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Over 600 people turn out for Latin America Conference

NSC News | Friday, 7 December 2018 |

Dr Florence Levy, Nicaragua MP and trade unionist received a standing ovation after her speech to 600 people in a plenary session

Dr Florence Levy, Nicaragua MP and trade unionist received a standing ovation after her speech to 600 people in a plenary session

The highlight of the conference, attended by over 600 people, was a video message from Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn MP who was attending AMLO's inauguration in Mexico. His message was 'Adelante! La Lucha Continua'!

A huge turnout of around 600 people attended the 14th annual Latin America Conference at the TUC’s Congress House in central London – the biggest annual event of its kind in Britain – featuring over 75 politicians, trade unionists, ambassadors, academics, journalists and activist speakers.

Keynote speakers included Dr Mariela Castro, Director of CENESEX (National Centre for Sex Education) and Cuban MP; Guillaume Long, former Ecuador Foreign Minister; Nicaraguan MP and trade unionist Dr Florence Levy; Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London; Labour MPs, Chris Williamson and Dan Carden; and leading UK trade unionists.

This year’s conference took place at a crucial time for Latin America, with Donald Trump’s administration demonstrating an increasingly aggressive and interventionist foreign policy in the region, including White House National Security advisor John Bolton’s recently labelling Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as the ‘Troika of Tyranny’ and threatening that “their day of reckoning awaits”.

Speakers highlighted the recent election of the extreme far-right President-elect of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, and the huge threat that he poses to socialists, trade unionists, women, LGBT+ and indigenous peoples of Brazil and the wider region.

However, as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pointed out in a video link from AMLO’s inauguration in Mexico: “AMLO’s landslide win offers the poor and marginalised a genuine voice for almost the first time in Mexico’s modern history. And at a time when the far right is rising in America and all over the world, AMLO’s historic win shows us that a progressive, socialist agenda for change can and will win power, and overturn the status quo.”

Nicaraguan MP and trade unionist Dr Florence Levy, a keynote speaker in a plenary session on alternatives to neoliberalism, received a standing ovation. In her presentation Dr Levy highlighted the successes of the Sandinista government in building a stable economy at the same time as reducing poverty from 42% to 29%. This has been achieved through an integrated, holistic National Development Plan that covers universal free health care and education and other social programmes, together with investment in rural development and infrastructure. Protection of the environment and mitigation and adaption to climate change are also a vital part of the plan.

In two seminars on Nicaragua Dr Levy and Dr Francisco Dominguez spoke about Nicaragua’s right to self-determination and ways in which the US politically and financially supported the attempted coup. Dr Levy stated: ‘they [the opposition protesters] assassinated people, burnt ambulances, violated people’s right to freedom of movement through hundreds of road blocks patrolled by people who were armed; this was an attempted coup.’ Social media ‘warfare’ played a critical role in fomenting the violence and polarisation. However, ‘we are now we are winning the peace and initiating a process of reconciliation.’

Helen Yuill talked about the way in which the organisations of the social economy (co-operatives, associations, small and medium businesses and farmers) are playing a key role in the reactivation of the economy.

The film “The New Battle for Nicaragua’ was shown as part of the Film Festival of Cine Alborada. This Redfish documentary illustrates the complexity of what has happened in Nicaragua and refutes some of the distorted, biased, context-free mainstream coverage of Nicaragua over the past six months. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=TZM2wAbmVnc

A video message from Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza was broadcast in the closing session, where he explained how important international solidarity is in this period of attacks on the left in Latin America.

Dan Carden MP, Shadow Secretary for International Development, told the audience to “be sure” that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn would “support self-determination and social progress” in Latin America.

He went on to state: “Trump has no right to promote regime change, whether that be in Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela or anywhere else.

Cuban ambassador Teresita Vicente, Nicaraguan MP Dr Florence Levy, Mariela Castro, Cuba Centre for Sex Education & MP, Nicaraguan ambassador Guisell Morales

Cuban ambassador Teresita Vicente, Nicaraguan MP Dr Florence Levy, Mariela Castro, Cuba Centre for Sex Education & MP, Nicaraguan ambassador Guisell Morales