What is Clajadep

28.Abr.03    Análisis y Noticias

CLAJADEP Latin-American and African Coordinator of Law Experts, Social Scientists and Marginalized Groups for a Popular and Democratic Alternative

Network of exchange about autonomy and popular power

What is Clajadep?

It is an informal network of people and groups for exchange of ideas, opinions, reflections, experiences, news, analysis, declarations, etc. with the objective of contributing to the growth and multiplication of anti-capitalist resistance, in particular the forms of reconstruction of the social being as a member of an autonomous community, with self-determined strategies and the reconstruction of spaces of defiance and popular power.

How and why was Clajadep born?

The decade of the sixties represented a cycle of revolutionary struggles in our continent where the guerrillas and the thought and experiences of Ché influenced in practically all the countries of the region breaking the hegemony of reformism.

This rebellion extends until the beginning of the following decade without being able to incorporate the masses, being confronted by the capital via the extension of military coups and the establishment of a chain of dictatorships culminating in its defeat of the Central American experiences, only surviving the Colombian guerrilla zones. With this, at the end of the seventies and beginnings of the eighties a new cycle that some have called the dead decade opens up, with an enormous dispersion of tendencies some of which until today try to repeat the heroic but failed modalities.

Reformism take grip again in the institutions, subordinated now to bourgeois groups with the so-called re-installing of democracy with the neoliberal model that temporarily solves the capitalist crisis in a new politics of conciliation of classes under the firm eye of the United States and the military, with the arrival of perestroika which comes to break with its precedents and triggers a massive flight towards social-democrat forms of understanding the route of reforms.

The vacuum gap was too big, the more advanced initiatives were defeated and reflections of analysis arise where some of the main intellectuals of the left around the continent try to discover the errors committed by applying the same formulas of interpretation insisting on models already used and worned out, as is the value given to the role of the state and the instruments that would organize the masses to control it.

The analysis of Petras and Harnecker, by just mentioning some, are focussed in reinforcing that vision, with the difference that Petras little by little began to move forward and Harnecker little by little moved backward, Petras tried to open-up while Harnecker to insist on the same, which is not but a dialectic vision on one end and an structuralism vision on the other.

Waves of intellectuals around the world have undertaken the exodus and entered the NGOs sprouting as fungus after the rain, receiving large sums of moneys distributed generously by the social democracy, by the foundations created by great industrialists, churches and international institutions from where social investigations and paternalistic activities are developed, but essentially the intention was to maintain the masses accustomed to being helped from the outside without any opportunity of making their own reflections.

Those who produce intelligent or contestatarian ideas are accompanied for some years by the foundations or their watchdogs to take the most from their critical analysis, but they are cut out when seen as respecting self-organizing and rebellious forms of social action, like what happened with the Centro de Pesquisas (Center of Research) Vergueiro of Sao Paulo and with the Frente Nacional de Trabajadores (National Worker’s Front) of Brazil, being this one a center of studies, mobilizations and serious organizational practice of strategies from within, group with which later we have worked together for several years.

Different groups and people make an effort to go even farther until questioning the experience of the construction of real socialism. The discussion about popular power was practically abandoned and some youths together with other old combatants decide to retake it as a starting point to re-examine the relation between that popular power and the state as an instrument, but this needed to be taken to an open discussion, at the same time there was the necessity to face the conception of democracy which appeared as a relief after the military governments.

In 1987 eight compañeros of diverse countries agree in an encounter of social sciences and decide to keep a network of exchange to reinforce their reflections on the subject, that is how Clajadep, Latin American Coordinator of Law Experts for a Popular and Democratic Alternative was born, since all of them were lawyers or students of law. Since then, Clajadep has been hard fought by reformism and by sectors that coming from the armed struggle had chosen to leave their previous positions adopting the realism and pragmatism of defeat.

It began then, for these compas (compañeros) a period of studies, discussions and interchanges on such wide and diverse subjects as the diverse experiences of struggle in the continent, the defeat of the Spanish revolution and the hard ideological fight between the groups of the euro-communism and of the so-called classic line or also pro-soviet, they begin to study anarchism and the experience of the Italian autonomous movement , as well as the Italian fight of the Basque resistance, the Red Brigades and the Fraction of Red Army of Germany, also the IRA and in general the revolutionary nationalistic struggle, having readings and interviews to deepen in the details of the contradictions that took to the crisis and rupture of the International Association of Workers, called the First International, the frictions and open fights between independent soviets and the anarchists against centralization, as well as the massacre of Kronstad and the annihilation of the Maknovist Army.

We had access to some reflections in Ecuador related to the Quechua nation and in Panama on the Kunas communities. We also touched on reflections about existentialism and an array of diverse authors. Some other compas began incorporating themselves and this introduces the possibility of some form of continental party or organization, idea that was absolutely rejected, which meant the withdrawal of two of the initiators.

Some compatible sociologists requested the net widen to include Social Scientists and this was adopted.

By 1988 we had already organized the Caravan for Peace and Human rights, and against capital punishment in Chile, which allowed us to establish innumerable interchanges of all type in many countries with the most dissimilar array of organizations.

Few believed in our search of new forms to understand things, we were called adventurers, irresponsible and several other names, and thus the hard attacks on the part of the reformists fatigued the representative of Brazil who also retires. In a conversation with Petras and a colleague of his we manifested them with our proposal, that the revolutionary left should do a new type of open work, but the scepticism of the colleague was very great while Petras listened in silence and did not emit an opinion. Who strongly supported and stimulated us to continue was the historian Luis Vitale who learned about our proposal to work within the poor population raising the alternative right, that he sought coincident with the reflections he was doing on counter-culture and other subjects that comprise the dynamic of the counter-power.

We are talking already of May-June of 1988, after the arrival of the caravan at the borders of Chile, another smaller one from Peru and a bus from Argentina that had left Sao Paulo.

The most interesting proposal of Vitale was that we should settle in a country and begin the concrete experience while we continue discussions with other groups and people.

That is how we settled in Brazil creating the Socialist Latin American Center of Studies CLASE in Sao Bernardo do Campo in 1991, the Group of Researchers of Alternative Law GPDA in 1992 and the Permanent Commission for the Rights of the Marginalized in 1993, with bulletins and discussion groups. The GPDA managed to have national reach and we began to organize meetings to discuss popular power, we invited representatives of diverse movements and pastorals of churches.

We manage to form diverse study groups of alternative law in several districts of the Zone Leste de Sao Paulo where millions of marginalized people live and finally we formed the Center of Autonomous Studies of Sao Paulo from were we gave advise to autonomous groups, occupations (squats), we formed small local networks of autonomy and stimulated the necessity of discussion between anarchists, anti-authoritarian and autonomous Marxists. We organized local, state wide and national encounters of autonomy and alternative law, until arriving at the Continental Encuentro of 1999 and second of Clajadep.

The contacts that were developed in others countries have allowed Clajadep to count today with an established affluent network in almost all Latin American countries.

How does the network works?

By means of Web pages, discussion lists, encounters and the stimulation of direct interchanges between the most diverse modalities of people’s resistance.

We have organized seminaries and courses.

We have given advise to social movements.

We have published two books.

Is Clajadep an NGO?

No. We are opposite to organizing external instrumental forms of organization or support to the masses when they attempt to direct or to subordinate the masses.

What is the ideology of Clajadep?

It does not have ideology, because it promotes the respect to diversity and to joint actions, local and globally, of the different forms of understanding and fighting against capital.

Is Clajadep for peaceful struggle or not?

It promotes, recognizes and stimulates all forms of struggle, because who determines how and when they fight is the people themselves by means of its autonomous and self-determined forms of reunion, decision and action.

Does Clajadep participate in international organizations?

No. It participates actively in actions, activities and encounters like those summoned by the Acción Global de los Pueblos (Peoples Global Action) and the Campo Antiimperialista (Anti-imperialist Camp), as in any other type of action where we are invited in as much as they develop the anti-capitalist thought and action and not a centralized command and control, Clajadep is not an organization and for that reason it does not participate in any structure. We are a dynamic instance of interchanges.

How can one become a member of Clajadep?

It does not have members, but active participants, who contribute to the defined objectives or in the modification of these objectives. There are several compas who contribute to coordinate efforts by countries, regions and at the international level.

How can one participate or contribute?

Just by communicating to some of the coordinators your will to work with the network or one can simply send opinions and news, which will also be distributed. Clajadep does not have as an objective “to grow” neither to gain membership nor prestige.

How many people and or groups form the network?

They can be counted by the dozens, but as we have an informal character one can become part of or to end participation at any time.

What concrete tasks are you working on?

Beside construction and administration of Web pages or lists of discussion, we have tasks of translations and distribution, organization of intellectual and social encounters, specific analysis, compilation of information, readings and/or commentaries of news and texts, etc. Being all these available to the people and groups who need it. The doors are open for ideas and initiatives.

What is alternative law and what is its importance?

They are the new rules elaborated in popular activities addressing the necessities of these groups and as such are contradictory with the state law, they are also the traditional rules of the original communities (first nations) or oppressed nations to which a State has been imposed over with systems of rules opposite to their interests.

Are there ideological differences among the participants of the network?

Of course, since in it participate and interchange ideas and experiences people or groups of Marxist orientation, revolutionary anarchist, autonomous, Christians and other forms of thought or cosmovision.

Which are the reasons for its extension to Africa?

Both continents have in common to have suffered the invasion of European Capitalism and the massacres of the original communities. There are countries of Latin culture in Africa and afro-descendents in the continent of Abya Yala, badly called America. At the moment both regions are dominated by powerful countries and international financial capital. Both continents have a rich tradition of struggle and today the resistance against the Empire of capital grows. The African blood has been and is present in the struggles of our continent and of children of our lands, as Fanon and Guevara, fought in Africa. For that reason Clajadep considers it is a space of common struggle.

Does that mean that Clajadep will also extend to Asia?

Of course