Presented at the Berta Cáceres IFOS 2021
Dear sisters, sisterhood, sorority, is a feeling that does not need the direct knowledge of a particular person, rather, it transcends shared experiences. I do not know many of you, but we are sisters.
The coordinators of the School asked me to share some ideas on the accumulated experiences and challenges to the processes of articulation of popular struggles, and I thought it would be good to begin from some of the essential ideas that have been produced in this workshop, which are ideas born in this path that is coming to a close so we can go on to experience a new step.
- When we speak of the political subject, we always speak of an identity under construction; one which is never closed and is permanently being enriched. The subject is always in the making, there is no eternal identity; we are biographies under construction told in first person. The popular subject is born with resistance, rupturing the introjection of oppression, and overcoming victimization. The popular political subject recreates her/their self-esteem by dreaming and fighting to change the world. We are proud of that.
- The movement is in a time of expanding and connecting the various women’s collectives and organizations, of forming new young leaders; of looking at itself, imagining itself, knowing that it is present, with the capacity for belligerence and mobilization; with the capacity to protect itself with a fabric that has grown in the organizing, and in meanings. At the same time, the movement is capable of always walking with its feet on the ground, taking care of the common goods, solving people’s immediate problems such as food, water, rest, time in a general sense.
- We cannot achieve this on our own, because we live in a web of oppressions that capital has been weaving, with roots in colonization processes, with patriarchy and racism sown as a discourse of winners and losers in a history of slavery. Then, our contribution is essential for building a plural subject that grows from the centrality of life, where the paths of territory, sovereignty and rights intersect. The contributions of this plural subject are organized so as to confront the diverse faces of the enemies we face: agribusiness, military industrial complexes, the leisure industry that degrades our history and our diversity, the criminalization of struggles, the predatory privatization of transnational corporations, the flexibilization of labor by corporate companies, the judicial and legislative system supported by a State in crisis.
- This plural subject is woven from the articulation of agendas that sometimes appear contradictory to us; from the articulation of local struggles with struggles disputing the State and global struggles. It transcends each one of us. It must be situated in the tension between the local, the policy disputes in national liberation processes involving the role of the State for the legislation we need, the denunciation of the violence we suffer, the economy we defend, the recognition of our contribution in the tasks of care and reproduction, and the dispute of the class project at the global level. It is important to identify capital’s representatives and interests in each scenario, as well as their tactics of fragmenting us with disputes over the same territory that is peripheral to the concentration of ownership and to the exercising of politics in our societies.
- We do articulate contents and discourses, but it is not enough, we must also articulate the different logics for organizing ourselves, the technologies we use, the resources that can contribute to our emancipation or to our subjugation. For this, we must prioritize the grassroots fabric that embodies this spirit of articulation in the daily life of the organizations; and not only articulate the coordinating bodies and leadership; articulate from the formative and communication processes, from the concrete tasks in our bases.
- The relationship between the project and power sustains the course that our efforts take in this regard. Our horizon is a project in defense of democracy, of the socialization of power, of new social relations deployed in a feminist economy in an emancipatory sense, but many times we do not rid ourselves of a hierarchical political culture which sets legitimate sizes that indicate standards, leaderships, contributions more important than others, an order that we tend to maintain among ourselves.
- In the project that we defend, the construction of a new internationalism is central, one that expresses global resistance, but also daily and mutual care and healing. Internationalism has the value of class solidarity at its base. Solidarity as a value and a principle for the movement is not cronyism, it is not the paying off of emotional debts; it is the conviction that the struggle is one, with our differences; that goes beyond contexts, emergencies, circumstances and personality traits that might make our work difficult. If capital operates internationally, we must know each other, take care of each other, love each other internationally, from our stories, from our time spent without rest, from our bodies lacking care.
- The place of resistance is not a place for settling in, but for transforming things wherever we can, whenever we can. Resisting from different places, the territory, the movement, the governments. We have taken an important step, from the perception of movements as self-organized sectors of society, without parties or aspirations to participate in electoral processes, to a vision of organized popular movements with the capacity for building a political instrument or articulations with political forces.
- To articulate ourselves, we must be very clear about our history, agenda and discourse. Without that clarity, it is difficult for us to be flexible without putting our accumulated results at risk. Flexibility is essential for the articulation of diversity of struggles. It may be that impoverished sectors of society feel threatened by us, either because they are Christians of a fundamentalist church or because they appropriated the conservative ideas of progress and social order that capitalism imposed. They are not our enemies for that. We must be aware that we are disputing beliefs rooted in people’s emotions, in their attitudes, and that for many poor people, merit and efforts are directed toward inserting themselves into the system. We must speak to them, organize our narrative according to circumstances, prioritizing solidarity with the impoverished and excluded sectors. A narrative capable of mobilizing people must meet their immediate needs. On the other hand, we can find allies in right-wing sectors that embrace certain points of our agendas. In each case, our discernment will be essential for the accumulation of strength for the exploited, excluded, precarious, and the whole of society, the impoverished people.
From these consensual considerations, we can address the challenge of building regional and global articulation. If we are so aware of this, why is it so hard for us? I will only share a few difficulties:
- Coming from a leftist political culture, we have built an understanding of the struggle that is marked by stages, which presupposes something that has not been demonstrated by the political experience, which is that some things must be achieved before others. This assumption, together with a narrow understanding of the subject in resistance, leads us to classify as legitimate or significant those resistances with an apparent capacity to confront capital systemically, and others as minor or based solely on making demands. With this view, we are unaware of the surprising ways in which an antisystemic slogan or claim crystallizes at any moment with emancipatory meanings. These are prejudices that pervade our political articulations.
- We must talk about sectarianism, which is the opposite of being radical in our struggle and about principles for a dialogue among diverse perspectives, as well as for the common construction of horizons for the struggle. Sectarianism has generated national, intra-sectoral and inter-party fractures that drag social forces with them and that have resulted in the fracturing or difficulty of having a dialogue among various articulations that group actors from the same side. They are like faults in a mountain. Alliances are being woven horizontally between kindreds, but with great difficulty in building alliances with others and in opening communicating vessels with those in other faults.
- Regional articulation is not in the interest of the actors that manage resources, who may want a happier world but do not want to change its order, even less what we need to do to change that order. Furthermore, the articulation processes do not have a linear or short-term impact on the management of the territories, nor on policies at the country level. It is difficult to measure and evaluate them beyond some areas of interest that may be a reason for convergence. There is a concentration on privileged agendas linked to the territory, often disconnected from any intention of contributing to an emancipation project on a global scale. Funding sources have generated fractures in regional networks and processes.
- Most progressive governments have not given priority to this. There is no actor that can take care of the process, convene it, offer it a space of trust and political dialogue. They have wanted to assume this role from a culture of eventism with many difficulties and shortcomings to building it as a process.
- In the region, we have had difficulty establishing a dialogue between regional articulations and unitary processes at the country level, although some agendas do connect the regional with the territorial levels.
- Despite our democratic horizon, we have organizational practices marked by highly centralized referents, or by belongings to political instruments that we sometimes take to our popular militancy with a sort of clandestinity because we do not debate their role in the processes of struggle or dialogue with their contributions.
- We inherited the understanding of time from the liberal Western paradigm of doing many things at once, in a short time, and we do not allow us to have quality time to get to know each other, to reflect together, to build trust. Immersed in a resistance that is intensifying in the current scenario, we feel that we do not have time for the articulations to which we dedicate efforts from task to task, from meeting to meeting, but without aiming at having a unitary construction in process.
In many countries, surviving and taking care of oneself is a challenge in a militarized, criminalized society, where there is total impunity; in a context where leadership is criminalized with prosecutions or media campaigns of corruption. Surviving as a human being, surviving as a political subject, are great challenges that hinder the construction of an articulation that means traveling, meeting, communicating.
Which lessons learned should we keep on developing to build alliances?
- It is important to dialogue with the political forces that can contribute to a project, not as a minor or subaltern subject, as the movements have political projects and a culture of militancy. There is no place for good politics and bad politics, let’s start from our accumulated experiences and face this new era step by step, building confidence, collective self-esteem and pride in putting rebellion at the center of life.
- There are no unique referents or paradigms for political formation/education. In the past, we used to resort to presupposed certainties and truths. Today, it is more difficult to build the pillars of formation with a multiplicity of referents and not a single paradigm, hence the challenge of deepening a popular education that is always political and includes the most heterodox Marxism, the histories of our peoples, and the memory of our ancestors in the construction of a critical, creative, transformative feminism rooted in the socio-political dynamics of the territories.
- We must dialogue with the richness of people’s spirituality in order to confront the advances of a conservative and fundamentalist Church that feeds its community through consumption and the promise of affection, companionship and goods to the poorest.
- We have learned to work in the convergence of networks and actors for communication, to make visible the experiences of feminist economy, care practices, women’s participation and empowerment in social transformation projects, violence as a physical and symbolic practice, the struggles for rights, the need to form a critical and revolutionary consciousness regarding the existence of a macho culture, a big cultural, political and economic challenge.
- We have experiences of dialogue with local popular initiatives that do not become organized movements.
- We have developed the concept of the transversal nature of this discussion, its method and its ability to question the main contradictions.
- We are working on the production of a theory from praxis, creating syntheses with other subjects that are part of this plurality, and moving forward transcending activism.
- We are advancing in building consensus around the need to confront the struggle against free trade and transnational corporations, in the defense of democracy with sovereignty and for the integration of peoples, struggles that are capable of generating articulation and common actions from a broad and plural process that is the Jornada Continental for Democracy and against Neoliberalism that brings together peasants, women, unions, students, urban and migrant movements to discuss the current context and agree on joint mobilizations from the deepening of these axes of unity.
- At the same time, we have taken steps in the construction of an articulation of anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal, anti-patriarchal popular movements, with axes in political formation, communication and solidarity among the peoples as core axes. This articulation proposes to build unitary processes at the country level with the construction of ALBA movements as the regional expressions of the International Assembly of the Peoples, which operates at the global level.
- We have understood that communication is a political process of convergence and integration and we have a network of alternative media, distribution channels, in a communicational framework that stems from and towards the philosophy of integration that we defend. We build media convergences, without having property or owners, where everyone contributes their own accumulated knowledge not so much to a joint coverage, but to the political positioning of communication as a factor for popular integration, identity and resistance.
To conclude, the alliances we build to confront capital and empire must be based on having confidence in the victories, our mística, the roots of history, the celebrations of our identities, the richness of the reflection of organic intelligentsia, the emergence of new generations politicized and formed in the mobilization, with optimism and militant experience. These generations are beginning to assume their leading role in complex processes of building regional unity, and they do so with the confidence and affection that cannot be lacking in our struggles.
- ‘Eventism’ is the systematic reduction of culture to isolated and disjointed facts -events-, which are disposable and superficial products designed for consumerism and the market.