Morning Sessions (10:30 – 12:15)
Country sessions: Resistances and Alternatives to Neoliberalism
Cuba – An Eco-Socialist Renewal?
Emily Morris – Institute of the Americas, University College London
How will the recent economic changes affect Cuba? How will Socialism be strengthened? What will be the role of cooperatives in this process?
An outline of the socialist and ecological objectives (including the idea of participation and decentralisation) and also a discussion of the challenges and risks (economic, political, social, environmental).
Venezuela & Bolivia – Challenges Facing the Revolutions
Colin Burgon – Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
Alex Tilley – Bolivia Information Forum
Now that Chavez has won the elections, what are the immediate challenges ahead. How will Venezuela continue its social program, and how is grassroots democracy is being fostered.
The election of the MAS government and President Evo Morales marked the culmination of popular movements and social protests, principally by the marginalised poor, indigenous and peasant organisations. These began as a reaction to neo-liberal economic policies which had increased inequality and had a particularly damaging effect on the poor. The diverse social movements in Bolivia realised that they needed a political party in order to occupy positions of power and make far reaching societal changes, and so they created the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party. After the successes of the Cochabamba “Water War”, over privatisation of the public water supply, and the subsequent “Gas War” over natural gas exports to the US, the MAS party solidified around the policy platform of resource nationalisation, wealth redistribution and constitutional reform. These policies were enacted after Evo Morales and the MAS won national elections with an outright majority in 2005. In the wake of these successes, Morales and the MAS were re-elected in 2009 with an increased majority. However, in this second period of government the slow pace of reform and implementation of policies, along with competing demands from different social movements, have led to renewed protests.
The Battle for Formal Power – Guatemala, El Salvador Nicaragua and Honduras
Participating Groups: El Salvador Network, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign and Armadillo Production (Guatemala)
Themes: The Battle for formal power, how and why the left has gone to fight for parliament, executive and justice power.
Also Fairtrade and cooperative production in Nicaragua illustrating the common ground with UK
Mexico: Rural and Urban Social Movements: New and Social Media, Protest, and Building Alternatives
Participating Groups: Zapatista Solidarity Network, Yo Soy 132, Solidarity with Cherán, Emergencia MX
Themes: New Media and Social Media as used in different settings; activism; clicktivism; building alternatives
Urban and rural social movements in Mexico use new media very differently. Some, such as #YoSoy132, use twitter and facebook to the extent that they define the character of the movement; many rural and indigenous social movements use new media only for the purpose of news distribution and communication. In this workshop we will explore how we can learn from the use of new media by the Zapatistas, the Wirikuta, the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, and #YoSoy132: how do we use new media as constructive tools for social alternatives, rather than turning activism into clicktivism?
Lunch 12:15 – 1:30
Afternoon Sessions (1:30 – 3:15)
Themed sessions: Participation in Latin America
Government, Economy and Popular Participation
In several countries, local governments have implemented systems where the people decide directly about their own community issues. A review to those popular participation in the decision making.
Nicaragua and Alba – an example of participation/cooperation across parts of the continent.
Many countries in the local level have participatory structures that have allowed people to decide what to do with the budget of the Government. The experience of participatory budget in Local governments in Latin America.
Social Movements Organising and Resisting in the Context of Repression
Patrick Kane, Dominic Mcann, Berenice Celeita (via Skype), Dina Meza
What the peace talks represent for Colombia, and the current dynamic in which broad sectors of the Colombian social movement have come together to demand that they are given a say in the construction of peace.
Berenice will talk about the Colombian situation, the way that social movements have organised and resisted, and the way that they are currently organising to try and demand a say in the peace negotiations.
Dominic will talk about the reaction of social movements in Honduras, and then we will have a bit of debate at the end about what solidarity can be provided by activists here, and what lessons can be learned for our own organising and resisting of neoliberalism.
Documentary, Music, and Media: Participation, Solidarity and Resistances
Speakers and Groups: Carolina Corral – Emergencia MX, Lucía Cuevas – Armadillo Productions, Cornelia Gräbner – Manchester Zapatista Solidarity, Katherine Rogers – Music for Hope
Themes: We will share experiences on creativity, art and social change in Latin America, and explore what we can learn from them in UK scenarios. We will hear about experiences from El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico on a solidary and collaborative music project; on documentary film and how it recuperates memories of resistance to repression; on alternative media projects which accompany social movements and disseminate the information that is not in the mainstream media; and on how solidarity networks can distribute art and culture in a spirit of solidarity as an alternative to the capitalist creative industries.
We will also hear about the recuperation of memories of resistance and repression through story-sharing, and will discuss how we can link these experiences with our realities in Manchester.
Wellbeing and Community
Coordinator: Mark Burton Steady State Manchester and Cuba Solidarity Campaign (Manchester).
Themes: Looking at the philosophy behind ‘Buen Vivir’, an alternative perspective on the aims of social transformation. This will be a participative workshop.
Plenary (3:30 – 4:30)
Coming Back to Manchester
Facilitator:Kevan Nelson, Mingus
Themes: What can we learn here in Manchester from Latin America? How can we build a Latin America Group in Manchester to keep us informed and help us.