By Jomo Sanga Thomas*
(“Plain Talk”, Nov. 22, 2019)
“The problem of the 20th century will be the problem of the colour line.” — W.E.B Dubois.
When Du Bois wrote those words in 1903 in his classic “Soul of Black Folks”, few thought that these words will have such potent force and meaning today. But as events in the United States and the Caribbean over the payment of reparations for genocide and slavery, Venezuela after the Triumph and rise of President Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, and most recently in Bolivia under Evo Morales demonstrate that Europeans, who have gained worldwide domination in the last 500 years, will fight to the death to maintain, safeguard and protect their power which comes with the colour line.
Four Vincentians, Ideisha Jackson, Sia Creese, James Gibson and Mwata Byron ably represented SVG at the International Congress of Afro-descendants in Caracas, Venezuela. Excerpts from the final declaration follows:
The conquest and colonisation of America constitutes a founding historical fact of the current international order and of the power relations that impact societies. The unjust international order emerging since the aftermath of the 15th century, characterised by an unequal economic-trade system that had its epicentre in Western Europe, was erected on the extermination and subjugation of the original peoples of Americas and of the African population. Undoubtedly, the history of humanity does not record in its annals, genocide of such dimensions.
The colonial world-system was marked by an inhuman trafficking of people from Africa to America in order to invigorate the economic-productive apparatus at the service of Western powers. This required a colonial rationality that would “legitimise” such economic-social practices, thus giving rise to the concept of race as an invention conducive to perpetuating Western predominance over other peoples. Racial segregation seeks to protect a civilizing model created for the systematic exploitation of peoples and the plundering of their natural wealth. Consequently, ever since, racism has become an inherent element of modernity.
Today’s neoliberal policies which have worldwide reach stem from the European invasion of America. This model not only reinforces exploitation, but also deepens it while imposing a cultural homogenisation that does not know the history of peoples, their traditions and their identity.
Neoliberalism, through the cultural industry of capitalism, perpetrates the eraser of historical memory against the peoples of the world, which is aimed at justifying the plundering of peoples’ wealth, the subjugation of women and domination over Afro-descendant people based on the alleged racial superiority of some over others. It is a model that endorses a conception of life that deepens the separation between human beings and nature.
This Eurocentric colonialist logic that threatens biodiversity, puts material prosperity at the forefront of life. Neoliberalism is part of a global domination project that seeks to perpetuate the colonial model of power through U.S. domination.
Faced with the emergence of new poles of political and economic power such as Russia, China, Iran and India, the West with the U.S. at its head, it clings to the application of neo-colonial policies supported by powerful financial, communications and cultural transnationals. However, given the changes resulting from the emergence of a multi-polar world, U.S. imperialism has escalated into a global offensive aimed at preserving its supremacy and the perpetuity of the neoliberal model.
In Our America, the offensive of U.S. elites and their allies seek to end the cycle of progressive governments to impose neo-colonial relations in the so-called national interest of the United States. Coups d’état, political violence, economic-financial blockade, threats of military intervention, military bases and diplomatic pressures have been some of the tactics implemented against the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. This has led, thanks to the racism inherent in this doctrine, to the displacement of Afro-descendant populations, racial extermination and discrimination among other consequences.
The congress recognised the role Afro-descendants have played as a key role in building the independence of the peoples of Our America. They unite with social movements, left-wing political parties, and progressive currents and together with sovereign governments that do not give in to imperialist pretensions, help to change the correlation of classes and social forces in our American continent. The resistance of the progressive governments, the popular insurrections in Haiti, Ecuador and Chile, as well as the electoral results in Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay, account for the failure of the neoliberal model, express the generalised rejection of that model and the neo-colonial policies of the United States for the region.
A particular mention should be made of the anti-imperialist resistance and offensive of the people of Venezuela. It is well known that the multiple attacks of the American imperialism against the Bolivarian Revolution are aimed at undermining the hope created by Commander Hugo Chavez’s liberating work, overthrowing the government of the Constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro, ending democracy and taking over the country’s natural wealth.
Today, when a new progressive cycle emerges in Our America, we understand that the full and irreversible liberation of our societies requires a new civilization that recognizes the people of Africa.
The Afro-descendant International Congress declared its support for: the heroic effort of the Bolivian people to preserve democracy in the face of fascism; condemn racism against the Bolivian indigenous people; demand that the coup plotters respect the right of President Evo Morales’ supporters; denounce the repression against the Bolivian people; call for permanent mobilization to stand with the Bolivian people’s struggle in the building of a new civilizing model and we demand that the USA end its neo-colonial policy aimed at subduing Bolivia.
The Afro-descendant International Congress also:
- support the Haitian people’s struggles for their social recognitions and their historic legitimate demands in the face of the serious political, economic and social situation derived from the unpopular decisions of their rulers associated with savage capitalism;
- denounce the breach of the “Havana Peace Agreement” by the current Colombian president and reject his direct aggression against the people of Venezuela and condemn the actions of the countries in the so-called Lima Group as a political operator of the United States administration;
- call for an end to the repression of the Chilean people and support them in their just struggles against neoliberalism and the continuity of Pinochet’s dictatorship in the country.
- welcome the progress made in incorporating into Mexico’s legal framework the afro-descendant population as a step towards their full recognition;
- condemn the violation of human rights by the American government against the African-American population and against migrants from Our America and Africa, particularly women and children.
*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
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