The organizers of the People’s Summit have announced a diverse program of panel discussions, workshops, and cultural activities. The Summit is to be held on June 8, 9, and 10, running counter to the Summit of the Americas, which is to be held by the US-influenced Organization of American States (OAS).
The People’s Summit, held in Los Angeles alongside the Summit of the Americas, will highlight the massive inequality in Los Angeles as well as the rest of the world. “LA has some of the starkest income inequality in the nation with billionaires living just within blocks from homeless encampments amidst the rising housing crisis,” the organizers of the People’s Summit stated.
The People’s Summit directly challenges the imperialist legacy of the Summit of the Americas, to which the leaders of the socialist countries of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba are not invited. Many leaders have denounced the decision to exclude those countries, such as President Luis Arce of Bolivia and President AMLO of Mexico, with many Latin American leaders threatening to boycott the summit altogether because of these exclusions. “I reaffirm that a Summit of the Americas that excludes American countries will not be a full Summit of the Americas,” tweeted Luis Arce.
The People’s Summit presents an alternative to a Summit that would exclude several countries from the continent it claims to represent. As stated on the People’s Summit website, “The Summit of the Americas convened by the Organization of American States (OAS) has long been an arena to push US economic and political interests in Latin America and the Caribbean, without regard for the peoples of our shared continent.” Meanwhile, the People’s Summit brings together movement leaders and on-the-ground organizers to discuss democracy, sovereignty, and change.
The program features a host of world-renowned speakers such as philosopher and activist Dr. Cornel West, Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah, independence fighter and former political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, and environmentalist and movement leader Bertha Zúniga. Social movements such as the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil and Guatemala’s Peasant Unity Committee will also take part in the program.
The first panel of the People’s Summit, titled, “Democracy for who?” will directly address the imperialist nature of the OAS. The Summit website states, “This session will dive into some of the examples of the ways in which the Organization of American States (OAS), acts on behalf of the interests of the rich, facilitating U.S. interventions across Latin America and the Caribbean, and consequently impacting democratic processes and people’s movements across the Americas.” Other panels include “Ending Patriarchy: Gender Violence and the Struggle for Liberation” and “Whose Streets?: Fighting Against White Supremacy, State Violence, and Militarization”.
Each day will end with a musical performance. As the organizers of the People’s Summit stated, “In understanding arts and culture as intrinsic parts of our struggles as well as the cornerstones of the societies we seek to build, our program will feature a myriad of different cultural activities”
People’s Summit organizer and co-director of the People’s Forum Claudia de la Cruz stated, “The summit will be a space of broad participation and representation of the continent and people’s struggles. In the program, the struggles for housing, the right to health, for democracy, and sovereignty, and against racism, poverty, and all the structures that create these conditions for our communities will be represented.”