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2001 - 2002 Academic Year
Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America Conference May 9 - 11, 2002
Development or Destruction? Canadian Mining in Latin America Public Forum May 11, 2002
Promoting Sustainable Rural Development Brown Bag April 24, 2002
Decentralization & Democracy in Ecuador & South Africa Brown Bag April 25, 2002
Corporate Expansion and Indigenous Communities in Rural Ecuador Brown Bag April 4, 2002
Civil Society's Response to Globalization in Latin America Visiting Speaker April 2, 2002
Worker's Party In Brazil Visiting Speaker March 28, 2002
Participatory Methodologies for Sustainability in Nicaragua Brown Bag March 28, 2002
Haitian Immigrants & Welfare Reform in the US Visiting Speaker March 19, 2002
Participatory Research with Hillside Farmers in Honduras Brown Bag March 7, 2002
Jagan Lecture 2002 with George Lamming Annual Jagan Lecture March 2, 2002
Neo-liberalism in Rural Mexico Brown Bag February 28, 2002
Latin America and the Caribbean after September 11 Workshop February 8, 2002
The 2001 Nicaraguan Elections in Historical Perspective Visiting Speaker February 7, 2002
Latin American and Caribbean Documentary Film Festival Screenings February 4-8, 2002
Child Malnutrition and Social Inequality in the Andean RegionVisiting Speaker February 6, 2002
Violence against Women in Ecuador Visiting Speaker February 6, 2002
Poverty & The Jamaican Family Brown Bag Seminar & Video Screening January 30, 2002
Dirty War & Displacement in Colombia Video Screening & Discussion January 23, 2002
Argentina: A Crisis Foretold Seminar January 17, 2002
Amazonian Discourses: A Look at the Brazilian Amazon Video screening & Visiting Speakers January 15, 2002
Demystifying Social Capital Panel Discussion Nov. 29, 2001
Youth Organizing & Rural Development in El Salvador Visiting Speakers Nov. 30, 2001
Negotiating Re-settlement - Transnational Mining in Peru Brown Bag Seminar Nov. 22, 2001
The Peace Communities of War-torn Colombia Brown Bag Seminar Nov. 15, 2001
Sombras Chinas/Chinese Shadows - José Martí & the Return of the Oppressed Brown Bag Seminar Nov. 6, 2001
Women in Cuban Cinema Visiting Speaker Oct. 31, 2001
Biotechnology and Rural Development: Promise and Peril for Southern Africa Brown Bag Seminar Oct. 25, 2001
Cuba and the Global Economy Visiting Speaker Oct. 18, 2001
NAFTA and Environmental Policy in Mexico Brown Bag Seminar Oct. 10, 2001
Making Sense of 'Chaos': An examination of the Colombian conflict Visiting Speaker Oct. 1, 2001

2000 - 2001 Academic Year
Violence and Peace-building in Colombia  Conference May 24 - 25, 2001
Colombia: Internal Displacement & Humanitarian Crisis  2001 Michael Baptista Lecture May 23, 2001
Threats to Democracy: Quebec City & Its Aftermath  Post-Summit Forum May 9, 2001
Lies, Damn Lies! FTAA, the Environment & Jamaica  talk by journalist John Maxwell April 24, 2001
Race, Class, and Ethnicity in a Caribbean Interpretation The 2001 Jagan Lecture with Lloyd Best March 3, 2001
Mexican Elections 2000: Free and Fair at Last? Panel discussion October 5, 2000

CERLAC and MiningWatch Canada

A Conference on

Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America:
Community Rights and Corporate Responsibility

May 9 – 11, 2002
York University, Toronto, Canada

Panels to include case studies on:
Mining in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Nicaragua, and Mexico
Oil extraction in Colombia and Ecuador
Canadian Foreign Policy on Mining Investment

This conference will convene a gathering of academics, NGO workers, and social activists from both Latin America and Canada - together with representatives from the Canadian Government - to critically debate the role of Canadian mining companies in the region. The Conference will seek to explore the known and possible future impacts of Canadian investment on the economic, social, and ecological sustainability of local communities.

A central debate will focus on different approaches to establishing and enforcing industry standards, from efforts to establish voluntary, industry-driven guidelines for corporate social responsibility (such as those reflected in the MMSD project), to those that emphasize the empowerment of local communities to exercise control over their resources. We will also discuss the role of the Canadian government in an effort to assess how well it has balanced support for Canadian investment with concerns for sustainability and local community needs.

The event will take place just before the commencement of a large industry-organized meeting at the Toronto Convention Centre scheduled for May 12-15 and entitled: “Resourcing the Future: Mining, Minerals and Metals for Sustainable Development.” The organizers plan to release on this occasion the results of the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development Study Project (MMSD), headed by the International Institute for Environment and Development.

Canadian NGOs and other independent voices have expressed serious concerns about the Toronto meeting and the MMSD project, decrying an apparent lack of genuine intention to reorient the industry along a more sustainable and responsible path. Hence, with the major industry stakeholders converging in Toronto to present their formal position, it seems an opportune and important moment for an open and informed debate on these issues involving a broader range of relevant actors.

Click here for a PDF version of this program, for downloading and/or printing. Up-dated May 8: includes descriptions of panelists.

Click here for information about how to find the venues, for parking & TTC instructions, and for hotel information.
NOTE: All activities except the evening event on Saturday, May 11, will take place in:

Junior Common Room of McLaughlin College, Room 014 McLaughlin College
on York University campus at 4700 Keele Street, Toronto   York campus map

The Saturday evening event will take place downtown. See venue information below.

Thursday, May 9
9:15 Opening remarks
Viviana Patroni, Director, CERLAC, York University

Introduction: The Context of "Corporate Social Responsibility"
Ricardo Grinspun, CERLAC, York University

10: 00 Panel 1: Community Involvement in Consultation Processes (Peru)
Chair: Nedjo Rogers, Environmental Mining Council of BC
The World Bank Resettlement Directive & Corporate & Community Relations in the Antamina Project
David Szablowski, Doctoral Candidate, Osgoode Law School
The Conflict over Tambogrande in Peru: Mining, Agriculture, and the Right to Consultation 
Francisco Ojeda Riofrío, Human Rights Secretary of the Peruvian National Coordinator of Communities Affected by Mining and President of the Front in Defence of Tambogrande
10:45 Break
11:00 Discussion on Panel 1
12:00 Lunch (on your own)
1:15 Panel 2: Organizing Dissent (Bolivia)
Chair: Sara Seck, PhD candidate, Osgoode Law School
Bolivia's Amayapampa and Capasirca Mines: The Double Movement of Society and its Repression
Alejandra Roncallo, PhD candidate, Political Science, York University
From the Ashes: the Difficulties of Organizing Self-regulated Mining  Activity under Neoliberalism
Pedro Gómez Rocabado, Researcher, Centro de Promocion Minera (CEPROMIN), Bolivia
3:00 Break
3:15 Panel 3: The Environmental Impact of Mining and Petroleum Extraction (Chile & Ecuador)
Chair: TBA
Mining in Chile: The Emergence of Environmental Conflicts, the Path towards the Recuperation of Rights 
César Padilla, Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales, Chile 

Petroleum Exploitation in Ecuador: An Unknown History
Luis Merino, Acción Ecologica, Ecuador

5:00  End
Friday, May 10
9:30 Panel 4: The Impact of Canadian Investment  (Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico)
Chair: Ken Luckhardt, National Representative, International Department, Canadian Auto Workers (CAW-Canada)
Canadian Investment in Large-scale Mining: the Colombian Case
Francisco Ramírez, union leader; President,  Sintramineralco (Colombian State Mine Workers Union)

The Impact of Canadian Gold-Mining Companies in La Libertad and Bonanza, Nicaragua: a Community Perspective
Anneli Tolvanen, independent researcher working with MiningWatch Canada

Impacts of Canadian Mining Investment in Mexico: A First Approximation 
Adriana Concepción Estrada, Associated Researcher, FUNDAR, Center of Analysis and Research, Mexico

11:00 Break
11:15 Discussion on Panel 4
Discussion: Pulling Together the Case Studies
Chair: Viviana Patroni, Director, CERLAC, York University
12:30 Lunch (on your own)
1:45 Roundtable: Critical Perspectives on Corporate Social Responsibility
Chair: Darryl Reed, Co-ordinator, Business & Society Program, York University
Community Rights and Corporate Responsibility
Keith Stewart, Toronto Environmental Alliance

Power and Partnerships: a Critique of the MMSD Process
Joan Kuyek, National Coordinator,MiningWatch Canada

The Consultation Process in Peru: An Action Plan with Multiple Stakeholders
Manuel Glave, Research Associate, GRADE (Group of Analysis for Development)

3:15 Break
5:00 End
Saturday, May 11
9:30 am - 11:00 am Roundtable: Policy Implications for Canada
Chair: Joan Kuyek, National Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
Title: TBA
Speaker from government - invited
North American Community: Anything More than a Euphemism?
Canadian Foreign Policy, 'Deep Integration' and the Americas
John Foster, North-South Institute
Canadian Corporate Conduct in the Americas: Trade Union Perspectives
Judith Marshall, Steelworkers Humanity Fund
The Growth of Mining Investment in Peru: The Presence of Canadian Companies and the Role of International Cooperation
Jose De Echave, Head of the Mining and Communities Program at the Lima-based NGO CooperAccion
11:00 am
11:15 am
1:00 pm
Closing remarks
Viviana Patroni, Director, CERLAC, York University
Joan Kuyek, National Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
Evening event in downtown Toronto
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Downtown Toronto


Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America: 
Community Rights and Corporate Responsibility
Chair: Viviana Patroni, Director, CERLAC
Location: Koffler Institute of Pharmacy Management, OISE, University of Toronto
Room 108, 569 Spadina Avenue (between Harbord and College)
U of T campus map:
Panel discussion: Conference recommendations
* David Szablowski: summary of conference
* Alan Young (MiningWatch): response to MMSD report
* Various other speakers including representatives from Latin America, as named above.
More information on this event

No admission fee. Open to the public.
Registration not required, but please inform us of your intention to attend:


Oil in Ecuador:
Ecuador, Oil & Repression: Canadian connection
Amazon Oil: publications of the Advocacy Project

Mining in Peru:
Peruvian Farmers Battle Canadian Mining Giant Over Future of Their Lands
Regional Strike against Canadian Mining Companies
Opponent of Canadian Mining Project Assassinated
Mining Companies Invade Peru's Andean Cloud Forests
Mineral Rights vs Community Rights in Peru

Mining in Chile:
Mining in Chile

Mining in Bolivia:
Militarization & Minerals in Bolivia

Mining in Mexico:
Mexican town protests Canadian mining operation
Impactos de la inversión minera canadiense en México: Una primera aproximación

Oil in Colombia:
PROFITING FROM REPRESSION: Canadian firms in Colombia protected by military death squads

Mining in Nicaragua (& Costa Rica):
Campaña de acción sobre la minería
Mine Prospects Not Golden
Environmental campaign at crisis point

The organizers gratefully acknowledge the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC); the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW); the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA); and, all from York University: the Office of the VP Research & Innovation, the Office of the VP Academic, Hospitality York, The Centre for Research on Work & Society (CRWS), and the Departments of Political Science, Social Science, and Sociology.

CERLAC and MiningWatch Canada
invite you to

A Public Forum

Development or Destruction?

Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America:
Community Rights and Corporate Responsibility

Saturday, May 11
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Koffler Institute of Pharmacy Management, University of Toronto
Room 108, 569 Spadina Avenue (between Harbord and College)

Admission is free, everyone is welcome.

Canadian companies are at the forefront of mining investment in Latin America. But are they bringing the benefits of development to the people of the region, or only the costs?  How accountable are these companies regarding the impact of their activities on local environments?  How sensitive are they to the concerns of local communities?  Do they bring new employment opportunities for locals, or take advantage of the absence of labour rights?

Can voluntary, industry-driven guidelines for corporate social responsibility assure real community participation and sustainable economic practices? What role has the Canadian government taken to ensure that these companies act abroad in a manner that would bring pride rather than shame to Canadians?

On the eve of a major industry convention in Toronto, come and hear social activists, unionists, and academics from Latin America and Canada discussing the impact of Canadian mining companies on communities and countries throughout the region.  Speakers from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Mexico and Peru will be on hand to discuss their experiences.

This will be a participatory event, come and take part.

This event was organized in conjunction with the three-day conference Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America: Community Rights and Corporate Responsibility at York University. For more information on the speakers and issues of this Forum, see the details given here.

Centre for Social Justice, Metro Network for Social Justice, Oxfam Canada

The organizers gratefully acknowledge the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC); the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW); the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA); and, all from York University: the Office of the VP Research & Innovation, the Office of the VP Academic, Hospitality York, The Centre for Research on Work & Society (CRWS), and the Departments of Political Science, Social Science, and Sociology.

CERLAC and the Rural Community Development Group (RCDG)


Promoting sustainable rural development 
in Latin America:
The experience of CLADES 


Andrés Yurjevic
Latin American Center for Sustainable Development (CLADES)
Santiago, Chile

Wednesday, April 24th, 2002
2:00 - 3:30  p.m.
305 York Lanes

Andrés Yurjevic is the founder of CLADES and the Chilean director of the York-Catholic University of Temuco Linkage Project. This project seeks to strengthen the Center for Sustainable Development as a teaching and research institution at the Catholic University of Temuco in Southern Chile. The goal of this Center is to use innovative teaching methods and university research to develop human resources that can simultaneously alleviate rural poverty and gender inequity, while ensuring environmental sustainability. The Center works with an NGO, the Centre for Education and Technology (CET), and CLADES, a Latin American NGO network which was formerly known as the Latin American Consortium on Agroecology and Development. The common objective of these institutions is to improve the economic situation and viability of small rural producers in an environmentally sustainable way.

Andrés will present the experience, context, and challenges that CLADES faces as it pursues its work on agroecology and sustainable rural development. The purpose of the discussion is to deepen the links with interested faculty and students at York University, in the context of the York-Catholic University Linkage Project.

For further information on CLADES, please refer to the following Spanish website: A short description in English is in: and a longer one in The Centre for Sustainable Development at the Catholic University is presented in: For information on the Master’s Program in Management of Rural Development and Sustainable Agriculture supported by the project, refer to: A short description of CET in English is in:

Everyone is welcome.

For further information, please contact Ricardo Grinspun at or Alejandra Roncallo at

CERLAC and the Rural Community Development Group (RCDG)


Decentralization and the Question of Municipal Democracy
in Ecuador and South Africa

John Cameron and George Niksic

April 25th, 2002
2:00-3:30  p.m.
305 York Lanes

Decentralization is being promoted around the globe by the World Bank and other development agencies as part of a series of so-called "second generation reforms" intended to make governments more efficient and more responsive to citizen demands. However, the actual success of initiatives to make local governments more efficient, more democratic, and more effective as agents of human development depends much more on local factors and conditions than on administrative reforms at the national level. John Cameron and George Niksic will examine instructive cases in Ecuador and South Africa of efforts to make municipal governments more democratic in the context of decentralization.

John Cameron will analyse efforts by peasant and indigenous organizations to implement participatory democracy in rural municipal governments Ecuador, and examine the attempts of those municipalities to promote economic and social development. He will place particular emphasis on the structural conditions underlying the relative success and failure of participatory initiatives at the municipal level.

George Niksic will examine various initiatives undertaken by the African  National Congress-led Council in Port Elizabeth, South Africa to foster a participatory form of politics and a developmental role for local government. In particular, he will focus on the relationship between the local government and the popular sectors, and the structural constraints  that impact upon it.

John Cameron is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at York University and Graduate Research Associate at CERLAC.

George Niksic is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at York University.

Everyone is welcome!

CERLAC and the Rural Community Development Group (RCDG)


Corporate Expansion and Indigenous Communities
in Rural Ecuador


Dr. Korovkin will present a discussion of her on-going research, conducted jointly with Ecuadorian academics and NGO workers. The presentation will deal with the recent expansion of traditional and non-traditional exports: oil in the Amazon and cut flowers in highland Ecuador. The focus is on the social effects of this expansion and on the prospects for negotiation between communal organizations and companies.

CERLAC Fellow Tanya Korovkin teaches Political Science at the University of Waterloo. She has conducted research in Peru and Chile, and currently works on  CIDA-  and SSHRC-sponsored projects in Ecuador. Dr. Korovkin is author of a book and various articles on structural and cultural change in the rural areas of these countries.

Thursday, April 4th, 2002
2:30 - 4:00 pm
Room 305 York Lanes
York University

and International Development Studies (IDS) at York

Sérgio Baierle
CIDADE (Center for Urban Studies) Porto Alegre, Brazil

 speaking on

The Workers Party in Brazil:
Breakthrough, Consolidation or Thermidor?

Sérgio Baierle has has been intimately involved with the capacity-building aspect of Porto Alegre's participatory budget since its inception when the Workers Party came government there as part of Popular Front in 1989. He is one of the few persons in Brazil who has conducted systematic and continuous research on the new kind of participatory democracy that the new Workers Party of Brazil was committed to since its formation two decades ago, so refreshingly different from the statism of traditional communist and social democractic parties.

In this talk, based on a new paper he has written called "Porto Alegre in Thermidor", he will explore the contradictions and dangers participatory democracy is now facing, including from developments within the Workers Party itself. He will address the necessity for a new advance in radical movement politics if the democratic hegemony in Porto Alegre is not to evaporate, and will relate this to the strategies and prospects of the PT in the upcoming general elections in Brazil later this year.

Sérgio Baierle works with CIDADE, Centro de Assessoria e Estudos Urbanos, an NGO working for the empowerment of grassroots movements with research on urban reform policies and democratic local budget processes. CIDADE has worked on participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre since 1994 to empower people to participate in decision-making and develop their collective self-governing capacities.

Thursday, March 28th, 2002
11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Social Science Lounge
S752 Ross Building
York University

Background document:
Happiness is Like Water in a Net: Presentation notes on the Porto Alegre Participatory Budget by Sérgio Baierle

This event was organized with the assistance of Dr. Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy

CERLAC and the Rural Community Development Group (RCDG)


Participatory Methodologies for Sustainability
on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua

March 28th, 2002
2:30 - 4:00 pm
390 York Lanes

The southern Caribbean coastal region of Nicaragua is home to a diverse ethnic population and a complex ecosystem.  As a site of abundant wealth and historic tensions, and with local political mechanisms that are weakening in the face of economic liberalization, the Pearl Lagoon basin is in danger of increased inequities as the extraction of coastal resources continues.

Bernice Kozak and Christine McKenzie, working in collaboration with IDRC and the Coastal Areas Monitoring Project (CAMP- Lab) employed participatory methodologies to address these issues in the Pearl Lagoon basin region.

Bernice Kozak will discuss her proposed dissertation dealing with 'Lessons in  Political Economy from a Micro Perspective’, suggesting that a greater understanding of local political economies illuminate conceptual issues at the meso-scale level (regional or national) and the macro-scale (international political economy).  A further critical component of this work is concerned with the inclusion of participatory methodology.  Thus the discussion will focus on how to incorporate participatory methods into the study of political economy, focusing on possible limitations, strengths, and ethical issues.

Christine McKenzie will focus on how participatory action research and popular communications were used to engage local communities in dialogue to address issues of environmental sustainability.  In particular she will focus on the opportunities and tensions associated with the ‘outsider’ as change agent in facilitating critical analysis and social movement learning.

Background: Bernice Kozak is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at York University
Christine McKenzie is a Masters Candidate in Environmental Studies at York University

Everyone is welcome!

CERLAC presents

Civil Society's Response to Globalization
in Latin America

with visiting speaker
Victor Armony
(Université du Québec à Montréal)

During the 1990's, most Latin American countries have undergone market liberalization processes. These processes have often resulted in increased inequalities and social exclusion. While many Latin Americans have grown disillusioned with politics, and others have expressed their dissatisfaction within the political system, many have resorted to new forms of collective action that are rooted in civil society organizations and networks. These include strategies of civil disobedience, road blockades, vacant land occupation, and citizen assemblies. The example of Argentina is particularly interesting in this regard: the "piqueteros" and "cacerolazos" have played a decisive role in the social response to the current economic and political crisis.

Victor Armony is Professor in the Department of Sociology of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He is also the Research director for the Canada Research Chair in Globalization, Citizenship and Democracy (UQAM) and the
author of Représenter la nation: le discours présidentiel de la transiton démocratique en Argentine (Montréal : Éditions Balzac, 2000).

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2002
2:30 - 4:00 pm
Room 305  York Lanes
York University

CERLAC presents

Phil Kretsedemas
Ryerson University

speaking on

Haitian Immigrants & Welfare Reform in the US
The new face of de jure segregation?  Legal status limitations and labor market hardships
for Haitian immigrants in Miami-Dade County.

Tuesday, March 19th, 2002
2 - 3:30 pm
390 York Lanes
York University

Several researchers have noted that welfare and immigration reform have tied social service administration more closely to the demands of local labor markets.  For working poor immigrant communities in particular,  these reforms have exacerbated pre-existing tendencies toward service under-enrollment and over-concentration in the most peripheral segments of the labor market.

This presentation discusses the findings of a case-study that examined the impact of welfare reform for Haitian immigrants in Miami-Dade county.  The findings of this study demonstrate that there is a much closer correspondence between legal status and labor market hardships, for Haitian immigrants, than between legal status and service access.  As a consequence, the immigrant service restrictions implemented under the 1996 Welfare Reform Act appear to have had a much more pronounced impact on labor market participation than on the already low rate of service access.  A comparison of household and individual estimates of legal status also reveals that household estimates provide a more comprehensive account of labor market hardships, but individual estimates provide a more precise indicator of gender differences.

The concluding discussion considers how welfare and immigration reform have created new trends in labor market segmentation for immigrant communities and new forms of intra-group stratification, by gender and legal status.  These trends are used to make some preliminary observations on the forms of stratification that are becoming typical of the post-Keynesian era, and how they differ from the forms of institutional discrimination that characterized the (latter phase) of the Fordist industrial era and the social welfare state.


Phil Kretsedemas received his doctoral degree in Sociology from the University of Minnesota in 1997.  His dissertation research (conducted in 1994-1995 with a grant from the Social Science Research Council) examined political attitudes toward neo-liberal economic reforms among working poor communities in Jamaica. Since this time, he has served as a welfare reform policy analyst and community organizer for  non-profit community organizations in the Miami-Dade area and as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Florida Memorial College, a historically black college also located in the Miami-Dade area.  He is currently serving as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Ryerson University (Toronto, Ontario) and remains actively involved, as a welfare reform researcher, for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Scholar Practitioner Program.  His current work explores how recent trends in social  policy, contemporary discourses on race and ethnicity, and labor market dynamics are creating new forms of social stratification for working poor, immigrant communities.


CERLAC and the Rural Community Development Group (RCDG)


Participatory Research and Plant Breeding:
An Experience with Hillside Farmers in Honduras

Sally Humphries
Phd York, Sociology, 1989.  Associate professor at University of Guelph, Sociology/Anthropology. Graduate coordinator of Guelph's International Development program. Since 1993, coordinator of a participatory research program in Honduras.

Thursday, March 7, 2002
2:30 - 4:00  p.m.
York Lanes 278

Dr. Humphries will present work that she has supported for the past nine years with farmer-researchers in Honduras. The program has grown from a pilot project with a handful of small-scale hillside farmers to include 500 farmer researchers organized in 50 research teams within a farmer-led  national federation.  Resource-poor farmers located in some of the most impoverished regions of Honduras have learnt how to experiment with different low input technologies designed to improve the
management of their plots and increase their food supply and family income. More recently, they have become involved in plant breeding, learning how to enhance their own landraces of maize and beans.

Everyone is welcome!

CERLAC, York International, and the Jagan Lecture Planning Committee
proudly announce

The Fourth Annual Jagan Lecture


George Lamming
the renowned author, lecturer, and commentator from Barbados

speaking on

Language and
the Politics of Ethnicity

A highly political author, George Lamming is credited, along with Vic Reid, Wilson Harris, V.S. Naipaul, Everton Weekes, Derek Walcott, Garfield Sobers, Mighty Sparrow, and others, with making the emergence of a Caribbean identity possible. Lamming sees the lack of cultural identity in this region as a direct result of the history of colonial rule. Ngugi wa Thiong'O, while reviewing Lamming's Of Age and Innocence, concurs that, "The West Indian's alienation springs . . . from his colonial relationship to England."  Lamming, who denounces colonialism as well as neo-colonialism, recognizes that language is a means of colonization and encourages resistance to cultural imperialism: "People are becoming aware that the overwhelming dominance of North American mass culture will destroy the society if there is not what one would call a force of cultural resistance to that."

George Lamming was born on June 8, 1927 in Barbados where he attended Combermere High School. He left for Trinidad in 1946, teaching school until 1950. He then emigrated to England where, for a short time, he worked in a factory. In 1951 he became a broadcaster for the BBC Colonial Service. He entered academia in 1967 as a writer-in-residence and lecturer in the Creative Arts Centre and Department of Education at the University of the West Indies. Since then, he has been a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Pennsylvania and a lecturer in Denmark, Tanzania, and Australia. In recent years Mr. Lamming has devoted his time to lecturing and trade union activity.

Lamming's first novel, In the Castle of My Skin (1953) has long been recognized as a foundation text of Caribbean literature. Sandra Pouchet Paquet describes it as an "autobiographical novel of childhood and adolescence written against the anonymity and alienation from self and community the author experienced in London at the age of twenty-three." His next novel, The Emigrants, deals with a group of West Indian expatriates who, like Lamming, reside in England. His more recent works depart from this semi-autobiographical format. Of Age and Innocence and Season of Adventure take place on Lamming's fictional Caribbean island of San Cristobal and, according to Jan Carew, represent an attempt "to rediscover a history of himself by himself." His next novel, Water with Berries, describes various flaws of West Indian society through the plot of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Natives of My Person, his final novel, is an account of the voyage of a slave-trading ship on its voyage from Europe to Africa to the North American colonies. His non-fiction work The Pleasures of Exile (1960) is acknowledged as a seminal text on the cultural history of the region.

The Jagan Lecture Planning Committee is proud to host George Lamming as the keynote speaker for the the Fourth Cheddi Jagan Lecture.

March 2, 2002
7:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Vari Hall Lecture Room A
York University, Keele Campus
Toronto, ON

Gazette article on this event:

A few George Lamming Links:
Recent Interview: Damming Lamming
1999 Interview in Caribbean Writer (excerpt)
1989 Interview

We gratefully aknowledge the Emory University webpage on George Lamming, designed by James Hare, as a source of much of the text above, describing Mr. Lamming and his career.

The Jagan Lectures commemorate the life and vision of the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Caribbean thinker, politician, and political visionary. The series of annual lectures is founded upon the idea that the many and varied dimensions of Chedii Jagan’s belief in the possibility of a New Global Human Order should be publicly acknowledged as part of his permanent legacy to the world.


CERLAC and the Rural Community Development Group (RCDG)


Neo-liberalism in Rural Mexico

Hepzibah Muñoz

Thursday, February 28, 2002
2:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Room  390 York Lanes

This study will present an analysis of the politics of economic restructuring in rural Mexico that accompanied economic liberalisation and agrarian reform, based on Antonio Gramsci’s and Robert Cox’s analyses of historical transformations as a result of the combination of international and domestic factors. The speaker will examine how the convergence of interests among different social forces within the Mexican power bloc and changes at the world level set the conditions for neoliberal restructuring in rural Mexico.  Attention will be paid to how internal factors such as the hegemonic power of the Mexican state and the official party facilitated the adoption of the neoliberal reforms in the Mexican countryside (i.e. land commodification),  were later locked-in within the new constitutional framework of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Hepzibah Muñoz Martínez, MA & Ph D candidate in Political Science at York, B.A. in International Studies Universidad de Monterrey.  In her Master's Research Project, she studied neoliberal reform in rural Mexico. Currently, she is working on the effects of  the mobility of financial capital on Mexico’s banking system.

Everyone is welcome!

CERLAC presents

One step forward, two backwards:
The 2001 Nicaraguan Elections in Historical Perspective

with Visiting Speaker

Alejandro Bendaña
Centre for International Studies, Nicaragua

On November 4, 2001, a national election was held in Nicaragua. Liberal Party candidate Enrique Bolaños Geyer was elected over former Sandinista comandante Daniel Ortega of the FSLN by a margin of more than 13 percent.

The presentation will deal the internal and international factors that conditioned the political-electoral process and that shape institutional development in Nicaragua.

 Alejandro Bendaña is the founder and President of the Board of the Centro de Estudios Internacionales in Managua, Nicaragua - an independent organization working on issues of economic justice and peacebuilding, with a strong emphasis on South-South cooperation and strategy building. He holds a History from Harvard University and is the author of six books including Power Lines: U.S. Domination in the New Global Order (Click here for a book reviews by the War Resisters' League and by  the Institute for Global Dialogue ).  Between 1979 and 1990, Dr. Bendaña served as Secretary General of the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry under the Sandinista Government, Ambassador to the United Nations, and official spokesperson.  He is a founding member of the Nicaragua Jubilee Coalition and a member of the International Coordinating Council of Jubilee South, an international debt and economic justice network.  He is on the Board  of Directors of Focus on the Global South and Transcend a Peace Network.

See also our announcement about the CERLAC Conference Latin America and the Caribbean after September 11, for which Dr. Bendaña will be the keynote speaker. Additional information and links about the speaker are provided there. Thanks also to the co-sponsors of that event (York International, International Development Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Founders College at York, as well as KAIROS), whose support has helped us to bring Dr. Bendaña to York.

Thursday, February 7th, 2002
11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Social Science Lounge
(Room S752, Ross Bldg.)
York University

See Bendaña's new article on this topic, from the latest issue of NACLA, in the LACYORK on-line archive:

Other articles of interest on the Nicaraguan election:
Getting the Right Result: Nicaragua's Election Showed the US Still Won't Allow a Free Vote
by Duncan Campbell
Published on Wednesday, November 7, 2001 in the Guardian of London

What Everyone Should Know About Nicaragua
By Mark Weisbrot
ZNet Commentary, November 09, 2001

The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC)
at York University extends an

Open Invitation to a Workshop on

Latin America and the Caribbean 
after September 11: 

Poverty, Crisis, and Insecurity

Keynote Speaker:
Alejandro Bendaña
Centre for International Studies, Nicaragua

Greg Albo
Political Science, York

Ricardo Grinspun
CERLAC and Economics, York

Carlos Larrea
FLACSO-Quito, Ecuador and visiting fellow, Harvard University

Viviana Patroni
Director of CERLAC and Division of Social Science

Kathy Price
Kairos – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Toronto

Friday, February 8, 2002
9:15 AM – 5:00 PM

Founders Senior Commons Room
Third Floor, Founders College
York University, Toronto

Admission is free; registration not required.

“Everything has changed,” proclaimed the mainstream media after the horrific events of September 11. But from the vantage point of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, many things remain the same: persistent poverty, striking social and economic disparities, speculative capital and financial crises, environmental degradation, growing human insecurity, and expanding conflict zones. Some things do seem to have changed, though. The “war on terrorism” (following in the footsteps of the “war on drugs”) provides further opportunity for the strengthening of authoritarian forces and the aggressive pursuit of U.S. interests in the region, while regional economies are “liberalized” and integrated to better respond to the needs of transnational capital.

 Alejandro Bendaña, a noted Nicaraguan intellectual and social activist, will be the keynote speaker in a one-day workshop to discuss these issues, what they signify for the future, and how citizens and social movements in the region are responding to the challenges. Alejandro is the Director of Managua-based Centro de Estudios Internacionales (CEI), an NGO that engages in peace building (education and action) and in research and advocacy on global themes relating to economic justice. He was Secretary-General of Nicaragua’s Foreign Ministry during the Sandinista government, works for the Jubilee 2000 South campaign that advocates for debt cancellation, and is the author of Power Lines: U.S. Domination in the New Global Order (Click here for a book reviews by the War Resisters' League and by  the Institute for Global Dialogue . See links given below for more Bendaña publications on-line).

Other speakers in the conference include Greg Albo (Political Science, York), Ricardo Grinspun (CERLAC and Economics, York), Carlos Larrea (FLACSO-Quito, Ecuador, and visiting fellow, Harvard University), Viviana Patroni (Director of CERLAC and Division of Social Science, York), and Kathy Price (Kairos – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Toronto). The speakers will refer, among other topics, to the role of the United States; the economic crisis in Argentina; the expanding conflict in Colombia; war, globalization and integration; as well as poverty and inequality in the hemisphere.

As the purpose of this event is to encourage debate, ample time will be provided for open discussion of the issues during the day. Come prepared to participate!


9:15 – 9:30 Welcome and introduction
9:30 – 10:30 Keynote presentation – Alejandro Bendaña
10:30 – 11:00  Comments:  Greg Albo and Viviana Patroni
11:00 – 11:15 Break
11:15 – 1:00 Open discussion
1:00 – 2:00 Lunch (on your own)
2:00 – 3:00 Panel discussion: Kathy Price, Ricardo Grinspun, and Carlos Larrea
3:00 – 3:30 Open discussion
3:30 – 3:45 Break
3:45 – 4:45 Open discussion
4:45 – 5:00 Closing Remarks: Alejandro Bendaña

This workshop is being organized by CERLAC to take place in the context of International Development Week at York University. The workshop is co-sponsored by York International , Founders College , the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program, the Rural Community Development Group (RCDG), the Office of the Vice-President (Research), and International Development Studies at York University, and KAIROS – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.

For inquiries, please contact Marshall Beck at or 416-736-2100 ext. 88705.

Publications by Alejandro Bendaña available on-line:

The Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program (LACS), Founders College, and CERLAC


February 4 - 8, 2002
York University

Featuring an exciting new selection of documentary films about various countries in the region.
Jury positions available!

Everyone is welcome.  Show times and titles listed below.
Oh, and there will be free food!

The festival is part of International Development Week. It is sponsored by York International and the Divisions of Humanities and Social Science.

For more information, please contact:


Monday February 4:
Amazon Journal (58’)
12:30 pm - Winters College Junior Common Room (012 WC)
A fascinating chronicle of recent political events in the Brazilian Amazon. Beginning with the assassination of Chico Mendes in 1988 and ending with a return trip to Yanomami Territory in 1995, this six year journey provides an illuminating perspective on the volatile changes of this era. Besides documenting events, O'Connor analyzes the complex interaction between semi-isolated indigenous societies and "outsiders." In collaboration with Brazilian anthropologist Alcida Ramos, he explores the return of the "noble savage phenomena", wherein outsiders created misleading illusions about Indian societies. This cultural confusion explains many of the region's tragic events.

The Unholy Tarahumara (56’)
1:30 pm - Winters College Junior Common Room (012 WC)
In Mexico's vast and astonishing Copper Canyon area of Chihuahua, isolated from much f the world, live the Tarahumara Indians. Descendants of the Aztecs who fled the Spaniards, they live without electricity in spectacularly beautiful but rocky land where farming is difficult and game is scarce. Poor, and without resources, they are torn between the lure of modern life and maintaining their age-old traditions.

Contact. The Yanomami Indians of Brazil (28’)
2:45 pm - Winters College Junior Common Room (012 WC)
This documentary graphically depicts the devastating impact of contact with the outside world on an isolated Indian tribe, the Yanomami Indians. Although the Brazilian government is ostensibly trying to protect the Yanomami, such efforts are undermined by the fact that their mineral-rich ancestral land is coveted by mining interests.

Tuesday February 5:

Coffee: A Sack Full of Power (52’)
3pm – Brian Cragg Cinema – 211 Founders College
Coffee ranks second only to oil as the most important raw material on the world market. It has shaped the economies, history and social structure of a large part of Latin America. Composed of archival photographs, old newsreels and penetrating interviews, this documentary takes a broad view of the influence of coffee through the ages. First introduced in the eighteenth century, coffee is now the most popular drink in the world after water. South America supplies 66% of the world production, although most of the profits go to traders and speculators outside the region. The film explains the difference between the Brazilian and Costa Rican system of production, and why the Brazilian system has led to such poverty. Mechanization of farms has thrown many rural laborers out of work, an explosive situation in a country where one percent of the population owns 46% of the land.

Rum Stories (50’)
4pm - Brian Cragg Cinema – 211 Founders College
Rum, consumed by more people in the world than any other liquor, is part of the history of the New World. It was Christopher Columbus who discovered cane sugar, the basis of rum production. The infamous export of slaves to the Caribbean followed soon after, in order to harvest the sugar. This film outlines the history and economics of rum production in the islands of the  Caribbean, while alluding to its almost mythic aspects. Rum has been associated with pirates, the Havana mafia, and bigger- than- life characters like Ernest Hemingway.

Nowhere Else to Live (52’)
5pm – Brian Cragg Cinema – 211 Founders College
In the last forty years, Mexico City, one of the largest and most densely inhabited places in the world, has seen a population explosion from one million to nearly twenty million. The landless peasants who arrive in Mexico City find survival no easier than the rural poverty they sought to escape. Half of Mexico City's people are, or have been, illegal squatters. By introducing us to several families who struggle to survive here, the film puts a human face on Mexico's urban poor. One organizer, Clara Brugada, is part of a barrio which decided to fight back. With their own hands the people replaced the mud huts with sturdy housing and stood up to the police who have tried to evict them. It now stands as a beacon of hope for the millions who live on the edge.

Wednesday February 6:

Barriers of Solitude (52’)
12:30 pm – Winters College Junior Common Room (012 WC)
When Barriers of Solitude: The Universal History of a Mexican Village was published by the University of Mexico Press, it became a surprising best seller in Mexico, later translated into French and English. The book collected the memories of residents of San Jose de Gracias a little Mexican town that had been overlooked by historians and history books. Noted Latin American filmmaker Patricio Guzman (The Battle for Chile) made this rural chronicle evoking the history of San Jose from the memories of day to day life. Intercutting footage of pivotal moments in Mexican history -- the events considered history by the history books -- and the concurrent memories of the villagers, it shows how personal history and public history may have little to do with one another. In 1857 when the French Maximillian became emperor of Mexico with great pomp and ceremony, the villagers remember only an amazing aurora boreales that year. In 1910, Francisco Madero and Profirio Diaz waged civil war, but the villagers note only that the crop was bad. And when Zapata's band was inciting revolution, the villagers scarcely reacted. This is an exceptionally provocative film. It questions the notion of history, the relationship between rural communities and government, at the same time as it provides stirring film footage from Mexican history.

Brazil: an Inconvenient Story (47’)
1:30 pm – Winters College Junior Common Room (012 WC)
While everyone knows of the history of slavery in the USA, few people relize that Brazil was actually the largest participant in the slave trade. Forty percent of all slaves that survived the Atlantic crossing were destined for Brazil, while only 4 % were sent to the U.S. At one time half of the population of Brazil were slaves. It was the last country to officially abolish slavery, (1888) and one of the ex-slaves is still alive today. This well- researched BBC production charts Brazil's history using original texts, letters, accounts and decrees. From these original sources, we learn firsthand about the brutality of the slave traders and slave owners, and the hardship of plantation life. With the Portugese colony of Angola acting as a "factory" supplying Africans to Brazil, it was cheaper to replace any slave starved and worked to death than to extend his life by treating him humanely. Few plantation owners sent for their wives to live in this hot climate, so the softening effect of family life was absent among the rough white settlers.

Black Atlantic: On the Orixas Route (55’)
2:30 pm - Winters College Junior Common Room (012 WC)
The waters of the Atlantic brought the slaves from Africa to Brazil, their bodies in chains but their souls inexorably tied to mother Africa. This Brazilian- made film takes us to both shores, to show how spiritual life, dance and song came with the captive people and took root in the new soil. Among the many traditions were the language and gods of Yoruba and Jejes from the Republic of Benin. When a group of freed slaves returned to Africa to rediscover their roots they were looked upon as outsiders. They became tradespeople - tailors, accountants and builders- and they actually brought Portuguese culture to Africa. Today, when Brazilians revisit Africa, they teach the Africans the culture that these descendants of slaves keep alive in Brazil. The documentary is a testimony to some of the ironies of the diaspora.

Thursday February 7:

Ventre Libre (45’)
2pm - Brian Cragg Cinema – 211 Founders College
"Ventre Livre" paints a grim picture of reproductive rights for millions of women in Brazil today. One in every four women of child-bearing age has been sterilized - often in her teens. And, with no access to other forms of contraception, over two million women resort to illegal abortions every year - leading to an estimated 50,000 deaths. "Ventre Livre" intercuts moving interviews with a range of different women describing their own     experiences with statistics on the poor state of healthcare for women.

How Nice To See You Alive (100’)
3pm - Brian Cragg Cinema – 211 Founders College
On March 31, 1964, a military coup overthrew the Brazilian government. Four years later, all civil rights were suspended and torture became a systematic practice. Using a mix of fiction and documentary this extraordinary film is a searing record of personal memory, political repression and the will to survive. Interviews with eight women who were political prisoners during the military dictatorship are framed by the fantasies and                imaginings of an anonymous character, portrayed by actress Irene Ravache. Filmmaker Murat, like the interviewees, was herself tortured and imprisoned; her film shatters the silence imposed on the survivors and the collective will to forget.

Flowers for Guadalupe / Flores Para Guadalupe. The Virgin of Guadalupe in the Lives of Mexican Women (57’)
5pm - Brian Cragg Cinema – 211 Founders College
Flowers for Guadalupe/Flores para Guadalupe explores the importance of the Virgin of Guadalupe as a liberating symbol for Mexican women today. In the course of this richly textured treatment of an evolving symbol, twenty-three women speak out, in traditional testimonio format. This unusual "contata" of  women's voices representing urban, small-town, and rural communities, is intercut with scenes of daily women's  work and celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe in various contexts, including festivities organized by the Comite Guadalupano.

CERLAC Presents

Child Malnutrition and Social Inequality
in the Andean Region

with visiting speaker

Carlos Larrea, Ph.D.
FLACSO-Quito, Ecuador; Visiting Scholar at Harvard University; CERLAC Fellow

Dr. Larrea will discuss the findings of his recent research on the relationships between social inequality and malnutrition in the Andean Region. His presentation will be based largely on the article "Child Malnutrition and Social Inequality in the Andean Region," co-authored with Wilma Freire, which presents and analyzes recent empirical evidence from household surveys on chronic child malnutrition in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, with special attention to socioeconomic, regional, and ethnic differences.

Wednesday, February 6th, 2002
11:30 am - 1:00 PM

Social Science Lounge
(Room S752, Ross Bldg.)
York University

Co-sponsored by the Center for Feminist Research and the Health and Society Program at York University.

CERLAC presenta / presents

una presentatión con / a presentation with


sobre / on

Violencia contra la Mujer 
en Ecuador:
Situación Actual y Alternativas
Violence against Women 
in Ecuador:
the Current Situation and Alternatives
Un breve diagnóstico de la situación de las mujeres en general y de la violencia en particular, presentando los resultados de una investigación que realizó Sra. Camacho, que muestra la magnitud del problema y la escasa relación que existe con las condiciones socio-económicas de las mujeres. Luego presentaría las políticas e iniciativas que el Estado y la sociedad civil han desarrollado para enfrentar la violencia.

 Gloria Camacho es licenciada en ciencias de educación, tiene undiploma superior en género y políticas públicas, y una maestría en ciencias sociales y género(FLACSO-Ecuador). Ha trabajado en investigación, capacitación, y producción de materiales educativos en temas de género, relacionados con educación, violencia, desarrollo rural y derechos. Durante 4 años fue responsable de educación en el Consejo Nacional de las Mujeres, el organismo estatal encargado de las políticas de género.

A brief appraisal of the status of women in Ecuador in general, and regarding violence against women in particular, presenting the results of a study by the speaker that illustrates the dimension of the problem as well as its insignificant relationship to the socio-economic factors. The speaker will further discuss the policies and initiatives promoted by the state and civil society to confront the issue of violence against women.

Gloria Camacho completed a Bachelor's in Education, a Diploma in Gender and Public Policy, and a Master's in Social Science and Gender from FLACSO-Ecuador. She has done work in research, training, and the production of educational materials on the themes of gender, education, violence, rural development, and human rights. She was responsible for eductation as a member of the National Council of Women in Ecuador, a government agency in charge of gender policies. 

Miercoles, 6 de febrero, 2002
14:30 - 16:00
Sala de Reuniones de German & European Studies
(230R York Lanes, York University)
Wednesday, February 6 , 2002
2:30 - 4:00 pm
Meeting Room of German & European Studies
(230R York Lanes, York University)

Estan  bienvenidos  todos. / Everyone is welcome.
This presentation will be in Spanish with English translation.

CERLAC Presents
A Brown Bag Seminar

"The Head Cornerstone"
Poverty & the Jamaican Family

Ruth Hamill (Ph.D. Candidate, Social Anthropology) will screen and discuss her film, "The Head Cornerstone," which chronicles the struggles of an impoverished family in Jamaica.

This film, shot in Cousins Cove, Jamaica, tells the story of Griffiths, a husband and father who takes his responsibilities seriously and works very hard to support his wife and children.

As part of the "sandwich generation", his sense of obligation extends to his siblings, his aging father and even his deceased mother who, seemingly, is communicating from "beyond the grave".

The entire family are now squatters due in part to the sale of a parcel of family land.  The Head Cornerstone examines the tensions and repercussions arising from the decision to sell and the effect it has had on Griffiths' life and relationships.

"...even more impressive was the project that Ruth Hamill carried out in Jamaica.  This involved cohabitation with an underprivileged Jamaican family for a prolonged period, a circumstance requiring great tact and perseverance.  The film that she made as a result of this fieldwork was a truly remarkable achievement."

- Dr. Paul Henley, Director, Granada Centre, University of Manchester

Wednesday January 30th 2002
1 - 2:30 pm
Nat Taylor Cinema
(Ground Floor, North Ross Bldg.)
York University

CERLAC Presents

Dirty War & Displacement 
in Colombia

A Video Screening and Discussion


Kathy Price
Researcher/Policy Advocate - Latin America (Human Rights), KAIROS

Shiela Gruner
Canada-Colombia Solidarity Campaign; MES Candidate, York

Ken Luckhardt
National Representative, International Department Canadian Auto Workers (CAW-Canada)

Scott Pearce
Peace Brigades International; MA Candidate, Political Science, York

Olga Sanmiguel (moderator)
D.Jur. candidate, Osgoode Law School

This event will feature the screening of two new short documentary films on the issues of war and displacement in Colombia, followed by a discussion led by the films producers and other informed activists and scholars.

The Hidden Story: Confronting Colombia's Dirty War is a 29 minute video produced by the Latin America Human Rights team of KAIROS (formerly Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America) in partnership with various other organizations; it premiered in October 2001. It reveals the reality of Colombia's dirty war through powerful images and the equally powerful testimony of men and women who risk their lives each day to build peace with social justice in Colombia. "The Hidden Story" analyzes the roots of the conflict, the role of the US sponsored Plan Colombia and the so-called war on drugs, Canadian connections, and the importance of international support for those working for social justice in Colombia.

Shiela Gruner's short (approx. 15 mins.) video, "What Happened in El Firme: Forced Displacement on the Colombian Pacific," was filmed last August. With the situation on the Naya River in Colombia worsening constantly, this video presents testimony on the situation from members of  local communities and from social movement leaders, as well as from Canadians who visited the region. The film is a provocative discussion piece sure to stimulate a productive exchange on the issues of Canadian involvement, development, culture, and forced displacment in the current conflict in Colombia.

Wednesday January 23rd, 2002
1 - 2:30 pm
Nat Taylor Cinema
(Ground Floor, North Ross)
York University

CERLAC presents

Amazonian Discourses:
A Look at the Brazilian Amazon

with visiting speakers

Prof. Dr. Miguel Neneve
Universidade Federal de Rondonia 
(Amazon Region)
Profa. Dra. Marilene Proença
Universidade de Sao Paulo

Co-editors of and contributors to the book: 
Looking at the Amazon

The speakers, visiting professors at York for the current academic year, will discuss current discursive practices on the Brazilian Amazon.

After the brutal assasination of the rubber tapper Chico Mendes, the Brazilian Amazon was inundated with national and international writers, journalists and film makers trying to see and tell the world what was happening in this region. Articles, videos and films about the Amazon were produced from different points of view. This background encouraged the speakers to produce a book of essays analysing how Amazonia has been described.

In this talk, the speakers will explore questions such as: What discourses on the Amazon are being employed by American travel-writers, journalists, and researchers since the assasination of Chico Mendes?  What practical level of discourse about the region obtains in the academic environment of South-Eastern Brazil? How do people who inhabit the region read these discursive practices?

As part of the presentation, the video "Women rubber-tappers" will be screened.

Tuesday January 15, 2002
1:00 – 2:30 pm
390 York Lanes

Everyone is welcome.

CERLAC and the Rural Community Development Group (RCDG)

A Crisis Foretold

a presentation by

Viviana Patroni, Ph.D

After 25 years of economic reform, what does Argentina have to show for it?  Unprecedented levels of poverty and unemployment, a growing concentration of wealth, a shrinking economy and a monumental public debt.  While these years of reform allowed the economic elites of the country to greatly increase their wealth, they also created the conditions that made Argentina’s current social explosion and political crisis inevitable.  Meanwhile, those with power arrogantly continue to insist, in the midst of disaster, that there was no other way for Argentina.

CERLAC Director Viviana Patroni, Ph.D., studies the labour movement in Argentina. She was in the country during the time of the December protests and over-turning of the government. Her commentaries have been featured extensively in national print and broadcast media coverage of current events.

Thursday January 17, 2002
2:00 – 3:30 pm
The Douglas Verney Room, S674 Ross
York University

Gazette article on this event:

Background info:

Argentina emblematic of Latin American economies in era of liberalized trade
says York scholar Viviana Patroni
York Media Release

 TORONTO, January 15, 2002 -- Recently returned from a struggling Argentina where banking
 controls are drawing angry criticism from citizens, York University Professor Viviana Patroni says the
 political and economic crisis there is a wake-up call for all Latin American countries suffering the effects
 of deregulated economies and liberalized trade. Patroni will present an analysis of the unfolding situation
 on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. entitled, Argentina: a Crisis Foretold.

 "Brazil will be a key partner in Argentina’s struggle to revive itself as both countries question the value
 of a proposed Free-Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)," said Patroni, director of York’s Centre for
 Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) and a specialist in the Argentinian labour
 movement. She notes that Brazil will need a stable Argentina as an ally in hemispheric trade

 Argentina’s new Peronist party president Eduardo Duhalde is walking a political tightrope with banking
 controls that have limited withdrawals on some types of accounts and relaxed limits on others, trying to
 keep public anger at bay while preventing a run on the peso. Last week he announced the end of the
 peso peg to the U.S. dollar, allowing a devaluation of the peso and the conversion of up to $100,000
 (U.S.) of all dollar-denominated household debts to pesos at the old one-to-one rate, a move that has
 cost the banks billions of dollars. Duhalde has said he will have a budget and a long-term economic
 plan to present to the Argentinian Congress this weekend, and then to the International Monetary Fund
 (IMF) to obtain emergency funding. The IMF’s refusal to extend a $1.3-billion (U.S.) loan last month
 triggered the crisis after four years of recession.

 Patroni says a new economic plan will have to address issues of unemployment and poverty and the
 need for income redistribution. "A positive development in this crisis is that the people of Argentina are
 standing up for their rights and questioning the values of liberalized trade and financial deregulation, and
 the government is responding. Duhalde is aware that people may very well take to the streets again."

 Patroni will speak in the Douglas Verney Room, S674 Ross building, York University, Keele Campus,
 4700 Keele St.


Commentary on events in Argentina
by Viviana Patroni

Broadcast on CBC National Radio’s “Commentary” on Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Like most Argentineans, as I follow the daily news, I try to predict what will happen next in my country, how long the new president will last, when a new  social explosion might take place. Without any doubt     this is an unparalleled crisis, but one that should have hardly surprised anyone.

 After  25 years of economic reforms, what Argentina has to show for  it is unprecedented levels of poverty and unemployment, a growing concentration of wealth, a shrinking economy and a monumental public  debt. But above all, there is the  arrogance of those with power who   continued to insist, in the midst of this disaster, that there was no other way for Argentina.

    Throughout this period, especially since the early 1990s, the  economic elites of the country pressed for reforms that  have greatly  increased their wealth. The deregulation of capital markets provided   astronomical gains. Privatization transferred a huge portion  of the economy into their hands at laughable prices. Lack of state regulation  made it possible to erect large private  monopolies. Moreover, the   growing deterioration of working conditions and the fall in wages increased profit margins for  many companies.

    During my last visit to Argentina in December, on the faces of demonstrators I saw profound anger at the way in which these  policies  have worsened their lives. Among the 40% who today are poor in  Argentina, some had very little to start with. They  did, though, have  some faith that the future of the country included them. This faith is  what they have lost. Their looting of supermarkets  expressed much more than physical hunger. It powerfully conveyed their frustration at   the reality that  suffocates them and the agony of their exclusion.

 Many more Argentineans are new to poverty. They used to think that  nothing could take away their decent jobs, or access to  health care,   or the education they considered a given for their children. I saw   them challenging, with a new-found conviction,  the idea that their   support for unions, an active state and the protection of national industries was the root  cause of the maladies of Argentina.

    Their anger was directed not only at those who enriched themselves as   the country sank deeper into crisis but also at the politicians who   insisted that economic  choices were beyond the realm of politics. Politicians who equated democracy with impunity, made free use of a   questionable judicial system, and benefited from massive levels of    corruption.

    It is still too early to say how this crisis will be resolved. It is   difficult to see how what Argentina has lost can be rebuilt  soon  enough to appease those who no longer believe that increasing the prosperity of a few will eventually bring benefits to all. One thing,  though, seems clear: inequality, social exclusion, and the concentration of power are a poor foundation on which to build a decent and livable society.

The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC)
& SalvAid present

Visiting Speakers

Nubia Castillo
(Rural Community Youth Representative)
Emilio Espín Amprimo
(Rural Development NGO worker, CORDES)

speaking  on

Youth Community Organizing
& Rural Development Projects
in El Salvador

Nubia Castillo and Emilio Espín Amprimo from El Salvador are visiting various cities in Ontario and Quebec, promoting the rural development work of Canadian NGO SalvAide in El Salvador.

Nubia Castillo will describe her experiences with youth community organizing and the School of Youth Leaders, and will discuss the situation of youth in her country. Emilio Espin Amprino will talk about the challenges that face the rural population of the country, and about the possibilities for rural development in present-day El Salvador.

Friday, Nov. 30th, 2001
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
305 York Lanes

Everyone is welcome.

About Salvaid
Salvadoran NGOs supported by SalvAid: CRIPDES, CORDES

CERLAC & the RCDG present

A Panel Discussion:

Demystifying Social Capital


Susan Spronk Ph.D Candidate in Political Science
John Cameron Ph.D Candidate in Political Science
Eduardo Canel Ph.D in Sociology

Since Robert Putnam’s work Making Democracy Work in 1993, “social capital” has become one of the key terms of the development lexicon.  However, the adoption and popularity of the language of “social capital” in the development community has not been without controversy.

Susan Spronk will investigate the theoretical origins of the concept of “social capital”, seeking to demonstrate that its popularity reflects the growing influence of neo-classical economics over the social sciences and how this convergence has served to soften the critical contribution of the neo-institutionalist literature on the developmental state.

John Cameron will offer a critical analysis of the deployment of the concept of "social capital" in Latin America based on field research in Chile and Ecuador. He will offer an analysis of the World Bank's recently developed policies to promote "social capital", focusing on the contradictions between those policies and the Bank's broader macro-economic policy agenda. John will argue that rather than promoting social capital formation, contemporary macro-economic policies are in fact, undermining and destroying it.

Eduardo Canel will discuss the experience of Montevideo to assess the usefulness of the concept of social capital to explain the different degrees of success with which local communities seized the opportunities that were created by decentralization.

Thursday, November 29th
1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
York Lanes 390

Everybody is welcome.

CERLAC Presents visiting speaker:
Jorge Salazar

Making Sense of 'Chaos':
An examination of the Colombian conflict

Jorge Salazar is the former Coordinator of the Peace and Human Rights Section of the Popular Training Institute (Instituto Popular de Capacitacion), a partner organization of ICCHRLA (the Inter-Church Commitee on Human Rights in Latin America), ICA and Development and Peace in Medellin, Colombia.   Three years ago, Jorge was abducted from the IPC's offices by paramilitary forces, along with three other colleagues. After intense Colombian and international pressure, the four were released.

Now living in Vancouver, Jorge remains in close contact with colleagues in Colombia and will share his perspectives on the Colombian conflict.  He is currently visiting Toronto as the keynote speaker at the Peace Brigades International presentation and panel discussion on "Protecting Human Rights Defenders in Conflict Areas."

Monday, October 1, 2001
 1 - 2.30 p.m.
390 York Lanes

 CERLAC Presents

NAFTA & Environmental Politics in Mexico:
The challenge to participatory planning and sustainable agriculture

Mark Juhasz (MES) will present two key factors that drastically changed agrarian and environmental politics in Mexico during the 1980s: amendments to land reform under Article 27; and NAFTA.  While providing insight into the efforts of civil society organizations to develop participatory planning alternatives to the dominant model of agricultural modernization, Mark will address the legacy and implications of NAFTA and the Salinas Administration on Mexican environmental policy.

Wednesday, October 10
1 - 2.30 p.m.
390 York Lanes

The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC)
The Rural and Community Development Group (RCDG)
and the African Studies Program


Biotechnology and Rural Development:
Promise and Peril for Southern Africa

Noah Zerbe is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science, York University. He will discuss the impact of recent biotechnological advances on  agriculture in Southern Africa. Drawing primarily from the Zimbabwean and South African cases, he will examine: (1) Promises and Dangers of agricultural biotechnology  for farmers in Southern Africa; (2) Implications of international agreements  such as the GATT/WTO and Convention on Biological Diversity for agriculture in  Southern Africa; and (3) African alternatives to intellectual property rights
in biotechnology.

Thursday, October 25, 2001
1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
390 York Lanes

CERLAC presents

A presentation on

Cuba and the Global Economy

Visiting Speaker

Elena Caridad Alvarez González
Associate Prof., University of Havana; Director, National Institute for Economic Research (INIE)

Thursday, October 18, 2001
3  - 4:30 pm
390 York Lanes
York University

Prof. González will address the current economic situation in Cuba and future propsects in light of global conditions. She will also discuss Cuba's perspective on globalization and its hemispheric manifestation through such mechanisms as the proposed FTAA agreement.

Prof. González has long been an instructor and researcher at the University of Havana and INIE. She received the 1994 Cuban Academy of Sciences Award for a study on possible secenarios for the evolution of the US blockade against Cuba. She has also worked for the Central Planning Board of the Cuban government and publishes and speaks internationally on the external sector of the Cuban economy and macroeconomic issues. She is president of the Scientific Council at INIE, a collaborator of the Centre for World Economy Studies, a founding member of the Association for Cuban Economicsts, and a member of LASA.

The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean
The Department of Film and Video and the Graduate Programme in Film and Video


a seminar on

Women in Cuban Cinema
with Visiting Speaker

Cuban film director and writer, ICAIC; Adjunct Professor in Women’s Studies, University of Havana

Prof. Vilasís will explore the status of gender issues in Cuba through a discussion on women in Cuban film, illustrated with clips from relevant sources. She will relate these issues to questions of national culture and identity in the current context of globalization, with a focus on the implications for Cuban national cinema of increasing foreign sponsorship.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001
1:30 – 3:00 pm

The Sound Stage
Department of Film and Video
(Room 130, Centre for Film and Video)
York University

Prof. Vilasís has worked in the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC) since 1974 as an assistant director, a co-screen writer and a writer mainly for documentary films, and has been directing films since 1985. She has published criticism, interviews and film articles in various magazines and periodicals, and teaches courses internationally on film and filmmaking. She is Adjunct Professor at the University of Havana and a member of its Women Studies Department. She is now working as Coordinator of the Screen Writing Department at the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Video in San Antonio de los Baños International Film and Video School (EICTV). For more information about Prof. Vilasís, see: (in Spanish)

Everyone is welcome!

Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean

Sombras Chinas / Chinese Shadows
José Martí and the Return of the Repressed

Frank F. Scherer, Ph.D. Candidate / Dept. of Social and Political Thought, will focus not so much on the “words” of the renowned and celebrated Cuban writer and revolutionary hero as on his silence(s). To begin with, Marti was born and raised in the Cuba of the “Yellow Trade”, the infamous commerce that brought over 250.000 Chinese “coolies” to the island between 1847 and 1874 alone. And yet, the 24 volumes of his Obras Completas, or Complete Works, never mention this - in all its facets - significant presence. A silence, and a repression, that reveals its own eloquence as it opens space for an exploration of several intriguing elements such as: a) Marti’s writings concerned with Chinese immigrants in New York; b) the publication in 1892 of The Chinese in the Cuban Revolution by Gonzalo de Quesada, Marti’s secretary and life-long friend; and c) how this silence is to be interpreted in the context of Martí’s theories of race as well as his path-breaking conceptualization of “Our America”.

Frank is a collaborator of the Caribbean Religions Project and the contributor of a chapter to that project's latest publication: Nation Dance. He is also the winner of the Graduate Level 2001 Baptista Essay Prize.

Tuesday, November 6th, 2001
1 - 2.30 p.m.
230R York Lanes
(German and European Studies)

The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean

 The Peace Communities
of War-torn Colombia:

  A slide show and first-hand account of rural communities struggling to find peace in the midst of war

Scott Pearce, MA candidate in Political Science, worked for ten-months in Uraba, one of the "conflict zones" of Colombia, with Peace Brigades International. His work involved accompanying local human rights workers and leaders from the Peace Communities whose lives were threatened because of the work they were doing. The presentation will include a slide show and a first-hand account of the Peace Communities of San Jose de Apartado and Cacarica--two communities which have declared their neutrality and attempted to extracate themselves from the ongoing conflict in Colombia."

Thursday, November 15th, 2001
1 - 2.30 p.m.
278 York Lanes
(in front of FGS)

The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC)
& The Rural and Community Development Group (RCDG)


Negotiating "Resettlement"

The World Bank, Transnational Mining Companies,
and Local Communities in Peru

David Szablowski, (D. Jur. candidate, Osgoode Law School), will discuss the experiences and interactions between local communities and transnational mining companies (TMCs) in Peru. In the last fifteen years, globalizing political, economic, legal, and technological changes have resulted in an explosion of new mining activity in regions across the globe that were previously inaccessible to mining development. TMCs and the local communities of these regions have as a result been propelled into new and complex encounters in which the rights, benefits, and losses of mining development are divided among them. This seminar will present a study of one such transnational legal order, the World Bank Operational Directive 4.30 on Involuntary Resettlement and its regulatory influence upon the corporate-community relations relating to the development of a Canadian-owned mining mega-project in the Peruvian Andes.

Thursday, Nov. 22, 2001
2 – 3:30 p.m.
390 York Lanes

Everyone is welcome.

Peruvian Farmers Battle Canadian Mining Giant Over Future of Their Lands
by Kevin G. Hall; July 13, 2001 in the Seattle Times

Mining in Peru

Mining Companies Invade Peru's Andean Cloud Forests

Mineral Rights vs Community Rights in Peru

See the York Gazette article on this event.

The text of Amanda's lecture at this event is in preparation for publication as a Colloquia Paper by CERLAC. Return to the website in future weeks, and check the CERLAC Publications page.

A portion of Amanda's presentation was broadcast on CBC Radio's "As It Happens" on Friday May 25, 2001.


CERLAC and York International presented
The Second Bi-annual Michael Baptista Lecture

Colombian human rights worker

Amanda Romero-Medina
Quaker International Affairs Representative for the Andean Region,
American Friends Service Committee (ASFC) in Bogotá, Colombia.

who spoke on

Internal Displacement and Humanitarian Crisis

The internal armed conflict in Colombia is producing the largest numbers of forcibly displaced populations and asylum
seekers in this hemisphere. The situation worsened in the last decade as armed parties increased their attacks against the
civilian population. Forced displacement of populations constitutes a serious human rights violation, and in Colombia
this displacement is itself the result of widespread human rights abuses and violations of International Humanitarian Law
that continue unpunished. Despite important recommendations by the United Nations and OAS human rights bodies -
including the presence in the country of permanent programmes and offices of the UNHCR and High Commissioner for
Human Rights - the Colombian government has chosen to work for a peace agreement with the leftist guerrillas without
tackling the role and criminal activities of self-defence or paramilitary groups.

Respected Colombian human rights educator and activist Amanda Romero-Medina brings over twenty years of
experience to this presentation, in which she discussed the present humantitarian crisis in Colombia, its roots, and
future prospects in light of Colombian governmental policy, external factors, and the committed efforts of civil society
organizations promoting non-violent alternatives.

This event took place:
Wednesday the 23rd of May, 2001
in the Senate Chamber,
9th Floor North Ross Bldg.
York University


Amanda Romero-Medina has been a Human Rights activist in Colombia for more than two decades. She joined the Colombian Human Rights movement when she was studying in the Teachers' College of the National University in Bogotá. Amanda has accompanied grass-root organisations in their demands to make the Colombian State accountable for cases of human rights abuses. She has helped Colombian NGOs to create spaces from which to advocate for Human Rights, including before UN and OAS bodies and other governments. Her analysis of the situation of key regions - such as the Magdalena Medio Valley and, more recently, Putumayo and Meta Provinces - derives from direct work with local communities. Amanda has written extensively on these matters but her greatest efforts have focussed on human rights education.

Today, as the Quaker International Affairs Representative (QIAR) for the Andean Region, the focus of her work comprises six countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panamá, Perú and Venezuela.  QIAR's Andean program seeks to support peacebuilding initiatives in the Andean region – across borders, across differences of race and ethnicity. The QIAR works closely with the South American Platform, a Latin American network on human rights which published a monthly "Bulletin" and sponsors region wide campaigns for basic rights.

Based in Bogotá, Amanda works with social movements, churches and non governmental organisations.

Amanda also participated in the conference "Violence and Peacebuilding In Colombia", May 24- 25, 2001.

Background documents:
"Colombia's Invisible Wars" by Liisa North and Shiela Gruner, from Peace Magazine, Apr-June 2001.
Background Brief on Plan Colombia, by Liisa North and Louis Lefeber, November 2000.

A report on this well-attended conference is in preparation and will be published as a CERLAC Report. Return to the website in future weeks, and check the CERLAC Publications page.


The conference recieved front-line attention in the International Section of the Globe and Mail on May 28, 2001.
The text of the article follows below.

New approach to Colombia urged
 Ottawa should distance itself from U.S. militaristic strategy, conference told
The Globe and Mail
Monday, May 28, 2001

 If only they sentenced wayward comedians to antistereotype school. Then  you might have seen David Letterman at Toronto's York University last week.

 The late-night television host apologized recently after joking that a Colombian beauty queen's talent act involved swallowing 50 balloons full of heroin. He wasn't the first North American to imply that Colombia begins and ends with drug trafficking, and he is unlikely to be the last.

 But the message from a two-day conference on violence and peace-building in Colombia, sponsored by two York research centres [CERLAC and the Nathanson Centre], was that the violence ravaging Colombia goes far beyond drugs, and that drug-centred efforts to stop it will have little effect.

 Professors, social activists and exiled Colombians living in Canada warned that U.S. military aid and forced eradication of drug crops are hurting the average Colombian. Canada, they said, should put more distance between its Colombia policy and that of Washington.

 "There are alternatives, and Canada needs to speak out about increased military intervention in the region," said Bill Fairbairn, South American program co-ordinator with the Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America.

 Two million of Colombia's 40 million people have been uprooted from their homes in the past 10 years as fighting intensifies among government troops, leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary forces, rights groups say.

 Yesterday, two small bombs exploded in the southern city of Cali, the latest in a string of attacks feeding fears that the largely rural conflict could be spreading to the cities. Last Friday, two explosions killed four people and injured 21 in the capital, Bogota.

 The guerrillas, fighting since the 1960s, support themselves by kidnapping the rich for ransom and by taxing drug traffic in areas they control. Paramilitary groups profit in the same ways, and have carried out large-scale massacres of civilians.

 Helped by $1.3-billion (U.S.) in aid from Washington over two years, the government of President Andres Pastrana has stepped up the spraying of herbicide on plantations of coca, the raw material for cocaine.

 Meanwhile, two years of peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the strongest guerrilla force, have produced almost nothing of substance.

 Mr. Pastrana has just one year left in his four-year term.

 Delegates at the York conference said the chances of him reaching a deal with the FARC or the National Liberation Army are extremely low.

 "This peace process has no possibility of producing results; none," said Martin Movilla, a Colombian television journalist who covered political violence but fled to Canada last year after receiving death threats.

 Assassinations and bomb attacks related to the illegal drug trade won global notoriety in the late 1980s, but the conflict over land and resources is nothing new. Before coca and the opium poppy, violence was associated with commodity booms involving coffee, cattle and oil.

 Control over timber and mineral resources is also fuelling conflict, said history professor Catherine Legrand of McGill University in Montreal.

 Paramilitary groups terrorize settlers into vacating land coveted by the rich, several speakers said at the conference. "The struggle for land has become more and more acute," said Lilia Solano, a professor at the Javeriana University in Bogota.

  "The traffickers bought large quantities of land, and there is a greater concentration than ever."

 Prof. Solano said that although Mr. Pastrana promised a broad social-development scheme in his 1998 election campaign, his Plan Colombia -- which includes the U.S. military aid -- focuses mainly on fighting the drug trade.

 "To rebuild the country, we don't need more weapons," she said.

 Most experts say it will be next to impossible to shut down the illegal drug trade while demand remains strong in North America and Europe.

 Ron Davidson, director of South America relations at Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, rejected calls to take a clear stand against forced eradication and the militarization of antidrug efforts.

 "We would like to see drug production reduced, and we don't have a good alternative to propose" as an alternative to herbicide-spraying, he said, cautioning that Canada has not taken a position for or against Plan Colombia.

 Ottawa is one of several governments offering to act as facilitators in the peace dialogue.

 Mr. Davidson said Canadian diplomats actively support Colombian peace groups and let authorities know they are concerned about rights violations.


CERLAC and The Nathanson Centre
at York University

presented the following

Conference on

Violence and Peacebuilding
in Colombia

For more than a decade, the long-standing civil conflict in Colombia has escalated to become the hemisphere's most violent political and military strife. While the causes of this conflict are complex, its core is shaped by extreme poverty, inequality in the distribution of the country's resources, and the inability of the political system to incorporate demands for change. On the contrary, violence and repression have been the most prevalent response to demands for greater social justice. In this context, actors and forces with expectations for a negotiated resolution to the conflict see with fear the growing militarization of the country resulting from the implementation of 'Plan Colombia'.

Officially described by the US as an attempt to eradicate drug production and trade, Plan Colombia is seen by its critics as exacerbating several of the conditions that have fueled the conflict for almost fifty years: peasant displacement, increased repression, and political exclusion. Moreover, in pinpointing drug trafficking as the source of violence and political  instability, Plan Colombia is not only reducing the scope for peacebuilding in the country but it is also threatening to destabilize neighbouring countries.

Against this backdrop , it is today imperative to contribute to a better understanding of the causes of civil unrest in Colombia. To this end we have convened  a number of academics, policy makers and human rights practitioners, in the expectation that informed dialogue can positively affect foreign policy and support initiatives seeking peace in this war-torn country.

This event took place on:
May 24 – 25, 2001
Founders Senior Common Room
305 Founders College
York University


Thursday May 24

Session 1: 9:30 am - 12:00 noon: 
The historical roots and evolution of contemporary conflicts
Moderator: Albert Berry (Economics, University of Toronto; CERLAC Associate Fellow)
  • Catherine LeGrand (History, McGill): 

  • “Agrarian & Regional Dimensions”
  • Francisco Thoumi  (Senior Visiting Scholar at the Latin American and Caribbean Center, Florida International University; formerly with the UN Drug Control Programme): 

  • "The Evolution of Drug Trade-related Violence"
  • Lilia Solano  (Professor/Researcher Javeriana University/National University, Bogotá)

  • "Colombian Violence:  Structural Causes"
Lunch   12:00 - 1:30
Session II: 1:30-3:30 pm: 
The current conjuncture I
Moderator: Prof. Liisa North (Political Science, York University; CERLAC Fellow)
  • George Vickers (Executive Director,  Washington Office on Latin America): 

  • US Foreign Policy toward Colombia
  • Hal Klepak (Royal Military College of Canada; CERLAC Fellow): 

  • "Regional Military and Diplomatic Implications of  Plan Colombia"
  • Martin Javier Movilla Durango (Colombian journalist)

  • " La guerra en Colombia, sus actores y las posibilidades de paz" (The War in Colombia, Its Actors, and the Possibilities for Peace)
Session III: 3:45-5:15 pm:
The current conjuncture II
Moderator: Peter Penz (Faculty of Environmental Studies; Director, Centre for Refugee Studies at York University)
  • Juan Gabriel Ronderos (Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption, York): 

  • Tendencies in Organized Crime
  • Amanda Romero-Medina (Quaker International Affairs Representative for the Andean Region, American Friends Service Committee, Bogotá): 

  • Internal Displacement
  • Pilar Riano (Visiting researcher, Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History)

  • "Constructing and sustaining peace: communities, and the politics of memory and reconciliation"

Friday May 25

Session IV 9:30-1:00 (with a break at 11:15) 
Policy alternatives
Moderator: Craig Scott (Associate Dean - Research and Graduate Studies, Osgoode Law School)
  • Ron Davidson (Director, South America Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade): 

  • Canadian policy toward Colombia
  • Hal Klepak (Royal Military College of Canada; CERLAC Fellow):

  • Policy Options for Responding to the Wars in Colombia
  • Bill Fairbairn (South America Program Coordinator with the Inter-Church Commitee on Human Rights in Latin America [ICCHRLA]): 

  • Canadian Solidarity with Colombia
  • Manuel Rozental (Visiting Fellow, CERLAC; Co-coordinator of 2001 Canada-Colombia Solidarity Campaign):

  • Popular Struggles, Resistance, Knowledge and Social Transformation
  • Francisco Thoumi (Senior Visiting Scholar at the Latin American and Caribbean Center, Florida International University; formerly with the UN Drug Control Programme): 

  • Multilateral Approaches to Peacebuilding
  • Amanda Romero-Medina (Quaker International Affairs Representative for the Andean Region, American Friends Service Committee, Bogotá): 

  • Concluding Remarks

The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) and the Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime at York University (Toronto, Ontario) co-organized this event to provide a venue for an open discussion on the current situation in Colombia.  Our main objective is to foster a process of dialogue regarding policy alternatives in support of peace-building in this country, taking into particular consideration the hemispheric implications of “Plan Colombia”.

We see the Conference as a step towards organizing other programs and activities around the issues of conflict in Colombia, with especial attention to the situation of the country's now some two million displaced people (most of them women and children and many of them members of indigenous and black ethnic minority groups) and the efforts of neutral "peace communities" in the worst zones of violence to advance a negotiation process.

This event was scheduled to take advantage of the presence of  Colombian human rights activist Amanda Romero-Medina, Quaker International Affairs Representative for Andean Region (American Friends Service Committee), who was here in Toronto to deliver the Michael Baptista Lecture on May 23rd.

CERLAC acknowledges the generous support of:
The Nathanson Centre on Organized Crime and Corruption; Osgoode Law School; The Office of the Vice-President - Research and Innovation; the Division of Social Science; the Department of Political Science; Founders College; and the Faculty of Arts - all at York University.

Background documents:
"Colombia's Invisible Wars" by Liisa North and Shiela Gruner, from Peace Magazine, Apr-June 2001.
Background Brief on Plan Colombia, by Liisa North and Louis Lefeber, November 2000.
Profiting from Repression: Canadian Firms in Colombia..., by Asad Ismi, Rights Action.