“Latin America in Flames”: Coventry TUC public meeting report

After a year of planning and organising, Coventry TUC held a public meeting on Latin America in the sumptuous venue of the Hospitality Suite in the Council House on 16 January 2020.

Three speakers came to relate past and recent developments in Latin America.

Amancay Colque from the Bolivia Solidarity Campaign spoke of the social and economic changes brought about by the 1952 Revolution, how these changes were consolidated and amplified under President Morales and the coup of October 2019 that forced Morales into exile.

Amancay Colque

Dr. Francisco Dominguez gave a panoramic view of changes in various countries where the Left in power had made inroads into reducing poverty, took measures against the power of the USA which has sought and still seeks to control the subcontinent it considers to be its “backyard”, and how the USA wants to get hold of the rich resources of the region. Particularly oil, as Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil resources and it only takes four days for this oil to reach the USA, whereas Saudi oil takes 45 days. And what prevents a direct US intervention to overthrow the Maduro government? In addition to the regular Armed Forces there are 3.3m armed militias ready to defend the Bolivarian Revolution.

Francisco Dominguez

Helena Menendez from the Venezuelan Embassy read out a speech from the Ambassador, Rocio Maneiro, who was due to come but could not make it due to illness. The speech referenced US involvement in Venezuela, the development of the class struggle as ordinary people were awoken to political activity under Presidents Chavez and Maduro, to be able to take a greater share of the wealth they produced and to free the rich resources of the country from foreign control.

Helena Menendez

A lively question-and-answer session followed, with 15 of the 50 people present contributing to the discussion. Very interesting and pertinent points were raised, from the role of the state in capitalist societies in defending the interests of the rich and powerful, to the role of the Armed Forces given what happened in Chile in 1973 and what is happening today. In addition, internal and external private media outlets play a pernicious role in spreading lies and misinformation about the developments taking place in order to undermine the social changes being achieved. Furthermore, the discussion touched on the need to extend public ownership to consolidate gains made and drive forward the process of social change.

TUC Coventry main

The main tasks for us in the labour and trade union movement are to counter the false narrative of the privately owned capitalist media, to raise the issues in our own ranks to generate solidarity initiatives and to seek to make direct contacts with various branches of society in Latin America – schools, hospitals, factories, working-class districts – in order to foster mutual exchanges and support, to learn from each other. And, where possible for our movement, to speak with an organised, united voice on these issues.

All in all, it was a very successful, educational and enjoyable event.

Educate – Agitate – Organise.

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