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.


Football, FIFA and a coca Farmer: There's more to play for in Bolivia

The Bristol Bolivia Solidarity Group held a symbolic football match on Saturday 3 May 2008

The BBC recently reported a football match in La Paz involving Evo Morales and Diego Maradona. Bristol Bolivia Solidarity Group has decided to use this to highlight what is happening under Bolivia ’s progressive government and how it is overwhelmingly underreported.

The Group held a symbolic football match on College Green on Saturday 3 May from 12noon until 2pm, to which representatives of the BBC were invited.

The football match was interspersed with information and readings about Bolivia .

For further information contact:

There's More to Play for in Bolivia

On 19 March 2008 BBC News reported that Argentine football star Diego Maradona and Bolivia's President Evo Morales took part in a charity football match. Held in Bolivia’s capital La Paz, at 3,600meters above sea level, the match was played in protest against a FIFA ban on high altitude international matches and to raise funds for victims of major flooding in Bolivia. The Bristol Bolivia Solidarity Group are delighted that the BBC covered this story. However, we would like to highlight other pressing issues in Bolivia:

Collective struggle in Bolivia

Bolivia is rich in natural resources which throughout history have been exploited along with indigenous people’s livelihoods, culture and tradition. This has created a parallel history of resistance to defend their livelihoods.
In 2000 people in the city of Cochabamba succeeded in reclaiming the water supply from the control of a multinational company. In 2003 people in La Paz prevented an agreement to export and further exploit Bolivia’s gas. Popular protest forced president Losada to resign.

Change in Bolivia

In December 2005 collective struggles resulted in the election of indigenous Aymara coca farmer, Evo Morales, leader of MAS (Movement towards Socialism).
On May 1st 2006, MAS began the process of re-nationalising the energy industry and renegotiated contractual terms with powerful trans-national companies, including Brazil’s Petrobras and Spain’s Repsol.
The profits from these industries enabled the government to give grants to 1.4 million school-age children and a universal pension for people over the age of 60.
Cuban advisers taught 600,000 people to read and write, using the Cuban "Yes, I Can!" literacy programme. Illiteracy is expected to be eradicated by September this year.

These are just some of the positive changes made since 2005.

Threat to democratically elected government in Bolivia

The opposition, predominantly from the elite class, landowners and multinationals, are undermining the government. Backed by the media and international powers, mainly the US and the UK, the opposition is threatening a more equal society for all Bolivians.
The opposition, based in the fertile lowlands of Santa Cruz, are campaigning for self-determination. On 4 May 2008 they will hold a referendum on autonomy.

This is a serious threat to the economy of Bolivia and needs international support.

"I note with concern the intention of the authorities of the Department of Santa Cruz to promote a…referendum on departmental autonomy…The draft statute of autonomy includes a number of provisions of a racist character… which would be highly harmful for the indigenous peoples”

(United Nations Special Rapporteur, Mr Stavenhagen, speaking on Bolivia)

For further information please contact:
Bristol Bolivia Solidarity Group

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