Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Latest blog posts

Brazil: Lula’s last stand

São Paulo, 16 April. Lula disappeared into the federal police building in Curitiba on 7 April and nobody knows when he will be seen again. Two days before, after the Supreme Court refused to grant him a habeas corpus, the PT’s presidential candidate had bunkered down at the HQ of the metalworkers union in São Bernardo, surrounded by thousands of loyal supporters who filled the streets around the squat blue building. Judge Sergio Moro had given him until 6 p.m. on Friday 6  April to turn himself in and begin serving his 12 year sentence.  When I looked at the images...

Brazil: the judges, the generals and all the president’s men

In a decision as closely watched as a World Cup final, Brazil’s Supreme Court decided by 6 to 5 to reject a habeas corpus application for ex-president Lula, opening the way for his imminent arrest.  The eleven judges spent 11 hours proffering their votes in erudite, legal language peppered with Latin expressions, impossible for the man or woman in the street to understand.  Five voted for the habeas corpus, which would have allowed Lula to remain at liberty while appealing his case to the Supreme Court, five voted against. It then fell to the court president Carmen Lucia to...

The four bullets that killed Marielle

22 March 2018. Marielle Franco was executed with four bullets. One each for racism, misogyny, homophobia and impunity. By killing Marielle, the assassins eliminated not just a politician elected on the PSOL ticket to the Rio City Council with 46,000 votes, a lone black woman in the sea of white, male, wealthy politicians. They also silenced the voice of a spokesperson for minorities, for the LGBT community, for the dignity of favela dwellers, for women in general, for the human rights of all Rio’s citizens, including the right of young black men not to be shot dead as suspects by...

Marielle: she inspired all of us

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIhSvU6trWs Video: The intercept The murder on 14 March of Marielle Franco, a young black city councillor and human rights campaigner, has deeply traumatized Rio de Janeiro, a city so cheated by the failure of mega-events such as the World Cup and Olympics  to deliver lasting social change, and so bitterly accustomed to violence. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN-JjAX_zdw Political colleagues and family members speak out about the murder of Marielle. Video: SBT So far, no arrests have been made and Franco's left-wing PSOL party and supporters are now fighting attempts by right-wing commentators to smear her reputation with claims that she 'collaborated' with 'bandidos', and assertions that...

Violence in Rio escalates with murder of city councillor

Little did she know that she would be the next victim when Marielle Franco, a left-wing city councillor, penned her last twitter post, denouncing the killing of yet another young black man in the favelas of Rio. “Another homicide of a young man that can be credited to the police. Matheus Melo was leaving  church when he was killed. How many more will have to die before this war ends?” Last night Franco was going home in a car in Rio's city centre after an event encouraging black women's empowerment  when another car with two men pulled up alongside hers...

Brazil’s carnivals denounce the monsters of corruption and discrimination

São Paulo, 15 February 2018. It’s Ash Wednesday and all that’s left of Carnival in the streets of São Paulo are rows of chemical toilets and a homeless man wearing a paper crown. Hard to believe that over the last four days these same streets were jam packed with multi-coloured crowds in their hundreds of thousands, dancing, and singing, not just to the rhythms of samba, but also frevo, funk, sertanejo. Street carnival, with ‘blocos’ numbering up to a million followers took over this city, and many others. If you ventured into the streets during those days, you shared them...

Brazil’s Cinderella: to prison, or to the ball?

São Paulo, 26 January 2018. Not only was Lula’s appeal rejected and his sentence increased to twelve years by the court in Porto Alegre on 24 January, but in Brasilia another judge banned him from travelling to Ethiopia on a previously planned trip to take part in a FAO conference on food, to prevent him ‘asking for political asylum’. Lula’s trial and sentence have dominated the week in Brazil. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=20&v=-uyDTXRtafQ The judgement against Lula changed the daily routine in Porto Alegre. Video: Sul21 on YouTube TV and radio stations transmitted live from the courthouse, where a temporary press room had been set up...

Brazil: the trial of the century

São Paulo 21 January. Some are calling it the trial of the century.  The fate of the man who leads all the polls by a huge margin and could therefore be elected president of Brazil in October lies in the hands of three judges of the TRF4, the regional appeals court in Porto Alegre. Although the case will only be heard on Wednesday 24 January, police and army already patrol the area around the courthouse and thousands of PT militants will soon begin to converge on the city, travelling in 200 'caravans' from all over the country.  Nearly 200,000...

Haiti is no shithole

This post was published by Haiti Support Group. You can read the original here 12th January 2018: Today marks eight years after the Léogâne Earthquake and Trump is, once again, spewing garbage about Haiti having yesterday called it a "shithole". Firstly, it is no such place. Since its revolutionary birth, Haiti has given the world so much in art, science and the pursuit of global freedom. Haiti, however, is a popular target. It is black and defiant, a direct challenge to the falsehoods of white supremacy. It is a nation that dared to be different and dared to be free. For...

Dominican Republic: Haitian migrants in peril

On 18 December, International Migrants Day, Christian Aid partners in Haiti reminded us of the urgent need to protect the rights of migrants and ‘stateless’ people in the Dominican Republic, who fear violence and mass deportation. Over the past two years, more than 220,000 Haitian migrants and their descendants returned to Haiti from the Dominican Republic. Of these: more than 133,000 are considered ‘spontaneous’ or voluntary returnees, 96,000 were deported, 4,087 were unaccompanied children. What is the problem? Loss of citizenship In September 2013, the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic issued Judgement 168-13, ruling that it did not recognise the right of hundreds...

Chile: Cabros de Mierda

Film Review: Cabros de Mierda English title: “The Young Shepherd’ (Gonzalo Justiniano, Chile, 2017) with Nathalie Aragonese, Daniel Contessa Aguirre and Elias Collado Moya. ‘Cabros de Mierda’ means ‘Damned Kids’ in a sanitized English translation – though the film’s official English title is; The Young Shepherd.  It is the name of a neighbourhood football team but also sends a message of dissent. In this film the dissent, the refusal to be cowed, comes from La Victoria, the Santiago ‘población’ whose protests against the Pinochet regime (1973-89) remain emblematic even today when resistance to dictatorship is recalled. Chile’s poblaciones are not exactly slums...

On the Venezuelan border: all the arms of the press

This article was first published in Revista Opera. You can read the original, in Portuguese, here. October 23, 2017: The day begins at 8 o’clock. We arrive in Pacaraima, whose streets, in spite of being Brazilian, are filled with hispanic sounds on every side. As I get out of the car, a man comes up to me offering to change money: 4,500 bolivares per real.  Joach, a Venezuelan who has been with us since we met him 4 hours ago in Boa Vista’s airport, declines.  “It’s very little”, he says. We go to the Federal Police, on the border, to...

Rio de Janeiro: This land is our land

What do you do if you’re living on public land, in a house that your great-grandparents built in an era before strict housing regulations, and the government suddenly decides to evict you? This dilemma afflicts several informal settlements known as favelas, along with other occupations of public land by traditional communities. With a political landscape increasingly intolerant of these communities, all are under threat of eviction. In response, community activists have been organizing to prevent further removals. Ostensibly, federal law 11.977/09 that created the Minha Casa, Minha Vida public housing program and the 2001 City Statute law protect the housing...

Argentina: don’t shoot the messenger

Film Review: El Mensajero. Jayson McNamara (2016) English title: “Messenger on a White Horse’ During the murderous years 1976-83, from the Argentine coup to the Falklands War, and especially during the worst years 1976-79, one newspaper defied the suppression of news about disappearances and state killings. It was the venerable English-language Buenos Aires Herald. A holdover from the days when Argentina was known, as the ‘sixth dominion’ where people went from Britain to join the local oligarchy and manage trade and finance, while Italians, Germans and Eastern Europeans came to swell the ranks of a nascent proletariat and middle class, the...