Re-imagining Solidarity and Hope is the title of our 2018-2020 project. The starting point is the need to find strategies and methodologies for dialogue that transcend geopolitical boundaries, including different histories, that allow deeper reflection and learning by a diversity of actors, ideas, ideologies and approaches. The aim is to build links in the search for alternatives to the multidimensional crisis (ecological, climatic, financial, political and social) that is swallowing up our societies and humankind as a whole.
Our proposal seeks to take advantage of the rich and diverse experience that the Peoples Dialogue has acquired in recent years. Seek and unite different strands of social actors and stakeholders in a creative space where experiences from the religious sector, small farmers, peasants, feminists, movements, indigenous peoples, affected by mining and workers can interact with research, analysis and dialogue and systematize the lessons and “insights” for their own movements and praxis. To this end, Peoples Dialogue has been constituted as a space in which sectors of African and Latin American civil society can learn and share struggles, experiences, debates and the search for alternatives.
We have been able to bring together more than 50 popular movements and organizations in dialogue and collective learning. Together we construct a collective analysis of the current crisis (financial, ecological, food, social), developing the idea of “multidimensional crisis”.
In the last three to five years we have contributed to a growing critique and debate about the extractive model of development. We have participated in many achievements, such as the formation of the Rural Women Assembly (RWA) in Southern Africa; common actions in the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples; of the seed exchange program between Brazil and Southern Africa; and various dialogues that culminated in a Conference on the Crisis of Civilization, where we deepened the interfaces between the ecological crisis and the commodification of nature. It was also the first moment of African civil society engagement with the analysis of indigenous movements in Latin America.
In recent years, the opening of spaces and the creation of ties have continued as we have established close partnerships with movements actively involved in the mining challenge in Latin America, Southern Africa and the world. These processes enabled PD to continuously develop our analysis and expand engagement platforms.
In Southern Africa the recession in South Africa had a rotating effect on the region. South Africa experienced negative growth. In Zimbabwe, they recently issued “bond stocks” against which the IMF issued a warning and Mozambique failed to honor debt payments, to name a few. Most Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries face increasing inequality, unemployment and economic hardship. The region is an excellent example of a region where there is an abundance of one or more primary commodities, but which seem doomed to underdevelopment. The situation becomes even more complicated for those economies that depend on oil and minerals for their income.
Our experience of intercultural debate, between different social movements, involving very diverse regions, contributed to consolidate an important space of articulation of movements of greater political influence. We have developed important links with a number of grassroots movements rooted in South Africa, such as the MACUA (Mining Affected Communities united in Action) that brings together communities that resist the impact of mining on the environment and megaprojects. Other important partners in the Peoples Dialogue are WoMin – Women and Mining and the Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA), which are regional networks of women’s movement organizations that actively challenge social and environmental conditions in the region. We facilitate and renew initiatives such as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Parallel Summit.
As an experience of intercultural debate, between distinct social movements – women, indigenous peoples, peasants, affected by mining, workers, etc. – involving diverse regions, the Dialogue of Peoples was consolidated as an important space for articulating movements with greater political influence. In the last five years, in Southern Africa, in particular, it facilitated and innovated initiatives such as the Assembly of Rural Women and the Parallel Summit in SADC.
In Latin America, in particular, the crisis of the so-called “progressive” governments demands from the social movements a period of reflection and redefinition of their strategies of action. A long-term process is open and demands of all of us the need to rearticulate alliances and, in some cases, the reconstruction of the bases of the movements. On the other hand, levels of violence and violation of rights, including those gained in many years of efforts, lead to a multiplicity of local, territorial and localized struggles.
On the other hand, in recent years, the reactions of the national elites to the advances in the agenda of social and economic rights promoted by these governments, although extremely timid, have been significant.
In 2016, in Brazil, we witnessed the consummation of a “parliamentary coup”, supported by the media, led by the Judiciary. The result was the criminalization of politics, the deposition of a elected president, the dismantling of the economic, social and cultural rights won by years of popular struggles and the surrender of the common goods to international capital.
In the cities, the loss of rights, unemployment and the end of social programs to meet the demands for housing, have strongly restored the themes of the right to the city in the social agenda. The urban issue, which has always been present among the concerns of the Peoples Dialogue, is now gaining inescapable relevance. The rural-urban link is back in a different context, since the extractive projects force the displacement of part of the rural population, which has to migrate, overburdening the demands for the right to the city. In this context, we have extended our ties with the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST), which has been consolidating as the main urban movement in Brazil. In the opening phase for the construction of international alliances, MTST finds in the Peoples Dialogue a partner. This is a new and extremely important agenda, whose foundations are being built and should be developed in the coming years.