CISPES at the Latin America Solidarity Conference: Toward a Strong Coalition, United in Action
Five years agothis April, the Venezuelan people rose to defeat the U.S.-backed coup attemptto undercut the Bolivarian Revolution, the anti-imperialist project at theforefront of Latin Americas leftward tide. On the anniversary of Venezuelas triumph the Latin America SolidarityCoalition (LASC) held its fourth national conference in Chicago entitled Alternatives to Empire.
Founded in 2000,this years LASC conference was endorsed by fifty grassroots organizations andincluded over 300 participants. TheConference strove to educate about the diverse struggles against neoliberalismand develop a common theoretical understanding of the problem, culminating in aunified plan to concretely support these struggles.
The Coalition ofImmokalee Workers (CIW) opened the weekend with the announcement that they hadjust scored a huge victory over the McDonalds Corporation. The agreement withMcDonalds decided that McDonalds would pay more for the tomatoes theypurchase, and that increase will go directly to tomato growers. CIW is a community based worker organizationin Florida comprised mostly of migrant tomatopickers from Mexico and Central America and a member organization of the LatinAmerican Solidarity Coalition (LASC).
As we heard at avictory rally that was thousands-strong, the CIW attributed its historicvictory to innovative organizing that relied on a broad coalition ofsupportersfrom diverse sectors including traditional labor unions, students,the religious community, and even politicians including former president JimmyCarterand its unity of action. The CIWs victorious campaign pointed the wayforward for the LASC but also underscored the significant distance we muststill travel to build a unified and strong coalition that CISPES envisions. Thevictory also confirmed a conversation within CISPES, that social movementorganizations only remain viable if they are in motion, making progress throughstruggle.
To this end,CISPES eight representatives made a strong case for developing a centralcoalition campaign that could unify the LASC membership through common action.While many of the conferences forty-five workshops focused on specific issue-education. CISPESactivists led three workshops aimed at strengthening the LASCs strategicthinking, focused on solidarity movement history and movement-buildingstrategies. The first contextualized the current struggle within movementhistory and demonstrated to the next generation of activists what has beensuccessful and what lessons can be applied to our current organizing. CISPES second workshop shared and developed alliance-buildingstrategies among grassroots organizations and more policy-orientedorganizations. CISPES third workshop began planning unified action tochallenge U.S. imperialismin Latin America. CISPES-led workshops werewell-attended and filled with a compelling and clever energy to dismantle U.S.imperialism. The only true test of intention is action, and memberorganizations have risen to the challenge, already meeting about unifiedcampaign possibilities.
The Venezuelanuprising that put the anti-imperialist Bolivarian Revolution back in power issignificant because it sits at the forefront of the unified struggle of theLatin American left for integration and independence from the U.S. CISPES views the growing unity amongst theLatin American left as a call for U.S.-based solidarity activists to also unifyin struggle.
After the LASC, Adelante!