Semana De América Latina

Eyewitnesses from the revolts in Latin America

By: Cian Prendiville, UL Socialist Youth, From An Focal – Newspaper of UL Students Union

April 7th to 13th is Latin America Week – a week full of opportunities to learn about, discuss and experience different elements of Latin American culture, history and politics. It is organised nationally by the Latin America Solidarity Campaign, and this year UL Socialist Youth is adding our support to others in UL to make this the best one yet.

This year there will be movie showings on Tuesday and Thursday, a music workshop and play on Wednesday, a salsa night in the sports bar on the Thursday and Latin American food on Friday.

As well as all this UL Socialist Youth are hosting a public talk on the Monday with Enrique Galan, a Colombian activist, and Dave Convery, an Irish socialist just back from 6 months in Latin America. In preparation for Latin America Week I interviewed Dave about his time in Latin America:

How come you decided to go to Latin America? Where did you visit?

I wanted to go because in all senses of the word it is a unique place. It has a beautiful landscape, culture, and important history. Also, for me, it has been an inspiration, reading about the different mass movements there, against poverty and oppression. I visited Mexico, Beelize, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina

What did you get from your trip?

Well, I got a greater appreciation for the culture and the history. Really what I learned was that no matter where you go, ordinary people are the same at heart, with the same problems and aspirations.

I also saw the great inequality throughout the continent. For instance, when I was in Mexico City, I saw the skyscrapers, the mansions but also the slums on the outskirts.

From your experience of, what is the political atmosphere like there?

Politics is very much in the air, particularly in Bolivia. In the slums, everywhere you look you see revolutionary graffiti, protests, people discussing how to transform society etc. Governments are being brought down, factories are being occupied and reforms being won.

How come there is so much struggle in Latin America? Do you think it can ever happen here?

Of course I do – that’s why I’m active here! I think what has happened in Latin America is people put their hope in democratically elected capitalist governments, which then proceeded to introduce privatisations etc. That has forced a reaction, and now people are fighting for socialist democracy.

Recently in Europe the ‘liberalisation’ first tested in Latin America is being implemented here. For instance the Lisbon treaty calls for the ‘liberalisation’ of all public services. With the same model being implemented, and the economy hitting the rocks, I think we will see similar movements throughout Europe.

Finally: are you looking forward to speaking in UL as part of Latin America Week?

Ya, definitely. I think we can learn a lot from Latin America, culturally, socially but also politically. We should realise, as they did, that the only way to stop injustice and liberalisation is by organising and struggling to take power out of the hands of big business and bring the wealth into democratic public ownership.

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