02.04.2019 – Madrid – Juana Pérez Montero

Pía Figueroa, co-director of Pressenza and member of the organizing team of the Latin American Humanist Forum that will take place in Santiago de Chile from 10 to 12 May, answers our questions about the meaning of the Forum and of the Network on Communication and Nonviolent Media that she coordinates together with other colleagues.

We seek to give form -in process- to a social fabric empowered by the strength of the whole,’ according to Figueroa.

Faced with the violence of official accounts, he argues that the small media dispute is a cultural dispute.

Juana Pérez Montero – The LHF2019 [Latin American Humanist Forum], is framed within a scope of Forums. Why now, after 11 years, a new Humanist Forum? Is it necessary, as the framework  says, to “fix positions” regarding different areas of human activity? Does Latin America need voices that raise new positions?

Pía Figueroa: Since the last Humanist Forum held in Latin America, more precisely in the city of Buenos Aires, not only much time has passed, but also we have seen our Region and the world change.  In a few years, other values and new technologies have been installed which communicate and viralize falsehoods, giving space to a new culture as well as to a fascist right that already governs in many places.

JPM.- Several progressive Latin American governments of the last decade set in motion regional “convergences”, such as UNASUR for example, but this has not prevented those governments and a good part of those convergences from falling through elections, parliamentary coups….  You convene this Forum with the slogan “Building Convergences,” what kind of convergences are you talking about?

PF: The current political-economic power, which is increasingly centralized and exclusive, dispenses with broad layers of the population, almost as if human beings were “disposable objects”.  Well, precisely at the social base, among the women who have become aware of the prevailing patriarchy, the young people who do not subscribe to capitalism, the indigenous peoples whose territories have been plundered, the adolescents who are very clear about the need to reverse the processes of environmental pollution and exploitation of natural resources, the victims of ecclesiastical abuse, the elderly who require decent pensions, and many other thematic action networks,  living forces that arise and are organized from the periphery of society, we are looking for spaces like this Forum to build not only convergences within each of these networks, but also among the various organizations and networks present, in order to be shaping – in process – a new social fabric, diverse, horizontal, broad, empowered by joint force, capable of giving rise to a future that effectively responds to the best human aspirations.

JPM: What should be done to ensure that these convergences are installed in the populations and become a permanent mode of relationship that makes it difficult to return to stages that were thought to have been surpassed?

FP: Perhaps in this Forum we can meet, experience the presence of others, recognize ourselves in our struggles, validate ourselves, support each other, raising the hope that so often falters, and understand that history has its cycles and rhythms.  Today is the moment in which anti-humanism and fascism attack without mercy, but they do not have the primacy of the future because we are all, many people, so many organizations, new networks… beginning to give impulse to a moment that is already coming, that is on the horizon.

I don’t know if we will avoid failures, our stories are full of them and we no longer fear them, on the contrary, we welcome them because they allow us to learn.  That strength is the most precious thing we have.

JPM: The format of the Forum, development through networks, speaks of this convergence. Does the Forum seek to become a link between diverse actors?

FP: Indeed, it is the common environment built by all, it is the space of confluence.

JPM.- Let’s talk about media.  You coordinate with other colleagues in the Nonviolent Journalism and Communication Network. What analysis do you make of the role of the media today?

FP: The first thing that comes to light is the manipulation of information, the viralization of falsehood, the media industry managed by big capitals, the violence in mainstream media accounts, discrimination, exclusion.

JPM: What role should they play, from your point of view?

PF.- The dispute of our media, small media, digital platforms, agencies, radio programs, on-line tv channels, etc. etc. constitutes the cultural dispute, the narrative dispute, extremely important today, fundamental.

JPM: How can we combat the “fake news” that are even behind the fall of governments, the imprisonment of opponents, etc.?

PF.- This is precisely one of the central themes that we want to address together, within our Network: fast and reliable ways of being able to count on verified information, with reliable sources, that allow us to combat and unmask the lies and manipulation installed by the new right in Latin America.

JPM: Do you think a convergence of media is possible that can reach the majority of the population, promoting another agenda – other than that of the great powers – and being the voice of ideas and experiences that propose a new paradigm?

PF: That is what guides our action and the need we have to seek convergence with other media, agencies, journalists, editors, platforms, programmes, that are not aligned with the system and with whom we can perhaps make “a mass of decentralized and diverse media”, that communicates with the big media.

JPM: What would you say to a collective or a person to participate in this Forum?

PF.- That it is worth creating historical awareness and seeing one’s own life as a wider arc of time than the immediacy to which we have been conditioned in order to realize that this is only one moment in a long process and that there are many of us who can converge to give shape to a different future.  To participate in the Forum is to want to get involved.