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What is the Puebla Group, an alliance of leftist leaders that will gather in

by Ace Damon
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Latin American left leaders will be meeting in Buenos Aires between Friday and Sunday (8-10) for the second meeting of the Puebla Group, which will be hosted by Argentine President-elect Peronist Alberto Fernández.

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The group's first meeting was in Puebla, Mexico, in July this year. According to its founding document, the objective of the "Latin American Progressive Group" is to serve as a "space for reflection and political exchange" in Latin America to "analyze common challenges and design joint initiatives in pursuit of the integral development of our peoples ".

The new "progressive" alliance would have emerged as a necessity to contain the advance of the "new wave of neoliberal governments" in the region.

The attempt to rearticulate leftist forces in the region seems to have a new guise, with a more moderate approach, in an attempt to move away from the worn out Sao Paulo Forum. Out comes the "anti-imperialist" and socialist character, present in the Forum of St. Paul, enters the term "progressive".

The group is made up of about 30 political leaders from 12 countries individually, not parties or organizations. There are no representatives from Cuba, Venezuela or Bolivia. From Brazil, Fernando Haddad, Aloizio Mercadante and former Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva participate.

New Forum of Sao Paulo?

The articulation for the creation of the São Paulo Forum was made by left-wing Latin American parties that were not in power at that time (with the exception of the Communist Party of Cuba); while the Puebla Group was formed by leaders who are or were in power, says Vinicius Vieira, professor of International Relations at the University of São Paulo (USP) and the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV).

"I see a relevant difference here. The Puebla Group has potentially more strength, and at the same time, more moderation," says Vieira.

For the professor, the group's strategy of moving away from some labels of the Latin American left and identifying itself as "progressive", in addition to reinforcing its opposition to "neoliberalism", has the goal of "winning hearts and minds".

Vieira points out that the terms "right" and "neoliberal" are rejected by many people in many countries in the region. "Especially in Argentina, to say that such a politician is neoliberal, rightist or conservative sounds like an insult. It helps to create a negative image." At the same time, the group is moving away from the "left" label, which in recent years has come to be associated with corruption, mismanagement, economic recession and figures such as Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro. "The term 'progressive' gives a more centered veneer. That is, they seek to sell their agenda but without declaring themselves as leftist."

"The character of the group is clearly in counterpoint to this liberal wave in Latin America – which does not seem to be such a strong wave. But still, the left is articulating to reach new spaces," summarizes Vieria.

Venezuela crisis

Regarding the regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, the Puebla Group opposes the Lima Group – formed in 2017 by foreign ministers from the Americas, including Brazil, to address the Venezuelan crisis and seek solutions for the restoration of democracy in the country. .

"A major goal of the group is to make an alliance between these leaders to counteract the more conservative discourse and especially those opposed to Venezuela and the leftist regimes in Latin America," says political scientist Denilde Holzhacker, professor of international relations at ESPM .

The Puebla Group issued a statement on September 11 rejecting "any attempt to use force that violates the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes and permits military intervention in Venezuela by foreign forces, including the invocation of the Inter-American Treaty. Reciprocal Assistance (Tiar), an archaic instrument for military intervention in Latin American countries during the Cold War. "

Tiar is a species of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) of the American continent. The member countries of the mutual defense treaty approved in September the activation of the Tiar in the case of Venezuela.

"It is not that they are supporting the Maduro regime, but they also do not support the way in which the Lima Group has dealt with the issue; imposing a solution. The (Puebla Group) proposal is to build and negotiate a solution between all parties. "says Holzhacker.

The group should not be seen as an action group, in the researcher's opinion, but as a "leadership concertation group to form a vision and support a political form." She recalled that the Latin American left historically has a position of joint action and debate, and that the meeting of leaders, not organizations, is something new in the region. "It's not what has traditionally been done throughout history," he said.

Participants summoned to the meeting in Buenos Aires include former Presidents Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Jose Mujica (Uruguay), Ernesto Samper (Colombia), Leonel Fernández (Dominican Republic) and former Spanish agent Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Content edited by: Helen Mendes and Isabella Mayer de Moura

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