LASC is part of a long tradition of solidarity between the people of Ireland and Latin America, a tradition that stretches back to the time of independence. Many of Ireland’s revolutionaries had roots in Latin America, particularly Argentina and Peru, and many in the still recently-liberated colonies of the region were keen supporters of Irish independence.
This network of support continued to expand throughout the 20th Century, sharpening with the political shocks of the era, such as the 1973 Chilean coup, human rights abuses and repression throughout Central America, and US intervention in Nicaragua. This period saw the establishment of various organisations whose aims and methods continue to form an integral part of how LASC operates today – groups like the Irish Chile Solidarity Group, the El Salvador Support Committee, and the Irish Nicaragua Solidarity Group.
As the political climate in Latin America began to shift in the 1990s, so too did the scope of these movements. In 1995, The Irish Nicaragua Solidarity Group began to test the feasibility of establishing an organisation that could focus on solidarity with all of Latin America – strengthening the ties that were already present, while linking in with groups from all over the Americas. It soon became clear that such an organisation was desperately needed, and in November 1996, the Latin America Solidarity Centre was launched by Peadar Kirby and Nancy Serrano.
LASC immediately set about conducting the activism for which it is known and recognised. From the outset, LASC committed itself to actively working alongside affected communities and individuals on a wide range of issues, as part of a mutual exchange of support. Although these diverse issues have evolved and expanded over the years, LASC’s dedication to this principle has always guided our work, and kept our focus on the people of Latin America. In addition to these campaigns, LASC has always recognised the power of culture in creating these links, as is evident in the number of events that we have held, from samba, salsa, and capoeira classes, to Latin American film, food and crafts fairs. The annual Latin America Week (which began in 1986 as Central America Week) is another pillar of our work, and has allowed LASC to highlight the most prominent issues facing Latin America at the time.
LASC has always been a small organisation, with very limited resources. Nevertheless, the impact it has made has been huge – both in Ireland, and in Latin America. As we enter our third decade of solidarity work, we remain committed to building upon this vibrant history. We look to the future, while still keeping the lessons we have learned, the friendships we have forged, and the difficulties we have overcome in our hearts and minds.
A more detailed account of LASC’s history, written for our 20th anniversary, can be found here.