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COLOMBIAN PEACE PROCESS – HAITI IN LIMBO – BRAZIL: CORRUPTION AT THE BNDES? AND MORE…

11/02/16

COLOMBIAN PEACE PROCESS – HAITI IN LIMBO – BRAZIL: CORRUPTION AT THE BNDES? AND MORE…

 

Dear LAB Supporter and Friend,

This month we have more news on the Colombian peace process, a report on the uncertain political situation in Haiti, the first of a five-part feature on the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), news of more street protests in Brazil and an interview with a leading Paraguayan rural workers’ rights activist.

 

COLOMBIA’S BIG CONVERSATION

Against considerable odds, the peace talks in Havana between the Colombian government and the FARC appear to be going according to plan, with both sides hopeful of signing a final agreement by the 23rd of March deadline. However, given that implementation of any eventual deal will be put to the Colombian people in a referendum, the hardest part may be yet to come. Gwen Burnyeat reports on “The Biggest Conversation in the World”, the Colombian government’s initiative to involve civil society in the peace process. (Read more…)

 

HAITI IN POLITICAL LIMBO AFTER PRESIDENTIAL RUNOFF CANCELLED

With violent protests in Port-au-Prince and other cities, and opposition candidate Jude Célestin deciding to boycott the vote, the Haitian government has been forced to cancel the second round of the country’s presidential elections. Despite the results of October’s first round being endorsed by the US and the OAS, human rights groups denounced violence and widespread electoral fraud. Michel Martelly has now stood down as president, but with no successor in place, Haiti faces an uncertain future. (Read more…)

 

THE GOOSE THAT LAYS THE GOLDEN EGGS

In Brazil, Sue Branford takes a look at the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), the largest development bank in the world and a key player in many of the massive infrastructure projects ongoing in the Amazon region such as the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant. With many of the big construction companies involved in such projects being implicated in the ongoing Lava Jato corruption scandal, has the BNDES been used to fuel multibillion dollar corruption at the expense of Brazilian taxpayers? (Read more…)

 

FREE FARE MOVEMENT ON THE STREETS AGAIN IN BRAZIL

Also in Brazil, the Free Fare Movement (MPL) has once again taken to the streets to protest against fare hikes on public transport in São Paulo. Similar demonstrations in 2013 led to Brazil’s largest popular protests in a generation, but with the political situation in Brazil currently far more fraught, the authorities refusing to back down and the police response increasingly heavy-handed, the optimism of June 2013 feels very distant. Ali Rocha and Nayana Fernandez report from São Paulo. (Read more…)

See also a series of photos by the journalist Raphael Sanz accompanying the above article. (Read more…)

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH ERNESTO BENÍTEZ, LEADING PARAGUAYAN ACTIVIST

Ernesto Benítez is a leading rural workers’ rights activist in Paraguay. For Benítez, inequality in Paraguay has been increasing at an accelerated rate since the 2012 coup d’état which deposed the then president Fernando Lugo. Given Paraguay’s economic structure, this inequality is inherently connected to land distribution, with agribusiness controlling nearly 38 million of the country’s 40 million hectares. Originally published in Carta Maior, the interview was translated by Andrzej Stuart-Thompson for LAB. (Read more…)

With best wishes,

The LAB team