29th ALAS Congress: Final Declaration
February 10, 2014
Meeting in Santiago, the capital city of Chile, from September 29 to October 4 (2013), 4,168 sociologists from 30 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and elsewhere participated in 33 working groups, 79 panels, 86 book launches, and 5 plenary conferences. Twelve preparatory (pre-ALAS) events helped enormously to disseminate the objectives of the Congress, encouraging active participation in our Association. In particular, the inclusion of hundreds of students and young professionals and the formation of networks to exchange information and experiences will mark the legacy of this Congress of the Latin American Sociological Association.
This year marked the 40th anniversary of the coup in Chile, and not one participant in the Congress escaped the intense debate and critical reflections it provoked, both in the Congress and in the country, about the effects of such a barbaric event, as well as the long silencing of the trauma, which conservative intellectuals, governments, and international organizations saw as the capitalist re-founding of Chile and of Latin America as a whole.
Today, the rigor of our studies combines in creative ways with an expansion of critical capacity, but also with continent-wide social and political movements of great vitality and transformative power. In recent years, several such movements stand out:
• The struggle of Latin American migrants for true reforms in the United States that would recognize rights to work, health, education, and social security, and of course, the possibility of Latin American communities and families to live in that country without persecution.
• The struggle of Mexico’s democratic teachers unions who demand true education reform and an end to the planned firings of teachers who belong to the largest union on the continent (1,200,000 teachers).
• The continent-wide struggle against the illegal appropriation and savage exploitation of the natural and strategic resources of our region, such as oil, gas, mining, agriculture, fishing, forests, coasts, and water.
• The profusion of demands in Colombia for true peace negotiations that would put an end to the most prolonged and painful conflict on the continent.
• The persistent and brave struggle of the Cuban people for respect of their sovereignty and an end to the blockade.
• The struggle for recognition of and an end to the aggressions against the democratically elected governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Ecuador.
• The struggle for real and deep democratic transformation in all the countries of the region.
• The struggle against neoliberal cuts in health, education, social security, and pensions.
• The struggles against violence, terror, and the growing presence of security apparatuses in the lives of our communities and peoples.
• The struggle against corruption and extravagance of extremely rich governments, officials, and functionaries as their people grow ever poorer.
• The struggles against the constraints on social programs and public policies. • The struggle against US spying on all of our countries.
• The struggle to recover the true sovereignty of our nations and the autonomy of indigenous, Afro-descendent and island peoples.
Such an accounting requires systematic work from sociologists of the continent. We have a responsibility to share our knowledge and disseminate our findings concerning the most pressing social problems: the threat of land destruction; poverty; exclusion; insecurity; violence; and the vulnerability of the majority of the population to disasters and economic crises. We must seek to achieve full freedom of expression, association, and criticism for all those who inhabit our region; the institutionalization of policies that will improve the welfare of the population, implemented by socially responsible states in compliance with the rights of all individuals and peoples; overcoming of all forms of coloniality of knowledge and power, with true academic autonomy and inclusion, without evaluation parameters imposed by international organizations, and with free access to the production and exchange of knowledge. These objectives form the basis of our commitment and the promises for the future of our Association.
Our universities and institutions of higher education, public and private, must make an extraordinary effort to constantly renew their research, in order to give our societies and states the foundation on which to establish solid commitments to benefit those most in need and to defend justice, freedom, and diversity.
ALAS embodies these aspirations and assumes responsibility for continuing in the path it has followed to date, while making every effort to include a greater number of sociologists – respecting and recognizing the plurality of their theoretical perspectives, practical experiences, and identities – in pursuit of a world wherein we all may fit.
Long live ALAS! Long live our America!
Adopted by the General Assembly of the XXIXth Congress of the Latin American Sociological Association (ALAS)