Latin America Solidarity Coalition conference a success

By Jeremy Miller |
April 17, 2011
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Committee to Stop FBI Repression at LASC conference
Committee to Stop FBI Repression at the Latin American Solidarity Coalition conference (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Washington, D.C. – About 350 people came together here, April 9-10, to attend the Latin America Solidarity Coalition (LASC) conference. The LASC is an association of national and local U.S.-based grassroots Latin America and Caribbean solidarity groups working towards common goals and strategies of self-determination. 82 groups co-sponsored the LASC.

In addition, activists from Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Haiti and other counties had the opportunity to meet, network, build relationships and talk strategy with one another.

Chuck Kaufman, the National Co-Coordinator of Alliance for Global Justice and a member of the LASC Coordinating Committee, opened the first plenary of the conference stating, “We are convening this conference tonight to build a stronger movement to end U.S. militarism and the militarization of relations with Latin America. Let us vow not to let this be just another conference. Let us vow to make linkages here that will last beyond Sunday afternoon. Let us vow to work together into the future to grow the movement within our institutions of faith, within the labor movement, within academia and among youth and students, among veterans and women from which arise so many of our leaders, and on and on.”

Kaufman also spoke about the FBI raids and grand jury witch hunt against international solidarity activists, stating, “A grand jury is considering absurd criminal charges of material support to terrorists for their work on behalf of peace in Colombia and Palestine. The abolition movement had its Nat Turners, Harriet Tubmans, John Browns and William Lloyd Garrisons and thousands whose names we do not know. Well we have our Bradley Mannings, Cindy Sheehans, Roy Bourgeois, Amy Goodmans and Meredith Abys. And we have thousands more like those of us in this room. But sometimes we seek excuses for why we cannot win. Can you imagine John Brown saying, ‘Well, ending slavery isn’t on the Congressional agenda this year. We’ll just have to work to elect more Republicans,’?”

There were almost 50 workshops on the labor movement, the student movement, ending militarization of Latin America and other issues.

Sarah Buchner of UNC-Asheville Students for a Democratic Society spoke about the workshops. “I really enjoyed the time spent in the workshops I attended here. Being able to meet and share ideas with people around the movement was irreplaceable. It is so good to be able to meet, help and be challenged by those doing similar work around the world.”

At the Committee to Stop FBI Repression’s workshop, panel members spoke on their experiences being harassed by the FBI. Two members of the panel, Sarah Smith and Meredith Aby, were subpoenaed by the Grand Jury, and Kosta Harlan, the third panelist, was visited by the FBI in an attempt at intimidation.

Aby also spoke about the FBI raids at the concert later in the evening. “It’s important to understand that it isn’t just an assault on Colombia and Palestine solidarity activists. It’s an assault on the anti-war movement as a whole. We have to come together and fight it now!”

When asked what Kaufman thought about the conference he had this to say. “I personally benchmark for whether the conference was a success by whether any of the sector strategy sessions resulted in a commitment by the participants to continue to work to build the movement against U.S. militarism within their sector. The faith-based caucus, as well as the women's, youth and student, environmental and labor caucuses all set up structures and agreed on strategies to grow the movement. So, yes, for me the conference was a success and now we need to go forward to end the culture of U.S. militarism and to refound our nation."