Participants agree to joint action, future meetings
Communist parties from Mexico, the US and Canada met in Mexico City November 28 to December 1 to discuss the USMCA free trade agreement, whose ratification by governments across North America is about to be completed. The meeting was hosted by the Communist Party of Mexico (PCM) and included the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) and the Communist Party of Canada (CPC).
The parties identified the USMCA – known as T-MEC (El Tratado entre México, Estados Unidos y Canadá) in Latin America – as a continuation of the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Like its predecessor, USMCA is described as a continental corporate constitution whose goal is to strengthen the power and profits of capital across the continent; weaken the working class, the labour and democratic movements, small farmers and producers; slash wages and living standards; and privatize public services and social programs, including Medicare in Canada. The agreement also aims to undermine the fight for peace, climate justice, social progress and socialism in the hemisphere.
Under the USMCA, national sovereignty and independence will be weakened further than they were under NAFTA, as significant parts of the deal require national governments to inform and consult one another on such things as trade agreements with other countries, and specifically with socialist (“non-market economy”) countries, before they can act. In fact, this ‘trade’ agreement is not mainly about trade; it’s about corporate domination of national governments across the continent.
Discussion at the trilateral meeting focused on key areas of water privatization and privatization and control of natural and energy resources; control over Indigenous rights, land and resources; and control over the movement of people, including refugees, while corporations and capital are freed to move anywhere in the hemisphere in order to maximize profits. Climate change and the loss of flora and fauna specifies, which the USMCA agreement will accelerate, were also major themes, as fires raged across the Amazon – the lungs of the planet – during the meeting.
There was considerable discussion over the massive forced migration of millions of people in the Americas, who are fleeing war, far right and fascist governments, and climate catastrophe. All of these crises have been brought on by neoliberal governments and the imperialist countries of North America which aim to dominate the Americas and the Caribbean. The parties condemned the US government’s response to migrants fleeing north to the US and Canada, including the notorious caging of migrant children taken by force from their parents at the US border with Mexico. These are de facto concentration camps run by the US military.
The so-called Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the US has forced migrants who first sought refugee status in the US to enter Canada illegally. This often endangers their lives – particularly of children and elderly people – as it can involve crossing through fields at the border in -30° temperatures. Migrants moving north through Mexico to the US also face dangerous conditions and are met at the border by US military personnel with shoot to kill orders.
Under the USMCA, mass migrations will become larger and more dangerous as corporations continue to plunder Latin America and the Caribbean, while governments close borders to fleeing migrants and refugees. The 21st century has seen the largest mass migrations since World War II. Far right governments and movements in all the capitalist countries have sought to exploit this crisis with xenophobic and racist campaigns against migrants and immigration.
The three Communist parties pledged to continue fighting the USMCA and set May Day 2020 as a day of joint action against the deal. Instead of a race to the bottom, the parties declared their commitment to fight for and win better wages and living standards for all workers across the continent; to protect small farmers and producers from bankruptcy and expropriation, with policies to protect the family farm and guarantee food security for all; to protect the environment and reverse climate change; to protect and expand Indigenous rights and land; to protect and defend national sovereignty and independence; to curb corporate power and build the unity, organization and strength of the working class movement across the hemisphere with the goal of fundamental social transformation and socialism.
The trilateral meeting saluted the struggles of autoworkers, teachers and educational workers taking place in Mexico, the US and Canada. It also expressed solidarity with Cuba, condemning the imperialist blockade and the recent aggressive measures by the Trump administration, and with the people of Bolivia in their struggle against the coup d’état promoted and implemented by the OAS and guided by the US. The meeting condemned similar attempted coups in Venezuela and Nicaragua.
The three parties welcomed the struggle of the peoples of Ecuador and Chile against far right and neoliberal governments, and against finance capital. They expressed their collective concern about the failure of the peace accords in Colombia and the situation of political persecution, murders, and staging of new “false positive” killings of civilians. The meeting also welcomed the Haitian people’s mass mobilization for their rights.
Finally, the parties agreed to continue fraternal exchanges and to convene another trilateral meeting in 2021 in Canada, and to continue sharing views on important contemporary theoretical and political questions.
Following the meeting on the USMCA, the three parties were joined by other parties from across Latin America to discuss recent and urgent developments in Latin America including the mass migrations, the overturning of progressive governments in the region, and the continuing efforts by the US and OAS to overthrow the Maduro government in Venezuela.
A day of discussions included talks about the work to build the Communist parties and the movement for socialism in each country. While the conditions are different, the fight for working class unity, militancy, mass political struggle, and for socialism is the same. During this session, veteran members of the Communist Party of Mexico were recognized and spoke briefly about the Party’s history and the revolutionary struggles of the Mexican working class in the 19th and 20th centuries. Participants visited a gallery featuring the breathtaking wall murals of Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siquerios, a confirmation of the revolutionary spirit of the Mexican people.
On the final day, the parties celebrated the founding of the Communist Party of Mexico in 1919. PCM leader Pavel Blanco spoke to a large gathering of Party members, supporters and guests, followed by representatives of Communist parties from Latin America, the US, Canada, Greece and Turkey. While the PCM is 100 years old, its membership is young, active and militant. A panel discussion on women, with contributions from women in the leadership of the Communist parties of Mexico, Turkey and Canada, showed the importance that all the parties gave to the issue of building among women.
In the wake of the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in 2017, many Communist parties are celebrating their centenaries; in 2019 this included PCM and the CPUSA. The next gathering of the three parties will also celebrate the centenary of the Communist Party of Canada in 2021.