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Brazil and Chile

01 October 2013

Brazil & Chile

Dear LAB supporter and friend,

It has been a while since our last newsletter. Three members of the LAB Team, Sue Branford, Nayana Fernandez and Nick Caistor have been away, travelling in Brazil. Back in the UK, several of us have been involved in events to mark the 40th anniversary of the military coup in Chile, and we’ve been engaged in major changes to the way we publish blog posts on our website.

Brazil

Arriving in Rio de Janeiro, Sue Branford and Nayana Fernandez sensed that while the street protests are smaller, they are far from over  and are predominantly led by young people who categorically reject institutionalised politics (Read more). Sue interviewed Mídia Ninja, a collective of over 2,000 journalists, whose ‘guerrilla’ coverage of the protests has been crucial (Read more).

From Rio, Sue and Nayana flew to Santarém on the Amazon, and then travelled by bus to the Tapajos river. At Jacareacanga Nayana interviewed Mundukuru Indians who are protesting against hydro-electric dams which threaten their communities and livelihoods (Read more). At a roadside café, the LAB editors had a less than friendly reception from Concremat, the engineering company organising environmental impact surveying in the area (Read more).

Taking a boat up first the Tapajós and then the Pacu rivers, our correspondents reached São José, a village of garimpeiros (gold-panners), where they found a community gradually being established, replacing the ‘wild-west’ chaos of earlier times (Read more). This stability is threatened, however, by the arrival of a mining company, which wants to seize their land and whose industrial-scale use of cyanide for extracting gold far exceeds the damage wrought by the garimpeiros (Read more).

Returning to the main basin of the Amazon the LAB editors travelled up the Rio Trombetas to visit quilombo communities, originally established by runaway slaves, to observe how these are affected by restrictions imposed by government ‘conservation units’, biological reserves and by massive flotas—timber concessions (Read more).

More posts are expected as Sue and Nayana’s journey continues. Follow them at LAB’s Latin America Inside Out blog.

Meanwhile, Tom Gatehouse, in Belo Horizonte, looks at how the government’s radical Mais Medicos health-care programme has been greeted by some of Brazil’s wealthy and professional classes, with open hostility being directed especially towards Cuban doctors (Read more).

Latin America Inside Out (LAIO) Blog

LAB’s new blog brings together news, discussion, events and comment from across the region. It has its own page on the LAB website, LAIO Blog and the most recent posts are listed at the top of the left-hand column on LAB’s Home Page.

Within LAIO you can select or filter posts:

  • by Region, Country or Topic.
  • by Series (usually a Series relates to a particular journey, event or theme)
  • by date from the month-by-month archive.

Comments are invited and LAB partners, especially, are invited to use LAIO to launch and contribute to discussions.

LAB will continue to post longer articles on our Home and News pages, and the centre column of the Home Page will collect articles around a particular theme of interest. LAB newsletters, as always, will serve as a guide to recent articles and LAIO posts and supply context to the themes we are reporting on.

We hope you will like the new blog and share it with colleagues and friends.

Chile

The 40th anniversary of the military coup in Chile attracted an extraordinary amount of attention. Some Chileans still living in the UK have explained it by saying ‘Many of those of us who lived through that experience may no longer be here for the 50th’. Sadly, they may be right: anyone who was only 20 on 11 September 1973 is 60 today.

Chileans and British chilenófilos in the UK established a loose network to promote 40th anniversary events with a website which carries an impressive calendar of events taking place all over the country. Alborada, another UK website concerned with Chile, lists documentary films and events and assembled a special page of links.

Chilean film-make Felipe Bustos Herrera produced Nae Pasarán, a short documentary telling, through the voices of the shop stewards involved at the time, the story of how workers at Rolls Royce East Kilbride boycotted jet engines sent there for servicing by the Chilean Air Force. The engines had powered British-made Hawker Hunter jets used on September 11 to bomb and rocket the Moneda Palace where Allende and his closest advisors were gathered. A trailer for the film can be viewed here. The film was screened at the El Sueño Existe festival in Machynlleth Wales, and at a solidarity meeting in Glasgow organised by the Scottish TUC.

Snapshot: Memories of Pinochet – in pictures is an exhibition by photo journalist Julio Etchart, hosted by Amnesty International at the Human Rights Action Centre in Shoreditch, London.

Meanwhile, there has been a plethora of articles in the press and on websites. These include:

Chile, the first dictatorship of globalisation  and Chile: 40 years since the launch of neo-liberalism by LAB Editor Mike Gatehouse, who lived in Chile for the last 18 months of the Popular Unity Government.

Uncovering Britain’s secret role in protecting Chile’s 1973 coup by LAB author and contributor Grace Livingstone, who describes the efforts of the British Embassy in Santiago to influence visiting journalists to portray the military junta sympathetically.

Chilean coup: 40 years ago I watched Pinochet crush a democratic dream sees LAB author Hugh O’Shaughnessy, in the Guardian, describe his experience as one of the few foreign reporters present in Santiago at the time.

Allende’s Socialist Internet by Leigh Phillips in Red Pepper describes the efforts of UK cybernetics expert Stafford Beer to establish a kind of primitive internet to enable Allende and his cabinet to manage information via a non-centralised network of information provision.

Object of the month: the 1977 edition of Chile Fights, chosen by the People’s History Museum in Manchester, where many of the archives of Chile Solidarity are stored. The magazine records the unsuccessful campaign to stop a friendly football match between Scotland and Chile being played in the National Stadium in Santiago (used as a concentration camp in the weeks following the coup).

A 40 AÑOS DEL GOLPE CÍVICO-MILITAR  a special edition (in Spanish) of the Chilean edition of Le Monde Diplomatique.

In the UK daily The Guardian, Jonathan Watts describes the Chilean satirical magazine The Clinic, named after the prestige medical clinic in London where General Pinochet was arrested in 1998.

Chile. a 40 años del Golpe: Recuerdan quema de libros y obras de arte by Ernesto Carmona for Argenpress describes an exhibition of books rescued and hidden from the dictatorship and includes a video interview with Ramón Castillo, Director of the School of Art of the Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago.

Chile: dos décadas de justicia de transición, published by the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) in Argentina examines a period of disgraceful collaboration by the Chilean judiciary with military repression. In Chile, the judges have finally apologised. In a statement, they said that the judiciary at the time had abandoned its role as protector of basic rights. “The time has come to ask for the forgiveness of victims… and of Chilean society,” they said.

Widow of Missing’s Chilean coup victim carries on her fight for justice describes the continuing battle for justice by Joyce Horman, whose husband Charles was killed by the Chilean military in the days following the coup, almost certainly with the complicity of US intelligence officers in the country at the time, a history that was movingly dramatized by Costa Gavras in the film Missing, Horman is still hopeful that her husband’s killers will be brought to justice.

Agony of Chile’s dark days continues as murdered poet’s wife fights for justice tells the story of the murder of the singer and theatre director Victor Jara and the efforts of his widow Joan Jara and her family to identify his killers and bring them to justice.

Books

Meanwhile, several new books have been published to mark the anniversary:

Chile in my heart by journalist Kate Clark (Bannister Publications, Chesterfield) describes the author’s ‘personal love affair with Chile and its people’. Living and working as a lecturer at the University of Chillán in southern Chile, Kate vividly describes the Popular Unity period, her own life with her husband Ricardo Figueroa and his subsequent arrest and imprisonment by the military junta.

Salvador Allende, Revolutionary Democrat by Victor Figueroa Clark (Pluto Press) is one of the first biographies in English to examine Allende’s entire political career and the passion and intellectual consistency which enabled him, over many years, to construct the coalition which ultimately won the presidential elections in 1970.

Chile from Within, an out-of-print chronicle of the fall of President Salvador Allende, is being published as an ebook, four decades after the coup. The digital version will add audio interviews and archival footage to the original book, which was a 1990 collaboration between Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas and 16 Chilean photographers who documented the troubles.

In Other News

Colombia: War on Want Campaigns Officer Patrick Kane describes the ‘Agrarian and Popular Strike’ of August and the increasing desperation of rural communities as the government’s neo-liberal policies decimate their local economies (Read more).

El Salvador: justice is at last closing in on Inocente Montano, Deputy Minister of Public Safety in the 1980s and widely believed to have been responsible for the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter, in 1989. Montano, now a US resident, has been arrested for immigration offences (Read more).

Haiti: two articles chart the dangers confronting human rights defenders (Read more) and the heightened cholera threat posed by bad sanitation conditions in the camps for those displaced by the earthquake (Read more).

Partners

LAB welcomes a number of new partners: Coalition of Latin Americans in the UK, Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA), Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), and Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign. 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.

Donate to LAB! 

If you have enjoyed this and other LAB newsletters and find our website useful, please consider making a donation. LAB faces a serious funding crisis: we desperately need to raise funds to maintain and develop our work, but we lack the personnel, time and resources to fund-raise effectively. Any direct donations we receive will help us in this effort. 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