I flew into Lisbon, Portugal, Thursday to participate in actions calling for the dissolution of NATO.
Heads of state of all the NATO countries are meeting here at a special summit to expand the military alliance’s role in the world. President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton lead an enormous contingent from the U.S.
Opposing this summit and its threat to peace, the World Peace Council (WPC) and the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation (CPPC) beginning last January built a large, broad coalition to prepare anti-NATO activities in Lisbon. The coalition is called Paz Sim! NATO Nâo! Peace Yes! NATO NO!
This afternoon those activities culminate in a massive public demonstration in Lisbon’s major Marquês de Pompal square. Announcing this demonstration are a large billboard and banners surrounding the square.
In a few hours we will see the results of the coalition’s work.
The coalition includes over 100 national organizations including the major trade union confederation CGTP-IN as well as individual unions, organizations representing agriculture, youth and women, national culture and recreation, and political parties – Communist, Green and Humanist.
Yesterday the CPPC organized an anti-NATO conference in the municipality of Almada immediately across the Tagus River. The vice president of the town council welcomed participants.
WPC President, Socorro Gomes of Brazil opened the conference. There is no justification for the NATO military alliance, she said. With its invasion of Yugoslavia in 1999 and of Afghanistan in 2001 and the new powers it is giving itself, it is turning the world into a military camp.
NATO is supporting the U.S.’s offensive “missile defense” system, the star wars system initiated in the 1980’s by Ronald Reagan. It has expanded its territory to include Asia, and is moving to include Latin America and the Pacific. Members have increased NATO’s power to intervene in their internal affairs. And it now defines cybersecurity as an issue warranting military intervention.
According to CPPC President Hugo Fernandes the coalition partners represent hundreds of organizations. There is an economic crisis, infrastructure and health are being cut, yet there is no crisis in building weapons.
Carlos Carvalho, representing the national council of the CGTP-IN, told the audience that the CGTP has always called for the dissolution of NATO since the abolition of the dictatorship in 1974. NATO supported that dictatorship and its brutal colonial wars. Although millions spent on the arms race could help humanity, he said the crux of the issue is that NATO violates national sovereignty.
Carvalho also announced that the trade unions are calling a general strike for November 24 to oppose cuts to wages and social benefits.
A young deputy to the Assembly of the Republic Portugal’s unicameral parliament, Paula Santos, stated that the Portuguese dictatorship was a founding member of NATO and that NATO supported Portugal’s brutal colonial wars in Africa. She pointed out that NATO, which forces Portugal’s foreign policy to be subservient to the U.S., violates Portugal’s constitution. The coalition submitted to parliament 13,000 signatures on an anti-NATO petition forcing a debate.
Some of the other speakers were members of the European Parliament from Portugal and Greece, and represented peace organizations in Cyprus, Greece, U.S., Belgium, Spain, Serbia, Germany, Syria, Iran, Turkey, France.
But the main event of the anti-NATO effort is the demonstration this afternoon. I can’t wait to see what that looks like, from the inside.