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Crisis averted in Ecuador, democracy threatened in Brazil – LAB Newsletter, 27 July 2022

Environmental defenders in Peru attacked, Ecuador's protestors heard, democracy threatened in Brazil.

News from the region

On 30 June, concessions by both government and protestors brought to an end three weeks of acute crisis, precipitated by sharp rises in food and fuel prices and dramatic shortages. The successful protests were led by Leonidas Iza Salazar, President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) in a coalition with the National Confederation of Peasant, Indigenous and Black Organizations (Fenocin), and the Council of Indigenous Evangelical Peoples and Organizations (Feine). Linda Etchart reported for LAB that the crisis is over … for now.

In Peru, environmental defenders are facing ongoing and increasing threats, underpinned by impunity. Since 2020, there have been 19 reported killings of environmental and land defenders in the country’s Amazon region. Defenders have largely been targeted for their work to halt drug trafficking, illegal logging and land grabbing in the territories they seek to protect. Peru Support Group report

Bolsonaro’s three-pronged assault upon the country’s elections includes campaigning to discredit the voting system, increasing benefits for the poorest sectors of the population who currently favour Lula in the polls, and encouraging violence and intimidation by his most fervent supporters. Some of those senior officers who do not have government posts have have been making it known that they will respect the winner of October’s poll, whoever he is. Meanwhile there are real fears for the safety of Lula as violence increases. Read more in the new instalment of Jan Rocha’s blog for LAB.

The City Council of Buenos Aires has given its blessing to two major riverside development projects, which would see private developers build luxury tower blocks and offices. Local people, meanwhile would be shut out from what should be public space. Opposition has been growing, as James Whitehead reports.

Cartoon: Jika / The Brazilian Report
Cartoon: Jika / The Brazilian Report

Books and films


Documentary-making duo Victor Fraga and Valnei Nunes uncover and dissect the role the Brazilian media play in threatening democracy in their film The Coup d’État Factory. They argue that outlets like O Globo have created the conditions to dismantle democracy and that the centrists’ reckless efforts to instil institutional meltdown have paved the way for the far-right. Charlotte Peet reviewed the film and interviewed one of its directors.

There is a term for a child whose parents have died: an orphan. But there is currently no such term for a parent whose child has died. How can this be, when Brazilian police have killed 33,000 people, mostly Black men, in the last decade alone, producing masses of traumatized parents? Enter Orphan Mothers, which explores this paradox in graphic and granular detail by staying firmly rooted in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Jess Pandian reviewed the film for LAB.

Orphan Mothers Film Franja
Still from ‘Orphan Mothers’, a documentary conceived by director Patrick Granja and musician MC Leonardo and produced by community activists in Rio de Janeiro with support from KCL’s Transnational Law Institute.

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In a thorough and painstaking investigation, Maxine Lowy has researched and talked with dozens of members of the Jewish community in Chile to establish the fate of the left-wing Jewish militants who were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered under the 1973-1990 military dictatorship for their support of the Popular Unity government of President Salvador Allende. Raul Sohr reviewed her resulting book, Latent Memory, for LAB.

A short documentary executive produced by Gael Garcia Bernal beautifully tells the story of Lorena Ramírez, a Mexican long-distance runner of Tarahumara (Rarámuri) origin who surprised her compatriots and the world by winning the Guachochi ultramarathon in 2017, running in her handmade skirt and sandals. Maly Polotto reviewed Lorena, Light-Footed Woman.

Lorena, Light-Footed Woman Netflix review
Lorena Ramírez, champion ultra-marathon runner of the Rarámuri Indigenous group in northern Mexico. (Rarámuri translates to ‘light-footed people’ in reference to the group’s oldest practice, running.)

LAB News

Crossed Off The Map

‘Weaving together history, travel writing and reportage, he takes readers on a fascinating journey of Bolivia… one of the finest travel books that will be published this year’ (Mita Mistry)– Shafik Meghji’s Crossed Off The Map: Travels in Bolivia continues to garner rave reviews. If you have a spare moment, you can leave your own review of the book on Amazon (even if you didn’t buy the book there) – it really helps visibility and rankings!

In case you missed it, check out stunning photos and what a decade of travels in Bolivia taught Shafik about the climate crisis, published in

Covid-19: Loss, Survival, Recovery, Transformation
If you’d like contribute to LAB’s Covid-19: Loss, Survival, Recovery, Transformation project, please get in touch with Emily Gregg on

We’re still urging all LAB newsletter subscribers to sign up to Patreon. Exclusive content includes a first-look at each Environmental Defenders article; interviews with Ana Paula, a human rights activist from the group Mães de Manguinhos and with Brazil’s first openly gay and proud federal deputy, Jean Wyllys; and Voz, LAB’s quarterly dispatch – the most recent issue analysing Xiomara Castro’s failed promises for women in Honduras. 

Coming soon: a virtual chapter on the Covid-19 pandemic, written by Emily Gregg, one of LAB’s Voices of Latin America team (Emily wrote the chapter on the student revolution). Patrons will be able to read this chapter immediately, so do sign up now.


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