Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean

The first regional conference brought together Laureates from Latin America and the Caribbean in Bogotá, Colombia from 1-6 July 2013. It was organised in partnership with Fundacion Gaia Amazonas, linked to Laureate COAMA (Consolidation of the Amazon Region, 1999, Colombia).The aim was for Laureates to share their experiences and struggles with each other. The conference also presented the opportunity to express solidarity with civil society organizations and activists in Bogota and Colombia, including our Colombian Laureates ATCC(1990, Colombia), COAMA (1999, Colombia) and the International Poetry Festival of Medellin (2006, Colombia)

The highlight of the conference was a large public event on 4 July entitled “Creating an Enabling Environment for Civil Society”. Some 150 people from civil society groups, embassies, government and universities participated in the event, which began with a moderated panel discussion with Chico Whitaker (2006, Brazil), Helen Mack Chang (1992, Guatemala) and Raul Montenegro (2004, Argentina). They spoke about the challenges of bringing about change, their own personal struggles and what the Award meant to them. Afterwards, the participants split into four roundtable discussions where participants interacted with all the 14 Laureates present, and a lively discussion and sharing of experiences ensued. In the afternoon, further events were hosted by the Confederation of Colombian NGOs and Fundacion Universitaria UNICAFAM.

Laureate Juan Pablo Orrego (1998, Chile); Environmental activist, focus on dams in Patagonia

Laureate Francisco “Chico” Whitaker (2006, Brazil); Co-founder of the World Social Forum

Laureate Martín Almada (2002, Paraguay); Human rights defender, discovered the “Archives of Terror”

Laureate Raúl Montenegro(2004, Argentina); Biologist and environmental activist

Laureate COAMA (1998, Colombia) (local host): represented by Martín von Hildebrand; Indigenous peoples, rainforest protection

Laureate Evaristo Nugkuag Ikanan  (1986, Peru); Indigenous peoples

Laureate ATCC (1990, Colombia): represented by Jorge Suarez, Donaldo Quiroga, and Isabel Serna; Peace and conflict resolution

Laureate International Poetry Festival of Medellin (2006, Colombia): represented by Fernando Rendón, Colombia; Arts and peace

Laureate GAO (ACTAF) (1999, Cuba): represented by Fernando Funes; Organic agriculture

Laureate Manfred Max-Neef  (1983, Chile); “barefoot” economist

Laureate Helen Mack Chang  (1992, Guatemala); Human rights defender

Laureate CPT (1991, Brazil): represented by Silvano Lima; Landless peoples’ movement

Laureate MST (1991, Brazil): represented by Nivia da Silva, Brazil; Landless peoples’ movement

Laureate IBFAN (1988, International): represented by Marcos Arana and Gloria Ochoa, Mexico; promotion of breastfeeding and infant health

Representatives of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation: Dr. Juliane Kronen  (Trustee), Ole von Uexkull (Executive Director), Sharan Srinivas  (Director of Research and Advocacy)

Representative of the Church of Sweden (Funding organisation): Gunilla Hallonsten (Policy Director of the International Department)

Laureates condemn expansion of nuclear industry

At the meeting, Laureates condemned the nuclear industry over initiatives to expand on the continent the use of nuclear energy and the search for new markets, against the trend of a decline in the countries that currently use nuclear. Read more in Spanish or Portuguese.

Declarations and Statements

Several declaration and statements were issued after the regional conference.

Laureates condemn EU governments for not respecting Evo Morales and the sovereignity of Bolivia and its people

At the meeting, Laureates expressed their “deepest condemnation of the attitude of several European Union governments for not respecting the sovereignty of the people and government of Bolivia in the person of its president, Evo Morales thus endangering his life and creating an unacceptable act of discrimination.”

Their statement continues saying: “We also condemn the hypocrisy of those and other countries on earth to condemn without trial and without ethical and political criticism the heroic decision of Edward Snowden to show the world how hegemonic countries claim the right to spy on people, institutions and sovereign governments.”Click here for Spanish original version.

Statement about the prevailing climate of violence in Latin American countries, et al.

In another statement, Laureates raised their voices against the violence suffered by indigenous peasants and American social leaders. They express their concerns and demands about the current social, economic, environmental and political situation in Latin-America, and the shrinking space for civil society movements in general. Read more in Spanish.

Statement about the situation of indigenous communities

In a fourth statement, Laureates commented on the tremendously difficult situation for indigenous communities and called on the Latin American governments to strictly comply with the ILO 169 convention, and to reognize the rights of the indigenous people to their ancestral territories.Read more in Spanish.

Statement about the violence faced by rural workers and small farmers in Brazil

In this statement, Laureates acknowledge that the Brazilian country-side has a situation of extreme violence, in which land-rights activities are assassinated because of the disputes of land between the great land-owners and the farmers, indigenous peoples and people of  african descent. They demand that  organizations, social movements, national and international entities begin a process to augment the visibility of these cases and to demand for the culprits to be punished.

The statement follows up on incidents from the beginning of this year when a MST leader got killed and a subsequent solidarity visit by RLA Foundation representatives and Laureates to Brazil.
 Read more in Portuguese.