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Category Archives: South America

Morales proved in Bolivia that democratic socialism can work – but the people cannot be ignored

Although I am for over a decade a staunch supporter of Evo Morales, I must admit that, after reading about the confusion after Morales’ disputed electoral victory, I was beset by doubts: did he also succumb to the authoritarian temptation, as it happened to so many radical Leftists in power? However, after a day or two, things became clear.

Brandishing a giant leather-bound bible and declaring herself Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Añez, the second-vice president of the country’s Senate, declared: “The Bible has returned to the government palace.” She added: “We want to be a democratic tool of inclusion and unity” – and the transitional cabinet sworn into office did not include a single indigenous person.

This tells it all: although the majority of the population of Bolivia are indigenous or mixed, they were till the rise of Morales de facto excluded from political life, reduced to the silent majority. What happened with Morales was the political awakening of this silent majority which did not fit in the network of capitalist relations.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/bolivia-protests-coup-evo-morales-socialism-election-religion-a9208871.html

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2019 in South America

 

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Haiti Is in the Streets

In Haiti, the unrest continues unabated. Only this morning, Haitian street protesters planned to meet up in a vast group, and march on Toussaint L’ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince. The social media call to protest (“Operation Airport Lockdown”) included a suggestion that marchers bring “ti chez” or “little chairs” along with them so that once they have taken over the runways, of which there are not many, they can hold a comfortable sit-in for the day. The digital image for the march shows an airplane in flight over a runway, with the motto: “The Only Plane That Will Land is the One That Will Take Away Jovenel,” a reference to Jovenel Moïse, the country’s president, who has become the focus for popular anger and dissatisfaction.

As you watch what’s happening in Haiti today, and read the front-page coverage, it’s important to remember that the massive unrest in the streets is not powered by emotion only. The people you see out there are not thoughtless and they’re not simply angry. There is a logic to what’s happening; there’s a history and so many reasons why. There’s a plan, a hope. There are ideas. There is need and desperation, definitely. But implicit in what’s happening is a rejection of a long-standing system—and a dream of what another Haiti could look like.

https://www.thenation.com/article/haiti-protests-petrocaribe/

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2019 in South America

 

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Bolivia’s Evo Morales Wants to Stay in the Game

For most of its history, the poor, landlocked South American country of Bolivia has been regarded as a last refuge for outlaws. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were run to ground there, in 1908, and Che Guevara fought his final battle in the Bolivian mountains, in 1967. After the Second World War, the Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie found refuge in Bolivia and lent his services as an interrogator to the security services, earning the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1980, the Army officer Luis García Meza seized power, in what became known as the “cocaine coup,” and installed the world’s first narco-dictatorship. His regime lasted only a year, but about a thousand people died in the ultra-rightist repression that he unleashed, assisted by Barbie and an international gang of fascist thugs known as the Bridegrooms of Death.

García Meza ended his days in prison, but no fewer than thirteen of Bolivia’s sixty-five Presidents have died violently, in office or afterward. Bolivia has long been regarded as the world’s most politically unstable country; in the hundred and ninety-four years since it won independence from colonial Spain, it has had a hundred and ninety coups, attempted coups, and revolutions. Last week, when President Evo Morales fled to Mexico, that number arguably increased to a hundred and ninety-one. The country remains consumed by a debate over whether he was ousted in a coup, as Morales and his loyalists allege, or in a democratic uprising against his misrule.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/bolivias-evo-morales-wants-to-stay-in-the-game

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2019 in South America

 

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What Do Lula’s Release and Morales’s Ouster Signal for Latin America?

It’s been an extraordinary few days in Latin America. On Friday, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s charismatic former President, was released from prison after serving a year and a half of a twelve-year sentence. Two days later, Evo Morales, the embattled President of Bolivia, was forced to resign, at the suggestion of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and amid increasingly violent protests over the disputed results of his recent reëlection.

The Latin American chessboard became especially kinetic, as an American military man might say, in the past four weeks. A convulsive series of events began in mid-October, with unexpected angry protests in normally stable Chile. The protests, triggered by a hike in metro fares, spread widely, rocking the government of the conservative billionaire Sebastián Piñera and setting off a sort of existential crisis, across the social spectrum, over issues of inequality and inclusion. Chile’s eruption was followed, a week later, by Bolivia’s Presidential elections, in which the leftist Morales, controversially running for a fourth term, was declared the winner.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/what-do-lulas-release-and-moraless-ouster-signal-for-latin-america

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2019 in South America

 

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Released Lula in for greatest fight of his life

Released Lula in for greatest fight of his life: Pepe Escobar via The Saker

He’s back. With a bang.

Only two days after his release from a federal prison in Curitiba, southern Brazil, following a narrow 6×5 decision by the Supreme Court, former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva delivered a fiery, 45-minute long speech in front of the Metal Workers Union in Sao Bernardo, outside of Sao Paulo, and drawing on his unparalleled political capital, called all Brazilians to stage nothing short of a social revolution.

When my colleagues Mauro Lopes, Paulo Leite and myself interviewed Lula at the federal prison, it was his Day 502 in a cell. By August, it was impossible to predict that release would happen on Day 580, in early November.

https://thedailycoin.org/2019/11/12/released-lula-in-for-greatest-fight-of-his-life-pepe-escobar/

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2019 in South America

 

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Por trás da disputa sobre o assassinato de Marielle, há uma família despedaçada

Se por um lado é compreensível de que a possibilidade de o nome do presidente estar envolvido no assassinato mais comentado do país tenha abafado o nome da vítima, por outro é injustificável que muitos dos apoiadores do presidente a ataquem As redes sociais acordaram em polvorosa na quarta-feira, com a notícia de que o nome do presidente Jair Bolsonaro havia sido atrelado ao assassinato da vereadora Marielle Franco. Os 10 assuntos mais comentados no Twitter pela manhã tinham sido motivados pelo depoimento do porteiro (desmentido pelo Ministério Público) de que, no dia do crime, o acusado de dirigir o carro usado no atentado contra Marielle teria dito na portaria do condomínio Vivendas da Barra que visitaria a casa 58, onde mora o presidente, apesar de ter se dirigido à casa de Ronnie Lessa, acusado de ser o atirador. Mas o que mais me chamou a atenção na barafunda de ataques à imprensa, questionamentos de quem estaria na casa 58 e o resgate de acusações contra o PT, visto como nêmesis do bolsonarismo, foi que o nome de Marielle era um dos últimos da lista de assunto mais comentados, em 13º lugar.

https://epoca.globo.com/coluna-por-tras-da-disputa-sobre-assassinato-de-marielle-ha-uma-familia-despedacada-24053793

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2019 in South America

 

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Blood Gold in the Brazilian Rain Forest

One day in 2014, Belém, a member of Brazil’s Kayapo tribe, went deep into the forest to hunt macaws and parrots. He was helping to prepare for a coming-of-age ceremony, in which young men are given adult names and have their lips pierced. By custom, initiates wear headdresses adorned with tail feathers. Belém, whose Kayapo name is Takaktyx, an honorific form of the word “strong,” was a designated bird hunter.

Far from his home village of Turedjam, Belém ran across a group of white outsiders. They were garimpeiros, gold prospectors, who were working inside the Kayapo reserve—a twenty-six-million-acre Amazonian wilderness, demarcated for indigenous people. Gold mining is illegal there, but the prospectors were accompanied by a Kayapo man, so Belém assumed that some arrangement had been made. About nine thousand Kayapo lived in the forest, split into several groups; each had its own chief, and the chiefs tended to do as they pleased.

Ever since the Kayapo had come into regular contact with the outside world, in the nineteen-fifties, whites had been trying to extract resources from their forests, beginning with animal skins and expanding to mahogany and gold. In the eighties, some chiefs made easy profits by granting logging and mining rights to outsiders, but after a decade the mahogany was depleted and the price of gold had dropped. After environmental advocates in the Brazilian government brought a lawsuit against miners, the Kayapo closed the reserve to extraction. Since then, though, international gold prices have tripled, to fourteen hundred dollars an ounce, and an influx of new miners have come to try their luck.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/11/blood-gold-in-the-brazilian-rain-forest

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2019 in Reportages, South America

 

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El peronismo vuelve

Un hombre frente al espejo, esta mañana. El hombre se mira la cara; los hombres mayores tratan de no mirarse mucho, esquivar los estragos del tiempo en sus caras. El hombre mira, sin embargo, hoy —hay algo extraño—, por más tiempo esa cara que ya no es su cara: que se ha reproducido en miles de afiches, millones de boletas; el hombre mira la cara que en unos días va a estar en miles de retratos en miles de oficinas, cuarteles, hospitales. El hombre, en unos días, va a ser el presidente de un país.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2019 in South America

 

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In Its Fight with Venezuela, the Trump Administration Takes Aim at Cuba

Amid the barrage of breaking news in the ongoing Trump scandals, one overlooked story is that of Cuba, which is experiencing severe fuel shortages and other difficulties, owing to sanctions levied by the Trump Administration. On September 28th, Sarah Marsh, a Reuters correspondent in Cuba, uploaded a video to Twitter. The thirty-second clip, shot on her phone from a moving car, shows vehicles stalled on a roadway: trucks, buses, modern taxis, and vintage nineteen-fifties Chevys and Studebakers in a line that appears to be half a mile long. All of them were waiting for gas. Marsh tweeted, “So I thought the fuel situation in #Cuba had improved somewhat, until I passed this multi-hr queue for diesel on the highway. This is only a fragment of what I filmed.”

Cuba’s energy shortage has begun to affect life on the island in a wide variety of ways. A week before Marsh posted the video, she reported that the government had urged its citizens to save fuel during daylight hours, warning that its supply was inadequate to cover the island’s needs for the month. Air-conditioning had been shut off in public buildings, while schools and universities had cut back on school hours, and some public-sector workers were told to stay home, because of a lack of fuel for public transportation. Oxen were replacing tractors in agricultural fields; wood was being used to to fire ovens in state-run bakeries, and a number of factories had either cut back on production or shut down altogether.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/in-its-fight-with-venezuela-the-trump-administration-takes-aim-at-cuba

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2019 in Reportages, South America

 

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Fearful of Lula’s Exoneration, His Once-Fanatical Prosecutors Request His Release From Prison. But Lula Refuses.

The same Brazilian prosecutors who for years exhibited a single-minded fixation on jailing former President Lula da Silva are now seeking his release from prison, requesting that a court allow him to serve the remainder of his 11-year sentence for corruption at home. But Lula — who believes the request is motivated by fear that prosecutorial and judicial improprieties in his case, which were revealed by the Intercept, will lead to the nullification of his conviction — is opposing these efforts, insisting that he will not leave prison until he receives full exoneration.

In seeking his release from prison, Lula’s prosecutors are almost certainly not motivated by humanitarian concerns. Quite the contrary: those prosecutors have often displayed a near-pathological hatred for the two-term ex-President. Last month, the Intercept, jointly with its reporting partner UOL, published previously secret Telegram messages in which the “Car Wash” prosecutors responsible for prosecuting Lula cruelly mocked the tragic death of his 7-year-old grandson from meningitis earlier this year, as well as the 2017 death of his wife of 43 years from a stroke at the age of 66. One of the prosecutors who participated publicly apologized, but none of the others has.

https://theintercept.com/2019/10/04/fearful-of-lulas-exoneration-his-once-fanatical-prosecutors-request-his-release-from-prison-but-lula-refuses/

Fearful of Lula’s Exoneration, His Once-Fanatical Prosecutors Request His Release From Prison. But Lula Refuses.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2019 in South America

 

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