Asambleas Ciudadanos


 

the Citizens' Assembly in the Southern Cone

 

 

Getting ready the Southern Cone Assembly to Iquique

Translations : Español . français . English


I. Introduction


On a cold and rainy Saturday morning, 16 of our colleagues, mainly from the women’s workshop, indigenous peoples’ workshop and the group working on deliberations about and the regional integration of the Chilean Citizens Assembly, together with other guests keen to be present at Iquique in November 2010, took part in a meeting to prepare for the First Southern Cone Citizens Assembly, to be held from 5 to 7 November 2010.


The meeting took place in a room at Santiago’s Arcis University, magnificently decorated with symbols of the Assembly, provided with a restorative snack of biscuits and coffee, and equipped with audio-visual equipment.


The preparatory work for the Iquique November event in Chile had already got underway, but had been put on hold while waiting for confirmation of funds from the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind, which finances the Assemblies’ programme internationally. Once we received confirmation, despite amended and very limited budgets, we set to work.


II. Report


1. The coordination team provided information on the framework the preparatory work would take, primarily based on the recent meeting of the five continents’ Assemblies in Paris. At the meeting, the Southern Cone Assembly received a positive response, and the Foundation undertook to finance participants from the Assemblies in Africa (Sahel-Sahara) and Asia (India), as well as at least four or five international participants from areas outside the Southern Cone.


We know that three other countries, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina, each with their different situations, are also currently launching their preparatory activities for the Iquique November event. The coordination team therefore needs to ensure that the four countries’ preparatory work leading up to the meeting is cohesive and complementary.


We need to start by deciding how many people will travel on the bus, 40 or 45, making up Chile’s delegation to the Iquique November Assembly (the three other countries with equal numbers of representatives), taking into account the diversity of sectors, themes and interests.


It is clear that this meeting is only the first of countless important meetings, activities and preparatory actions that are getting underway to ensure the success of the Southern Cone Chilean delegation’s participation.


2. Below are two general criteria that serve as guidelines for the project


  • a) The Iquique Southern Cone Citizens Assembly in November must reflect the full range of the network’s lines of work and action since 2007. We need to be particularly careful to include all the sector’s platforms, actions and themes by compromising a little and all making an effort to ensure the integration works, since if everyone concentrates exclusively on their own subject, sector or area of interest, the Southern Cone Citizen Assembly will not become a reality.
  • b) However, in terms of this general criterion, the participative role of colleagues during the meetings and activities leading up to the Iquique November event will play a vital part in determining the event’s logistics, methodology and programme. This meeting, for example, has produced theme-based priorities (not exhaustive) for Iquique, such as “Women and the Notion of Gender” and “Mother Earth’s Rights”.

3. The referent in charge of the Iquique November Assembly, our friend Alihuen Antileo, presented a detailed progress report on preparations for putting together the event.


  • a) The character, scope and goals of this first assembly were defined as an opportunity for the citizens themselves to meet, debate and construct the social fabric, consciousness and new values for the Southern Cone. The main end result should be a set of deliberations and proposals for reforming governance of the Southern Cone and a world in crisis.
  • b) We watched a video on Iquique and the reasons why it was chosen as the venue (available soon on our website). Iquique is a town that boasts large natural spaces that have served as a geographical isolation barrier, but that can be converted into connection points to link its inhabitants to the world: desert, sea and mountains. Iquique is an ‘oasis’ in the middle of this environment. Due to the geopolitical developments of modern republics, it borders Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. It is thus a region characterized by disputes, controversy and conflicts, defined by the Chilean State as a zone with a strong military presence; a region where, in the past, our countries engaged in fratricidal wars to acquire natural resources, where divisions and resentments are still maintained symbolically to this day. This offers us the opportunity to turn the situation around and transform the region into an area governed by fraternity, solidarity and discussions to find a fraternal and fair solution to current historical issues, notably a maritime solution for Bolivia and definition of boundaries with Peru. To do so, we need to call on the historical memory and presence in this place of convergence of indigenous peoples, such as the Aymaras, Quechuas and Diaguitas. In particular, we need to revive their knowledge and their cosmovision, for example, in relation to the environment and their conception of territory that goes beyond modern borders. A vast ethnic, national and migrant diversity also exists today, not only comprising Peruvians, Bolivians, Ecuadorians, Colombians and other inhabitants of the Southern Cone, but also Afro-Americans, Indians and Chinese, amongst others, who interact with the historical and current-day elements of Iquique’s frontier and port economy, looking out to the Pacific. We will also reclaim Iquique’s memory as the birthplace and epicentre of the working class, progressive movement, at the origin of the first groupings, such as women’s federations, the first popular media, the place where Salvador Allende and Pablo Neruda saw their first parliamentary nominations, and home to the Santa Maria school where, in 1907, thousands of workers from Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina fought together for their rights and were massacred. It is also the place where trans-national interests are currently rebuilding the dependent, primary, destructive economy concerning natural resources. This leads to serious reflection on the type of economy we wish for.
  • c) We should underline the many fruitful conversations, and the fact of receiving the explicit and formal sponsorship of Iquique’s citizen organizations and movements for the event: CUT, FENATS, Zofri Union, parents of victims of the fight for human rights, neighbourhood associations, consumer associations, organizations defending the marine environment, cultural organizations and university student groups. And there are more to come. It was indicated that Iquique’s citizen movements and organizations hope that the Assembly manages to overcome current fragility and provide them with a boost.
  • d) The Iquique Assembly’s overall programme has until now been presented as follows:
    • A convoy of buses for Iquique will leave from Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. During the bus journey, lasting 24 hours on average, each delegation will undertake preparatory activities: planning meetings, video debates, cultural interaction, etc. to be organized by each coordinator in the lead up to the Iquique Assembly (to be defined in advance with the respective coordination teams). Each bus will also have a doctor onboard (an agreement will be drawn up with the Association of Qualified Doctors in Cuba, which works in the four countries). In Chile, we already have our doctor friend Oriele, who will help us organize these contacts.
    • Thursday 4 November Arrival and gathering of delegations and guests from Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina (as well as international guests).
    • 1st day: Friday 5 November Day in Pisagua, former concentration camp that violated human rights under the dictatorship (three hours from Iquique). Breakfast onboard the bus. The morning will see participants gathering at the Pisagua theatre for the inauguration. There will be a plenary assembly workshop on camps that violate human rights in the Southern Cone and around the world. The afternoon will be dedicated to sports, football with local citizen organisations, frescos, screen printing, etc. Logistics: we need to bring the meal with us, since there is no food available onsite, and organize all the transport, as there is no transport either. We may (to be confirmed) be able to occupy “cultural landing stages” in the Chilean navy’s boathouses.
    • 2nd day, Saturday 6 November In the morning we will visit the Santa Laura saltpetre works, a visible witness to the primary, dependent and destructive economy concerning natural resources (an hour away from Iquique). The afternoon will be given over to theme-based assembly workshops.
    • 3rd day, Sunday 7 November The morning will be spent on plenary cultural and artistic activities at Iquique’s Santa Maria school (videos, frescos, theatre, etc.). The afternoon will feature theme-based assembly workshops.
    • Monday 8 November: the delegations will leave the installations and return on the bus.
  • e) Information on the progress of the logistics in general. Among other points, accommodation, especially for the Bolivian delegation which will be on the coast. In addition, areas provided by citizen organizations, like the Assembly’s operations office.

III.- DEBATE


The issues covering the Assembly’s programming and content were subject to a productive and intensive debate. Although for certain points we had already anticipated the actual questions to be discussed at Iquique, general criteria and proposals for planning and programming were also proposed.


Principles and criteria


We all, each and every one of us, need each other, no one is excluded. Which explains the mutual, horizontal respect, lack of hierarchy in terms of sectors and subjects, and lack of some interests taking precedence over others. Key factors are complementarity and the whole, representing everything in all its multiplicity: unity in diversity. A new psychological attitude is currently taking shape, a new era is calling to us with a different message. We are part of a popular and progressive movement for change and reform that is traversing South America and the world as a whole. This is why we need to pay attention and ask ourselves: what is new in our America? Iquique needs to focus on this newness, this movement to globalize campaigns developing in parallel to the globalization of the neoliberal capitalist economy. We are not inventing anything. We are consciously and deliberately playing our part in this widespread and many-faceted movement. This is why we are launching an explicit appeal to other similar initiatives and allies for the Iquique November event.


The main, crucial result of the Southern Cone Citizens Assembly in Iquique in November should be a level of consciousness and of proposals superior to that we have previously attained. This will only be made possible by means of collective intelligence and community. We need to find the elements we have in common within and across diversity, and to build agreements. To do so, we need to listen to each other and not merely pretend to listen to each other. The process of exchanging ideas and views and debating within a context of respect and plurality is absolutely vital. Faced with multiple and global crises, we are seeking an alternative social order, a new form of citizenship founded on new values. We want to rebuild relations between our peoples, by overcoming prejudice, reclaim our shared identity and our memory without falling into the trap of idealization or the colonial attitudes of our past. No topic is off limits, even if there are risks and we are scared to look at the complex issues that have divided us; we believe in respect and in discussion, and we know that dialogue is indispensable in overcoming the past and building a future based on justice and reparation. Debate will be governed by tact and caution, with great care taken over the methods used. In Iquique, hundreds of us, Southern Cone citizens, will declare ourselves symbolically to be a “Constituent Assembly” and will declare Iquique to be a “Territory of Peace and Integration of our Peoples.” We will refer to our peoples as one people, the Mapuche (in modern-day Argentina and Chile), Aymara (in Peru, Bolivia and Chile), etc.


Themes and sectors


Themes: 1. Human rights and Mother Nature, human responsibilities, multiple cosmovisions: indigenous, eastern, etc. 2. New relationships between citizens and between genders and new economic relations; new ways of formulating and carrying out citizen actions, equality between the genders and women’s key role. 3. Integration of peoples. What sort of integration do we want?


In principle, assembly workshops will be held in the following sectors: 1. Women – 2. Environmental issues – 3. Indigenous peoples – 4. Constituent process, local authorities and members of parliament – 5. Deliberation on new forms of thinking, knowledge and practices. We hope to be able to include our colleagues from the alternative media – Migrants – Culture. We will refer to “Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and the indigenous peoples” since these peoples are not necessarily part of these states-counties-nations.


Proposals


  • Examine and implement the conclusions arrived at in Cochabamba, particularly for women in Chile, thus intersecting with the environmental, educational and women’s themes.
  • Put the Afro-Latino-Americans (particularly from Peru and Iquique itself) in touch with our visitor from the African Citizens Assembly. And our colleague from the Asian/India Citizens Assembly with the Indian community.
  • In the voices of the citizens themselves, declare Pisagua and the Iquique Santa Maria school a heritage site for all humanity, thus reviving the historical memory connected to it, since indigenous workers and North-American workers fighting for the Chicago martyrs’ process lost their lives in the massacre at the school.
  • Define our methodology as the expected registration of all Iquique November event delegates using a form describing their organization, sector, theme and interests. This information will be used to define content and activities and foster mutual exchanges.
  • Start highlighting the impact of the Iquique November event in the mass media and the four countries simultaneously (and throughout the world). Everyone must take on responsibility for raising our media profile and impact.
  • Look to establish partnerships with authorities and friendly organizations so they can provide resources, tickets. etc. by trying to increase the number of participants per delegation. In particular, build up self-management and personal efforts to achieve this goal.

Conclusions and tasks


  • The people in charge of coordination will write up the meeting’s proceedings and the agreements reached in a report and send it to all participants, so they can make any corrections and/or approve it, within a week of the meeting so we can make the conclusions and agreements public.
  • Alihuen will send François the video presenting Iquique so he can put it on the Assembly’s website in an area dedicated to the Iquique November event. He will provide us with the link so we can circulate it (he can add music and the appropriate text to the video, cf. paragraph II, 2, b of this report).
  • We will ask François to give us the list of addresses currently on iquique2010(at)foros.asamblea-conosur.net so we can update it.
  • For all questions about Iquique November event contributions, logistics suggestions, contacts, ideas, proposals, information, etc., you need to contact our friend Alihuen, who is in charge of all those elements: alihuen_antileo@yahoo.es.
  • Concerning the methodology, programme and content, we will use the collective list, on the road to the Iquique November event, once we have updated it, which will happen soon.
  • The people in charge of coordination will draw up and send out an official public letter to ask for funding support as well as continue to launch invitations.
  • The people in charge of coordination will draw up and send out on the list a detailed and exhaustive table of logistics activities and programming already carried out and currently underway for the Iquique November event.

 

 

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the Southern Cone Assembly ont the web

Visit the webpage of the Assembly : www.asamblea-conosur.net and the different blogs linked to its initiatives : the General Blog of the Argentinan team in Córdoba, the Blog of the revue Pensamiento Propio, the blog de la Regional Integration Chair.

Pictures of the 2009 women's meetings



Have a look at the pictures of the women’s meetings held in September and November 2009

     
 



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