Relial Congress and Assembley 2021 "The Reunion"
The Reunion - 2021
Every year, the Liberal Network of Latin America (Relial) holds its Congress and Assembly with the aim of bringing together its member organizations, taking strategic decisions, renewing institutional ties and strengthening relationships. The congress provides a public space for liberal organizations in the region and reinforces their commitment to freedom and democracy.
In 2020, due to the global pandemic, the Relial congress meeting had to be virtual. The network achieved its objectives, but the personal interaction, energy and passion could not be replicated online to the same degree. This year, however, we can once meet again in person, and say, face to face, "here we are, together for freedom." For this reason, the annual meeting of 2021 was entitled "The Reunion", and with the motto "Recovering freedom in the region".
The political and economic context is difficult for liberals in Latin America. Populism has captivated a large amount of the region and, in this way, authoritarianism managed to re-establish itself in several of the countries. This reality forces us to be on the alert, and to be ready to fight for respect for basic freedoms and rights humans. The challenges are enormous, but liberalism has historically shown itself be tough. Relial has 42 members from 17 countries in Latin America; including strong and long-standing organisations, think tanks, innovators, political parties, institutes and foundations, all committed to the dissemination of the principles and values of a free society.
Honoured participants and guests
It was a privilege and a pleasure to receive each of the participants in the Congress and Assembly 2021, an event made possible thanks to hosts Caminos de la Libertad (Mexico), as well as the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Latin America). Relial was also honoured with participation as a keynote speaker the renowned historian and economist Deirdre McCloskey, who spoke passionately about what it means to be liberal and hopes for the future.
Deirdre McCloskey's speech and also her participation in an interview conducted by Sergio Sarmiento, can be found on the Relial Youtube Channel
We also heard from Bertha Pantoja, the President of Relial, Sergio Sarmiento, President of Caminos de la Libertad and Diana Luna of Friedrich Naumann.
The event participants in Mexico City, as well as viewers from around the world watching via Facebook live were also honoured with messages of support and solidarity from Dita Charanzová (ALDE, member of European Parliament), Maria Corina Machado (Vente Venezuela), Bertha Valle (who spoke on behalf of her husband, opposition politician Felix Maradiaga, who is imprisioned by the authorities in Nicaragua) and also a video from Hakima el Haite, President of Liberal International.
This two day “in person” event also included interviews with political/satirical cartoonists Bonil and Alarcon, as well as the presentation of the book: “Ser Liberal” (Being Liberal) from author Federico Reyes Heroles. Additional sessions included work groups and discussions on such themes as corruption in the region, economic recovery and urgent political challenges.
There was much to discuss and debate, as well as to make the most of this opportunity to be face to face with friends, allies and colleagues. This commitment to liberalism and democracy serves as the framework for future work to prevail in times of authoritarianism, and to plan what liberals can and should do to effectively defend liberal democracy in the region. It is hoped that all can be together again in future events.