Can we welcome

George Papandreou, President of the Socialist International, to the ‘sphere.

Looking at the posts he’s put up so far I think he’s got a knack for this blogging lark.  Here he reflecting on his trip to Chile last year:

In Santiago last week I visited a spot that reminded me of the strength of our movement in defending human rights. I visited Santiago’s Peace Park, which opened last week. It used to be called the Villa Grimaldi. Between 1973-1978, during Pinochet’s dictatorship, more than 5,000 Chileans were imprisoned and tortured here. Very few survived — among them Michelle Bachelet, who was imprisoned here with her mother.

Chile’s dictatorship happened around the same time as the Junta fell in Greece, which took over our country between 1969-1974. Although so far away, we marched and sang for the return of democracy in Chile. One of our great composers, Mikis Theodorakis, wrote music to Pablo Neruda’s ‘Canto General’. We still sing it today! Young fighters for democracy in Chile and in Greece –faced the threat of imprisonment and torture. This did not stop them. I remember as a young boy it simply made me more determined to bring down our dictatorship in Greece. Mine was a feeling shared by a whole generation of young students and workers.

Or about a recent trip to India:

I was privileged to meet Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace prize winner, who told me all about the amazing work of Grameen Bank. When I recently met with Juan Somavia, Secretary General of the ILO, he shared the view that micro-credit offers real hope in our struggle to reduce global poverty. Development from the bottom up also serves to advance democracy and human rights. But the Grameen Bank’s concept is more than bottom-up development. It is also an alternative to crude profiteering. In particular, Muhammad Yunus has promoted the concept of either not-for–profit business or worker-owned business as ‘social businesses’. One can be a businessperson and promote socially conscious business. These ideas may not be new, but it is impressive how successfully they are being implemented by the Grameen Bank.

I also find that these innovative ideas can replenish the tools of socialist and progressive policies, which have often been in caught up in the quagmire of more conventional dogma. My conclusion: we leaders have much to learn from Yunus.

Interesting stuff, no?

About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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