Delegates from some of the largest grassroots organisations in Latin America have “condemned the refusal of certain Caribbean countries to recognise the legitimate right of the people of Palestine to sovereign statehood”.
The representatives declared their strong backing for Palestinian statehood in a declaration following the conclusion of the first pan-Caribbean conference on building peace in the region, “resisting imperialism” and “avoiding nuclear and environmental disaster”.
Members of groups in the Caribbean including Barbados, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, as well as several national delegates from organisations in the US, met in the capital of Barbados, Bridgetown, last weekend, to “discuss critical matters relating to world peace” and to adopt a number of anti-imperialist declarations including a statement that condemns the refusal of certain countries to recognise Palestine.
Under the Bridgetown Declaration the organisations began by “dedicating their work, results and outcomes of the conference to the memory and honour of the eternal Commanders Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro Ruz,” two prominent supporters of the Palestinian cause in Latin America, “who made extraordinary contributions to peace and to the liberation struggle of African, Latin American and Caribbean countries”.
The pan-Caribbean organisations note the pernicious effect of foreign intervention, militarisation and violations of human rights. In their 30 declarations the joint statement notes that the “threat to Caribbean peace resides in the proliferation of firearms in the Caribbean,” called for others to “join in the actions of the international campaign against foreign military bases” and “arms trafficking in the Caribbean”.
Last weekend’s conference follows a visit to the region by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has set his eyes on reversing Latin America’s growing support for Palestine over the past decade.
Following the rise of left wing governments in Latin America during the mid-2000s, support for Palestine surged. The shift reversed decades of close ties between the region’s military juntas and Israel. The wave of recognitions of the state of Palestine between 2008 and 2013 marked the high point of the regional political sway. With the exception of Mexico, Panama, and Colombia, every country in the region recognised Palestine as a state.
Despite growing support for Palestinians, Israel has continued to play a major role in militarising the region. While Israel is known to be a military powerhouse in terms of export, some of its arms trade are extremely dubious; it is involved with countries not even the US and its European allies would sell arms to.
Not only has Israel armed warlords in Africa it has also armed military juntas in Latin America. In the past few years a key focus of the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) in Latin America has been directed against the arming and training of the military police in Latin American countries, which have been accused of human rights violations such as killing and torturing of detainees.
Young black men from favelas and marginalised communities are said to be at particular risk from training from the Israeli company, International Security and Defence Systems (ISDS), which trains police in the favelas with the same techniques used in Gaza.
The easy flow of arms and trading with foreign companies that undermine democracy and human rights locally is condemned by the pan-Caribbean peace group. The declaration “commits to fight against imperialism, neoliberal policies, and foreign military actions which seek to undermine and defeat the progressive and democratic governments and movements of the region,” while expressing “the broadest solidarity with countries and peoples under colonial rule…. who have been denied the right to self-determination and sovereignty”.