Latin America 2008: a national conference which is a must

Campaign News | Friday, 5 December 2008

By Dr Francisco Dominguez, Head of Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies Middlesex University reports on this Saturday's conference

Latin America is going through an extraordinary and fascinating process of progressive transformation.

Despite inevitable complexities, the ‘Pink Tide’ keeps expanding bringing in new nations.

What began back in 1998 with the election of Hugo Chavez to the Presidency of Venezuela, has continued almost unstoppably with the inauguration of progressive governments in Brazil with Lula, Nestor Kirchner in Argentina, Tabare Vasquez in Uruguay, of Evo Morales in Bolivia, the first indigenous president of this very poor Andean nation, then by Rafael Correa, Daniel Ortega, Michelle Bachelet and Manuel Zelaya in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Chile and Honduras respectively, and by former Catholic Bishop, Fernando Lugo this year in Paraguay.

Last but not least, all of this in the context of Cuba’s solid economic recovery, without whose survival to the US relentless aggression and hostility such continent-wide developments would simply have been unthinkable.

The challenges they face are indeed gigantic, and -with the exception of Cuba- they must get their societies back from 30 years of the disastrous consequences of neo-liberal policies which saw a rise of those living in poverty to 44% of the continent’s population, that is, 227 million people, as well as a murderous wave of elite-inspired violence that saw the cold-blooded assassination of hundreds of thousands at the hands death-squads, unleashed to crush even the mildest of opposition to the neo-liberal Washington Consensus.

This was coupled with massive indebtedness, severe loss of national sovereignty, the handing over of natural resources to voracious multinational companies, the privatisation of just about everything that could be privatised, that is the objective reduction of these nations to mere appendages of international circuits of capital accumulation.

Notwithstanding the huge odds against them, they have begun the arduous uphill battle to restore dignity to their nations and peoples, to lift the standards of living of millions upon millions who for multinational capital are just batches of spare -unproductive- humanity, to bring down centuries-long institutional mechanisms which have maintained and perpetuated social, political and cultural exclusion -poor women, indigenous nations, Black people-, in a nutshell, to take their destinies in the in own hands and build a better world.

Furthermore, they are doing all of this collectively through regional integration outfits such as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas -ALBA.

Operation Miracle -a Cuba-Venezuela programme-, one of the many collective initiatives, has meant free eye surgical operations thus far for 1.3 million people, many whom got their eyesight restored. Only Colombia remains stuck in the past under a regime which utilizes murder -particularly against trade unionists- as the favourite ‘to stem’ dissidence.

Latin America 2008 brings together trade unionists, NGOs, academics and progressive movements from Latin America and the UK to explore recent developments across the region. Latin America 2008 will feature films,

stalls, seminars on: Cuba - 50 years of Revolution, ALBA -The Bolivarian Alternative For The Americas, Women In Latin America, Resistance To Neoliberal Agendas And Debt, Peace Process In Colombia, What Next For Paraguay?, and will include speakers such as Ken Livingstone, George Galloway MP, Adam Price MP, Billy Hayes (CWU), and authors Richard Gott, Salim Lamrani and Bart Jones.

There will be a great range of speakers attending direct from from Latin America itself. Mariano Baque, The Secretary of the CTE, the Ecuadorian trade union federation and Maria Augusta Calle, former member of the Ecuadorian constituent Assembly will bring updates on the latest developments in Ecuador.

Sr. René Martínez is a Bolivian MP, head of the congressional committee on constitutional affairs. At a time when Bolivia is undergoing so much change his words will give participants a deeper understanding of what it is like to bring about 'revolutionary' change under the eyes of the United States.

There will also be speakers from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Latin America needs our support and we have loads to learn from them. Come along, find out, get involved.

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