Historic Meeting of Political Parties

Manila Bulletin, August 18, 2009 | Go to article overview

Historic Meeting of Political Parties


If Buenos Aires, Argentina, in late July, I was privileged to co-preside at the first meeting in history of the Asian and South American political parties.The South American parties are grouped in the ‘Permanent Conference of Political Parties in Latin America and the Caribbean’ (COPPPAL), Founded in 1999, COPPPAL has 58 member-parties from 28 countries. It is chaired by the Latin-American elder statesman, Dr. Antonio Cafiero, senior leader of the Peronist Justicialist Party of Argentina, who co-presided at the inaugural joint session of our standing committees with Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana.COPPPAL’s Asian counterpart is the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), which I founded in September, 2000 and which has now more than 240 member-parties – in power and in opposition – from 45 countries from Tokyo to Turkey.The first session of our two political groups was initiated by Argentina and Mexico’s COPPPAL Vice-Chairman Gustavo Carvajal. From now on, ICAPP and COPPPAL will meet every other year – to complement and enlarge the political connections between Asia and South America through the official Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC).Objectives of allianceThe Buenos Aires conference agreed the time has come for political parties – as carriers of the people’s will – to assume greater responsibility for shaping the relations between Asia and Latin America.Our two continents make up 50 percent of the Earth’s total land area, 68 percent of its population, and 53 percent of its GDP. Yet they’re still greatly influenced by outside powers and foreign interests. We agreed that only through heightened solidarity could the Asian and Latin American parties meet common challenges and defend their common objectives of peace, freedom and prosperity.The parties identified priorities for joint efforts to infuse more justice and equity into the global order.These include the reduction of poverty, the dismantling of discriminatory tariffs and subsidies by the rich countries, the promotion of interfaith and intercultural dialogue, micro-finance, anti-narcotics traffic, common actions in the battles against terror and climate change, and more priorities for women and the youth in the modernization of our political parties.New stakeholdersIn opening the conference, I pointed out that, from 1565 until 1815, the Philippines had mediated the contacts between our two continents through the Manila Galleon Trade with Mexico and Peru.And I said I was pleased my country is helping renew this historical connection through ICAPP, which a small group of us – including the subsequently martyred Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan – had founded in Manila in September 2000.Enhanced political ties between our two continents are a logical outcome of their increased economic and diplomatic ties – in the context of a world whose center of gravity is tilting from the Old World to the New.I said the global community must enlarge in circles of decision-making to make room for the new stakeholders in the global system, as we backed the launching of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and the emergence of G-20, which includes our ASEAN’s Indonesia from the exclusive G-7 of industrial democracies.And I suggested that COPPPAL and ICAPP initiate contacts with the African political parties, to form a fraternal network unifying the three continents – a suggestion the conference accepted eagerly.Much to learnThe Buenos Aires meeting impressed on all of us the common problems our countries face: Of building state capacity – choosing the right economic model – abolishing inherited poverty – and promoting democratization.We have much to learn from each other. …

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