Second American Encounter
for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism
City of Belem
December 6 TO 11, 1999
"The peoples who do not know each other must hurry to know each other, as those who are going to be fighting alongside each other."Jose Marti, Nuestra America, 1891
"Nuestra America" [Our America], which Jose Marti so tenderly defined, posited against the other America, that of the North, was delineated at the end of the 19th century with absolute certainty by its geographic limits. In the language of Marti, "the painted body of the indigenous, negro or criollo, the courage of the American republic, stretches from the Rio Bravo to the Straits of Magellan." Such was the land of the "romantic nations of the continent and their sad islands of the sea," as defined by the insurgent Cuban, and nor, because of that, was it any less universal. At the gates of the 21st century, "Our America," the Working America of rebellion - which is also contained within the other - has burst forth. "Our America" has no other border now than that of the dignity of men and women, of those whom "the soul radiates, equal and eternal, from the bodies of diverse form and color" (Jose Marti, Our America). From all the veins that run through the mountains of the continent of the America - scorched and toughened by oppression - from Alaska to Patagonia - the solidarity movement with the indigenous communities of Chiapas, and the social organizations of Brazil which endorse this call: we call on all peoples to recognize themselves, to rebuild their instincts of liberation and to reflect in community on their collective destiny, in an orderly way, as he who died in Dos Rios counseled those who were coming to fight together. This should take place at the SECOND AMERICAN ENCUENTRO FOR HUMANITY AND AGAINST NEO-LIBERALISM. Our America can say it is also that: that of the dispossessed, those who, along with Garcia Lorca, can say - in response to the call of the boat on the sea and the knight in the mountain - that "I am no longer me, nor is my house any longer my house." That is why the Second Encuentro is being convened, like the winds from the North, our indigenous brothers in what is today known as Canada and the United States. We do not mention any one in particular, so that no one might feel excluded, because we send this message to everyone. Brothers from the Northern wind are called. Along with them, and by their own paths, will come representatives from the original peoples of Central America and of South America. Brothers whom we have not seen for 100 centuries, we will meet together again before the second century ends.
The Working America, Our America, is that of the campesinos, of the plow and the tractor, of the North and the South, but it is, above all else, the America of the rural workers without land, of those who plant each harvest with the seeds of justice, although the banks and the ranchers say they do not belong. There is also a campesino path to Belem, which flows from all the veins, carrying in their hands the foiz, the machete, the tool or the lasso. From here foreward, they are also convened.
All reprsentatives of the African American peoples and communities are also called for the Second Encuentro. All the African American resistance movements, from Vancouver to Montevideo, should leave the hoods and the houses in order to come together in Belem. From here forward, they are also convened.
Also from the North should come the representatives of the latino barrios of the cities of ice. When the temperature begins to fall in the great lakes, representatives of the Chicana, Salvadorean, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, Dominican, Puerto Rican and Brazilian communities, who live in the bowels of Babel of iron and ice, should also come together, before the end of the millenium, to Belem. From here foreward, they are also convened. But the Working America, Our America, would be incomplete without our brothers with whom we are joined with sweat, iron and blood. Come also to Belem, the dignified representatives of the free workers. Let come to this meeting the representatives of the shops of wood, stone or quartz. The unions and labor resistance movements who reject the transnational agenda which keeps down rights and salaries; all the unions which reject the agenda of the powerful, whose only desire is to exacerbate the competition between the workers of different countries; all the forces of the working world who do not accept the destruction of the demands of the union organizations, should also find their way towards Belem, which is none other than that of solidarity and fraternity. From here foreward, they are also convened.
The people are deprived not just of their time, but also of their lives. The American continent is suffering the greatest environmental devastation in its entire history. Calling the Second American Encuentro at the gates of the Amazon is a symbol of the defense of nature by the American peoples against its predators: neo-liberalism and financial capital. For this there is a green path, through the sea and the mountains, for all the environmentalists, towards Belen. From here foreward, they are also convened.
The savage capitalism of the end of century vents its fury with special force against the most vulnerable, against those without shelter, against the children, against the women, against the homosexuals and against the old ones. Because of this, on the way towards Belem, the problems of land, of gender and of genesis (vital time, at the beginning or at the end, childhood and old age) cannot be left aside. Towards Belem will come those who are regaining hope, recovering from the very root of their pain, the most intimate reason for their struggle. From here foreward, they are also called.
Among all the oppressed in North America, a fundamental space must be given to those who carry life through their own efforts, American youth, who are deprived of all real citizenship, but most especially of their power to build utopias. For the powerful, young people only have the right to go to jail or to the morgue, that is what their identity is reduced to. To all of those who have a collective dream to realize, to all of those who despise being the repository of the garbage which is flung from advertising and publicity, to those who defend the possibility of a new order, free of the power of the bureaucracies, and open to the building of horizontal forms of community life, Belem is not a point of arrival, but rather a point of departure. In November of 1999, Belem will not be the beginning of the end, but just the first stage of a long march along the edge of two millenia. The challenge will be to be organized, and not solitary, as an ephemeral mirage which dissolves in the face of the eternal Amazon. The shortcuts which lead to Belem are through organization in the schools, in the barrios, in the villages. From here foreward, they are also convened.
But all of this litany of problems and reasons requires ideas, the ideas of everyone, but also of the artisans, of those who polish them, of those who weave them. Not in vain are we going to be meeting in Belem, baptized by its popular power, as the city of lights, city of ideas. In the Second American Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neo-Liberalism, we are going to endorse the knowledge that trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of rocks. Because of this, the path to Belem is also of paper. Ideas, Marti said, "as a flag, are able to defeat a squadron of battleships, because there is no prow capable of attacking a storm of light." Therefore, all those who have an argument, all those who have an intuition, all those who have a device for defeating neo-liberalism - are called to Belem. All those who wish to capture their dreams in white and black should also come - by stairs of white wood or by shortcuts through blue seas - to Belem. Before the ships set sail which shall carry those activists of life to the gates of the Amazon - they should share their ideas, so that they may be dignified carriers of them.
The tables and discussions should re-capture the diversity of the First American Encuentro, held in Chiapas in the Spring of 1996, and should continue the debate that was begun there. The Brazilian organizations who are convening assume the responsibility for forming the organizing committee for the Second Encuentro. While at the same time, we call for national organizing committees to be formed in each country in America, which will allow for the building of a united and focused program leading towards the Second Encuentro for Humanity and Against Neo-Liberalism, in the city of Belem, the State of Para, from November 7 to 14, 1999.
SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE WITH THE ZAPATISTA COMMUNITIES IN BRAZIL BELEM/PARA DEFENSE COMMITTEE FOR THE REVOLUTION
*The original Call gave the date of November 7-14, 1999. The date above was given in the EZLN endorsement statement.