Progressive social movements from across the hemisphere met in Trinidad from April 15-18 for the IV People’s Summit, a parallel event to the Summit of the Americas.
Led by local trade unions and the Assembly of Caribbean Peoples, the IV People’s Summit happened at a critical moment in the Americas.
The promises of economic prosperity through free trade agreements have left many across the Americas without the basic means of decent living. The unemployment rate in the United States is over 8%. Further south, severely affected by the same failed policies, small-scale farmers have been turned into food beggars in larger cities in the Latin American and Caribbean regions, and millions have been forced to migrate in search of economic sustenance.
Over one million families in the United States have lost their homes. Immigrant workers, many if not most of who are ex-farmers, are being intimidated by bosses of sweat shop-like operations or rounded up in their homes and even in the streets through raids.
Rejecting outright the wealth concentration instead of the common wealth, that these policies and the very financial system and structures that it has created, the people of the Americas made clear their refusal to pay the cost of something that they did not contribute to. Similar to the ‘Bailout the People’ marches throughout the United States, the Latin American and Caribbean people also reject any type of solution to this global crisis that will sacrifice basic human rights and fairness.
The consensus in the Trinidad IV People’s Summit was that it is time to replace the old paradigms of economic development that have benefited a few. The privatization of the global commons, for instance, is one of these policies that have to go in order to open space for a new era of prosperity and development in the Americas. Embracing the concept of “el buen vivir,” the good life put forward by indigenous peoples, the representatives of the hemisphere’s social movements and organizations were clear that a new hemisphere is necessary. From the Caribbean, the people of the Americas clearly said “Enough of failed economic models at the expense of the poor and working people!”