|Written by Jeferson Choma – Thu, July 04, 2013|
|Wednesday, 10 July 2013 22:36|
Activists are betting on self-organization to advance the mobilizations.
The mass demonstrations that have shaken the country have not only won important victories. They also started producing intense politicization and foster new types of organizations for struggle and mobilization.
The more concrete examples are the popular Assemblies of Belo Horizonte and the Forum for Fights of Rio de Janeiro. There are also similar initiatives in Fortaleza, Maceió and Campinas. They all have in common a progressive criticism on the structural limitations of the representation system of the electoral bourgeois democracy, their corrupt parties and slanted elections that are funded by the large capitalists. All of these concrete examples of struggle seek to build, as from the struggle, another sphere of representation and unity of action, transforming the spontaneous political force that comes from the streets into an organization.
In Belo Horizonte, the Horizontal People’s Assembly (APH) started its organization during the fight against the World Cup expenditures. The Assembly’s first ordinary meeting was held on June 19 and brought together about a thousand people, according to Matheus Cheren, a social scientist and member of the Communication Commission of APH. Since then, the Assembly has already organized five ordinary meetings. In one of these meetings it was organized the mass demonstration which brought 100,000 people on the streets of Belo Horizonte, held on September 27. The meetings and the disseminating of what has been approved is usually carried out through a Facebook page.
However how does the Assembly of Belo Horizonte organize itself? “Our focus is on the horizontality. Regardless of the existence or not of any bonds to party, union, or NGOs, everyone has the same time to speak, everyone can participate”, said Matheus.
“Our Assembly has 11 Reference Groups on various themes to better organize the claims, to lay banners and propose solutions through the agenda”, he says. The groups are thematic and they discuss since health, transport, education up to media democratization. Matheus also highlights that this is the best way to integrate those who, for the first time in their lives, are participating in the political life. Moreover, it is a space to “unify the left, despite the different practices and theses”, he says.
The Assembly meetings were usually held under a highway overpass in downtown Belo Horizonte, capital of the State of Minas Gerais. However, as soon as there was the City Council occupation, some meetings of the Assembly began to be held there. On July 1st it took place the 5th ordinary meeting, which was broadcast over the Internet. It voted the names that would participate in a committee to negotiate with the mayor Marcio Lacerda (PSB). No one knows what will be the outcome of the City Council occupation, because on June 2nd the Mayor Marcio Lacerda remained unyielding and said he would not negotiate while there was occupation. However, Matheus explains that one of the objectives is to hold meetings by region, neighborhood and category.“The purpose is to broaden the voices”, he explains.
In Rio de Janeiro, a similar grouping has been settled in favor of the Forum for Fights Against the Increase in the Public Transportation Fare. The first meeting of the Forum was on the 25th of June. More than three thousand people attended a plenary meeting held in front of the IFCS (Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences) building. That place had been besieged during the repression of Military Police in the demonstrations of June 20th. Nearly three thousand people attended the Forum meeting, which demonstrates its feasibility to be a space where the analysis are shared and the claims of the various movements are organized.
“The Forum is a space for the unity of action which had a specific agenda. Our objective now is to make it more comprehensive “, explains Julio Anselmo, DEC director of UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) and a member of ANEL (Students National Alliance – Free). According to him, the challenge now is to strengthen the forum organization, to deepen its democracy and broaden its claims’ and fights’ agendas. “We want to strengthen the forum as a Coordination of Fights and deepen the democratic debate”, he explains. Just like in Belo Horizonte, the meetings are usually called through Facebook.
The Argentinean experience
All proportions guarded, the experience in Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro has had its equivalent there of in Argentina during the 2001 uprising that overthrew the then President Fernando de la Rua. Back then, the country was experiencing a severe crisis due to countless neoliberal plans that privatized the state owned companies and the public services. To make matters worse, the government of then carried out the so called “curralito”, the forfeiture of the population savings.
The Popular Assemblies have emerged centrally in the Argentinean capital and bond neighbors in all neighborhoods. Their meetings were held on the street corners and squares. In those meetings, which increasingly acquire a more popular character, everything could be discussed. Some of them took on tasks that have to do with the fight against impunity, others open up restaurants and set out measures of solidarity economy, coordinating with organizations responsible for organizing the pickets. They also assume tasks in defense of hospitals and organize mobilizations against fare increases, against the electricity power cuts, for the recovery of the privatized companies etc…
Simultaneously, the Assembly took steps aiming at its centralization with the Coordination of Park Centenary, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires. It was there that a weekly plenary meeting took place and general themes were discussed; themes that indicated a solution for the country, such as the banks nationalization, the foreign trade control, the expropriations under the workers’ control and the non-payment of the debt. Important political debates were waged in these spaces, both for and against the workers’ power, the horizontalism, the Constituent Assembly, etc…