For the inaugurating speech of the Progressive Latin American Meeting in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito, in presence of 35 left wing parties from the region and Europe, President Correa on Monday called on the Latin American left to strengthen their ties, because a “conservative restoration” is underway.
Correa warned about “tough times” to come, with the resurgence of the conservative right in the region, saying it was now re-organizing, after a decade of “bewilderment” and deprivation of power in many Latin American countries.
This conservative wave is coming “with the complicity of (some of) the so-called radical left,” he deplored, “which is in reality the the most conservative sector, opposing everything all the time.” He said that “the conservative restoration acts in a globalized way and in our America, by taking advantages of NGOs funded by the first world.”
He said that although in Ecuador and Latin America, a lot of progress had been made, “we still have not achieved a dominance of the popular power over the elites.” He warned that all these advances could be reversed at any time while the right was re-organizing its forces, benefiting from national and international connections, with the complicity of the mainstream media and the dominant countries.
In this context, the unity of the progressive movements of the region is crucial in his opinion, as well as the reinforcement of regional integration.
“The right have unlimited material, financial and media resources. We must have ideas, unlimited proposals. We are going to build common agendas, we are going to defend the democratic progressive governments of the region,” said Correa, adding that this meeting, organized by his political party Alianza País, should be the opportunity for creating a permanent platform for this purpose.
Nevertheless a common agenda should not imply that socialism must not adapt itself to the reality of each country; on the contrary the new left should take into account the particular circumstances of each country in order to avoid standardization. However, initiatives like the Bank of the South or the Fund of Reserves of the South, as well as other mechanisms of exchange would help obtain the second and definitive independence, as well as sovereignty and development, in his opinion.
He also described his idea of 21st century socialism, “Socialism defines new options of development,” and “the new left must look for a new notion of development,” he insisted. In his mind development should focus on the research of “well-living” (buen vivir), a philosophy based on the Andean tradition of promoting a life that is respectful of nature. Such a development should not repeat the same capitalist objectives such as consumerism, industrialization and the accumulation of capital, among others.
Although traditional ideas of the left remained current, such as he search for justice in a broad, over-arching sense, putting humans before profit, and the role of the state in society, the new left should overcome a few positions of the past, especially the denial of the market, Correa argued.
“There is a difference between a society with a market, and a market society,” he said, explaining that what matters is putting the market at the service of the common good.
Other positions have to be updated, according to him, like finding a better balance between the individual and the collective, or re-evaluating the notion of efficiency.
Finally, Correa again rejected the unilateral economic embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States for more than half a century, and said it is a major violation to international law.