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Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!

by Steve Caines

Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!
Latin America On The Move (In Halifax)!

Symposium: Latin America On The Move
Sobey Building, St. Mary's University
October 2nd & 3rd, 2009
Halifax, Nova Scotia

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The Americas are at a crossroads, and what I want to say to the youth is to get involved. You can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution, and you must get involved” Nchamah Miller (University of Havana)

The days of thinking that the North has something to teach the South are over. It is time for us to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of South America and the Caribbean.” Jay Hartling

“It has been necessary to construct a new path from the bottom up. We are creating a different path to development”. Julio Chavez (former mayor of Carora, Venezuela, and current member of Lara state assembly)

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A lively two-day symposium on political movements in Latin America was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on October 2nd and 3rd at St. Mary's University. The objective was to bring together all those interested in Latin American politics, in order for people to hear about and discuss the latest movements now taking place in the region. Full live blog coverage of the event including individual presentation notes can be found at: http://transformationlatinamerica.blogspot.com

Day One was devoted to discussion on Cuba. The keynote address was delivered by Isaac Saney, who described the significance of the socio-economic example of Cuba in South America and the Caribbean, and the importance of Cuba's humanitarian work in South America and around the world. The presentation was followed by comments from several of the other panelists, all of whom stressed the exceptional importance that Cubans have played in the developments and movements in their respective countries.

The discussion expanded into other areas on Day Two, with addresses on the new ALBA trade agreement (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América), the political situation and leftist movements in El Salvador (recent election of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front), Bolivia (election of Movement for Socialism Party), Venezuela (United Socialist Party), the new Bank of the South, the recent buildup of US military presence in Columbia, the policies of the US under President Obama, and other topics.

The theme of discussion revolved around the issue of how countries in the region are making strides to integrate economically and politically, moving away from the neoliberal socio-economic policies imposed during the 1980s and 1990s and toward important and influential new forms of participatory democracy. Organizers dedicated the event to the people of Honduras in the wake of the recent coup d'etat in the country.

Approximately 175 people attended Latin America On The Move. The event was sponsored by St. Mary's University, International Development Studies and International Activities Office, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Nova Scotia Cuba Association, Just Us Coffee Roasters, and the Canadian Network on Cuba.

Event Speakers and Panelists

- Edgar Torres (Bolivian Ambassador to Canada)
- Juan Carlos Coronado (Charges D'affaires, Venezuelan Embassy in Canada)
- Marta Lilian Colo (FMLN Deputy for El Salvador to the Central American Parliament, Head of FMLN's National Women's Commission)
- Norman Girvan (University of the West Indes)
- Teresita Vicente (Cuban Ambassador to Canada)
- Jay Hartling (Organizing Committee)
- Isaac Saney (Dalhousie University)
- John Kirk (Dalhousie University)
- Nchamah Miller (University of Havana)
- Julio Chavez (former mayor of Carora, Venezuela, and current member of Lara State Assembly)
- Alex Borda-Rodriguez (Dalhousie University) 

 Quotes:

"We would like to dedicate this event to the people of Honduras, who are currently in the middle of an incredible struggle for their democracy”.
Jay Hartling (event organizing committee)

“The concept that a country (Cuba) could engage in selflessness is something that many people seem to find difficult to grasp”.
Saney recommended the film “Salud!” about the Cuban health care system, and the writings of Jose Marti, the “who has provided the intellectual bedrock for Cuba, and who's writings are particularly profound and prescient”.
"Cuba's internationalism is embedded in the country's constitution. The country is part and parcel of a larger Latin American transformation”.
“Obama is forwarding the doctrine that history does not matter”.
Isaac Saney, Dalhousie University

“Integration is happening, not only in the missions, but through politics, economics, and the military”.
“There are more than 3,000 Venezuelans studying medicine in Cuba”.
“Before the election of Chavez, there was illiteracy, lack of education, and more poverty. UNESCO has now declared Venezuela to be an illiteracy-free country”.
Juan Carlos Coronado (Charges D'affaires, Venezuelan Embassy in Canada)

“Honduras is now emerging from the neoliberal period, with the election of the FMLN. Unemployment remains very high. This new government has three great objectives: to take the country out of crisis, to pursue true development, and to develop true democracy. This marks the beginning of a new stage in El Salvador”.
“Since the election of the FMLN El Salvador has reestablished diplomatic ties with Cuba, because the friendship between the people of our countries was never broken”.
“I would like to take this opportunity to denounce the coup in Honduras that has been supported not only by the Honduran elite, but also the Latin American elite, the US elite, and the ultra right-wing in Miami. This is an enormous step backward and it is a warning for neighboring countries in the area. They do not accept the progress of a revolutionary democracy”.
“We need you (those in attendance) to be the voice of what is happening in El Salvador”.
Marta Lilian Colo (FMLN Deputy for El Salvador to the Central American Parliament, Head of FMLN's National Women's Commission)

“The transformation that is occurring in Venezuela is based on the same values as the French Revolution: liberty, equality, and fraternity. It is said that we are constructing a dictatorship. What we are doing is the opposite; we are transferring power to the people. We say 'we don't order, and we don't obey'”.
“It has been necessary to construct a new path from the bottom up. We are creating a different path to development”.
“President Obama has two faces: one is what he says, and one is what he does. We know that there is a super government above Obama, that he does not want to cross”.
“The only thing we ask of Canadians is solidarity”.
Julio Chavez (former member of Carora, Venezuela, and current member of Lara state assembly)

“ALBA is a work in progress. There is no all embracing agreement or treaty between countries, with ALBA. It is a collection of targeted trade agreements that aim to be truly complimentary for each country”.
“The Cuban Revolution was a huge inspiration, showing that countries in the South could chart their own course. So the debt that Latin America owes to Cuba is unpayable. And I do not mean a debt that is owed to the banks, that is measured in US dollars. I mean the debt that is owed by the Caribbean, and which is measured in human solidarity”.
Norman Girvan (University of the West Indes)

“Bolivia is a country that is based on mining, which started in the colonial period. Morales was elected in 2006 and now we have a new constitution”.
“The mainstream media twist the true nature of the popular movement in Bolivia”
“Under the 25 years of neoliberal economic and political policies, Bolivia became extraordinarily poor. Extreme poverty hit 62% of the population”.
“It is because of Che Guevara that Evo Morales and the MAS were able to be elected.”
“We would never have reached this stage without Cuba”.
“We believe that the state has to recognize the different nations of people within the country. Half of the people in the country are indigenous. But we also believe that this new autonomy cannot be used as a means or reason to separate the country”.
Question: Is there a discourse between the First Nations in Canada and the US, and those in Bolivia?
Answer: “Yes, we have made progress on this issue. President Morales has been invited twice, once of which was to visit Whitehorse and which is scheduled for 2010. We are trying to strengthen relations with Canada, with the Mohawks and the Cree, and we would like to develop a dialogue with the Mi'kmaq.”
Edgar Torres (Bolivian Ambassador to Canada)

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