Bristol Latin America Forum is an annual event held in Bristol on Latin American politics, society and culture. The Forum comprises of workshops, film, a panel discussion, dance, music, food and in 2008 for the first time closed with a World Cafe process.

It is organised by local grassroots Latin American solidarity groups, some of whom form part of larger national and international organisations and networks. It is not for profit, horizontally organised and we welcome your participation.

This blog began as a means of publicising and web-streaming the Forum in 2008 and is now a space for Bristol - Latin America related information all year round. See previous posts for details of last the 2008 Forum and video clips of the event. If you want to publicise an event please email the blog moderator.


March 6th Street Theatre Action In Bristol

At lunchtime today a group of protestors from the Bristol Solidarity Campaign and Espacio Bristol Colombia performed a lively and menacing piece of street theatre outside Bristol University's Wills Memorial Hall at the Triangle in central Bristol, bringing public attention to the intimidation, torture, mass murder, disappearance and displacement of poor people, trades unionists and human rights activists in Colombia, committed by the state in direct collusion with transnational corporations.

Two actors set off down University Road and onto Whiteladies Road, one dressed as an AUC paramilitary in camouflage and balaclava, and the other as a business executive with his suit covered in transnational corporate logos. Between them they kicked and pushed a third actor (hooded and tied) down to the Wills Memorial building where the protest street theatre took place at a time when the Triangle is one of the busiest locations in central Bristol. The hooded victim was then pushed to the ground and abused by the paramilitary, encouraged by the business executive.

Police and security arrived on cue, and immediately started trying to intimidate and stop the protest under Section 5 of the Public Order Act. These threats were flimsy and transparent, as for example when the chief of university security said he felt 'offended' and 'disturbed' when he saw the hooded actor being 'kicked' by the paramilitary actor. He was then asked had he really never seen a play, a film or a TV drama where violence was enacted for effect, and did he not realise that theatre was 'pretend' and not 'real'? But he would not answer, as evidently he had been made aware of the stupidity of his own statement. So as it turned out the day was even more successful than had been planned, for the police/security presence and over-reaction just brought more onlookers, created more interest in the protest, and even drew members of the public to remonstrate with the police and their attitude. Even more bizarrely, the cops started offering the protestors PR and 'marketing' tips on how to promote their protest better.

Prize bobby of the day award however has to go to PC Putain de Merde, a 'French Gendarme' incongruously kitted out in a Brit police uniform who started to wax lyrically in full public about 'immigrants' and 'asylum seekers' and the 'threat' these people constituted to (his?) jobs and living standards. Oh for a videotape to hand. Touché, m'sieur.

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