Foro de São Paulo (FSP) (English: São Paulo Forum) is a conference of nationalist and socialist political parties and social movements in Latin America and the Caribbean. It was launched by the Workers' Party (Portuguese: Partido dos Trabalhadores - PT) of Brazil in 1990 in the city of São Paulo.
The Forum of São Paulo was constituted in 1990 when the Brazilian Workers' Party approached other parties and social movements of Latin America and the Caribbean with the objective of debating the new international scenario after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the consequences of the implementation of neoliberal policies by governments in the region, the avowedly main objective of the conference being to argue for a popular and democratic alternative to neoliberalism.
The first meeting, held in São Paulo, on July 1990, was attended by members of 48 parties and organizations from Latin American and the Caribbean. The original name given to the meeting was Meeting of Left and Anti-imperialist Parties and Organizations of Latin America (Portuguese: Encontro de Partidos e Organizações de Esquerda e Antiimperialistas da América Latina). In 1991, in Mexico City, the meeting started being called, alternatively, Foro de São Paulo, in reference to the location of the first meeting. The following meetings were held in Managua (1992), Havana (1993), Montevideo (1995), San Salvador (1996), Porto Alegre (1997), Mexico City (1998), Manágua (2000), Havana (2001), Antigua Guatemala (2002), Quito (2003), São Paulo (2005), San Salvador (2007), Montevideo (2008), and Mexico City (2009).
The Foro's chief authority is its meeting itself; between meetings, the Foro is represented by an Executive Group (Grupo de Trabalho) composed of a sample of its overall membership, that usually meets thrice a year, as well as by an Executive Secretariat (Secretariado Executivo).
According to FSP, more than 100 parties and political organizations participate in its conferences today. Their political positions vary across a wide spectrum, which includes: social-democratic parties, left-wing grass-roots labor and social movements inspired by the Catholic Church, ethnic and environmentalist groups, anti-imperialist and nationalist organizations, communist parties, and armed guerrilla forces. The latter, however, is true only so far as one is willingly to think of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as an actual member of the FSP, when actually the FARC, although never formally banned from the Forum, have been barred from participating of its meetings as early as 2005, when they were refused admittance to this year's meeting of the FSP in São Paulo.
These groups differ on a range of topics which go from the use of armed force in revolutions to the support of representative democracy. The Cuban Communist Party, for example, has adopted a single-party system for decades, while Brazil's Workers' Party (PT) supports and participates in a multiparty system. These differences grant special relevance to FSP's final declarations, released at the end of each conference, which state the collective position of its members.
Ever since FSP's first meeting (1990), the Declaration which was approved expressed the participants' "willingness to renew leftist and socialist thought, to reaffirm its emancipating character, to correct mistaken conceptions, and to overcome all expressions of bureaucratism and all absence of true social and massive democracy."
The first Declaration manifests "an active compromise with the validity of human rights, of democracy and of popular sovereignty as strategic values, which place the constant challenge of leftist, socialist and progressive forces renewing their thoughts and actions."
At the second conference (Mexico, 1991), FSP expanded its objectives to add the proposal of working toward Latin American integration, an interchange of experiences, the discussion of the political left's differences and searching for consensus in action. The following conferences reinstate the participants' willingness to exchange experiences and develop a dialogue, while at the regional and continental level FSP's influence grows, with some of its members achieving electoral success and their candidates reaching the presidency of many countries.
During the early 1990s, the FSP was seem by some as expressing the emergence of a new Latin American leftist paradigm: non- authoritarian, de-militarized and grassroots-friendly. As others have noted, however, there is a marked contradiction between the fiery and quasi-revolutionary rethoric about "socialism of the XXIst Century" indulged in sometimes by many FSP's leaders, and the plain fact that the positions of power held by such leaders depend, on most cases, on their holding positions in governments which have emerged through the electoral road. In a statement made in 2008 in Lima, before a gathering of Peruvian businessmen, however, Brazil's President Lula would declare, approvingly, that the FSP had "educated" the Left in the understanding of the existence of possibilities of running for elections and gaining power through the democratic way - - a declaration that prompted a comment from the Rede Globo site to the effect that the hallmark of FSP's activities had been its "very moderate" character.
During the fifth meeting (Montevideo, 1995) a dispute arose about the attendance of the Movimiento Bolivia Libre, which was charged, in a motion presented by ten parties, led by Argentina's Partido Obrero, of support to the repressive actions of the neoliberal government of Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in Bolivia. The refusal of the motion by the Foro's plenum led to the permanent withdrawal of Partido Obrero from the meeting. Partido Obrero had already declared itself in opposition to the Foro's positions, having previously made public a note in which it protested against the change in the official name of the organization, as " offering evidence of putting, in the place of actual making of common policies, a kind of purely academic workshop, [a sure sign] of conscious depoliticization leading eventually to the cover-up of rightist policies".
During the XIIth. meeting in El Salvador, it was resolved that the Foro should organize a number of subordinate organizations and facilities: an electronic bulletin on the Net, a politic-cultural festival, an electoral observatory and a cadre school.
In the final declaration of the FSP's XIVth meeting in Montevideo, there is a reinstatement and updating of the Foro's goals: to aid "the progressive forces in the continent who are in power and strive in various ways to build projects which - according to each country's particular characteristics - allow them to face the main problems generated by neoliberalism" - something which added to the statemente made at the same time by Belela Herrera, International Relations chargé of the Uruguayan Broad Front, that issues like ecology, exclusion, racism and xenophobia had added themselves inseparably to the Left's traditional agenda . The XIVth. meeting also debated the ongoing Colombian armed conflict, which prompted a declaration by the International Relations Secretary of the Brazilian Workers' Party,Valter Pomar, who exposed what in his view was the Foro's general stance towards the current Colombian situation: "In Colombia we have a military confrontation that has been going on for decades, having as its players the [Colombian] State, as well as the paramilitary and insurgent forces. The Foro is interested in achieving peace and in having a negotiated process towards reaching this goal".
In the XVth. meeting , which opened on August 20th. 2009 in Mexico City, the Foro was expected to concentrate discussion on the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis as well as engaging in efforts to the restoration of the deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya. The Vice president of the Mexican Senate, Yeidckol Polenvsky, has invited the Honduran MP Silvia Ayala, as a member of the Democratic Unification Party and leader of the manifestations in support of Zelaya held in San Pedro Sula, to attend the meeting - something that attracted the fury of the pro- current government Honduran press.
The ongoing meeting in Mexico will also be the first to organize a parallel youth meeting, where member parties will discuss the impact of the global economic crisis on Latin American youth and the responses that could be offered to it.
Map showing Sao Paulo Members: currently in government as main opposition parties
The following countries are currently being governed by leaders and member parties of the Foro de São Paulo:
As Main Opposition
The following countries had members of the Foro de São Paulo as the main opposition parties in their parliaments and/or were the second electoral force in the past elections:
The following center-left parties though not members of the forum maintain good relations and have been integrated with the members who are currently in government:
List of Official Members