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Journal of Iberian and Latin American


Research
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subscription information:
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rjil20

Latin American Transnational


Solidarities: Contexts and Critical
Research Paradigms
a

Christine Hatzky & Jessica Stites Mor


a

Leibniz Universitt Hannover

University of British Columbia, Okanagan


Published online: 27 Aug 2014.

To cite this article: Christine Hatzky & Jessica Stites Mor (2014) Latin American Transnational
Solidarities: Contexts and Critical Research Paradigms, Journal of Iberian and Latin American
Research, 20:2, 127-140, DOI: 10.1080/13260219.2014.939121
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13260219.2014.939121

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Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research, 2014


Vol. 20, No. 2, 127140, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13260219.2014.939121

Latin American Transnational Solidarities: Contexts and Critical


Research Paradigms
Christine Hatzky* and Jessica Stites Mor*

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Leibniz Universitat Hannover; University of British Columbia, Okanagan


Manifestations of trans-border solidarity between geographically distant, different or
unequal groups and communities are phenomena accompanying the evolution of a
transnational Left during the 20th century. They attended struggles for civil and human
rights, social movements and challenges to Cold War neo-imperialism. Transnational
solidarity movements offered powerful political resources for accessing public opinion
in order to mobilize for programs of social and political change. This dossier offers a
set of case studies that demand theoretical re-considerations of earlier scholarly
framings of solidarity to address a Latin American perspective. It seeks to explore the
motivations and practices of phenomena of transnational solidarity throughout the 20th
century, focusing on the distinct dynamics that emerged in the global South. The aim is
to re-centre transnational solidarity analysis from the vantage point of the often
neglected South-North as well South-South directions of solidarity activism, as well as
to resituate the social and cultural exchanges of local agents.
Keywords: transnational solidarity; Cold War; political activism; human rights; Cuba

When German poet and playwright Bertold Brecht, together with musician Hanns Eisler,
composed the Solidarity Song at the end of the 1920s, they were not only influenced by
the impact of the global Great Depression, but also by hopes for the advancement of
socialist workers movements, the Communist International, and the Russian Revolution.
The song addressed what solidarity between different people, classes, ethnicities and
communities around the world could signify: unity or the wish to share and to act
commonly, in order to overcome the atomizing pressures of a voracious imperialist
capitalism.
Peoples of the world, together
Join to serve the common cause!
So it feeds us all forever
See to it that its now yours.
Forward, without forgetting
Where our strength can be seen now to be!
When starving or when eating
Forward, not forgetting
Our solidarity!
Black or white or brown or yellow
Leave your old disputes behind.
Once start talking with your fellow
Men, youll soon be of one mind.

*Corresponding author. Email: christine.hatzky@hist.uni-hannover.de; jessica.stites-mor@ubc.ca


q 2014 Association of Iberian and Latin American Studies of Australasia (AILASA)

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Lyrics echoed the aims of the workers movement, calling for a solidarity that could
transcend national and even racial boundaries. In the 1920s, international solidarity meant
sharing a common goal and the willingness to participate in a worldwide struggle for
justice, liberation and equality. Transnational1 solidarity movements from the 1920s
onward have flourished under the banners of anti-imperialism, national liberation
movements, and human rights struggles, and they have come to occupy a critical site of
action for the Latin American left across the region.2
Across the Atlantic world, such manifestations of trans-border solidarity between
geographically distant, different or unequal groups and communities are phenomena of
political life and citizenship that accompanied the evolution of a transnational Left. Acting
as transnational advocates, these solidarity movements actively intervened in the
contested arena of public opinion. The end of World War II marks something of a shift in
these movements. No longer tied strictly to a common class interest, or transcending class
lines as in transnational womens movements,3 they began to be shaped by the broader
outlines of the Cold War. The idea of realizing justice for a fraternity of humanity, a
practical utopia of respect for individual and collective rights, became more important in
the face of the imperialist designs of rival superpowers. Many of these movements were
sparked by emerging anti-colonial movements, especially in Asia and Africa, reclaiming
their power as a Third Force, as well as by national liberation movements in Latin
America and across the global South. An emerging empathetic politics, a solidarity of
sentiment, to use the words of Herbert Marcuse in his speech at the Berlin Vietnam
Congress in 1966,4 drew communal sympathies together from distinct and distant groups.
The adoption of an ethics of solidarity became a crucial organizing tool for the Latin
American Left, as solidarity campaigns sought to connect ideas of international capital and
labour systems to domestic calls for democratic socialism.
The movements presented in this dossier reflect much continuity between earlier
moments of transnational activism and later Cold War solidarities, while expanding the
context of their framing within this period. Some of the cases emerged well before World
War II, in the late 1920s and the 1930s, and display characteristics of the international
workers movement solidarity depicted in the Solidarity Song. They are interesting here
not only because they demonstrate the genesis of transnational solidarity, but also because
they shift the major research paradigm that has formerly been used to address transnational
political activism. Earlier scholarship has emphasized the North to South directionality of
solidarity actions, privileging notions of political ideals spreading from Europe outward.
Most solidarity scholars attribute the ideological moral obligation of solidarity to the
spread of Christian humanism, Enlightenment values, and the ideals of the French
Revolution.5 However, as the cases presented in this dossier reveal, solidarity did not
originate only in a North-to-South direction, but also in South-to-North and South-toSouth directions. Some made particular use of connections across the global South as a
means of resisting the pressures of the global North. Although we distinguish between the
solidarity movements that arose before World War II and those of the Cold War era, the
histories of solidarities and transnational solidarity networks across the Americas, and
between the Americas and other parts of the world, are clearly intertwined.
Theorizing South-South and South-North Solidarity
The phenomena of solidarity and solidarity movements in the globalized world of the 20th
century, with its manifold possibilities to interact and to communicate across great
geographic divides, has attracted the attention of social scientists since the 1990s. Many

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key elements of transnational solidarity practice have been theorized as a mode of


conducting extra-national political activism. However, as historians of Latin America, we
found it troubling that so little of the theoretical literature included any kind of reflection
on the very different dynamics of solidarity that emerged from the global South. Only
recently have scholars begun to reflect on the influence of Third World solidarity politics
in European and North American social movements. Some of the first scholars to raise this
point have been historians of colonialism in Africa, perhaps the most widely read of which
is Adam Hochschild, who argues that the early abolitionism in the Congo eventually
helped to shape abolition movements across the Atlantic world.6 In the case of Europe,
Quinn Slobodian in his analysis of the West German student movement of 1968 has
demonstrated that German students were strongly influenced by the movements of the
South, taking earlier scholars, including Jurgen Habermas, to task for previously having
ignored this point.7 More recently, Emily Hobson, in a similar vein, argues that the
Nicaraguan Revolution inspired the sexual politics of the San Francisco Bay Area queer
movement in the late 1970s,8 and James Green has argued that progressive elements of the
Catholic Church in Latin America helped to educate North Americans travelling through
Cuba, Chile, Guatemala and Mexico, in an open university of revolutionary politics.9
David Featherstone also broke new theoretical ground in defining solidarity and
solidarious political consciousness as an active process of forging links in opposition to
common enemies, such as a common imperial power or neocolonial enemy.10
With this dossier, our aim has been to re-centre analysis of solidarity from the vantage
point of South-North and South-South campaigns. We chose to focus on these distinct
forms of transnational political exchange in order to reflect on the impact of this activism
from below and across, rather than from above. This perspective also enables a better
understanding of the lived experiences of solidarity activism in the global South,
particularly of social and cultural exchanges between parties that saw each other as equal
or reciprocal. Rather than revisit earlier scholarly framings of solidarity that examine this
activism as between First World humanitarians and their unequal Third World
counterparts, this dossier uncovers nuances of understanding that can be gained from
focusing on the reciprocities and contingencies within solidarity networks and between
partners in struggle.
We also argue here that some of the ideological and political struggles that
characterized the Cold War period were already in motion with the end of formal
colonialism and the emergence of independent Latin American States. In a global
perspective, Latin America was a vanguard of independence movements, and newly
independent republics faced new internal forces of exploitation, that of capital and class.
Regional and local struggles for liberation, such as Bolivarian pan-Americanism, which
argued for regional unity and increasingly, though not fully, democratic institutions, shared
characteristics with thought across the Atlantic world. Some of the earliest transnational
mobilizations of the 19th century were based on or influenced by utopian socialist thought,
such as the spread of Anarchism to Cuba, Mexico, Central America and the Southern
Cone.11 Certainly, movements tied to the Communist International in the early 20th century
were also linked to intellectual traditions and political developments in Europe.12
Nevertheless, the examples we offer here are centred on questions concerning intersectional
aspects of transnational activism and stress the meanings of local agency in Latin America.
In addition, they showcase a variety of historical understandings of solidarity, both in
dialogue with international solidarity movements of the past, but also engaged with local
realities and concerns. Thus, we are less interested in the implications of such transnational
movements on national politics or international norms, as has been addressed by Margret

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Keck and Katherine Sikkink in their path-breaking work on transnational advocacy


networks.13 Rather, we look to local actors to ascertain how participants conceptualized and
imagined their political responsibilities to distant others. Together, the case studies
presented here give substance to the notion of planetary humanism, or what post-colonial
literary scholars have also sometimes referred to as a cosmopolitan ethics.14
The second motivation of the dossier is to recognize the historical roots of transnational
solidarity movements in Latin America. Current literature almost uniformly ignores
solidarity movements from within Latin America that emerged to support struggles in
Europe and North America or that formed to draw attention to political and social struggles
in the region or other parts of the world. A recent special issue of Latin American
Perspectives dedicated to the history of North American solidarity movements with Latin
America gave an extremely valuable and in-depth perspective on the various facets and
motivations of North American solidarity movements with Latin America. Including the
contributions of Margaret Power, Julie A. Charlip, Richard Grossman, and Hector Perla,
among others,15 it illuminated the links between increased politicization of movements in
the United States and their rejection of U.S. imperialism, particularly in Latin America.
Solidarity in First World countries with anti-colonial and national liberation movements
in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, on the other hand, provoked auto-reflection on
ongoing struggles at home, borrowing ideas from these external struggles for use in student
movements, gender-based struggle, and petitions on behalf of marginalized domestic
groups. New social movements of the 1960s and the New Left promoted liberation from all
forms of colonialist domination, or imperialist hegemony, and advocated for objectives
such as respect for human rights, land reform, public education, democratic institutions,
justice and reconciliation, gender equality, and other profound social reforms.
These claims found their way to a global public via the voice of solidarity movements.
It was a kind of common sense within various New Lefts that domestic social movements
should support and complement global struggles, fighting at the heart of the beast, so to
speak.16 Transnational solidarity campaign participants in the United States, for example,
argued that by supporting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua they were not only acting in
solidarity with a people struggling for liberation but, at the same time, were helping to
weaken U.S. imperialism. Against the backdrop of the Cold War and global power
struggles, solidarity with revolutionary movements in Latin America offered participation
in the complex social and political changes happening in the Third World, which, as Eric
Hobsbawm expressed, became the central pillar of hope and faith for those who still put
their faith in social revolution.17 This was especially true for the Puerto Rico solidarity
movement, given the colonial relationship between the island and the United States and
the presence of a large number of Puerto Ricans on the mainland.18
For the Latin American Left, transnational solidarity represented a powerful political
resource for accessing public opinion in distant regions of the world. It also offered a
vehicle to mobilize international political resources for local political change, such as
using solidarity networks to denounce U.S. military occupations, dictatorships, and later
violations of human rights. Whereas Cold War conflicts sometimes developed into civil or
hot wars in the region, it was in transnational public spheres where ideological battle
lines were drawn between competing discourses of democracy and socialism, human
rights and self-determination. The connections between the social and political struggles
in North America and Europe and the liberation movements in the Third World strongly
influenced the self-conception of several New Lefts. Internationalism was not a mere
attachment of the trans-regional public politics to new social movements, the world as a
whole came to be viewed in the light of imperialist challenges like the Vietnam War

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as an inescapable global unity.19 Transnational solidarity claims also challenged existing


power structures through their potential to open discussion of political alternatives that
went beyond competing Cold War ideologies. Solidarity campaigns served both as direct
political actions and as political performance, enacting new roles for the left and signalling
new responsibilities and awarenesses, principally toward globally distant subjects and
groups with whom local lefts shared common cause.
Hector Perla argues that it is time also to reconsider the agency of beneficiaries of
transnational solidarity. Taking up the example of the Nicaragua Solidarity movement,
Perla stresses the question of the significance of intellectual exchange of Nicaraguan and
U.S. political activists, arguing that this contributed to the movements vigour and impact.
He argues that the genuinely transnational element of solidarity movements must be
located within the intimate spaces of interaction of citizens and activists.20 Rejecting a
long cultivated myth that top Nicaraguan and Cuban leaders controlled the solidarity
movements, he stresses the significance of Central American migrants residing in the
North, the effective cultural diplomacy developed by the Nicaraguans, and the
interpersonal contacts between activists from the South and the North. These interpersonal
exchanges and interactions helped to establish a powerful counter-narrative in favour of
the Sandinista versions of events.21
In this dossier, we raise the hypothesis that transnational solidarity in Latin America has
never been exclusively unidirectional or hierarchical, from the North to the South, but rather
a phenomenon of mutual construction. Current readings of the genesis and nature of such
movements show that even the Latin American Left has largely ignored the role of Southbased activism, to the point that these agents do not even appear in their analyses.22 Thomas
Olesen asserts that transnational solidarity networks are subordinated to processes of social
construction within which social movements or transnational phenomena must frame
common understandings. These collective understandings then facilitate transnational
agency, by creating a bridge of support along clear lines of communication.23 As common
understandings or identifications with an other only arise through communication and
negotiation, the importance of including participation of actors in the South cannot be
overlooked, an aspect highlighted by the case studies presented here.
This set of new studies, as an approach to better understanding transnational solidarity
networks more broadly, allows for more depth of insight into the particularities not only of
how transnational ties developed, but also into the more subjective realm of what
solidarity actions meant to their participants. This historical and empirical approach offers
insight into the temporal development of the movements and allows both comparison and
the detection of entanglements. It moreover opens new perspectives on spaces of protest,
circulation of ideas, and perceptions of positive political duties produced within local and
trans-local contexts. The juxtaposition of different case studies opens a way forward in
understanding the mechanisms of exchange, communication, and cooperation between
solidarity movements and their counterparts. These cases also illustrate that while some
motives and political goals may have remained constant over time, changes in
communication technology, increases in the transfer of information, and shifts in
demographics have changed the possibilities of political recruitment and grassroots
solidarity networking, as well as their forms of expression.
Situating Latin Americas global transnational solidarity networks
To locate the origins of Latin American transnational solidarity, it is key to reflect on how
solidarity, as a political concept, was first formulated and delivered into common usage in

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the Atlantic world. The historical origins of solidarity can be traced to two interconnected
historical moments, one centred on the anti-slavery movement that began in the 1790s, and
the other centred on notions of class solidarity, both of which addressed the evils of
imperialism and the expansion of transnational capitalism. Abolitionists across the
Atlantic world formed the first mass political movement in modern times, and the AntiSlavery Societies in Europe and North America were a kind of a historical forerunner to
the modern transnational activist network. Its success, the abolition of the slave trade in
1807 as a first step toward the complete abolition of slavery, was the first collective and
public expression of global solidarity and protection of human rights. This movement
benefited enormously from the activities of its African protagonists, like Olaudah Equiano,
and later African-Americans in the United States, including former slaves like Frederick
Douglass. A slave-led revolution in Saint Domingue, the Haitian Revolution, shifted the
question from slavery to social inclusion and access to citizenship and universal human
rights.24
In the middle of the 19th century, working class movements in a variety of cities around
the globe, often inspired by the utopian socialism of Charles Fourier, the materialist
worldview of Marxism, and the success of the international labour movement, cemented a
connection between workers living enormous distances apart, due to their perceived
common position in hierarchal and oppressive class structures. Marxist theoreticians and
practitioners of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had a decisive influence on the
development of the concept of internationalism: the proletarian internationalism
advocated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in The Communist Manifesto in 1848 called
on the working class to overcome nationalist preoccupations and to carry on the class
struggle together, in solidarity and internationally. This working class solidarity, they
argued, was the expression of a painful struggle to re-establish a social coherence under
the conditions of industrialization and modernization after the loss of the social bonds of
pre-industrial society. Solidarity meant the road to a classless, communist society.25
From this beginning, international working-class solidarity found its expression in the
First and the Second International. The theories of the leading spokesperson of the Russian
Revolution, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, were even more influential. Lenin defined imperialist
rule as the highest form of capitalism and demanded that it be overcome by a revolution on a
global scale. This extreme expression of international proletarian solidarity led to the
founding of the Third International in 1919, two years after the triumph of the Russian
Revolution. Conceived as a worldwide proletarian party with national sections, or local
Communist Parties, structured according to the strict Leninist principle of centralism, as a
means to direct and to coordinate the activities of all workers of the world. The Communist
International, later known as the Comintern, was founded to lead this world revolution,
which at Lenins instigation included anti-colonial movements. In the view of Lenins
closest adviser, theorist and revolutionary Leon Trotsky, the Russian Revolution had a
chance of long-term survival only if it could succeed in a permanent and global fashion.
Although this notion of revolution would have many tragic consequences, such as in China,
Spain and Germany, and failed completely after World War II, it was not without
achievement.26 One of its permanent successes was integrating interest in the fates of people
that lived under colonial regimes into anti-imperialist and working-class movements. For
the first time, these distant others were considered allies and partners of workers, both
struggling against the same enemies, whether in the colony or in the metropolis.
Despite the paternalistic tone, and the fact that Comintern members that lived under
colonial and half-colonial status were treated as junior partners or auxiliary forces, this
declaration of solidarity fostered initiatives like the World Congress against Imperialism

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and Colonial Oppression. Hosted in Brussels in 1927, this event opened a forum for
discussion, networking and interaction among participants from Latin America, Africa,
and Asia, notably the deputy of the Indian National Congress, Jawahrlal Nehru.27 Latin
American participants used these networks to develop their own ideas of how
revolutionary socialism should perform in Latin America at least for a short period of
time until Stalinism came to dominate the organization. Cuban student movement leader
and revolutionary Julio Mella, who helped to found the internationalist Communist Party
of Cuba, organized a militant group from across the Americas to topple the corrupt
government of Gerardo Machado while he lived in exile in Mexico. His activities,
officially against the wishes of the current Communist Party leadership, offer an example
of transnational solidarity network building against the grain of the orthodox Left.28 Mella
and his companions planned to liberate Cuba from the Machado dictatorship through an
armed invasion by boat, an idea that would reappear in a later revolutionary network of
exiles in Mexico.
Communist activists also founded the All American Anti-Imperialist league to connect
anti-imperialist forces across Latin American societies in order to defeat U.S. imperialism.
Links forged between revolutionary migrants from all over Latin America in postrevolutionary Mexico led to the first solidarity committees in support of national liberation
struggles in Latin America. For example, Salvador de la Plaza helped found the
Venezuelan Revolutionary Party and Peruvian Vctor Raul Haya de la Torre helped found
the anti-imperialist Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana, both while living in
Mexico City.29 The most outstanding project of this network was the Committee Hands
off Nicaragua founded in 1928 in Mexico City in order to support the guerrilla war of
Cesar Augusto Sandino30 against the U.S. intervention in Nicaragua one of the first
cases of South-South solidarity in Latin American history.
The concept of an armed invasion of Cuba to liberate the island was taken up again in
1953, when a new generation of revolutionaries set out against another dictatorship. This
enterprise culminated in the Cuban Revolution that would become one of the most
important centres of South-South Solidarity in the era of the Cold War until the 1990s.
Fidel Castro and Ernesto Guevara not only theorized the concept of internationalist
solidarity, they contributed significantly to its further development and most
importantly they applied it in numerous cases, with varying degrees of success. These
Cuban revolutionaries of the sixties had a tremendous influence on national liberation
politics and movements in Latin America and all over the world, and, furthermore, even
inspired the New Left in the global North. It was likely Trotskys concept of permanent
revolution that most influenced the Cuban vision of internationalism and international
solidarity.31 This view determined the global future of Cuba, intended to lead the
revolution of the three continents, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, or the Tricont,
against the rich, industrialized countries of the northern hemisphere. A further source of
inspiration for the ideological underpinning of this anti-imperialist South-North
perspective seems to have been the Chinese Revolution led by Mao Zedong. Its largescale sociocultural experiments and emphasis on the leading role of peasants in a
revolutionary process provided a model for social restructuring in the Tricont countries.32
Other fundamental principles of internationalism and international solidarity were,
from the Cuban revolutionaries point of view, anchored in Latin American political
culture. Notably, they cited the tradition of anti-imperialism on the island that developed
alongside the struggle for independence. It was the thought of Jose Mart, the nineteenth
century polymath and visionary intellectual leader of the Cuban independence struggle,
who united nationalism with a vision of transnational unity that encompassed the whole

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continent of Latin America, in opposition to the imperial ambitions of the United States.
Mart considered the United States to be the greatest threat to peace and stability in Latin
America. Mella borrowed heavily from the thought of Mart. His radical nationalism and
anti-imperialism, in particular his appeal for a revolution against the dollar, were not
merely derived from European and Russian theories. They flowed from a combination of
anti-imperialist and social revolutionary convictions and the tradition of armed
insurrection among the Latin American independence revolutions of the nineteenth
century.33 Mart was an important inspiration for Mella, as he also was for Castro,
Guevara, and their fellow generation of revolutionaries in 1959. As a result of his
commitment to Cuban independence, subsequent generations declared Mart an apostle
and embodiment of Cuba libre, a free and independent Cuba. The Cuban revolutionaries
who participated in Castros revolutionary Movimiento 26 de Julio consciously took their
place in this tradition, calling themselves the centenary generation, in reference to 1853,
the year of Marts birth.34
As Frances Peace Sullivan has demonstrated, racial struggles, such as the 1931 rape
convictions of nine young African-Americans in Scottsboro, Alabama, ignited a wave of
protest spanning the globe. In Cuba, defence of the Scottsboro Nine was particularly
widespread, as Cubans of diverse backgrounds rallied against both institutionalized racial
discrimination in the United States and U.S. imperialism in Latin America. The
multifaceted significance of the Scottsboro defence campaign on the island demonstrates
that Cubans, responding to a message heavily mediated by international communist
organizations and their press, saw the case as more than Jim Crow racism at its worst.
Rather, they came to see the convictions as part and parcel of U.S. aggression against
oppressed nations, revealing, additionally, the tensions within white-dominated
Cominterns and Communist Parties. Conflicting and reluctant commitments to black
liberation movements confronted racial concerns in an ideological commitment to class
struggle.35
From the mid-1950s, the influence of pan-Arabism, pan-Africanism, aboriginal rights
movements, and events in Asia, such as the Bandung Conference, which would eventually
lead to the Non-Aligned Movement, similarly influenced the way in which regional
solidarities would be configured. What these movements shared with the ideas of Mart is
that they each in their own way articulated a vision of the poor and the colonized as a
common third force in the bi-polar conflict of the Cold War. Separately and together,
they each began to imagine revolution against colonialism and Cold War neo-imperialism
and to invent a version of what would later come to be described as the global South.36
A collective struggle that was not primarily based on Marxist class analysis, but rather on
the assumption of a common opposition to imperialism, in concrete terms, the fight of the
global village against the metropolis, the weak against the strong. Adopting this point of
view, in 1962, Guevara declared the solidarity of the Cuban Revolution with all the
oppressed peoples of the Earth, not coincidentally less than a year after the foundation of
the Non-Aligned Movement. From this perspective, he conceived the revolution as part of
a global struggle against colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism in which every
front was of vital importance37 and every country that took up the fight against
imperialism would be supported by Cuba. Although Castro and Guevara themselves never
abandoned Marxist class analysis, they were more open to revolutionary struggle framed
along these broader dimensions.
In the Second Declaration of Havana, in 1962, Castro called upon the peoples of
Latin American to follow the example of Cuba to organize one, many38 revolutions.
In January of 1966, the Tricontinental Conference hosted 82 representatives of anti-

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colonial movements and post-colonial governments of countries from Asia, Latin America
and Africa and created the Organization for the Solidarity with the Peoples of Asia, Africa
and Latin America (OSPAAAL) to spread revolution to the regions of main exploitation
of imperialism.39 This concept signified the search for an alternative socialist modernity,
the answer of the global South to the development models of the global North. Countries
that were already liberated from colonialism and imperialism should support anti-colonial
and liberation movements elsewhere, as a true measure of internationalist solidarity. There
is no doubt that Cuba became the hotbed and the forerunner for the concept of
internationalist solidarity which soon spread north and east, with Havana as the centre hub
of this network,40 but by the late 1960s, across Latin America and in the United States and
Europe various New Lefts echoed Guevaras visions of revolutionary change. The model
of an anti-colonial revolution fired the political imagination of what transnational
solidarity meant and should be.41
Shifting Research Paradigms
Solidarity has been studied primarily by social scientists as a strategic political tool, one
that manages political objectives from outside of political centres, such as the state or a
ruling class, in order to effect otherwise unlikely changes. However, the meaning of
participation in these struggles has often been understood as one of mutual interest,
altruism, or the promotion of an ideal, such as that of human rights or humanitarianism,
on a wider global plane. Such explanations of solidarity, focused on meta-narratives of
Cold War resistance, class struggle, or humanist values, to explain participation in
political activism of this nature frequently misunderstands or simply overlooks the local
contributions of traditionally marginalized groups, of peoples of the Global South, and of
local contexts. The privileging of the paradigms of global capitalism and neo-imperialism
over the local has been signalled by Steve Stern and Allen Isaacman as a primary factor
obscuring the lives and political actions of peasants and labourers of Africa and Latin
America.42 The inability to collapse South-South solidarities, in particular, to objects of
mutual interest or party politics speaks volumes to the unmeasured nature of political
organization and the power of the collectivity. This special issue takes up the challenge
posed by earlier theorists to uncover at least a few of these obscured but vital histories of
transnational solidarity of the Latin American Left.
Barry Carrs contribution begins the dossier by examining the construction of one of
the first transnational networks of revolutionaries, activists and exiles in the Greater
Circum-Caribbean (Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean Islands and the U.S. East
Coast) in the period 1920 to 1935. Situating these activities in a broader consideration of
cultural, intellectual and political transformation in Latin America after independence, the
essay concentrates on two sets of campaigns: the first involves the organization of antiimperialist and anti-dictatorial struggles by exiles from dictatorial regimes in Peru,
Venezuela and Cuba, and the second considers the first modern anti-imperialist network of
the twentieth century, the movement built in support of Augusto Sandino in Nicaragua,
whose repercussions were apparent even in Berlin, Germany. The text discusses the role
played by several major hubs in these networks, Mexico City, Havana, and New York,
specifically, and the development and maturation of transnational anti-imperialist ideas,
critiques and sensibilities. This piece breaks new ground by exploring the front
organizations of the Communist International, the Anti-imperialist Leagues, which were
especially strong in Latin America. Carr argues that these leagues, Latin American in
origin, and the sentiment they generated, tapped into longer Latin American political

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C. Hatzky and J. Stites Mor

notions, critically those of Jose Mart and Jose Enrique Rodo. He argues that the leagues
played a powerful role in formulating both intellectual and practical notions of solidarity
networking that would later extend across the Americas.
The following article, by Raanan Rein, examines a demonstration that took place on
Buenos Aires Avenida de Mayo on May 1st, 1938, as not only one of the major
manifestations of solidarity with the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War, but
also a kind of rite of initiation for the many Argentines who up until then had hardly been
involved in politics. This was true for many Jewish-Argentines, as well as for
Communists, Socialists, and Radicals. This article examines the scope and various
manifestations of Jewish-Argentine solidarity with the Spanish Republic and shows an
example of a South-North solidarity network that combined local struggles with more
universal claims against racism and fascism. While many Argentines sympathized with
the Republic as part of their struggle for a democratic, pluralist and socially just Argentina,
Jewish-Argentines had additional reasons to support the Republicans. On one hand, they
worried about the fate of their relatives back in Europe if yet another tyrannical regime
rose to power with the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, while on the other, they
sought to protect their space in Argentina at a time of growing right-wing Nationalist
influence in political, military, and intellectual circles.
Pablo Yankelevich, next, explores the case of Mexico in the 1970s and early 1980s, a
country that received thousands of victims of political persecution by the Southern Cone
dictatorships. Examining two sites of solidarity expression, this piece looks at the
transnational solidarities that evolved between Argentineans in Mexico in two key
settings: the FIFA World Cup in 1978 and the Malvinas War in 1982. Examining the
position of Mexican public space in solidarity organizing and the events prompted by
transnational solidarity activism, the piece makes an argument regarding how networks
surrounding these two conflicts installed issues and debates within a wider Latin American
political agenda. It also examines the geography of exile, exploring Mexicos relationship
to transnational solidarity through its role as receiver of political refugees, with special
attention to the role of the Mexican press, which offered a discursive space for the
manifestation of solidarity with the victims of the Argentine dictatorship.
The following piece, by Jessica Stites Mor, analyzes the Argentine lefts identification
with the struggle of Palestinian nationalism and its relationship to the early organizing of
the Palestinian Liberation Organization within the context of both local and Cold War
struggles. The text explores how the Argentine left envisioned and framed the PLOs
experiences of oppression and resistance, both to understand this distant struggle, and also
to wrestle with its own relationship to external and internal forces of similar origin. Stites
Mor also reads these mediated understandings across the fragmented encounters of the
Argentine Left with the Arab League, the Organization of Arab States, and the Non
Alignment Movement. She examines leftist representations of Palestinian struggle across
a variety of periodicals and campaign literature to demonstrate the way in which these
images enabled the left to construct a vision of its own relationship to settler colonialism,
citizenship struggles, and racism. The article argues that Palestinian nationalists conflict
with the Israeli state served, in this context, as a kind of mirror for the left, a conceptual
reflection of their own struggle unencumbered by local political divides. Stites Mor
contends that solidarity with a significant but distant other helped to shape the Argentine
political lefts internal ideological compass.
Finally, Christian Helm discusses the boom of solidarity with Nicaragua under the
Sandinista government of the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN) in the
1980s in West Germany. Key to this phenomenon is the image of Nicaragua from within

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137

this solidarity movement. Nicaragua not only represented the construction of a just
society, a new alternative variety of socialism, and a metaphoric David versus the Goliath
trope against U.S. imperialism, but also the image of revolutionary adventure in a tropical
paradise, one favourably inhabited by warm-hearted and effervescent Latinos, brave
guerrilleros and young idealistic leaders. These projections reflected the personal and
political desires of West German supporters, but the Sandinista government also actively
cultivated this political imaginary. Even before July 1979, Helm argues, FSLN
ambassadors visited Western countries to advertise their political agenda. After their
victory, he continues, the Sandinistas used this highly successful symbolic practice to
encourage thousands of revolutionary tourists over the next decade not only from
Germany, but from all over the world. This piece examines two lefts in dialogue with each
other, sharing both fantasies and fears, in the hopes of constructing a better future on two
sides of the Atlantic.
Together these case studies reveal the development of notions and practices of
transnational solidarity that have reshaped and redefined new social movements in
twentieth century Latin America. They provide examples of ethical struggles that, by
transcending the boundaries that often define and limit community, negotiate
arrangements of belonging to a broader imagined global community.43 Critically, as
these studies demonstrate, this global belonging is intimately tied to the political agency of
local and regional actors and to institutions through solidarity actions. Transnational
solidarity movements offered a powerful political resource for accessing international
public opinion in order to mobilize for political programs of social and political change
and to denounce abuses of authoritarian states. This dossier offers a set of case studies
through which comparisons can be made of the different material and immaterial means
by which solidarity movements shaped understandings of what it meant to participate in
various New Lefts, as well as in a transnational left of the global South. It opens the field
of solidarity study to new modes of research and methodological approaches of
transnational history from the ground up, enabling more profound understandings of the
ways in which distinct political experiences came to encounter, interact with, and reflect
on each other.

Notes
1.

2.

3.

4.

For us the term transnational is an analytic category that allows for the exploration of crossborder movements beyond nation states, in order to go beyond the perspectives of national
and international histories, and in our case, the histories of social movements in their often
anti-national and transgressive frameworks.
The authors would like to thank Margaret Power and Eric Zolov for their insightful comments
on earlier drafts of this introduction. They would also like to thank Barry Carr, Stephanie
Tissot, Martina Metschke and Stella Kohlstedt for their assistance in preparing this special
issue and contributing to its final form.
Caroline Daley and Melanie Nolan (eds), Suffrage and Beyond: International Feminist
Perspectives, New York, New York UP, 1994; and Lindsey Churchill, Transnational
Alliances: Radical U.S. Feminist Solidarity and Contention with Latin America, 1970-1989,
Latin American Perspectives, 36:6, 2009, pp. 10 26.
Herbert Marcuse, Nachgelassene Schriften. Die Studentenbewegung und ihre Folgen, PeterErwin Jansen (ed.), Springe, Zur Klampen, 2004, p. 53 76, p. 72. See Sarah Hornstein, On
Totalitarianism: The Continuing Relevance of Herbert Marcuse, in Gurminder Bhambra and
Ipek Demir (eds), 1968 in Retrospect: History, Theory, Alterity, London, Palgrave
MacMillan, 2009, pp. 87 99; See also Quinn Slobodian, Radical Empathy: The Third World
and the New Left in West Germany in the 1960s, Ph.D. Diss., New York University, 2008,
pp. 159 163.

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5.

6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.

12.

13.

C. Hatzky and J. Stites Mor


Kurt Bayertz, Four uses of Solidarity, in Kurt Bayertz (ed.), Solidarity, Dordrecht, NE.,
Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999, pp. 3 28. This argument was also taken up by Sally
Scholz, Political Solidarity, University Park, Pennsylvania State Press, 2008, p. 186.
Bayertzs collection offers one of the most extensive discussions of solidarity as a moral
concept to date and challenges political and moral philosophers to re-examine the concept.
See also Ronald Alexander Kuipers, Solidarity and the Stranger: Themes in the Social
Philosophy of Richard Rorty, Lanham, Md., Oxford, UP of America,1997; Graham Crow,
Social Solidarities: Theories, Identities and Social Change, Buckingham, UK, and
Philadelphia, Open University, 2002; James Goodman (ed.), Protest and Globalisation:
Prospects for Transnational Solidarity, Halifax, Fernwood, 2002; Marco Giugni and Florence
Passy (eds), Political Altruism? Solidarity Movements in International Perspective, Lanham,
MD, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001; Carol C. Gould, The New Global Ethics and its
Three Faces, in Ronald Commers, Wim Vandekerckhove, An Verlinden (eds), Ethics in a
Era of Globalization, Aldershot, Hampshire, Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2008, pp. 13 26;
Max Pensky, The Ends of Solidarity: Discourse Theory in Ethics and Politics, New York,
State University of New York Press, 2008; Douglas Sturm, Solidarity and Suffering: Toward
a Politics of Relationality, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1998; Carol
C. Gould, Transnational Solidarities, Journal of Social Philosophy, 38:1, Spring 2007,
pp. 148 64; Barry Kanpol, Multiculturalism and Empathy: A Border Pedagogy of
Solidarity, in Barry Kanpol and Peter McLaren (eds), Critical Multiculturalism: Uncommon
Voices in a Common Struggle, Westport, CT, Bergin & Garvey, 1995; Sandra Bartky,
On Solidarity and Sympathy and Other Essays, Lanham, Md., Rowman and Littlefield,
2002; Peter Klaus Rippe, Diminishing Solidarity, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 1:3,
1998, pp. 355 73; Reinhart Kossler and Henning Melber, Globale Solidaritat? Eine
Streitschrift, Frankfurt, M. Brandes & Apsel, 2002, pp. 24 25; Monica Kalt, Tiersmondismus
in der Schweiz der 1960er und 1970er Jahre. Von der Barmherzigkeit zur Solidaritat, Bern,
Lang, 2010, p. 4.
Adam Hochschild, King Leopolds Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial
Africa, New York, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999.
Quinn Slobodian, Foreign Front: Third World Politics in the Sixties West Germany, Durham,
Duke UP, 2012, pp. 7 9.
Emily Hobson, Si Nicaragua Vencio: Lesbian and Gay Solidarity with the Revolution,
Journal of Transnational American Studies, 4:2, 2012. http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/
9hx356m4, accessed 12 September 2013.
James Green, Desire and Revolution: Socialists and the Brazilian Gay Liberation Movement
in the 1970s, in Jessica Stites Mor (ed.), Human Rights and Transnational Solidarity in Cold
War Latin America, Madison, University of Wisconsin, 2013, pp. 23966, p. 241.
David Featherstone, Solidarity. Hidden Histories and Geographies of Internationalism,
London, Zed Books, 2012. pp. 1 4 & p. 7.
Joan Cassanovas, Bread or Bullets: Urban Labor and Spanish Colonialism in Cuba, 1859-1898,
Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, 1998; Juan Suriano, Anarquistas: cultura y poltica
libertaria en Buenos Aires, 1880-1910, Buenos Aires, Manantial, 2001. Julie Greene also
mentions how anarchism spread quickly through transnational labour forces, such as the
workforce tasked to build the Panama Canal, in The Canal Builders: Making Americas Empire
at the Panama Canal, New York, Penguin Press, 2009, p. 179. See also Steven Hirsch and Lucien
van der Walt (eds), Anarchism and Syndicalism in the Colonial and Postcolonial World 18701940, with a foreword by Benedict Anderson, Leiden, Koninklijke Brill NV, 2010, and here
especially the contribution of Kirk Shaffer, Tropical Libertarians: Anarchist Movements and
Networks in the Caribbean, Southern United States, and Mexico 1890s-1920s, pp. 273320.
Ricardo Melgar Bao, The Anti-Imperialist League of the Americas between the East and
Latin America, Latin American Perspectives, 35:2, 2008, pp. 9 24. Bao argues, however,
that by 1924, Latin American Marxism came to stand in opposition to its European
counterpart.
Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in
International Politics, Ithaca, New York, Cornell UP, 1998. See also the development of
these ideas and the context of the transnational public sphere in John A. Guidry, Michael
D. Kennedey, and Mayer N. Zald, Globalization and Social Movements: Culture, Power, and
the Transnational Public Sphere, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2000.

Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research


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15.

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16.

17.
18.

19.
20.
21.

22.
23.
24.

25.
26.
27.

139

Paul Gilroy, Postcolonial Melancholia, London, Routledge, 2004. See also, Kwame Appiah,
Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, New York, Norton, 2007; Seyla Benhabib,
Another Cosmopolitanism (Berkeley Lectures), New York, Oxford UP, 2006; Peng Cheah,
Inhuman Conditions: Human Rights and Cosmopolitanism, Cambridge, Harvard UP, 2006.
Latin American Perspectives, 36:6, 2009, issue edited by Margaret Power and Julie
A. Charlip.
As there is an emerging and very dynamic tradition of solidarity theory and history in
Germany, which has been almost entirely ignored by English and Spanish speaking scholars,
we have taken the liberty of adding these key texts: Michael Ramminger and Ludger Weckel,
Dritte-Welt-Gruppen auf der Suche nach Solidaritat, Munster, Westfalisches Dampfboot,
1997; Roland Roth and Dieter Rucht (eds), Neue Soziale Bewegungen in der Bundesrepublik
Deutschland, Bonn, Bundeszentrale fur politische Bildung, 1987; Monica Kalt,
Tiersmondismus; Josef Hierlmeier, Internationalismus. Eine Einfuhrung in seine Ideengeschichte - von den Anfangen bis zur Gegenwart, Stuttgart, Schmetterling Verlag, 2006;
Rudiger Zoll, Was ist Solidaritat heute?, Frankfurt, Edition Suhrkamp, 2000. See also, Kim
Christiaens, In the Shadow of Peace? Anti-Americanism and the Mobilization for Central
America in a North-South and East-West-Perspective, Paper presented at the International
Workshop Making Sense of America at Humboldt University, Berlin, 23-24 May 2013; and
from an activist perspective, see Werner Balsen and Karl Rossel, Hoch die internationale
Solidaritat. Zur Geschichte der Dritte-Welt-Bewegung in der Bundesrepublik, Koln, Kolner
Volksblatt Verlag, 1986.
Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes, 1914-1991, London, Abacus, 1995, p. 436.
Margaret Power, The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, Transnational Latin American
Solidarity and the United States during the Cold War, in Jessica Stites Mor (ed.), Human
Rights and Transnational Solidarity in Cold War Latin America, Madison, University of
Wisconsin Press, 2013, pp. 21 47.
Slobodian, Foreign Front, pp. 10 13 & pp.78 100; Wolfgang Kraushaar, 1968 als Mythos,
Chiffre und Zensur, Hamburg, Hamburger Edition, 2000, p. 53. See also, Herbert Marcuse,
Nachgelassene Schriften, pp 53 74; pp. 84 102.
Hector Perla, Heirs of Sandino: The Nicaraguan Revolution and the U.S.-Nicaragua
Solidarity Movement, Latin American Perspectives, 36:6, 2009, pp. 80 100.
Perla, Heirs of Sandino, p. 88. Perla mentions the personal links between the solidarity
movements and the Mothers of the Heroes and Martyrs whose stories of maternal grief
awoke emotions that transcended national, cultural, and political divides. From the side of the
solidarity activists, he argues, there are also numerous personal testimonies, written by
volunteers who worked for stints in Nicaragua. These accounts circulated in internal circulars
and newsletters and were an important stimulus for others to volunteer in Nicaragua.
Jeff Jones has edited some of these accounts in: Brigadista: Harvest and War in Nicaragua,
Eyewitness Accounts of North American Volunteers Working in Nicaragua, New York,
Praeger, 1986. In the form of an autobiography, ex-activist and author Deb Olin Unferth
recently published memoirs of the year she spent in Central America, Revolution: The Year I
Fell in Love and Went to Join the War, New York, Holt, 2011.
Kossler and Melber, Globale Solidaritat, pp. 46 81. In their Self-critical Retrospace
(Chapter 2) the two leading former activists of solidarity with Southern Africa almost
nowhere mention their southern counterparts.
Thomas Olesen, International Zapatismo: The Construction of Solidarity in the Age of
Globalization, London, Zed Books, 2005, pp. 29 30.
There have been published many studies on the significance and the impact of the Revolution
in Saint Domingue in the Atlantic World in the last two decades, many of them have stressed
the important role of African slaves and ex-slaves within this process, but also several have
questioned the relative silence of research on this subject. Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the
New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution, Cambridge and London, The Belknap Press
of Harvard UP, 2004; Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History, Pittsburgh,
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009.
Zoll, Solidaritat, pp. 54 77.
Kossler and Melber, Globale Solidaritat?, pp. 16 18.
See Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A Peoples History of the Third World, New York
and London, The New Press, 2007, pp.16 30.

140
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29.

30.
31.

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33.
34.

35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.

C. Hatzky and J. Stites Mor


Christine Hatzky, Julio Antonio Mella: una biografa, Santiago de Cuba, Editorial Oriente,
2008.
Vctor Raul Haya de la Torre, El antimperialismo y el APRA, Santiago de Chile, Ediciones
Ercilla, 1936. Some documents of the APRA are published in: Robert H. Holden and Eric
Zolov (eds), Latin America and the United States: A Documentary History, Oxford and New
York, Oxford UP, 2011. About APRA and the polemics of the Anti-imperialist Leagues, see
Hatzky, Julio Antonio Mella, pp. 305 19.
See Barry Carrs contribution in this dossier.
Van Gosse, Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America and the Making of a New Left,
London, Verso, 1993, p. 7.
The parallels between the Cuban and Chinese Revolutions have not yet been studied
thoroughly. See Patrick Manning and Yinghong Cheng, Revolution on Education: China and
Cuba in Global Context, 1957 1976, Journal of World History, 14:3, 2003, pp. 35991.
Manning and Cheng undertook an effort to compare several phenomena and developments in
the field of education in the two countries. Based on a wider Latin American context, see the
recently published study by Matthew Rothwell, Transpacific Revolutionaries: The Chinese
Revolution in Latin America, New York, Routledge, 2012.
Hatzky, Julio Antonio Mella, p. 161.
Antoni Kapcia, Cuba Island of Dreams, Oxford, New York, Berg Publishers, 2000,
pp. 164 5. Louis A. Perez Jr., On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality and Culture, Chapel
Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1999; Susan Eva Eckstein, Back from the Future:
Cuba under Castro, Princeton, Princeton UP, 1994, pp. 14 15; Geraldine Lievesley, The
Cuban Revolution: Past, Present and Future Perspectives, Houndsmills, New York, Palgrave
MacMillan, 2004, pp. 38 45; Michael Zeuske, Insel der Extreme, Kuba im 20. Jahrhundert,
Zurich, Rotpunkt Verlag, 2004, pp. 158 64.
Frances Peace Sullivan, For the Liberty of the Nine Boys in Scottsboro, and against Yankee
Imperialist Domination in Latin America: Cubas Scottsboro Defence Campaign, Canadian
Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 38:75, 2014.
James Sidaway, Imagined Regional Communities: Integration and Sovereignty in the Global
South, London, New York, Routledge, 2002, pp. 4 25.
Ernesto Che Guevara, Obras Escogidas 1957-1967, Vol. 2, La Habana, Editorial de Ciencias
Sociales, 1985: p. 596.
From James Nelson Goodsell (ed.), Fidel Castros Personal Revolution in Cuba 1953 1973,
New York, Knopf, 1975, pp. 264 8.
Guevara, Obras Escogidas, p. 588.
Gosse, Where the Boys are, p. 7.
Hierlmeier, Internationalismus, p. 35.
Frederick Cooper, et al., Confronting Historical Paradigms: Peasants, Labor, and the
Capitalist World System in Africa and Latin America, Madison, University of Wisconsin
Press, 1993.
Sidaway, Imagined Regional Communities, pp. 4 25.