Over October 16-17, 120 people participated in lively and informative discussions at the Latin America Solidarity Conference.
“Challenging corporate globalisation: people’s power is changing the world” was organised by the Latin America Social Forum. LASF brings together the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN — Australia), Guatemala Human Rights Committee, Ibiray-Fondo Raul Sendic (Uruguay), Honduras’ National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network and Socialist Alliance.
Activists from various progressive organisations, including many from the Australian-Latin American communities in Sydney, learnt about, and from, the remarkable political developments underway in Latin America — which are not only seriously challenging neoliberalism and imperialism but, in the process, creating new forms of mass organisation, democracy and popular power.
Highlights of the conference included presentations by guest speakers from Latin America, including: from Bolivia, a leader of the National Federation of Indigenous-Peasant Women of Bolivia and activist in the Movement for Socialism, Alina Ganavini Sullcani; from Uruguay, Tupamaros member and representative of the Movement for Land and against Poverty Washington Belletti; and political economist Viviane Laffitte Borrelli; from Chile, president of the National Federation of Forestry Workers and a leader of the Chilean Communist Party, Jorge Gonzalez Castillo; Edgar Jiminez from Guatemala; ambassador Nelson Davila and Arelis Sumabila from Venezuela; Cuban Consul Reinaldo Garcia Perera; and Australian representative for the FNRP, Santiago Reyes.
Also present were Bolivian consul Antonio Nava and a leader of the FMLN in El Salvador, Dr Guillermo Mata Bennett, joined the conference by video-link. The conference was opened by Indigenous activist Jenny Munro from the Metropolitan Lands Council and Paul McAleer, secretary of the Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia.
Plenaries and workshops covered many Latin American struggles, from the ongoing bloodshed in Honduras as the people fight to overturn the last year’s US-backed coup against President Manuel Zelaya, through the establishment of autonomous Indigenous education institutions in Venezuela and Bolivia, to the campaigns against violence against women in Guatemala and the radical health reforms underway in El Salvador.
Questions of imperialism, anti-imperialist unity, and how to build grassroots democracy, workers’ control and socialism, underpinned discussions.
The two days of information and ideas-sharing culminated at the end of the conference in the discussion and adoption of 18 resolutions on building solidarity with various people’s struggles and campaigns.
This was the first broad Latin America solidarity conference to be held in Sydney for many years. The connections and plans made during the gathering will strengthen solidarity with Latin America in Australia. Film footage from the main sessions will be available next month. For copies of the footage or the conference resolutions, email