Monday, October 24, 2011

ARSN Gathering 2011

Friends, the annual meeting of the Atlantic Region Solidarity Network (solidarity with Latin America) promises to be an engaging and rewarding experience.  It takes place at the Tatamagouche Centre from Friday, Nov. 11 to Sunday, Nov. 13.  Given the current Canadian and Latin American political contexts, the organizing committee (Wyanne Sandler, Brian O'Neill, Kathryn Anderson) felt it was important to re-visit the eternally critical theme of human rights.  As you will see below, our guests bring provocative perspectives on both civil-political and social-economic rights.

Please complete registration and submit this at your earliest convenience!
 Registration form here.

Opening the lens on this discussion from the current reality in Honduras will be Betty Matamoros, a highly respected human rights and women's rights leader. She is the Central American Coordinator of the Hemispheric Social Alliance.  As many of you realize, in June 2009 the democratic government of Manuel Zelaya was overthrown by brutal military coup, suppported by the traditional oligarchy.  An illegal, fraudulent election subsequently took place amidst widespread repression, producing the presidency of Porfirio 'Pepe' Lobo.  Even Lobo's supporters have never gone so far as to claim – as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper inexplicably did during his recent visit in August – that the man who was installed as President after a military coup, fraudulent elections and a violent and murderous crackdown on dissent was “a prominent human rights leader in this country.”  We're sure that Betty will set the record straight!

Presenting on the Right to Food and Food Sovereignty will be Roberto Perez Rivero.  Roberto is a Cuban permaculturalist who has been instrumental in Cuba’s truly Green Revolution, which has resulted in more than 85 percent of that country’s agricultural production becoming organic. He is featured in the documentary “The Power of Communities: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil” (2006) and is currently the director of the Environmental Education and Biodiversity Program at the Havana-based Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for Nature and Humanity.

Also we are extremely fortunate to have Garry Leech, our own resident expert on Colombia.  Garry is an independent journalist and author of numerous books including Capitalism: A Structural Genocide (Zed Book, Forthcoming, May 2012); The Failure of Global Capitalism: From Cape Breton to Colombia and Beyond (CBU Press, 2009); and Beyond Bogotá: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia (Beacon Press, 2009). He is also the director of the Centre for International Studies and a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Cape Breton University.

In terms of tapping the veins on labour rights and Canada-Latin America solidarity, we are looking forward to hearing from Louise Casselman, with the Social Justice Fund of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.  Louise lived for some decades as a solidarity activist in various parts of Latin America and will bring us news that connects the struggles of working people there with the labour movement in Canada.

Finally, Wyanne SandlerBreaking the Silence Maritimes Coordinator (and one of the organizers of this meeting), will have just returned from Guatemala, immediately after the Presidential Election and will report on the implications of that very serious situation.
Together we will see how we can act in solidarity with our Latin American sisters and brothers, especially in light of the current Canadian and Latina American contexts.
We look forward to being with you.  Please register soon! 
Wyanne, Brian, Kathryn