A grassroots Venezuelan activist inspired by liberation theology will begin a speaking tour of Britain this weekend. Joel Linares will draw links between Venezuelan and British experiences of politics and society.
Linares is a Protestant from a barrio in the West of Caracas. He is involved in a number of initiatives to promote community development and participation across Venezuela.
Beginning in London on Saturday (27 November), Linares will also speak in Cardiff, Nottingham, Sheffield and Norwich, finishing his tour on 3 December.
“He’s coming to the UK so that people can hear an honest and first-hand account about grassroots attempts to create a fairer economy and society in Venezuela,” said Pablo Navarrette, a filmmaker who is involved in organising the tour.
Derek Wall, author of The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement, told Ekklesia that he believes people in Britain “can learn” from Linares.
“In Latin America, social movements often inspired by liberation theology have resisted austerity cuts and created grassroots economic alternatives,” he said.
“Britain is facing economic disaster, the austerity programme will lead to inequality and a possible return to recession," insisted Wall, a leading member of the Green Party of England and Wales. He added, “People are looking for economic alternatives to free-market capitalism that provide prosperity for all”.
Linares featured in Navarrette’s documentary Inside the Revolution, which sought to document the political situation in Venezuela.
Navarrette told Ekklesia that a mainstream media focus on the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez means that “the voices of the Venezuelan government’s grassroots supporters are rarely heard”. Chavez has been both praised and attacked for his socialist economic policies.
Liberation theology arose in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s and has inspired related movements around the world. Liberation theologians interpret the Christian Gospel in the light of concrete material events. They emphasise that all theology is carried out in particular social and economic contexts and speak of God's solidarity with people who are poor or oppressed.
Details of Joel Linares’ speaking tour can be found at http://www.alborada.net/joeluk2010 .