SOCIAL change does not descend from Heaven. That was the basic message at an international conference on the “Challenge of Building an Alternative Political and Socio-Economic System”. Cuban Ambassador to Nigeria, Her Excellency Clara Margarita Pulido Escandell, gave the Opening Address at the July 16, 2022 virtual conference to mark the 17th Anniversary of the Nigeria-based Amilcar Cabral Ideological School- Movement, ACIS-M.
Leading speakers from eight Latin American, North American and African countries, she submitted that the solution to biting world crises is the solidarity of the human race. Cuba at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when other countries shut their borders, had sent out over 3,000 doctors, nurses and other health personnel to 28 countries to combat the pandemic. She said human beings need solidarity even if it comes at a high cost, adding that solidarity is what Cubans have: “In our genes, our blood and our hearts.”
Speaking of the pandemic for which the small island had produced five vaccine candidates with at least two in use, she said Cuba had vaccinated over 90 per cent of its entire population, including children. She described the current situation in Cuba as good because of the strive to improve life, including proposed new laws to expand family rights, and bad due to the effects of COVID-19 and a six-decade United States, US, blockade of the island country, a situation made worse by the piling of 240 extra sanctions on the country. In summarising her presentation, Ambassador Pulido said US propaganda trying to portray Cuba as a failed state is false, adding: “In Cuba, we have peace and the government is led by the population. Yes, it is the people leading the government.”
His Excellency David Vasquez Caraballo, the Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, submitted that there is the need to build a new international system in which countries would have the right to independence and sovereignty. He said there is a rearrangement of such political relations in Latin America which has swept through countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia. On the realities in Venezuela, he said part of its problems was the Executive Order signed by then-American President Barack Obama which designated Venezuela as constituting an immediate and real threat to the US. Venezuela, he said, has been a victim of sweeping American sanctions, and experienced mercenary terror and attacks on its power system but the unity and commitment of the people led to it overcoming these hostile actions to the extent that in 2021, it actually experienced good growth.
Comrade Imani Moja, representing the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, PAIGC, after whose founding leader, Amilcar Cabra, the ACIS is named, said people must recognise that the world is a global village, as fires in one part can spread to another. He said there are troops from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, in Guinea-Bissau but that they are primarily there to impose an undemocratic President on the country. He said coups have been used against the PAIGC which was the ruling party in the country and that just on May 16, 2022, President Umaro Embalo, now the Chairman of ECOWAS, sacked the National Assembly to keep the PAIGC which controls it, out of power.
The media, he said, has also not been spared. He cited the case of Radio Capital which he said was attacked in broad daylight. He also lamented that Africa does not have its own independent sources of information forcing the continent to rely on the European and American news networks. Imani argued that just as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, is co-ordinating the military forces in Europe, so does Africa need a similar co-ordinating force. Kwesi Pratt Jnr, the Convener of the Socialist Movement of Ghana, argued that the world is being recalibrated, saying the world we knew yesterday is not the world we know today and certainly would not be the world we will know tomorrow. He regretted that Ghana has become an American military satellite.
Pratt said the Akufo government has also completely subjected the country to the dictates of the Western-controlled International Monetary Fund, IMF, and the World Bank regretting that the country now uses 128 per cent of its total revenue just to service debts. The country, he said, had been to these institutions 18 times with the same results of mass impoverishment. He cited the 1982/83 imposition of punishing IMF policies on Ghana which resulted in mass sack, privatisation of public corporations and a crumbling economy. Such policies, he said, did not work in Ghana and would not work in any African country.
Pratt lamented that despite Ghana being the sixth largest producer of gold in the world, it remains very poor and, in fact, depends on foreign countries for its food needs. He said the time has come for African countries to transform their colonial economies into independent economies.
Lefika Chetty of South Africa said the country is caught in “the crisis before crisis”, trapping it in stagnation partly as a result of state capture and corruption. The result, she said, is mass unemployment, high level of violence and xenophobic tendencies. The solution, Lefika said, is to create a peaceful, democratic system based on the needs of the people and the principles of social development rather than on profit, private gains and inequality. She noted that global capitalism, which is based on accumulation, has pushed humanity into catastrophic climate change that may make parts of the world unhabitable.
Comrade Fatai of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party of the US said the colonial masters in Africa demonised socialism which is a viable alternative to crippling capitalism, adding that the party’s objective is to unite all of Africa along Pan-Africanist lines. Ambassador Brahim Buseif of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, SADR, also known as Western Sahara, in his solidarity message, thanked ACIS-M for being one of the founders and pillars of the Nigeria Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara.
Dr. Dipo Fashina, philosopher and former National President of Nigerian university academics, said what is crucial in liberating the continent is to tackle the ideological roots of liberalism and neoliberalism so as to arm the African continent with the necessary tools for liberation. Comrade Abiodun Aremu, the ACIS-M leader, said: “ We desire a society that should displace the present unjust order, where the few super-rich reigns in looted wealth, while the majority wallow in sub-human conditions.”
Citing the examples of Cuba and Venezuela, he added: “Our common realities should be our uniting factors in Africa to struggle and recover our sovereignties that the various rulers in Africa have surrendered to the US and Eurocentric neo-colonial domination.”