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A raft of LAB events plus the crisis in Brazil – LAB Newsletter 8 April 2021

It’s the beginning of spring here in the UK and there are a number of interesting events to announce. But there’s plenty of news from the region, so do scroll down to find it.


LAB Voices Webinar 2. Saturday 10 April 15:00 – 16:30. Book here.

Our apologies: we wrongly stated in our 25 March newsletter that the Voices webinars are free. In fact there is a small charge of £3.00 payable when you register via Eventbrite.

The Rainbow Tide and Fighting Machismo will be presented by Voices authors Ali Rocha and Louise Morris. We have interviews with:

  • Carla Rios,from La Brigada Humanitaria de Paz, Mexico, who will discuss defending protestors and the criminalisation of the feminist movement. 
  • Neesa Medina, from Somos Muchas, Honduras, a national collective of organisations and activists defending the right to choose on Honduras’ draconian anti-abortion laws.
  • Jean Wyllys, Brazil’s first openly-gay and proud federal deputy who fought for LGBT+ rights in congress. Jean has been living in exile since January 2019 after receiving death threats.
  • Marta Alanis, from Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Argentina, who has nearly 30 years’ experience in the struggle for abortion rights, will join us for a live Q&A.

LAB Voices Webinar 3:  8 May –The Rights of Nature and Indigenous Peoples

LAB Voices Webinar 4: 12 June –Cultural Resistance, The Right to the City and The New Journalism

All the webinars are from 15:00–16:30, UK local time. For more details please contact emily.gregg@lab.org.uk and watch out for details on our website. Book tickets here.


Mexico Inside Out book-launch. Saturday 17 April 16:00. Book tickets here.

Mexico Inside Out, by Nick Caistor, is LAB’s newest publication. We are launching it as part of the Calling Mexico Online Festival (see below)..

Calling Mexico Online Festival 16–17 April. Book tickets here

Also includes:

  • Screening of film ‘Radio Silence’ plus Q&A with director Juliana Fanjul
  • Silvia Rothlisberger (Literary South) will be in conversation with writer Fernanda Melchor to talk about her International Booker Prize-shortlisted book Hurricane Season
  • PAHUA (Sotomayor) in Concert

Latin America is Moving Webinar recordings

This series of webinars organised by the Latin America is Moving Collective shares many of the perspectives of LAB’s Voices of Latin America work. You can see the recorded videos of LAB’s contribution at the first webinar, on 18 February. Tom Gatehouse described ‘Latin America at breaking point: a look back at two tumultuous years’.  Sue Branford asked ‘Is sustainable mining possible?’, based on her experience of two bauxite mines she visited in the Brazilian Amazon. Louise Morris interviewed Costa Rican hip hop artist, Nakury, about the power of hip hop in protests, somatic solidarity, empowerment through hip hop culture, and how we can effectively harness music in social movements.

Beyond the Campus. LAB workshop at the virtual SLAS conference. Thursday 15 April 15:00 – 16:30

Cathy McIlwaine of Kings College London and Antonio Ioris of Cardiff University will discuss their collaboration with LAB in the ‘Women Resisting Violence’ and ‘Indigenous Brazil Violated’ projects, respectively. LAB’s REI (Research Engagement and Impact) services to academic researchers will be showcased. You can download the Beyond the Campus brochure about this work here. If you are interested in ‘attending’ the workshop, please email Rebecca.Wilson@lab.org.uk not later than 5pm Tuesday 13 April. SLAS has only limited capacity.

News from the Region

Brazil

Brazil is lapsing into chaos: daily Covid deaths topped 4,000 on Tuesday 6 April, with the total number of deaths at 332,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. President Jair Bolsonaro remains in denial, promotes the purchase of vaccines by private employers, and rails against state governors whose hospitals are collapsing under the strain. Jan Rocha charts how Bolsonaro has gone from being a disaster for Brazil to a growing danger for the world, for which his policies on the pandemic and the Amazon constitute a double jeopardy.

Still more serious is the escalating political instability, with successive resignations or sackings of six ministers on 29 March, including health, foreign affairs and defence and the commanders in chief of the three armed forces. Bolsonaro continues to praise the military and gamble on support from the Policia Militar and middle and junior ranks of the army to maintain his position. Opponents now call openly for his impeachment and support for him in Congress is weakening.

Lula, meanwhile, newly released from prison and with the charges against him annulled, lost no time in reasserting leadership, denouncing Bolsonaro, and making clear that he is ready to run again in 2022. Even for his many critics this was a longed-for burst of sanity.

March 14 marked the third anniversary of the murder in Rio of Marielle Franco, city councillor, champion of women, the LGBTQ+ community and favela dwellers. Among many others Marielle had helped were the Mães de Manguinhos, as Ana Paula Oliveira explained at the LAB Voices Webinar on 13 March. Now poets Kátia Borges and Michele Santos have released a beautiful book of poems, Um Girassol em Teus Cabellos. LAB’s David Treece has translated some of them.

As the pandemic rages, indigenous communities across Brazil continue their fight to defend their land and culture. The Kadiwéu Indigenous Land is located in western Mato Grosso do Sul state, Brazil, near the Paraguay border. Sue Branford and Thais Borges describe how they are using traditional art to create and market bags, cloth and pottery sought after in international markets, even as they combat land thieves and raging forest fires set by ranchers. Similar challenges face indigenous and quilombola communities in the Chapada Diamantina. Isaac Norris reviews for Sounds and Colours a beautiful novel, Torto Arado, by Itamar Vieira Júnior, describing the struggles of two sisters over more than 30 years.

Mining

As LAB’s work on our new book & website, The Heart of Our Earth – Community Resistance to Mining in Latin America proceeds, we are collating research and interviews. Mining and mining conflicts are attracting more and more attention across the world. Malcolm Boorer demonstrates how mining companies are using ISDS (Investor State Dispute Settlements) to extract billions of dollars from governments across Latin America. Far from protecting the world’s access to minerals, ISDS have become a licence to plunder and to speculate, in the absence of actual production.

On the Tapajós tributary of the Amazon, Munduruku indigenous communities confront a disaster as the long-term accumulation of mercury in their drinking water and food supplies threatens their health and their survival. Jasmine Haniff describes how mercury is used by illegal gold miners, whose depredations in the area are increasing rapidly.

In the Cajamarca region of Peru, Katy Jenkins, professor of International Development at Northumbria University, led a participatory photography project which worked with women from indigenous communities affected by mining. The women documented their lives and what ‘development’ means for them, exploring themes of community, wellbeing and alternatives to extractivism.

Elsewhere

Gabril Dan Hoskin describes VozTerra, the project of a collective of climate change campaigners in Colombia, promoting sound recording as a way to reconnect to nature and galvanise environmental change.

LAB partner OjosIlegales has made a beautiful short video about the growing cult in Venezuela of Queen Maria Lionza, who brings together the country’s three main ethnic groupings (indigenous, black African and white ibero-European) in a syncretist religion promoting nature, love, peace and harmony.

Rafael Flores Zafra talks to his friend, market stall-holder Noe Zuñiga, about how the pandemic and lockdowns have affected Mexico’s informal workers.

Natasha Tinsley, of the King’s College London and LAB ‘Women Resisting Violence’ project, documents how International Womens Day, 8 March, was celebrated across Latin America this year and, especially, in Mexico City.

Reviews

Nick Caistor reviews Juan Gabriel Vásquez’ latest novel Volver La Vista Atrás, which gives a more nuanced picture of Colombia’s recent history.

Rosie Thornton reviews ‘Venezuela a la Calle’, a ‘film of ambitious scope which informs the viewer on the last three years in Venezuelan politics, while also painting an intimate and heart-breaking picture of the destruction wrought upon the lives of ordinary people.’

And, from the Human Rights Film Festival, Will Huddleston reviews ‘Bajo Fuego’,  and Iñakapalla Chávez Bermúdez and Karoline Pelikan review ‘Mujer de Soldado’.

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