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LAB Newsletter March 2016

14/03/16

THE PRICE OF PROGRESS IN BRAZIL, THE U.S ELECTIONS AND NEWS ON UPCOMING PUBLICATIONS

Dear LAB Supporter and Friend,

This month we have the first in a fascinating series of blog posts from the Brazilian Amazon (accompanied by some beautiful photography) and the second in our six-part special on Brazil’s Social and Economic Development Bank (BNDES), not to mention some timely commentary on the U.S elections and another fine blog piece from Colombia. There is also some exciting news on a couple of upcoming LAB publications:

AMAZON CITY TRANSFORMED BY CONSTRUCTION BOOM

In the first of an exclusive series of blog posts from Brazil, Sue Branford visits Altamira, a city in the Brazilian Amazon close to Belo Monte, a forthcoming hydroelectric dam complex that will be one of the largest of its kind in the world. The construction boom triggered by the project has transformed Altamira into a sprawling city home to over 100,000 people. But this “progress” has come at a price: local infrastructure has not kept up with the growth in population, and this once peaceful backwater is suffering from big-city problems such as crime, poor urban mobility and pollution. (Read more…)

THE GOOSE THAT LAYS THE GOLDEN EGGS: PART 2

In the second of a series of six articles on Brazil’s National Social and Economic Development Bank (BNDES), Sue looks at the origins of the bank alongside its more recent history. Created in the 1950s by Getúlio Vargas in the hope of driving economic growth and turning Brazil into a global powerhouse, the BNDES has expanded enormously under the recent Workers’ Party administrations of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. However, critics argue that this expansion has done little to benefit ordinary Brazilians, and has instead provided cheap credit for large private conglomerates and facilitated massive infrastructure projects such as Belo Monte. (Read more…)

US ELECTIONS: CLINTON HAS FAILED CENTRAL AMERICA

With the likely Republican candidate Donald Trump promising to build a wall along the entire length of the 1,954-mile length of the US-Mexico border in order to stop illegal immigration from the south, Latin Americans might assume they have a natural ally in Hillary Clinton, Trump’s likely opponent. This would be a mistake, argues Alexandra Early, who points out that Clinton’s actions following the 2009 coup in Honduras and her tough stance on immigration leave much to be desired. (Read more…)

COLOMBIAN VILLAGE ATTEMPTS TO COME TO TERMS WITH THE PAST

Gwen Burnyeat blogs from Mulatos, a remote settlement in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, in the Abibe mountains, where in February 2005, paramilitaries and soldiers massacred eight people, including three children. Gwen describes the local community’s annual commemoration for the victims, as well as wondering just how San José de Apartadó, and other small communities like it in Colombia, can ever make sense of a past which, given Colombia’s long history of violence, so often seems senseless and illogical. (Read more…)

UPCOMING PUBLICATIONS

On the 15th of April, LAB will launch Rosa of the Wild Grass – The Story of a Nicaraguan Family, by Fiona Macintosh. Rosa is a true story which spans the last fifty years of Nicaraguan history. Fiona lived in Nicaragua in the 1980s and returned a number of times up until 2013. On each visit she added to the story she was compiling, based on interviews with the women of three generations of the same family, who lived in La Concha, a small town about an hour away from Managua. The result is a true family saga which spans the period from the Somoza dictatorship, through the Sandinista insurrection and government and up to the present day. What emerges is the strength of the women, who kept together not only their own extended family, but the communities in which they lived.

And coming soon, LAB’s third Special Report is Argentina: the Kirchners and the rise and fall of left populism by Marcela Lopez Levy and Nick Caistor.

With best wishes,

The LAB team