São Paulo Forum is back in Brasília with leaders from across the globe

The event represents a global alliance of left-wing forces, with an emphasis on Latin American integration

June 30, 2023 by Cristiane Sampaio
Caption: Trade union centrals and popular movements are among the participants of the event - Rovena Rosa /Agência Brasil

After a four-year break due to the pandemic, the São Paulo Forum returned to its activities on June 29, in Brasília, the federal capital of Brazil, where more than 700 participants who signed up to follow the program will meet. The event is a historic space for dialogue between leftist forces from different corners of the world and is reborn amid the recent rise of progressive leaders in Latin America, including President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula is one of the founders of the platform and was one of the highlights of the event’s program on Thursday.

The event’s executive secretary, Mônica Valente, draws attention to the succession of political facts that preceded this year’s edition and helped shape the Forum’s return. She highlights the situation of countries neighboring Brazil.

“In addition to Mexico, which came into the progressive camp for the first time in 2018, we resumed government in Argentina, with Alberto Fernández. In Bolivia, we managed to defeat the coup and elect President Luis Arce. In Chile, Boric won the elections. In Colombia, for the first time, [there was] a historic pact, a left-wing coalition similar to ours here in Brazil, which also won the elections. So, Lula’s election crowns this process that has been going on for the last three, four years,” she summarizes.

President Lula’s parade during the first act of his inauguration, on January 1, 2023 Photo: Ricardo Stuckert

The fight against the far-right and against policies such as neoliberalism are some of the event’s agendas. The different branches of the São Paulo Forum are currently united around the defense of national sovereignty. “Resuming the Forum’s face-to-face meetings here in Brasilia also crowns this process of peoples’ struggles and some alteration in the correlation of forces and electoral victories [of the left] in Latin America,” adds Valente.

The reach

It is within this new political re-alignment process that the São Paulo Forum 2023 should receive 170 representatives of the member parties of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean Forum, in addition to around 80 guests from international parties considered as partners, although not exactly members of the Forum, and about 250 to 300 national delegates.

In the group of these national delegates are different associations of the Brazilian left, such as the Workers’ Party and the Communist Party of Brazil, which organize the event, in addition to party foundations, popular movements and others. Unified Workers’ Central (CUT), Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), Alba Movements, Continental Action for Democract and Against Neoliberalism, and the World March of Women (MMM) are among the participants. In the list of countries that are present at the event are Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Cuba, El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua.

São Paulo Forum event in Havana, Cuba, in 2018 (Photo: Disclosure)

The members of the Forum chose “Regional integration to advance Latin American and Caribbean sovereignty” as the theme for this year. “There are two contexts that support this. One of them is the global context, of a world that is moving towards multipolarity, and you need to have a strong, integrated, united Latin America to be in this world. And the other is the regional context of electoral victories of leftist parties, progressive parties, which facilitates the resumption of an integrationist agenda after much destruction,” explains the International Relations secretary of the Communist Party of Brazil and one of the organizers of the Forum, Ana Prestes.


The theme even puts the event in the opposite direction to that of the far-right, which usually uses the São Paulo Forum as a target and supposedly negative symbol of the thematic universe of the left. The persecution even generated a curious initiative in recent days: far-right deputies and Bolsonaro supporters Carla Zambelli (of the Liberal Party) and Coronel Meira (also of the Liberal Party) called the Brazilian Federal Public Ministry (MPF) with a representation contrary to the event, which is in its 26th edition.

“It’s just that it’s very easy for them to mobilize ‘anti-São Paulo Forum’ sentiments because they mobilize long-standing impressions here in Latin America, such as anti-communism and anti-Cuba sentiment. They sell an idea, that some people buy, due to lack of knowledge of what the São Paulo Forum is, and act based on ignorance, through fake news and fear, feeding these conspiracy theories,” interprets the International Relations secretary of the Communist Party of Brazil .

The secretary also sees another bias in the extremists’ conduct before the Forum. “I think sometimes they don’t have an agenda and hitch a ride on ours. They need it to guide the press,” concludes Ana Prestes.


The São Paulo Forum has existed since 1990, when a first meeting was held in the capital of the state of São Paulo—hence the event’s baptismal name—and under the lens of 48 parties that debated the then crisis of capitalism there. The following year, it was Mexico City’s turn to be the stage for the discussions that united the leftist forces at that time, when an even greater number of leaders came together to discuss the directions of the progressive wing: there were 78 parties represented.

First meeting of the São Paulo Forum, in 1990, in the capital of São Paulo, with the presence of Lula, who was one of the founders (Reproduction/Youtube Gleisi Hoffmann)

Since then, the Forum has taken place every one or two years, in different countries alternately. In a virtual message addressed to participants in recent days, the president of the Workers’ Party, Gleisi Hoffmann, recalled that the entity emerged to be guided by banners such as the struggle for democracy and social justice in Latin America and the Caribbean. “That is why it has always been the target of a permanent campaign of lies and disinformation driven by agents of the far-right and those who benefit from the historical inequality and injustice in our region,” she added.

This article was originally published on Brasil de Fato.