October 12th is significant across Latin America as it marks the anniversary of Columbus’ s 1492 landing on Guanahani, in what is now The Bahamas, an event which was the precursor to European colonisation and oppression across the Americas. On Friday, individuals and groups from London’s Latin American communities gathered to show resistance to on-going Western exploitation of their homelands and to historical US hegemony and interference.
Central themes in the event were solidarity with Ecuador’s decision to grant Julian Assange political asylum, support for Assange himself and condemnation of the West’s record of political intervention and military occupation across the continent. In words that have historical and current significance organisers proclaimed – La justicia gringa protege a los dictadores y persigue a los defensores de la verdad.
The “Hands Off Latin America!” march assembled at the US embassy and wound its way via the Spanish and Peruvian embassies to join with those on vigil outside the Ecuadorian embassy in Hans Crescent. Within the march were several from the on-going Assange vigil and others from Occupy and Anonymous.
Those of us waiting opposite the Ecuadorian embassy were eventually met by a group of 50 or so in a great display of music and song. Anthony, who has been working hard with the Latin American community groups, kicked things off with a rousing speech setting out the US agenda against Assange and Ecuador. He was followed by other speakers from Latin America Workers Association and groups representing Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Colombian and indigenous communities. Martin Houston’s excellent video of the speeches is here.
A chilly autumn evening was warmed by the colour and passion of the speakers and the constant vocal support for each nation and for Julian Assange. Several speakers also dedicated support to Bradley Manning.
After the rally in Hans Crescent, the groups headed for food and music at a party at the SOAS Student Union bar.
“There were people and organisations representing most, if not all Latin America. I personally know Mexican, Bolivian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Argentinian and Colombian working class organisations and individuals were represented there in force. We had a GREAT singer/ songwriter who created a song “F*** Columbus!” that got us all going at the demo’s beginning at The US Embassy.
Lots of great, long lasting solidarity links have been forged in the lead up, banner making and in the actual demo. Their struggle and our struggle and is one and the same; our solidarity is our strength.”
It is indeed great that friends from Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and other Latin American countries have consistently participated in the Assange vigil in Hans Crescent and it was inspiring to join with them on a date of such importance.
¡Que viva Latino America Libre!