Tuesday, 24 May 2016


For the third year in a row, France is hosting a Latin America and Caribbean Week, with the aim of highlighting historical and diplomatic links and showcasing the culture of the regions.

The Semaine de l’Amerique latine et des Caraïbes runs from May 24 to June 5 – a “false week” that comprises 13 days, according to a spokesman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“But when you like something, you don’t count the days,” he added.

Some 300 events will take place across France, including film screenings, concerts, exhibitions, literary presentations, and workshops. Universities are playing an active role with lectures on Latin American literature and cinema for instance, while UNESCO will host a round-table discussion about the influence of Nicaraguan poet Rubén Dario, who lived for some years in Paris.

“We want to draw attention to a relationship that runs very deep,” said the Ministry spokesman, who spoke on “background” and so can’t be named.

“Most people don’t know about the deep and historic links between France and this part of the world. And we want to emphasize that this is not a region that’s inaccessible or dangerous as some people might think.”

He said that another message of the week is that France would like to “welcome more students from Latin America and the Caribbean”.

A Bolivian cultural presentation during the 2015 Week.
However, some critics say that Europe is not making it easy for students from the Caribbean to apply for visas and that this is an area where the French government needs to take concrete action.

In addition, the Week could include more English-speaking Caribbean countries, according to observers, as the emphasis seems to be mostly on Latin America and the French-speaking islands.

The spokesman conceded that anglophone countries are “less present than others”, but said that this was a result of some states being represented by “non-resident” ambassadors. “It doesn’t help,” he said, adding that he hoped people would “spread the message” so there can be greater inclusion in the future.

The number of events this year – a 50 percent increase from 2015 – shows how popular the Week has become, despite its drawbacks. “There’s a spirit of spontaneity and mobilization, with many volunteers taking part,” the spokesman told reporters. “It has exceeded our expectations.”

The Semaine was created by a French Senate resolution in 2011 and is coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development. French President François Hollande would like to see the project reach the largest possible audience, according to the Ministry spokesman.

About 45 towns will be participating over the 13 days, with involvement from the private sector, public bodies and community groups. For more information on the programme, see: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/dossiers-pays/ameriques/evenements/article/semaine-de-l-amerique-latine-et-des-caraibes-24-05-05-06-16