4 Ways the Sao Paulo Forum Has Backed Tyranny

Honduras Hosts Who's Who of Leftist Dictators, Terrorists

The geographical expansion of the São Paulo Forum was clear in the Tegucigalpa event. (Sebastián Díaz)

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The São Paulo Forum, the Puebla Group, and Progressive International met from June 27 to 29 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to purportedly promote democracy. Founded in Brazil in 1990, the São Paulo Forum has been a platform for cooperation among left-wing parties, but its political agenda has shifted from trade and labor protectionism to totalitarianism. 

Once this became evident, Latin American left-wing parties created the Puebla Group to rebrand and expand their influence beyond the region. However, where the São Paulo Forum ends and the Puebla Group begins is opaque, since the former still exists. 

Regardless, the geographical expansion was clear in Tegucigalpa. The event included former Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Progressive International, a worldwide umbrella organization backed by US Senator Bernie Sanders. 

Four elements of the Tegucigalpa event demonstrate the São Paulo Forum sides with tyranny. 

1. The Attendees

This meeting brought together left-wing presidents and several parliamentarians from political organizations affiliated with the São Paulo Forum and the Puebla Group. Leaders from totalitarian regimes in Latin America, including Cuban Communist Party Chief of International Relations Emilio Lozada, attended. Also, longtime Venezuelan regime insider Jorge Arreaza and other Chavista officials were speakers at the event. 

Among the attendees were convicted former presidents Rafael Correa from Ecuador and Ernesto Samper from Colombia. The former has been one of the top leaders of the Bolivarian Alliance and 21st-century socialism; the latter received millions from drug cartels for his campaign. There were more notorious criminals such as Israel “Katu” Arkonada, a former member of the terrorist ETA in Spain.

2. Official Declarations

On June 27, the São Paulo Forum agreed to a resolution that revered the late Fidel Castro and stated solidarity with the Cuban dictatorship, blaming the United States for its woes. The resolution described the Venezuelan electoral system as “solid, transparent, and reliable, which guarantees the will of the people,” and it stated respect for the Sandinista FSLN party, ruled by Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega.

The Freedom House report, Freedom in the World 2024, which rates access to political rights and civil liberties in 210 countries, points at the truth. Under the category of “not-free states,” Cuba has a score of 12 out of 100 points, Venezuela has 15 points, and Nicaragua has 16.

At the meeting, a group of parliamentarians from São Paulo Forum’s political parties and civil-society organizations, under the name of CELAC Social, presented the Tegucigalpa Charter. In this statement, they celebrated the release of Julian Assange and accused Israel of genocide, although they seem to hold these stances simply because they are ideological enemies of the United States.

Further, in a tone of indoctrination against US values, they indicated: “Democratic Socialism is the necessary political, economic, and social model for the preservation of the human species and the planet, which is in the process of being destroyed by neoliberal imposition and the terrible effects of global capitalism.”

3. Hijacking CELAC

CELAC Social confuses outsiders about its official status—none—within CELAC (the Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States). CELAC Social is an informal association that includes civil-society organizations and has gained momentum during Xiomara Castro’s presidency of CELAC.

Ten CELAC countries—out of 33—have rejected the CELAC Social declaration: “There is no segment, program, or initiative called ‘CELAC Social’ within CELAC, so no statement under that name represents an official communication from CELAC.” The same sleight of hand occurred in March, when Castro, as CELAC president, congratulated Vladimir Putin on his reelection. Castro and CELAC Social have disregarded national sovereignty and imposed their views on sensitive topics under the guise of representing the whole region. 

4. Nationalization via Environmentalism

The São Paulo Forum has in its latest resolution encouraged governments to attend the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, to be held in Cali, Colombia, in October and November. Participants will discuss peace with nature and indigenous communities, climate resilience, and sustainable development. The São Paulo Forum stated: “Our region has a dire need for a new ecological, productive industrialization process, starting from a role of the state as the promoter of investments and scientific and technological cooperation.”

The members of the São Paulo Forum, the Puebla Group, and Progressive International seek to hold onto power and increase the size of the state. Environmentalism is a way to do that officially by nationalizing natural resources or de facto by imposing all-encompassing industrial policies.

The São Paulo Forum and its allies represent a threat to democracy and prosperity in Latin America. Their ability to adapt and rebrand shows their skill with perpetuating their agenda. Liberal democracies need to remain vigilant and counter this coordinated movement that can game elections to install perpetual regimes. Freedom in the region needs concrete proposals that can counteract the São Paulo Forum’s continental political agenda.

Editor’s note: we initially planned to include the misappropriation of taxpayer funds on this list. Likely, Honduran taxpayer funds, via the Libre party, covered part of the Tegucigalpa event—as alleged by Honduran analysts. However, there was not strong enough evidence to confirm that. We can only conclude a lack of transparency from the event’s organizers.

Paz Gómez

Paz Gómez is the Econ Americas research director and a widely published economic commentator. Based in Quito, she leads the firm’s office in Ecuador. She holds an MS in digital currency and blockchain from the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, and a BA in international relations and political science from San Francisco University of Quito. She is a cofounder and the academic coordinator of Libre Razón, a classical-liberal think tank in Quito, Ecuador. Follow @mpazgomezm.

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