People’s Forum on BRICS held in Goa develops a declaration for heads of state attending the 8th BRICS Summit
GOA, 14 October 2016: The People’s Forum on BRICS that took place in Goa on the 13th and 14th of Goa witnessed several social movements and civil society formations, representing the people of at least 10 countries, make a declaration towards the official 8th BRICS summit in Goa.
The declaration has urged upon the BRICS nations to look at issues of Social, Economic and Environmental justice and has reminded the BRICS leadership of a time of an unprecedented crisis facing humanity and nature.
The forum has emphasised the threat that several democracies across the world are facing from reactionary and imperialist forces and has in particular drawn attention to the coup in Brazil that has overthrown a people’s government. The representatives also noticed with great concern the state repression of people’s movements and student’s protests in countries including India and South Africa.
The declaration also points out the massive levels of ecological destruction that is taking place around the world, led by corporations and in collusion with the state. Goa, the site of the summit is ironically at the receiving end of this destruction.
The Forum also pointed out the teetering world economy that is on the verge of another financial meltdown resulting in stocks and currency market crisis in many of the BRICS countries. The longer-term crisis of capitalism is evident in the marked slowdown in international trade, in declining global profit rates, and in business disinvestment, especially evident in the three BRICS which have negative or negligible GDP growth.
The world’s workers are losing rights, farmers are suffering to the point of suicide, and labour casualisation is rampant in all our countries, with the result that BRICS workers are engaged in regular protest and wildcat strikes, of which the strike by 180 million Indian workers inspired the world on 2 September;
On the social front, the threat to our already-inadequate welfare policies is serious, especially in Brazil’s coup regime but more generally across the BRICS where inadequate social policies are not providing adequate safety nets;
The commodification of public services is causing misery, such as in South Africa where university students are fighting hard for a fee-free, decolonised tertiary education;
Everywhere that people’s movements have made countervailing demands – such as democracy, peace, poverty eradication, sustainable development, equality, fair trade – the elites have co-opted our language and distorted our visions beyond recognition. Many of our leaders are hopelessly corrupt, and so when BRICS spin-doctors claim that their work in Goa will “build responsive, inclusive and collective solutions,” we have spent two days looking beyond the pleasing rhetoric and have found a very different, harsh reality.
In short, whereas we criticise the way world power is created and exercised, the BRICS leaders appear to simply want power sharing. To illustrate, the BRICS New Development Bank is working hand-in-glove with the World Bank; the Contingent Reserve Arrangement empowers the International Monetary Fund; and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank serves mainly corporate interests – and all these financial institutions lack opportunities for adequate civil society monitoring and participation.
As a result, the Forum has raised constructive critiques of BRICS in our plenaries and workshops. But beyond the analysis, we understand that only people’s power, across borders, can make change. Some of our most successful struggles – such as access to life-savings medicines or ending apartheid – required international solidarity. This Forum found many routes forward for cross-cutting BRICS internationalism in various sectors.
For example, the Forum recognises the need for a just solution to the Syrian crisis in accordance with the principles of international law, and condemns the US-backed aggression and the Pentagon/NATO doctrine of regime change. The Forum reaffirmed its solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against colonialism and occupation, and we endorse Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against apartheid Israel, including opposition to Israel’s attempted export of its unsustainable water and agricultural technologies to BRICS countries.
The social movements and progressive unions and formations who gathered at the Xavier’s Centre for Historical Research, Goa declared their intention to win their demands for social, economic and environmental justice. The victories that many of the movements have won already on multiple fronts – such as halting numerous multinational corporations’ exploitation, gaining access to essential state services, occupying land and creating agricultural cooperatives, and generating more humane values in our societies – give the Forum the momentum and optimism. In 2017 and beyond, the BRICS People’s Forum will reconvene, and redouble our efforts with new-found allies from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.