Latin America Conference and Fiesta Latina!
Saturday 7 December 2013 Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B
On Saturday 7 December 2013, TUC Congress House will be the venue for the ninth annual Latin America Conference.
Bernard Regan, National Secretary of CSC, looks forward to “the best Conference on Latin America in the whole of Europe”:
The all-day event will be packed with plenary sessions and seminar-workshops on a wide variety of themes with speakers from numerous countries of the continent, together with knowledgeable experts, writers, campaigners, leading trade unionists and academics.
One previous contributor, the Spanish MEP Miguel Angel Martinez, described it as “the best Conference on Latin America in the whole of Europe”.
This year, 2013 is the fortieth anniversary of the military coup, which overthrew President Salvador Allende of Chile on 9th September 1973. Chile is just one in a long list of US orchestrated coups against Latin American governments.
These Governments were asserting their sovereignty, adopting policies based on the utilisation of their own natural resources to address the questions of health, literacy, work and poverty.
Since 1945 the United States military and the CIA have intervened directly in numerous countries of the continent.
Guatemala (1953), Costa Rica (mid-1950s), Haiti (1959), Guyana (1953), Ecuador (1960), Brazil (1961), Peru (1965), Dominican Republic (1963), Uruguay (1969), Chile (1964), Bolivia (1964), Honduras (1980), Nicaragua (1978), Jamaica (1976), Grenada (1979), Panama (1989) El Salvador (1980), Mexico (1990s) and Colombia (1990s) have all been victims of aggression from their neighbours to the north.
The 1961 invasion of Cuba at Playa Giron (the Bay of pigs) was defeated by the Cuban people but the aggression has continued over the following 50 years.
The US role in the overthrow of Allende’s government will be one of the central themes of the conference, exploring how it came about and the consequences for the people of Chile.
It will be an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the coup and compare it to more recent US interventions against the governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela, Honduras and others.
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US and Canada spying on Brazil and the grounding in Vienna of the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales back home from Moscow, illustrate the commitment of President Barack Obama to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors.
Whilst the US continues to intervene directly in other parts of the world to impose Washington’s priorities they have never lost their wish to treat Latin America as their own backyard.
The White House and the Pentagon remain as determined as ever to get their way and the possibility of direct intervention can never be ruled out. The lessons of Chile have relevance today.
What has inspired many people about the developments in Latin America however is the refusal by many of the countries to bow to the economic and political dictat of the White House.
The defeat of the Chilean people during the dictatorship of General Pinochet led to the imposition of vicious policies, which resulted in the massacre of thousands of men and women, students and trade unionists.
Economic policies left millions impoverished. In contrast to these pernicious economic shock therapies introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s favourite military man, the continent has in recent years been developing economic and trade agreements through organisations like ALBA based on mutual respect and collective benefit.
Whilst Latin America has by no means solved all the problems, the basis of the economic and political relationships being developed are in contrast to those of other parts of the world.
The Latin America conference will look at how this process is developing and offer a chance to compare it with the austerity measures being implemented throughout Europe and especially in Greece for example.
Mutual respect for the sovereignty of individual countries is accompanied by a strong sense of international solidarity and there is no country on the continent of which this is more true than Cuba.
This year sees the 25th anniversary of the defeat of the Apartheid South African Defence Force by the combined Angolan, Cuban and SWAPO forces at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola. It was a defeat which changed the face of the politics of Angola, Namibia, and perhaps most dramatically, those of South Africa leading to the ending of Apartheid.
Speaking in Havana on 26th July 1991, and talking of the historic battle, Nelson Mandela said, “The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the peoples of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character.”
Latin America 2013 will provide a chance to look back at this historic, but perhaps too often ignored, event in the struggle for the liberation of South Africa.
The Conference will once again provide a unique chance to hear from Latin Americans themselves how they view the developments which are taking place and how they evaluate these historic events.
Delegates will also receive a discount on tickets for the Fiesta Latina at Bolivar Hall following the conference where they can enjoy Latin American music and food, with live music from Omar Puente and friends until late.
Buy your tickets today on www.latinamericaconference.org.uk or call 020 7490 5715