Many people on this side of the Atlantic have never heard of the São Paulo Forum. Please tell us Europeans what it is.
The São Paulo Forum is a Latin American political organization, a platform for political parties that was created in July 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
At that time, the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro realized that communism was being defeated in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and he decided to create this Latin American self-support organization in order to substitute the support he had before from the Soviet Union. Having become an orphan, so to speak, he said, well, instead of having that support, we’re going to meet and support each other.
So they met in the city of Sao Paulo, in Brazil.
With Brazilian President Lula?
It was Fidel Castro’s idea, and Lula was an instrument. During that first two-day meeting in a hotel, on July 3–4, 1990, there were 68 political forces represented, from 22 different Latin American countries. And they decided to create this organization, which they named the São Paulo Forum.
Since then, they have had meetings almost every year in different cities and different countries in Latin America.
The São Paulo Forum underwent an upgrade when Hugo Chávez won the elections in Venezuela because they helped him become president of Venezuela. In return, he would give them a lot of money, many billions of dollars from Venezuelan oil to promote the candidates of the São Paulo Forum.
Today, there are 12 acting presidents in Latin America belonging to the São Paulo Forum. No existing political platform in Latin America had ever achieved this before. Christian democrats or social democrats never had 12 presidents of the same organization in Latin America, only the São Paulo Forum has achieved this.
How did the Sao Paulo Forum help Hugo Chávez get elected? What kind of aid was that?
It started when Hugo Chávez, after attempting two putsches in Venezuela in 1992, went to jail. When he got out of jail in 1994, he went to Cuba.
He was received in Havana by Fidel Castro as a head of state, even though he was a nobody. And Fidel Castro organized for Hugo Chávez to go to Montevideo, Uruguay, in May 1995 to enlist in the São Paulo Forum.
There a deal was struck: The São Paulo Forum would give Chávez financing, advice, intellectual support, access to the media, and access to diplomatic relations in Latin America and Europe, to help him become president of Venezuela. Chávez would never have become president without the help of the São Paulo Forum. This could not happen without such support from outside Venezuela.
Once president, Hugo Chávez put you, one of his former counter-candidates in the presidential race, in jail for one year. Why was this?
I was the first person who denounced the links of Hugo Chávez with the Colombian guerrillas and with Fidel Castro, and I was the first person to organize protests against Hugo Chávez in Venezuela in the year 2001. I was also the first one to accuse him of treason, with a formal complaint filed in the attorney general’s office.
However, what really made him decide to put me in jail was when I started to articulate a Latin American response to the São Paulo Forum, with the creation of an organization named UnoAmerica, or Unión de Organizaciones Democráticas de América.
It was a platform for NGOs from all over Latin America: 300 NGOs that were going to fight against the São Paulo Forum internationally. It is when I promoted this idea and became the president of UnoAmerica that he put me in jail.
What is the role of narcotrafficking in the São Paulo Forum? I am asking you this because I was told by Spanish MEP Hermann Tertsch, who you know, that there are links between drug trafficking in Latin America and the São Paulo Forum.
Yes, that is true. Since the beginning, since the creation of the São Paulo Forum in 1990, there were members of FARC and ELN Colombian guerrillas in that organization. Those guerrillas are not only terrorist groups, but they also are drug trafficking cartels.
They were invited by Lula to the São Paulo Forum from the very first day. And the influence of these two guerrilla groups and drug cartels took on more and more importance as the years passed by.
Hugo Chávez decided to allow the ELN and FARC to do their drug business inside of Venezuela. This drug trafficking business authorized by Chávez had its own life inside of Venezuela and that is how the Cartel of the Suns, or Cartel de los Soles in Spanish, was created.
The “suns” in the name of that drug cartel refers to the fact that Venezuelan generals do not have stars, but they have suns. So it is the Cartel of the Suns, and Nicolás Maduro is now the head of the Cartel of the Suns.
In July, a United States government spokesman confirmed that the accusation against Nicolás Maduro and others for being members of the Cartel of the Suns is still valid. Nicolás Maduro has a $15 million reward on his head from the United States, for being captured, and this is specifically for drug trafficking.
He is both the head of the Cartel of the Suns and a member of the São Paulo Forum. Venezuelan money does not only come from oil but also from drug trafficking, and drug trafficking has been increasingly penetrating the São Paulo Forum.
In Brazil’s presidential election last year, Lula’s victory was described in European mainstream media as a victory of democracy over a quasi-dictator, Bolsonaro. What is your opinion on this?
I believe that in Europe, they are being naive about the Latin American left. They have this romantic idea of Fidel Castro and communism in Latin America as being the socialists fighting for the liberation of the poor.
This is a very wrong idea because, in Latin America, communism equals dictatorship. In countries like Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, Latin American communism is also about drug trafficking. Generally speaking, Latin American communism is organized crime and human rights violations.
As Europe – especially Western Europe, not so much Central Europe – is so much taken over by woke ideology, by progressive ideology, Europeans have this idea that anyone from the right is like Augusto Pinochet and must be a corrupt dictator, but that is not how things are.
There is corruption on the right in Latin America, true, but the alternative is not to support the left in destroying our continent. All the more so that the Latin American left has been exporting their methods to Europe.
I believe that it was a very bad idea for Europe to support Lula, and I also believe it was a very bad idea to receive dictators at this last meeting, in July, between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC.
At that meeting, there was, for example, Miguel Díaz-Canel, the communist dictator of Cuba, and there was Delcy Rodríguez, Venezuela’s vice president who is prohibited from entering Europe but was received with kisses by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
This is very dangerous and very wrong, and it seems to me that it is totally contradictory: They say that Hungary’s democratically elected Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is a dictator, and then they go and kiss Miguel Díaz-Canel, the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba.
Europeans do not see the reality of things, at least in Latin America.
In Europe, we see woke ideology as a trend coming from the United States. However, you seem to be suggesting that Latin America’s São Paulo Forum is also exporting the same sort of ideology. Is Latin America’s 21st-century socialism also woke and is it influencing Europe as well?
The thesis of my new book, “The São Paulo Forum’s Cultural Warfare,” which has been published in Spanish, English, Portuguese, Italian, Slovenian as well as Hungarian, and is now being translated into Polish, is that woke ideology, which we can also call progressive ideology or Cultural Marxism, is a new weapon of communism to control countries.
Since bullets did not work in Latin America with the guerrillas, since they did not work in Europe either as shown by the fall of the Soviet Union, the left’s ideologues, based on the ideas of Antonio Gramsci, the founder of the Italian Communist Party, as well as on the ideas of the Frankfurt School, of Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Max Horkheimer, and Felix Weil, and others, developed a new kind of warfare: cultural warfare.
It is true that woke ideology is now being promoted by the United States, but it was already there in Europe. The May 68′ movement was woke ideology too. It did not bear that name, but this is what it was: Cultural Marxism, just like today’s woke ideology. France’s May 68′ protests were the result of the Frankfurt School’s influence on ideas.
And in Latin America, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, they understood that fighting with bullets was not a good idea and that it was better to use cultural warfare. In Latin America, we have a particular version of this Cultural Marxism. It is based on indigenism, radical ecologism, and, very importantly, the theology of liberation.
However, for the last 10 years, we have been witnessing how other ideologies like LGBT ideology, gender ideology, and other woke ideas are increasingly being adopted by the São Paulo Forum. This is because they are a way to destroy Western values, and if you destroy Western values, it becomes much easier to dominate societies.
Should we then understand that in countries like Venezuela or Cuba, you now have this problem of early sexualization and LGBT propaganda at school too? People tend to see at least Cuban communism as being rather the traditional socially conservative brand of communism. Has it changed?
It is changing. The first wave of Cultural Marxism in Latin America was based, as I said, on radical ecologism and indigenism as well as the theology of liberation, but the new ideologues of the São Paulo Forum have now understood that they will have more power if they connect to globalism and woke ideologies.
People like Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Chilean President Gabriel Boric in particular are pushing, inside the São Paulo Forum, this new, modern Cultural Marxism with gender ideology and all that.
There was a struggle between traditional Marxism and Cultural Marxism, but Cultural Marxism is now taking over the São Paulo Forum more and more every day. And that is why Joe Biden likes them so much. That is the way the São Paulo Forum connects to the radical branch of the Democratic Party in the United States.
You said, however, that the Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro, still has a reward on his head from the U.S. So now you are saying that Joe Biden and his Democratic Party, in particular America’s radical left inside the Democratic Party, like the São Paulo Forum. How is this possible?
There is schizophrenia in the United States. Yes, Maduro is being pursued for drug trafficking and has a reward on his head. At the same time, President Joe Biden sends his envoys to Venezuela to meet with Maduro and to try to arrange certain alliances.
I believe that the U.S. Department of State is progressively absorbing and being conquered by the woke ideas, and that woke ideology has now become its main line of exportation, and I believe it is very harmful and bad for the United States itself.
Are there links also with the Open Society Foundations of George Soros and other very left-wing progressive American foundations and organizations? Do they work with the Sao Paulo Forum?
That I know of, the Open Society Foundations has been funding Latin American NGOs that are linked to the São Paulo Forum, with the aim of promoting woke ideologies like abortion, gender, and all that. For example, they are financing programs in Colombia that are being implemented by the Colombian government of Gustavo Petro, who belongs to the São Paulo Forum. In that sense, yes, there are links.
Is Latin America not better armed than Europe to fight this new Marxist ideology?
I think it is, indeed, thanks to its century-old evangelization by Spain and because we have one Latin American-Spanish culture. I usually say to Europeans that, in comparison to Europe, when you board a plane in Sonora, Mexico, you fly 12 straight hours south to Cordoba, Argentina, and you get off the plane, you meet people speaking the same language and who have the same religion.
There is only a difference in accent, but it is the same culture, which is basically Christian culture, and people in Latin America are still very much attached to family values and Christian values.
I am aware that this is changing, but I believe that the development of woke ideology or Cultural Marxism is currently at a more advanced stage in Western Europe and the United States.
This is my observation as a Latin American who has witnessed this process both in the United States and Europe.
So what would be your Latin American message to Europeans?
I would say that woke ideology is the worst threat to Europe in its entire history. It is more dangerous than the Ottoman Empire trying to conquer Europe and more dangerous than Russia was in times of the Iron Curtain.
Woke ideology is destroying Europe from within without Europeans even noticing it. They are absorbing this woke ideology without noticing that it is a poison that is killing them. Cultural warfare is very dangerous and very effective. It is the most advanced kind of warfare, and Europeans must find ways to face it, some kind of antidote.
When you have lost a sense of truth, when there is no truth, when you have lost a sense of family, when young people are confused, when they want to undergo surgery to change their sex, when they start asking questions about what sex they are and believe their sex is not determined anymore by nature but by perception, then you have a society so confused and so weak that it can be taken over by other forces.
And this is what is actually happening. Europe is not being conquered with tanks and rifles, but it is being conquered through cultural warfare. European civilization is becoming too weak to resist the different threats it is facing because it is being destroyed from within.
With my latest book being translated into several European languages, I would like to contribute with the experience of a Latin American and Venezuelan to convey this message: that Europeans not only need to answer this threat with a political movement, but they must also build a social, grassroots movement to defend their families against woke ideology.
Alejandro Peña Esclusa is the founder and president of UnoAmerica, an organization gathering hundreds of Latin American NGOs to fight the São Paulo Forum’s leftist agenda. Peña Esclusa, who now lives in Europe, is the author of several books on the São Paulo Forum, Latin America’s Alliance of communist and socialist parties and movements, including his latest book published in English under the title “The São Paulo Forum’s Cultural Warfare.”