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The wave of protests that began in Cuba last July 11 is of utmost importance to the American continent. Not only because it is about an oppressed citizenry rising up once again against a communist dictatorship that has been victimizing it for 62 years, but also because that same dictatorship has its hands all over the territory, from Seattle to Patagonia, without excluding any country. Fidel Castro’s socialist project is an expansionist threat to the security of the hemisphere.
It is not just a matter of rhetoric. Today, tens of thousands of Cuban intelligence agents, including medical missions—which have been recognized as instances of modern slavery by Europe— support and assist dictatorial regimes such as those in Venezuela and Nicaragua. The communist ideology that sustained Castro’s Revolution today lives in each of the countries of the hemisphere, is inoculated from the institutions and even collects public money.
In such a way that the protests in Cuba against the current heir to the Castro project, Miguel Díaz-Canel, concern us all. At this point, when friends of a Revolution conceived as anti-American already occupy seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate, it especially concerns the United States.
Although its expansion became more evident in recent decades, its arrival was not silent nor was its progress isolated from the historical reality of the West. Quite the contrary: it happened in plain sight and made a lot of noise.
The Soviet Union mutated in Cuba: the Sao Paulo Forum
The triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 — the first communist revolution in the American continent — led to the establishment of strong diplomatic and commercial relations with the Soviet Union (USSR). Fidel Castro became a loyal ally of Moscow during the Cold War, with which he maintained a relationship of military and economic dependence that turned Havana into a strategic anti-American (or anti-Western) intelligence front against the United States.
After the failure of the socialist bloc in 1990, when the dissolution of the USSR was imminent, the Cuban Revolution had a critical moment. It had been left without economic and military resources, vulnerable to a victorious and strengthened United States. Castro, who had already established contacts throughout Latin America, saw the need to reinforce them and massively export his ideology throughout the continent. It was then that he engendered his expansionist project: the Sao Paulo Forum.
One of those alliances that Fidel had already amassed in Latin America was the Workers’ Party (PT) of Brazil, led by its founder, the now ex-President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva. In 1990, Castro and Lula held the first meetings with different political groups of the Latin American left and formed a forum of communist and socialist parties which, under the banner of progressivism, intended to confront the advance of capitalism in the region.
At the time of the founding of the Sao Paulo Forum, the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) was the only member that held power in a Latin American country. However, its members would gradually come to power over the course of the next 20 years, until they came to dominate a large part of the region and influence all countries.
Venezuela: the first attempt
In 1992, two years after the founding of the São Paulo Forum, Venezuela was experiencing a political crisis. Following a severe economic recession in the late 1980s, then-President Carlos Andres Perez proposed a package of economic measures aimed at liberalizing the Venezuelan economy, significantly cutting public spending and subjecting it to an International Monetary Fund surveillance program. Among these measures was a sudden increase in fuel and public transportation prices, two extremely unpopular steps for a country accustomed to gasoline subsidies.
On February 4, President Perez was returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos and was greeted by a military rebellion that attempted a coup d’état against him, led by Army Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez Frias. Although the operation was unsuccessful, the moment captured the attention of the world and, especially, that of Fidel Castro.
Two years later, Chávez was received in Cuba as a revolutionary hero and presented his project for the “transformation” of Venezuela at the University of Havana at the invitation of Fidel Castro. Already then, Chávez referred to Cuba as a “bastion of Latin American dignity” and announced his plans to “follow in the footsteps” of the Revolution.
In 1999, Chavez assumed power in Venezuela after his electoral victory and buried the Constitution. The São Paulo Forum had achieved its first and greatest conquest: they had power over the Latin American nation with the largest oil reserves in the world and the greatest concentration of natural resources in the region.
The messiahs of the Southern Cone: the advance of the left
Following the triumph of Chavez and the installation of the São Paulo Forum in the very rich Venezuelan soil, in conjunction with the commodities boom that especially benefited the oil-producing countries of the region, the first decade of the XXI century was a streak of victories for the communist left led by Castro.
Brazil’s PT succeeded in bringing Lula da Silva to power in 2002; the Justicialist Party (with the Communist Party’s blessing) put Néstor Kirchner in charge of Argentina in 2003; Uruguay‘s Frente Amplio gave the presidency to Tabaré Vázquez in 2004; the Movement Towards Socialism swore in Evo Morales in Bolivia in 2005; Chile’s Socialist Party elected Michelle Bachelet in 2006; the same year Rafael Correa won in Ecuador and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. Paraguay joined the club with Fernando Lugo in 2008 and El Salvador with Mauricio Funes in 2009.
The Sao Paulo Forum had already repeated in Argentina with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2007; in Uruguay with José “Pepe” Mujica in 2009 and in Brazil with Dilma Rousseff in 2010. While Ollanta Humala took over Peru in 2011 and Nicolás Maduro inherited power from Chávez in Venezuela in 2013.
All these leaders and their organizations are part of the São Paulo Forum, together with 123 parties that are active in 27 countries and maintain constant dialogue with the aim of building common agendas and actions. This great alliance of communist organizations also has the support of terrorist organizations such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) of Colombia and the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR) of Chile and Peru.
Under the excuse of anti-imperialism, progressivism and social justice, the São Paulo Forum was organized to carry forward the project that they themselves are proud to call 21st-century socialism —an original concept of Heinz Dieterich Steffan— and install Marxist socialist states throughout the region. The same thing that Fidel Castro was determined to do in Cuba, but this time on a large scale.
From its ideological trench, the Forum cultivated the biggest corruption scandal in the recent history of Latin America: Lula da Silva (and his successor, Dilma Rousseff) participated in a bribery scheme implemented by the largest construction company in the region, Brazil’s Odebrecht, which financed the projects and campaigns of both Forum co-supporters and their opponents.
The scandal was unmasked by the so-called Operation Lava Jato, an intelligence and investigation effort led by Brazilian magistrate, writer and professor, Sergio Moro. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice sentenced Odebrecht to pay a fine of US$2.6 billion, following the confessions of several of its executives. Its CEO, Marcelo Odebrecht, was sentenced to 19 years in prison in Brazil. According to the sentence, between 2001 and 2006 the company paid around US$ 788 million in bribes in association with more than 100 projects in twelve countries.
And after them, misery
Meanwhile, the Latin American countries that were governed by the São Paulo Forum in the last 20 years have implemented socialist policies that have impoverished entire peoples and corrupted republics. Venezuela went from being one of the richest countries in the region to one of the poorest in the world, with an extreme poverty rate of more than 80% and more than five million displaced Venezuelans.
In Argentina, corruption scandals continue to haunt Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is now Vice President of a country with 42% poverty. In Nicaragua, with more than 36% of the population living in poverty, the Ortega dictatorship persecutes and imprisons its dissidents.
In Colombia, a country that has managed to resist the arrival of the São Paulo Forum to power by the hand of Gustavo Petro — former presidential candidate and leader of the allied movement Colombia Humana — a report prepared by the military intelligence service was made public, exposing the attempts of interference by the dictatorship of Cuba to sabotage the democracy of this country.
Chile, which became a true bastion of freedom and an example of economy and progress for the region, is now playing with its Constitution in a constituent process that derived from constant violent demonstrations by the left, encouraged from Caracas under the cry of “Bolivarian breeze.”
The Sao Paulo Forum and the Puebla Group
After the victory of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in Mexico, and his formulas consummated in almost all of Latin America, the São Paulo Forum gave birth to a new progressive political forum that brings together elites and active politicians from among its own members. Composed of presidents, former presidents, parliamentarians, academics and activists from Latin America and Spain, the Puebla Group is the legislative arm of the São Paulo Forum.
Its official website defines its main objective very clearly: “To be a meeting place for parliamentarians, to develop and articulate common legislative initiatives so that these can be translated into draft resolutions, declarations and laws in the respective countries”. In other words, the Puebla Group is the tool through which the politicians of the São Paulo Forum carry out their common agenda.
Some prominent members of the Puebla Group are Alberto Fernández, current president of Argentina; the former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales; the former presidents of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva; the former president of Colombia, Ernesto Samper; the former president of Ecuador and fugitive from justice, Rafael Correa, and the former socialist president of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
It is no secret to anyone, then, that the São Paulo Forum is the great legacy that Fidel Castro left to the communist parties of the American continent to carry out the project of his revolution in their countries. Not even they hide that intention.
The role of the United States
The fact that the United States is Fidel Castro’s number one enemy does not exempt it from being a target. On the contrary: for a socialist revolution to shake up American institutions would be a resounding victory for his expansionist project.
Within U.S. institutions, socialist movements that do not hide their support for communist governments are already active as political elites. Without going any further, Senator Bernie Sanders, who defends Chavez’s “democratic socialism”, is considered a “revolutionary friend” by Maduro and considers that Morales “did a good job” in Bolivia, was on the verge of winning the Democratic nomination to face Donald Trump in the 2020 elections, something that would have been unimaginable a decade ago.
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which traces its roots to the Socialist Party of America (SPA) and brings together former members of the Communist Party USA, has successfully placed four of its members in the House of Representatives: Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC).
Just a couple of weeks ago, a DSA delegation was received by Maduro at the Venezuelan presidential palace, and a few days later the organization publicly sided with “the Revolution” in the midst of protests in Cuba.
Extremist organizations such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) — which also sided with the dictatorship in a fateful statement rejecting the Cuban protests and referred to Fidel Castro as a hero after his death — and Antifa are U.S. allies of the São Paulo Forum.
Opal Tometi, founder of BLM, participated in the People of African Descent Leadership summit in 2015, where she recognized Maduro as a “fighter for the rights of the people.”
Cuba: the head of the snake
While it is true that the existence of the São Paulo Forum implies that the Cuban Revolution migrated from the early ’90s to expand throughout the continent, its bosom of intelligence, strategy and power remains in Cuba.
The protests that have rocked the island in recent weeks are almost a harbinger for the countries of the region, and whatever the outcome will have severe repercussions in the Americas. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s administration appears to be bowing to pressure from the left, and is now considering softening its stance on Cuba and facilitating remittances to Cubans.
The Cuban community in the United States has raised its voice in search of an accurate response from Biden. A few days ago, for example, Cuban artists asked the White House to “wake up” to the Cuban people’s demands for freedom during the celebration of the 2021 Youth Awards.
In an exclusive interview for El American, Breitbart’s Cuban journalist, Frances Martel, expressed the need to arm the Cuban citizenry so that they can defend themselves from the abuses of Miguel Díaz-Canel’s communist regime:
“If you talk to any Cuban, they tell you: we don’t want American soldiers to die with us, we don’t want anyone to fight on our behalf. We fight, but we can’t fight without weapons.”Frances Martel
Martel believes that it is time to set an example to other countries currently repressed by authoritarian regimes: “in all repressed countries, if there is a demonstration, they will remember what happened in Cuba and they are not going to want to support it.” And she is not the only one.
The mayor of Miami, the American of Cuban descent Francis Suarez, called for an international military intervention led by the United States to “protect the Cuban people from a bloodbath”. “They are drug traffickers, they are terrorists and they are people who are exporting the ideology of communism throughout the hemisphere,” he said of the Cuban regime. “This affects the national security of the United States.”
In recent days, there have been demonstrations in support of the protests in Cuba. In Argentina, groups for and against rallied outside the Cuban embassy in Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, a caravan of Cubans arrived in Washington to support the protesters on the island from the White House, as well as to ask Biden to react to the issue. In Madrid, Cuban exiles staged a massive demonstration in support of those protesting in their homeland.
The Sao Paulo Forum has occupied all our countries and has made us all part of that protest. If the Cubans break, the whole continent will have to assume as many years of communism and repression. If Cuba is liberated, the whole region will be the protagonist of the rebirth of freedom.
Tomás Lugo, journalist and writer. Born in Venezuela and graduated in Social Communication. Has written for international media outlets. Currently living in Colombia // Tomás Lugo, periodista y articulista. Nacido en Venezuela y graduado en Comunicación Social. Ha escrito para medios internacionales. Actualmente reside en Colombia.