Organized by US senator Bernie Sanders, the movement plans on winning back a lead role for the left, which has been losing space all over the world
US senator Bernie Sanders, a 77-year-old socialist. 57-year-old Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis, former Finance minister of his country from January to July 2015. Mexico’s 65-year-old president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a member of Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD, “Party of the Democratic Revolution”). Brazil’s former Education minister and ex-São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad, a 55-year-old who has been defeated in the last presidential elections and is a Workers’ Party (PT) militant. These are some of the characters in a new left-wing political front who aims to organize a reaction against the growth of right-wing parties in several continents.
The group’s formation has been consolidated within the Sanders Institute, in the city of Burlington, Vermont, during an event held last weekend attended by actor Danny Glover and San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. In an open letter sent during the meeting to PT’s national directory, Haddad explained: “The advance of obscurantism is a national agenda, and we need to concentrate our strength around this debate, and on how to face it,” he said.
“International progressive sectors have been following closely and worriedly the antidemocratic escalade initiated by our adversaries,” Haddad goes on. “I am in the United States, invited by American senator Bernie Sander and Greece’s ex-minister Yanis Varoufakis, to put forward a Progressive International which intends to concentrate strength to deal with the challenges being put ahead of us.”
Haddad was invited through a letter sent by Varoufakis, and spoke to the press about the meeting on the following day, when he went to New York. “My role is to encourage individuals and organizations, including Brazilian parties, to adhere to this international campaign, which still doesn’t have a statute, doesn’t have a face. It is an initiative.” Andrés Manuel López Obrador also received a letter, but did not attend the meeting because he was sworn Mexico’s president on December 1.
Bernie Sanders is a Senator for Vermont, and was a presidential pre-candidate for the Democratic Party – he was defeated by Hillary Clinton in the party’s convention. In July, he was one of 29 US congressmen who signed a letter criticizing the arrest and the barring of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva’s presidential candidacy. Yanis Varoufakis has a long academic career, which includes terms at Cambridge and Sydney universities, and renounced his office at the Finance ministry of his native country when the terms of the economic deal he negotiated for Greece along with the European Union were vetoed by a popular referendum. He was also an influent consultant of prime-minister George Andreas Papandreou from 2009 to 2011.
“Democracy, Sustainability, Solidarity”
The group’s principles have been presented in a video, which claims: “There is a global struggle going on, with huge consequences. The future of mankind is at stake.” After presenting a scenario of attacks against the environment, wars and economic instability, the video goes on: “After this crisis, global authoritarianism is at a high. These leaders promise to restore national pride by attacking minorities, the free press, and democracy itself. But, in the end, they are merely serving themselves. It is a shivering echo of the 1930s.” The point mentioning “restoring national pride” is illustrated by an image of Brazil’s president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro.
The Progressive International movement, according to the video, wants to react against right-wing parties, who allegedly have already been organizing themselves internationally, with common goals and strategies. “The time has come to form our own front in the struggle for global peace and prosperity,” says the movement, presenting then its motto: Democracy, Sustainability, and Solidarity.
In an article published by UK newspaper The Guardian in September, Bernie Sanders had presented the same arguments and called left leaderships worldwide to unite. Right now, this international front is collecting signatures and asking for donations, which range from 10 to 200 dollars.
Does this right-wing authoritarian alliance, denounced by Sanders, really exist? “I wouldn’t say that there is a formal authoritarian axis,” says John Feffer, director of the Institute for Policy Studies, in Washington. But, according to him, several important leaders which can be described as right-wing and authoritarian have made alliances. “Russian president Vladimir Putin, for instance, and Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, are close, politically and personally. They have brought both countries close, economically, even though they are not formal allies.” Besides, he says, “Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have become unlikely comrades, even though the United States and North Korea do not have close relationships.
According to Feffer, left-wing leaders are, indeed, less united. “It is difficult to say that there is a main leader of this progressive international movement. Bernie Sanders is one of them, certainly, and there are Europeans such as Yanis Varoufakis, and UK’s Jeremy Corbyn. There are also others throughout the world, like New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, but they have no coordination. As an organized group, they truly are weak in face of the right-wing leadership.
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Organizado pelo senador americano Bernie Sanders, movimento pretende retomar o protagonismo da esquerda, que vem perdendo espaço no mundo inteiro