Responding to an invitation by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, FSLN, the Socialist International Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean convened in Managua, Nicaragua, for a two-day meeting on 9-10 October 2006. Two main themes were at the center of the Committee’s discussions: 'Policies and Strategies for Deepening Democracy in the Region' and 'Overcoming the Social Deficit: Priorities of the International in Latin America and the Caribbean' - issues of vital concern for the social democratic movement throughout the hemisphere. Preparations for the forthcoming general elections to be held in Nicaragua on 5 November were also an issue of great interest and attention for the members of the International participating in the discussions.
Speaking at the opening session of the meeting, which was widely followed by the country's media, the FSLN's leader and candidate to the Presidency, Daniel Ortega, presented his vision and proposals for the future of Nicaragua. He placed emphasis on peace, unity and reconciliation, an economic policy directed at promoting growth and more opportunities for the larger part of the country’s population and a strong social strategy centered on health, education and employment for the country's poor. He also expressed his will to implement policies for greater cooperation and integration in Central America as well as in the continent as a whole. During the opening, two keynote speeches were delivered, one by the Chair of the Committee, Rolando Araya, and the other by the SI Secretary General, Luis Ayala, addressing different aspects of the commitment of the social democratic movement to move forward an agenda for greater democracy, stronger social protection and more equality in the region.
Delegates from SI member parties exchanged views and experiences with regard to the issues included in the two main themes, the first of which was introduced by SI Vice-President Horacio Serpa of the Liberal Party of Colombia, and the second by José Murat of the PRI, Mexico, Vice-Chair of the Committee. In the general discussion that followed, the goal of achieving a genuine, inclusive and pluralistic democracy with full citizen participation and guaranteed political and human rights was shared by all parties, coupled with the commitment to promote progressive social democratic policies destined to bring about a model of economic and social development to redress the growing inequality which has characterised the region and stop the cycle of poverty and marginalisation which affects a growing number of people in the hemisphere. Other aspects covered in the discussions included the urgent need to restore the lost confidence in the political process and the political institutions in the region, a by-product of a past vision which only privileged the market. At the conclusion of the debates, a Declaration of Managua was adopted by the Committee, incorporating some of the key elements of the discussions.
The agenda also included brief reports on the national situations of countries in the region, and specific resolutions were approved on Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The Committee also welcomed the joint initiative by the PRD of Panama and the PIP of Puerto Rico to hold a Latin American and Caribbean Congress on Independence for Puerto Rico, in Panama City on 18-19 November.
At the closing of the meeting, the gathering was addressed by Tomás Borge, a leading member of the FSLN, thanking the Socialist International for its history of solidarity with Nicaragua and for its presence in the country at this important time, demonstrating that they were not alone in their efforts to open a new phase for Nicaragua. In its conclusions, the Committee registered the good wishes of the International for the successful holding of the forthcoming elections in Nicaragua, and its active solidarity with its member party, the FSLN, and their Presidential candidate, Daniel Ortega.
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