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  Number 471 | Octubre 2020
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Latin America

Nine proposals for change in times of coronavirus

This initiative is an eco-social pact by both individuals and organizations of different countries motivated by the urgency of countering the capitalist readjustment dynamics arising in the midst of the pandemic. Its nine proposals aim at creating changes that will bring about a decent future for Latin America and the Caribbean.


For a long time, the elites told us that markets and the accumulation machinery of big capitals were un stoppable, but it turns out that when life itself is deemed to be endangered it’s possible to put on the emergency brake.

The crisis bared by the coronavirus pandemic has reinforced inequalities and shown that our very future is at stake. Part of the population is in lockdown, while another part faces infection, repression and hunger. Indigenous and Afro-American peoples are exposed to a new wave of extermination. Patriarchal and racist violence and femicides have increased. Meanwhile, old and new power groups are taking advantage of the emergency to ensure that the “return to normality” or “the new normal” doesn’t leave them without benefits.

The pandemic is a huge tragedy for many people, whose pain we share. But the pause imposed on world capitalism by COVID-19 also represents an enormous opportunity for change, for a future built on caring for life.

What we are experiencing

Even though Nature is still suffering deep wounds, this forced suspension has slowed down the destruction of ecosystems, especially due to decreased CO² emissions. The world’s middle classes collectively found that it is possible to live without the kind of consumerism that destroys the environment and threatens life on the planet itself. They discovered more relevant aspects of happiness and quality of life than accumulating things, such as having a network of trustworthy affective relationships.

It has been shown that feelings of community, caring and reciprocity are core to sustaining life for small-scale farm families, and that, despite living in a capitalist system, we don’t live by or for capital. We are realizing that many of our basic needs are today being met by direct sales, even moneyless exchanges and networks outside the capitalist markets. We are also finding that these networks have space and future potential.

Even in formal settings, previously inconceivable ideas or those considered unviable are getting the spotlight on the global agenda. Economic agencies such as the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) are proposing a universal basic income; and the International Monetary Fund is recommending that governments introduce a wealth tax to counter the heinous inequalities and reduce fiscal deficits.

Social and political movements in the global North are fighting to save the planet with a new worldwide eco-social pact, connecting social and environmental justice.

A social, economic
and intercultural pact

Taking proposals collectively developed in different contexts, we are proposing a social, ecological, economic and intercultural pact for Latin America. This pact isn’t a list of demands we are handing to the governments of the day, but rather it invites the building of collective concepts, agreement on a shared path towards transformation and a basis for platforms of struggle in the most diverse areas of our societies.

It calls on social movements; territorial, union and neighborhood organizations; communities and networks; and also alternative local governments; parliamentarians; magistrates and civil servants committed to transformative work to make this a reality.

It calls on everyone to change power relationships through plebiscites, legislative proposals and many other strategies; and, with an organized and mobilized society, to make a real impact so the existing state institutions implement these changes.

Our nine proposals are an attempt to coordinate redistributive, gender, ethnic and environmental justice. Some of them envisage a more leading role for the public institutions while others are more concerned with practices and changes linked from below and extended horizontally.

1. Solidarity tax transformation

The goal is to have national proposals for tax reforms based on the principle that “those who have more, pay more and those who have less, pay less.” They must include taxes on inheritance, large fortunes, mega enterprises, financial incomes and, as a transitional measure, environmental damage. Instead of everyone paying universal taxes and only some having social protection, we propose that only those who have more are taxed more, and everyone is protected.

2. Cancelling foreign debt
for a new financial structure

It is justified to stop paying the foreign debt in these extraordinary times, as was done in 1931-32, and as was proposed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, President Emma­nuel Macron of France and Pope Francis. Cancelling the foreign debt of the global South countries is a first step of historical reparation for the ecological and social debt contracted by the central countries since colonial times.

3. Creation of national
and local care systems

We propose putting sustainability of life at the center of our societies. Care is a right and, as such, must include a more active role for the State and businesses, in consultation and permanent joint responsibility with the peoples and communities.

This will enable us to combat job insecurity and achieve a fairer distribution of the care tasks with respect to social classes and gender, since care falls unequally on families and on women. We must promote public policies linking care with social protection, attending to the needs of dependent senior citizens, children, people with severe disabilities, and those who can’t meet their basic needs.

4. A basic universal income

In order to escape the poverty trap, we propose to unify social policy with the introduction of a basic income for everyone, replacing the targeted conditional transfers inherited from neoliberalism, as ECLAC recently recommended to Latin American governments. We also propose to reduce the working day without reducing wages, in order to spread out formal employment as well as care tasks.

5. Prioritize food sovereignty
At a time when the Latin American region has the highest level of land concentration in the world, developing policies directed at land redistribution, access to water and an extensive reform of agricultural policies is a priority, moving away from industrial export agriculture with its dire environmental and social effects.

The aim is to prioritize agro-ecological, agro-forestry, small-scale fishing and rural and urban production, promoting dialogue about knowledge, strengthening local and farmers’ markets, creating distribution networks to ensure the free circulation of seeds without intellectual property, reinforcing the country-city distribution networks and community certification between consumers and producers. The idea is to foster social, collective and commu¬nity land ownership, ensuring the sovereignty of those who work and care for it and protecting them from speculation.

6. Construction of
post-economies and societies

In order to protect cultural and environmental diversity, we need a radical socio-ecological transition, an orderly and gradual way out from dependence on oil, coal and gas, from mining, deforestation and large monocropping.

We must change to renewable, decentralized, de-commercialized and democratic energy matrixes in order to move towards collective, safe and quality mobility models. The risk of climate collapse, a more serious threat than the pandemic, must be reduced, as floods, droughts, landslides and forest fires have shown us.

7. Restoring and strengthening
information/communication arenas

We propose restoring society’s information and communication arenas, currently dominated by the corporate media and social media, which form part of the most powerful corporations of our times. We propose disputing the historical meaning of coexistence from the citizens’ media, the street, the square and the cultural spaces.

8. The autonomy and
sustainability of local societies

The pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of global production chains, and the wealth of local and national endeavors. The Latin American peoples’ enormous creativity should be the basis for political changes that promote autonomy and sustainability for local territories and societies.

The economic, political and cultural self-determination of indigenous peoples, peasants, Afro-Americans and urban grassroots community experiences need to be strengthened.

The territories and the whole of society must be demilitarized, local markets supported, credit democratized, and small and medium-sized enterprises and local community energy sovereignty supported, based on sustainable and renewable models.

9. Sovereign regional
and global integration

The promotion of local, national and regional exchange systems throughout Latin America, autonomous from the globalized world market, is imperative in order to open up alternatives to corporate monopoly. It is also necessary to introduce different scales of currencies parallel to the US dollar, allowing a relative disconnection from the world market’s dynamic dangers, strengthening exchanges between the region’s countries and their complementary economic diversification. 

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