Oscar Arias Sánchez
Nobel Prize Laureate, former President
Conference organized by Forum 2000 Foundation and Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress
25 – 26 February, 2016, San José, Costa Rica
Democracy in Latin America is witnessing a wave of change. In Venezuela, the opposition won parliamentary elections after 17 years of authoritarian rule, in Argentina, opposition presidential candidate Mauricio Macri surprisingly ended the period of kirchnerism. Brasil is undergoing a profound governmental crisis, while relieving tensions between Cuba and the United States brings new challenges and opportunities, but also dissatisfaction and concern.
Forum 2000 and Arias Foundation have invited several distinguished figures to San Jose, such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias and former Prime Minister Felipe González, one of the main architects of the transition to democracy in Spain, to discuss what lies ahead for Latin American democracy in the coming period. Will the ongoing changes be part of a wider political change in the region? What opportunities and risks for the future of democracy constitutes the current development? What is – and might be – the role of citizens of Latin American countries in these changes? The event was also attended by prominent Mexican politician and diplomat Jorge Castañeda, former Secretary-General of the Presidency of the Republic of Chile John Biehl del Río and Bolivian Ex-President Jorge Quiroga Ramírez.
The Forum 2000 Conference along with other gatherings takes place in Prague and a number of other cities.
Since 1997 the conference has attracted a wide array of illustrious personalities, Nobel prize laureates, former and current politicians, businessmen, and many others. Their common experience is carrying the weight of responsibility.
Nobel Prize Laureate, former President
International consultant for political affairs
Businesswoman, former Governor
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs
Former Prime Minister of Spain
The annual twentieth Forum 2000 Conference entitled “The Courage to Take Responsibility“ was held in Prague from 16 to 19 October, 2016. As in previous years, activities of Democratic Solidarity and the topic of democracy and human rights in Latin America formed an important part of the conference.
The program included five thematic panels. In the first discussion, the former President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oscar Arias Sánchez together with six young democrats from different Latin American countries talked about the role of the young generation in relation to the democratic future of the region. The event titled “Latin America: Two Generations, One Vision?” was organized in cooperation with CASLA Institute.
Another panel, “Cuba: What Are the Results of the US and EU Policies?” analyzed the consequences of the agreements on the normalization of international relations recently signed between Cuba and the USA and the European Union.
The next panel, “Populism, Caudillism, and Other Challenges to Democracy in Latin America”organized in cooperation with Fundación para el Progreso moderated by the former President of the Security Council of the United Nations Diego Arria, focused on the populistic tendencies in Latin American context.
The legacy of Václav Havel and the impact of his ideas on the Latin American democrats served as a main theme to the panel “The Influence of Václav Havel in Latin America.”
Finally, the topic of political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela was discussed at the last panel “Venezuela: Country on the Brink” which was introduced by the projection of The Tomb, a short film directed by María Eugenia Morón Iglesias which tells the story of a torture that is being perpetrated on the political prisoners in Caracas, Venezuela.
In addition, the activists and dissidents from the region of Latin America could participate in the Communication Security Workshop interpreted into Spanish. The event organized in cooperation with the AVAST Foundation presented various case studies and practical tools of how to avoid data security traps.
Lastly, the fourth workshop of Democratic Solidarity, this time entitled “Latin America: Leadership in the Times of Transition” took place. Three experts from the field in question were invited to talk about the pitfalls and necessary steps of future transformation of currently undemocratic systems in Latin America. A number of helpful recommendations were generated as an outcome of the meeting. The workshop was followed by an organizational meeting of the members and supporters of the Democratic Solidarity initiative where further development of the project was discussed. A second edition of the Democratic Solidarity Conference was planned for the spring of 2017.
October 17 – November, 2016, Václav Havel Square, Prague
The exhibition “Courage to Face Oppression” organized in cooperation with People in Need and the European Commission Representation in the Czech Republic took place from October 17 to November 7 at the Václav Havel Square in Prague.
The exhibition presented 11 Cuban dissidents detained and sentenced to imprisonment for 6 to 28 years during the so called Black Spring in Cuba in 2003 together with 64 other political opponents. Thanks to international effort, the prisoners were released earlier in 2010. Unlike most of the released, who went to exile under the pressure of the Cuban government, Jorge Olivera Castillo, Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello, Eduardo Díaz Fleitas, Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique, Oscar Elías Biscet González, Ángel Moya Acosta, Felix Navarro Rodríguez, Iván Hernández Carrillo, José Daniel Ferrer García, Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, and Librado Linares García stay in Cuba advocating democratic reforms in their country. Nevertheless, they remain free only on the basis of the interruption of imprisonment which means that they can be returned to jail anytime until the length of their original punishment expires.
Shortly before the historical visit of Barack Obama in spring 2016, the Cuban regime allowed all 11 dissidents one trip abroad. Some of them used the possibility for studies or advocacy activities. Jorge Olivera Castillo, poet and journalist, has accepted a long time offered internship at Harvard University and attended the 20th annual Forum 2000 Conference within his single trip. He ceremonially opened Courage to Face Oppression exhibition on this occasion.
Authors of presented photographs are Orlando Luis Pardo Laro, Elio Delgado, Yanela Durán, Elio Malísimas, Iris Mariño, Alietser Prats a Julia Piña.