity contents, but also makes them socially and economically productive.

30. To promote gender equality as the engine of progressive transformation. The sanitary crisis has made visible, to both governments and citizens, the grave situation of inequality and discrimination that women face, specially on ethnic communities, in the country, informal workers, elderly women, among others. The pandemic, and the sanitary measures such as confinement at home, affects women, girls and adolescents in two aspects: violence against them, which has become worse do to the mandate to stay at home with their aggressors and, in a lot of cases, they are unable to reach out for help and to seek for the justice administration. The second aspect is how the pandemic has affected their economic autonomy, since a large number of women work in the informal sector of the economy, which is currently quite affected by the sanitary crisis. Women also suffer discrimination in the workplace; limitations to their sexual and reproductive rights; the absence of recognition for the unpaid home and care work they do and the lack of access to participate in a paritary manner in the public sphere. The omission and slow response of the authorities to restitute their rights and dignity only aggravate the situation.

The elimination of all forms of invisibilizing, violence, oppression and discrimination against women, girls and adolescents cannot be postponed and, therefore, gender and human rights perspective, intersectionality and the promotion and protection of such human rights of women must be a trademark within progressiveness.

31. To fight structural racism and all forms of discrimination. As well as fighting the patriarchy, it will be indispensable to tackle structural racism and all other forms of discrimination sush as lesbophobia, homophobia, transphobia and all those related to the sexual orientarion and gender identity, which create enormous inequalities and place women and men in extreme conditions of vulnerability, violence and exclusion. The building of post-racial, post-patriarchal, deeply equial and non-discriminatory must be our main goal.

32. To achieve and preserve peace. As an expression of progressive forces, the Grupo de Puebla encourages any initiative that conducts to establish or to strengthen peace in the Latin American nations. The Grupo de Puebla rejects the use of violence in any of its forms, the encouragement of hate, foreign intervention or the promotion of war in order to impose the dominance of national or transnational power groups. In the same way, the Grupo de Puebla fosters the reallocation of the resources that States use for the production, purchase or commerce of weapons yo be destined to the health and education system. It also exhorts all governments of the region to contribute to the international prohibition to use nuclear weapons in the planer, to avoid their proliferation and to stimulate the dismantling of nuclear arsenals.

33. To support social mobilization. The Grupo de Puebla supports social mobilization as a genuine expression of nonconformity and change, which must be warranted as a right. At the same time the Grupo de Puebla expresses its worry because of the military nature of the response to social protest. Social mobilization is a right and a warranty within democratic systems, therefore, the disproportionate use of force to fight it is a grave peril to democracy.

To conclude:

It is our duty as progressive people to read, understand and fully grasp the vigorous, yet painful message of the pandemic: to stop, reflect and go on. It is urgent to work on a political project which moves and convinces the survivors of the old model that there still exist alternative and possible utopias in Latin América and the Caribbean. The possible utopia that gathers us today is the building of the new Latin American progressive being, who is more solidary on social matters, more productive on economic matters, more participative on political matters, more peaceful with nature and, overall, more proud of its condition as citizen of Latin America and the Caribbean.

February 2021

[1] Luis Inacio Lula da Silva
[2] De Sousa Santos, Boaventura (2017). Democracia y transformación social. Bogotá: Siglo del Hombre Editores.
[3] Encíclica Fratelli Tutti, 2020
[4] Comunidad Andina, UNASUR, Mercosur, Organización del Tratado de Cooperación Amazónica, Alba, Caricom, Alianza del Pacífico, Asociación de Estados del Caribe y SICA.

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