21 August 1997 Edition

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Sao Paola Forum passes declaration on Ireland

The head of Sinn Féin's International Department, Bairbre de Brún, attended the Sáo Paola Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, from 31 July to 3 August. The Sáo Paola Forum re-unites over 50 left-wing parties from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss strategies for the region. The Forum also welcomes observers from further afield and Sinn Féin are one of the European parties to attend on a regular basis.

This year the Forum was preceeded by a number of seminars specifically for MPs, those in local government, women, and other seminars to tackle problems of racism and drug-trafficking. There was also a commemoration for the disappeared and for those killed fighting dictatorship in Latin America and a special tribute was held to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Ché Guevara.

Sinn Féin were given a warm welcome at all the events they attended and there was wide interest in the developments in the peace process here.

At the final plenary session of the Forum, the following declaration on Ireland was passed without dissent:

``In its statement of 19 July 1997 the Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced the unequivocal restoration of the August 1994 ceasefire.

``We recognise the importance and significance of this decision.

``We call on the British and Irish government to ensure the establishment of inclusive and substantive negotiations without dealy.

``We hope to see an agreed political settlement which can command the allegiance of all and which is based on principles of democracy, equality and the exercise of self-determination.''

The final document dealing with strategies and alternatives for Latin America and the Caribbean condemned systematic human rights abses in Columbia and the economic blockade of Cuba, while welcoming recent electoral successes by the FMLN in El Salvador and the PRD in Mexico. The plenary was addressed by delegates from over 20 countries in the region. A declaration was also passed calling for self-determination for the people of East Timor.

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