Greens of the Americas meet in Chile
by Michael Canney, member, International Committee of the Green Party of the United States and GPUS delegate to the Federation of the Green Parties of the Americas
The annual assembly of the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas was held this year in Santiago, Chile, on October 27-28. Known as the FPVA for its Spanish name , the meeting brought together Greens from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and the U.S. An observer was also present from the European Greens.
The FPVA assembly was a lively gathering, and a spirit of unity and cooperation ultimately prevailed, despite controversy that had been brewing since August 2008 when the Mexican Green Party ( or PVEM) began a national campaign to reinstate the death penalty for kidnappers and narco-traffickers. Many Greens worldwide believe this campaign contradicts the Global Green Charter, which the PVEM signed in 2001.
Delegates expressed concerns about the death penalty issue, but the matter was handled diplomatically. There was clearly a consensus – with the exception of Mexico – that Greens are opposed to the death penalty as a matter of principle. However, there also was a consensus among the parties in attendance that a compromise had to be found allowing the Federation to move ahead in a unified manner, with the PVEM on board.
After voting to include a reference to the Global Greens Charter as a guiding document in the preamble of the FPVA Statutes, delegates considered a proposal to nominate candidates replace the two outgoing FPVA co-presidents: PVEM co-founder Jorge Gonzales Torres, and Julia Willebrand (U.S.)
In what appeared to be a means of avoiding sending a PVEM delegate to the GGC, a proposal was made to create co-president alternates (“suplentes”), to serve concurrently with the co-presidents. A single proposal was put forward to nominate a slate of six candidates, with three men as co-presidents and three women as alternates.
Manuel Baquedano (Chile) and Leonardo Alvarez (MÈxico) were chosen as new co-presidents, with Marco-Antonio Mroz (Brazil) continuing to serve for another year. Baquedano was then chosen as Executive President of the Federation. Since the FPVAís three co-presidents traditionally also serve as representatives on the twelve member (GGC) – the steering committee for the Global Greens, the election of Alvarez was accompanied by a caveat that he would not represent the Federation on the GGC. His alternate, Flor de Maria Hurtado (Peru), will serve in his place.
The original co-president proposal also included a spot among the alternates for a female delegate from the U.S. But since the GPUS had no female delegate who could be nominated (Willebrand was stepping down after the meeting), and no election for a new delegate was scheduled, I nominated Silvaine Zimmermann of Canada instead, which was accepted. Zimmerman will serve as alternate for Mroz, while Claudia Moy PeÒa (Argentina) was elected as alternate for Baquedano. Other than Hurtado substituting for Alvarez on the GGC however, the role of the suplentes was not defined in the statutes. Finally, Manuel Diaz of Venezuela was elected as Ombudsman.
I expressed disappointment with the lack of gender balance among the co-presidents, and also with the meeting process, which did not allow time for substantive discussion about important decisions being made, particularly the make up of the co-presidents.
That being said, the amendment process to the statues was orderly, as delegates voted on the proposed revisions article by article. Two-year terms were established for co-presidents, with a prohibition on serving consecutive terms. The permanent seat or “home office” of the FPVA will now be located in the city of the FPVA Executive President’s party. Previously by statute, it had always been located in Mexico City. Another change to the statutes allows FPVA member parties to elect three delegates to the FPVA assembly, instead of two, but each member party still gets only one vote.
Due to Baquedanoís numerous other responsibilities, the Brazilian Greens offered to provide administrative support for the Federation, with Roberta Moreno chosen to serve as the interim FPVA Secretary, taking over this duty from Paty Doneau of Mexico. An influential international youth Green, Moreno played a key role in the coordination of the Global Greens Congress in S„o Paolo in May 2008 and today works for the party.
The Partido Los Verdes (Guatemala) was admitted as a full member of the Federation, while parties who sent members as observers to Santiago this year, and who could become voting members of the Federation by next year’s meeting, included the Partido Verde (Bolivia) and Partido Verde Ecologista (Uruguay.)
The Federation agreed to hold next year’s annual meeting in Colombia, on the condition that there be a unified Green Party there. Delegates specified that FPVA delegate Fabio Marino of the now mostly defunct Partido Verde OxÌgeno have a leading role in the new party along with the applicant Partido Verde OpciÛn Centro meeting certain additional conditions to together form a new Partido Verde de Colombia. Representatives of both groups agreed to this condition.
On Monday October 26th, the day prior to the FPVA meeting, the Heinrich Bˆll Foundation in Santiago invited Greens to an International Seminar on Green Initiatives in the Americas, organized by Institute of Political Ecology (of which Baquedano is the Executive Director), where presentations on ecological topics were followed by discussions. The theme of several presentations was renewable energy, with one focusing on nuclear power as a false solution to climate change. The dinner and reception that followed the seminar was a great icebreaker for the international Greens in attendance. The Green Movement is growing, throughout the Americas and throughout the planet.
Michael Canney became a GPUS delegate in 2009, replacing Tony Affigne (Rhode Island), who stepped down after serving since 2003. Julia Willebrand (New York), the second U.S. delegate, was unable to attend. GPUS co-chair Sanda Everette attended as an observer to the public sessions of the meeting, as well as other functions in Santiago.
For more information about the FPVA: www.verdesamericagreens.org