Saturday, February 17, 2018

Latest blog posts

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...

Honduras: between electoral fraud and popular uprising

A week on from the general elections held in Honduras, on 27 November, there is still no definitive result. The main candidates are presidential incumbent Juan Orlando Hernández, referred to locally as JOH, of the right-wing National Party, versus Salvador Nasralla of the Opposition Alliance, which brings together sectors from the political left and centre ground. The political environment in which the vote was held was extremely polarised, fuelled by Juan Orlando's candidacy for re-election, considered illegal and unconstitutional in many sectors. Stop Press: OAS observers confirm inconsistencies in the count, with "irregularities, errors and systematic problems", while the leader...

Rio’s rulers behind bars as the 2018 race begins

1 December 2017. Just over a year ago, Rio was on a roll, basking in post-Olympic glory, applauded all over the world for a successful Games. Now the arrest of its most prominent politicians has exposed the rotten underbelly of the ‘cidade maravilhosa’, the beautiful city. They are facing accusations of blatant, scandalous corruption schemes that have been ripping off the public purse for years. Police persecution of the drug dealers who have turned Rio’s favelas into no-go areas has left a trail of innocent victims, shot by mistake during gun battles, and the streets have become too dangerous for...

Frei Henri, champion of justice for Brazil’s rural poor

A chapter in international solidarity with Brazil’s embattled rural poor closed on Sunday 26 November with the death of Dominican priest and lawyer, Henri des Roziers.  Henri had worked in Brazil since 1978, using his skills as a lawyer to defend rural workers’ unions and to bring to justice the landowners who ordered the killing of so many of their leaders. The tributes paid to Henri at his funeral in Paris on 1 December put his commitment into a broader context.  Born into what the French call a family of the haute-bourgeoisie, Henri showed very early that he wanted to...

Belo Horizonte gets a Land Reform Farmers Market

Authorities, representatives of social and cultural movements, and an appreciative audience gathered in Belo Horizonte for the opening of the Farmers' Market Shop, another permanent space for sale of products from Land Reform farms. The shop occupies a prime location in the capital city of Minas Gerais, on the corner of Avenida Augusto de Lima, in the Barro Preto neighbourhood, close to the Contorno inner ring-road. "I think it's a wonderful place. I'm always looking for produce from family farms and to have it here, in this part of the city, really makes it easy for us to get them....

Colombia: peace, but maybe not the peace we hoped for

Without addressing crucial elements of the original agreement, the revised peace deal risks not living up to expectations in Colombia. It has been a year since the Colombian government and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebel leader ‘Timochenko’ signed the agreement to end more than 50 years of conflict in Colombia. It was a historic moment. Since then, we have seen the FARC finally transition into a civilian political party and lay down their arms. Although this is a significant and welcome step to peace, it feels like the spirit of the original agreement has been weakened. This is clear...

Rosa’s incredible journey from Nicaragua

Nicaragua: Rosa’s incredible journey Rosa of the Wild Grass was one of LAB’s most successful publications in many years. Practical Action Publishing, who produce and distribute LAB books, named it in their top ten titles for 2016. This success is due both to the quality of the book and the story it tells, and to the incredible energy of author Fiona Macintosh in promoting it. As she recounts in this article, another key aspect has been the beautiful images which she drew for the book and which have been reproduced on posters and banners. As a publisher, LAB cannot...