Friday, May 24, 2024


9 April 2014


Dear LAB supporter and friend The photograph shows the sweeping changes that have occurred in Latin America over the past forty years. Michelle Bachelet is accompanied at her second inauguration as president of Chile on 11 March 2014 by her counterparts from Argentina and Brazil; a very different trio from General Pinochet and his acolytes in the bottom picture. Argentina has recently been commemorating the 38th anniversary of the 24th March 1976 coup that led to one of the darkest periods of its recent history. In an article we republish in English from the Argentinian newspaper Clarín, it is plain that the current government considers itself to be the upholder both of human rights and at least the spirit of the guerrilla movements of the 1970s (Read more). What do you, our LAB newsletter readers, think? However, aside from its work on human rights, the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is facing increasing economic difficulties. But, as former LAB editor Marcela López Levy argues, international media coverage of Argentina’s inflation worries perhaps misses a vital point or two. (Read more) President Fernández de Kirchner succeeded her husband Néstor Kirchner as head of state in Argentina in 2007, and was re-elected in 2011. Next year however sees the likely end of more than a decade of Kirchnerismo. Any temptation to change the constitution to allow the President to run again has been scotched by her health problems: she had brain surgery in October 2013, following a fall, and made no public appearance for more than 40 days. The candidates hoping to succeed Ms. Fernández in the Casa Rosada have already begun to jockey for position, as LAB’s Borja García de Sola writes. (Read more) One of those hopefuls, Mauricio Macri, first came to prominence in Argentina as the president of one of its legendary football clubs, Boca Juniors. Now Argentinians are looking forward to success for the national team at the World Cup in Brazil. But, as journalist Daniel Schweimler, based in Buenos Aires and a keen football fan ( see his blog) reports, at home the game is facing a crisis of corruption and violence. (Read more) Violence has often also been directed against Argentina’s indigenous groups. In March, representatives of the Qom people from the northern Argentinian provinces of Formosa and Chaco took their fight against discrimination and violations of their rights to the heart of Buenos Aires, setting up camp in the Plaza de Mayo outside the presidential palace that has seen so many upheavals and changes over the past four decades. LAB correspondent Edgardo Civallero describes these events in the first post of a blog on indigenous peoples. (Read more) In January this year, LAB published an article from UpsideDownWorld by Zoe Brent, detailing the work of Argentina’s National Peasant and Indigenous Movement MNCI and the explosion in land conflicts in the country, driven in particular by the expansion of mining and monocrop soya farming. (Read more) Brazil LAB council member David Lehmann has written a reflection on the 40th anniversary of the military coup in Brazil. (Read more) Uruguayan commentator Raúl Zibechi charts the growing problems and unpopularity of Brazil’s World Cup hosting and the increasingly repressive measures adopted by government and police to repress dissent and intimidate journalists. (Read more) Meanwhile, human rights NGO and new LAB partner Conectas reports on the poor showing by Brazilian diplomats at an Inter-American Human Rights Commission hearing in Washington, where they appeared evasive and dismissive of the portfolio of complaints presented against them alleging police violence and illegal detentions. (Read more) From Belo Horizonte, LAB correspondent Tom Gatehouse wonders whether Brazilians have tired of protesting. (Read more) Latin America Inside Out Blog Recent posts cover:
  • A FAQ on opposition protests in Venezuela, published by UK-based Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
  • A photo-gallery of images from the second round of the Salvadorean presidential elections, won by a hair’s breadth by the FMLN candidate, Salvador Sánchez Cerén.
  • A documentary film about Maré, Rio de Janeiro, in which the lives of Children of the favela are depicted in the raw.
  • A textbook from the Zapatista ‘escuelitas’ to help you learn about autonomous government
In other news Colombia: in the run-up to May’s presidential elections, President Santos is under increasing pressure from the opposition and from agrarian, indigenous and other communities who organised the recent National Agrarian summit, with demands to address “the pressing issues of land distribution and recognition, land displacement, food sovereignty, mining, and free trade agreements”. (Read more) Venezuela: the distinguished writer Luis Britto García accuses the media of giving a free pass to the extreme right. (Read more) Uruguay: President Mujica has accepted a proposal from the Obama administration to resettle in the country a small number of prisoners currently detained at Guantanamo Bay and insists that they will be welcomed, with their families, as refugees. (Read more) Honduras: LAB volunteer Borja García de Sola summarises the PEN International report Honduras: Journalism in the Shadow of Impunity, presented at the end of March to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in Washington by Dina Meza. (Read more) El Salvador: in an article first published in The Nation, Madeleine Conway argues that the “Public-Private Partnership foisted on El Salvador by Washington” could make it extremely difficult for the new FMLN government to deliver on many of its commitments. (Read more) Partners LAB welcomes two new partners, both of them from Brazil: Raiz das Imagens, who work with the country’s indigenous groups and Conectas, who work on human rights and the consolidation of the rule of law in Brazil and across the global South. Their profiles can be accessed here. Any organisation wishing to become a LAB partner can do so (it’s free) by completing a profile questionnaire (in English, Spanish, Portuguese or French) here. LAB: achievements and challenges Thanks to the efforts of our fund-raiser, Kuldip Kaur, and the generosity of our supporters, LAB raised well over £6,000 in our special appeal at the end of 2013. Most of that money will be used to seed further fund-raising work, vital if LAB is to survive and grow. We have recently been given an important boost in the shape of shared office space, access to meeting rooms, publicity and other support by London University’s Institute of Latin American Studies. Having a permanent base will enable us to work much more effectively with volunteers and, potentially, interns. If you have enjoyed this and other LAB newsletters and find our website useful, please consider making a donation. Please use the donate button on the Home Page of our website, which links to the friendly and secure website JustGiving.  You can choose to make a one-off or regular donation. For UK readers, LAB is a registered charity so your donation is worth 20% more if you sign the Gift Aid agreement. Best wishes, The LAB Team

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