Date: Thu, 4 Jul 1996 08:25:58 -0500
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From: Prensa Latina <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Encounter of Parliamentarians for Latin American, Caribbean Integration
Prensa Latina Havana, 2 July 1996
The Encounter of Parliamentarians for Latin American and Caribbean Integration was held in Havana. It was co-sponsored by the Sao Paulo Forum, the National Assembly of People's Power and the Communist Party of Cuba, and was attended by 171 legislators from 17 countries in the region.
In the broad and democratic debate that took place, the neoliberal model's global crisis was analyzed, along with its impact on the economic, social and political spheres, the widening gap between North and South, the growing symptoms of ungovernability, the effects of new technology and the deterioration of the role of parliaments and political parties.
There was much discussion on the need to struggle for changes that guarantee effective participation by citizens in legislative work, in order to influence the current economic and social situation, as well as to guarantee a genuine integration process in defense of the sovereignty of each one of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The parliamentarians present agreed that there can be no real democracy in places where day after day, poverty, injustice, corruption, environmental deterioration and the exclusion of half of our nations' population continue to propagate themselves.
The meeting reflected on the work that everyone must carry out so that parliamentarians are truly representative, to prevent them from becoming mindless rubber-stampers, and to promote forums for the exchange of information and experiences, with a projection of parliamentary work for the Third Millennium, guaranteeing the unity of the Community of Nations of Our America. It was also stated that the participation of young people, women, workers and indigenous peoples will strengthen parliaments during the next millennium, make them more representative of our rich cultures and, therefore, more effective in their efforts to convert democracy from an ideal into an economic, social and political reality on our continent.
Much attention was paid to the importance of working together to defend, in the various multilateral forums, the fundamental principles of international law guaranteeing the self-determination, independence and sovereignty of our peoples. The need was emphasized to create other international spaces, forums and encounters with the goal of designing viable economic policies which are distinct from the neoliberal model, discovering our own responses and globalizing them.
With special vigor, the legislators condemned the Helms-Burton Act, which violates the principles of international law and whose extraterritorial nature damages the interests and sovereignty of all states. We express our solidarity with the sister people of Cuba and reaffirm our support for its right to choose its own path, with independence and sovereignty. In this context, recognition was given to the transcendence of the recent resolution made by the Latin American governments at the 26th General Assembly of the Organization of American States. On the basis of that decision, we pledge ourselves as parliamentarians to promote, as soon as possible, legislative initiatives which preserve each country's right to free trade, also sponsoring public debates in support of Cuba and against the Helms-Burton Act.
We also resolve to adopt as our own the recommendations approved by the Latin American Parliament in its Executive Board meeting of June 14, 1996, as follows:
1. Ratifies its rejection of the Helms-Burton Act, as expressed in the Declaration issued on March 8.
2. Supports the OAS Resolution of June 4, in Panama City, which requests the Inter-American Legal Committee to express its opinion on the validity of the Helms-Burton Act, in line with international law.
3. Calls on the countries of the continent to pass laws which explicitly prohibit the application, in their jurisdictions, of extraterritorial laws such as the Helms-Burton Act. Such laws should defend the interests of the companies and citizens with businesses in Cuba, and when necessary, establish sanctions against U.S. companies which promote the extraterritorial application of the Helms-Burton Act, in order to remedy any damage caused to national companies.
4. Urges the parliaments of member countries to promote within their governments a UN General Assembly Resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to hand down a similar opinion to that requested of the OAS Inter-American Legal Committee.
Using examples of their immediate realities, the participants of this encounter denounced and rejected the systematic interference which continues to be exerted on their countries and demanded support and respect for the sovereign decisions of their institutions, as in the case of Colombia.
Out of the unity within diversity which gave rise to this consensus, we stress the importance of the fact that a diverse range of political and ideological currents will create a democratic space for the debate of ideas and the exchange of experiences, with the goal of aiding in the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean.
[c] 1996. Latino American News Agency
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Prensa Latina, S.A., Habana, Cuba