Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Latest blog posts

Colombia: the peace process merits cautious optimism

As peace activists, we have become too accustomed to share bad news. However, on this occasion I’m glad to be able to say that, while there are still many challenges, we are on the right path towards building peace in Colombia. The oldest insurgent group in the Americas, FARC-EP (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia- the People’s Army), no longer exists. The group handed over their weapons and on 1 September formed a political party, the FARC (the Revolutionary Common Alternative Force). There was much internal discussion on whether or not to keep the group’s old acronym. Some people inside...

Brazil: King Canute and his gang

Sāo Paulo, 16 September: Like a tropical King Canute, president Michel Temer defies the waves of accusations battering his government, even when they are presented by the chief prosecutor himself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR2ZsDt9SPk credit: Metropoles.com In a 240-page indictment, Rodrigo Janot, the chief prosecutor, has accused the president, his closest ministers and allies, all members of the PMDB, of forming a ‘quadrilhão’ – big criminal gang – which has stolen R$587 million (£140 million) from the public coffers over the last ten years. The ‘gang’ is accused of taking bribes from corporations which wanted government contracts with state companies like Petrobrás, Furnas and the Caixa Econômica....

Oriximiná: Quilombolas vs the mines 4 — Company policy: Divide and Rule

This is the final post in a series of four written for Christian Aid and LAB by distinguished journalists João Peres and Moriti Neto 4. Company policy: Divide and Rule MRN, or Mineração Rio do Norte, the bauxite mining company which dominates the extractive industry in Pará, improved the process of 'stakeholder mapping' in 2015, according to the company's financial report. This mapping includes "community leaders, mayors, officer clerks, town councilors, trade unionists, shop-keepers, etc.” In  plain language, it is a message to investors that the company has taken every care to prevent conflicts breaking out. Or, put even more clearly: Money talks...

Oriximiná: Quilombolas vs the mines 3 — David vs Goliath

This is the third in a series of four blog-posts, written for Christian Aid and LAB by distinguished journalists João Peres and Moriti Neto 3. David vs Goliath one public document states that since 1995, the aluminium mining company MRN (Mineração Rio do Norte) has been transferring R$495,000 per year for the maintenance of the local unit of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), responsible for environmental monitoring, whose office is located on land provided by the mining company. Researcher Luiz Wanderley recalls that, in this way, the company guarantees something rare in the country: a conservation unit with money....

Oriximiná: Quilombolas vs the mines 2 — Conservation: double standards

This is the second of a series of four blog-posts, written for Christian Aid and LAB by distinguished journalists João Peres and Moriti Neto 2. Conservation: double standards The lands sought by quilombolas and the mining company, Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN) belong to the federal government, which means they are 'public', but not entirely so. In 1979, president João Figueiredo, the last president of the dictatorship, signed a decree creating the Rio Trombetas Biological Reserve. From a legal standpoint, this is the type of territory with the most environmentally restrictive management regime, not permitting any human activity. Within the area,...

Oriximiná: Quilombolas vs the mines 1– Land: no title, no respect

This is the first of a series of four blog-posts, written for Christian Aid and LAB by distinguished journalists João Peres and Moriti Neto 1. Land: no title, no respect The quilombolas, former slaves who live in the municipality of Oriximiná, in the state of Pará, in the North region of Brazil, first escaped from farms and hid behind wild waterfalls. In drinks cans or biscuit packets; in the kitchen, the cutlery drawer or the saucepan; on the train that took you to work or the car that brought you home again. Somewhere, perhaps in many places, you have used aluminum throughout...

Haiti: Hope in the season of hurricanes

Prospéry Raymond, Christian Aid’s country manager for Haiti and the Dominican Republic, reflects on how Haiti is moving on from one disaster and preparing for another You could be forgiven for associating Haiti with disaster: when the country is mentioned, it is usually alongside words like ‘earthquake’, ‘hurricane’, ‘political turmoil’ and ‘cholera’. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew’s 146mph winds swept across the south of our country, leaving a trail of destruction. Now, the Caribbean’s six-month hurricane season is underway once again. With the Haitian Ministry of Finance estimating that each disaster causes a 2.2% loss of Haiti’s GDP, people here are...

Michel Temer: Captain of Brazil’s Titanic

Aug 14 2017 What is President Temer's weapon for fighting corruption charges? Why, corruption of course. In his relentless battle to stay in power, President Michel Temer has appealed to the very methods he stands  accused of by the Attorney General’s investigations: bribery and corruption, or as Theresa May might say, confidence and supply. This enabled him to win last week’s crucial vote in Congress by 263 to 227, denying authorization for the Supreme Court to hear the charges brought by the Attorney General, Rodrigo Janot, including that of obstructing justice. Temer remains in power but the cost is mounting.  Like a Russian...

Chilean Play: Mad Man, Sad Woman

‘Mad Man Sad Woman’, by Juan Radigan, is on at The Place, 269 Westferry Road, London E14 3RS, until 8 July. Tickets from www.space.org.uk Translated by Catherline Boyle. Directed by Sue Dunderdale. with Sadie Shimmin and Bil Stuart. To write a work of art about absolute deprivation is a never-ending challenge. The most absolute deprivation is death itself, but there are uncounted ways of living on the verge of death, when individuals undergo extreme physical and mental suffering. Destitution is a statisticians’ term to describe people at the extreme of poverty, but how to describe life with absolutely no resources whatsoever? To...

La Clave: London’s Latin America Festival

London's La Clave Festival returns to Crouch End on Saturday June 17, with music, film and talks, three of them organised by LAB.  The three LAB events all take place in the Council Chamber at Hornsey Town Hall. 11am – 12pm BRAZIL Brazil Post Impeachment: One year of Temer GovernmentJournalists Ali and Jan Rocha will explain the background to Dilma Rousseff's impeachment in 2016 and look at Michel Temer's controversial first year in government. The talk will be illustrated with videos.  Reserve your seat here.  12pm – 1pm ECUADOR The Sarayaku: Ecuadorian Amazonians Combat Climate Change 12.00 pm -   1.00 pm - Film "Children of the Jaguar" , followed by a Q&A and discussion with  lecturer and writer Linda Etchart, who will talk...

Terra do Meio 3: O rio Iriri – conservação e seus custos

Na terceira de seis postagens, uma discussão sobre os problemas dos colonos (barragens, legislação ambiental, grileiros) e uma visita a uma fazenda “fantasma”. Tradução: Maria Luíza Camargo. A matéria original, em inglês, pode ser lida aqui no LAB ou aqui no Mongabay. Aqui, a primeira e a segunda postagem.  Publicado originalmente em inglês em 23 de março de 2016. Em janeiro de 2016, a jornalista britânica Sue Branford viajou ao Brasil pela Mongabay e pelo Latin America Bureau (LAB) para uma sequência de reportagens sobre a vida das comunidades na Terra do Meio, no Pará, uma das áreas mais remotas da Amazônia....

Terra do Meio 2: Famílias sob risco de expulsão na Estação Ecológica da Terra...

Na segunda de seis postagens, Sue Branford fala de uma área onde a criação de uma unidade de conservação ambiental coloca comunidades tradicionais sob o risco de perder o território onde vivem há gerações. Tradução: Maria Luíza Camargo. A matéria original, em inglês, pode ser lida aqui no LAB: ou no Mongabay.  Em janeiro 2016, a jornalista britânica Sue Branford viajou ao Brasil pela Mongabay e pelo Latin America Bureau, para uma sequência de reportagens sobre a vida das comunidades ribeirinhas na Terra do Meio, no Pará, uma das áreas mais remotas da Amazônia. Depois de passar por Altamira,...

The Political Cloudscape of Brazil: changing shape by the minute

São Paulo, May 25. A week is a long time in Brazilian politics, and President Michel Temer has revealed himself to be a stubborn survivor as he battles to stay afloat in the sea of sleaze accusations. He has just sacked  Justice Minister  Osmar Serraglio, himself accused of corruption, replacing him with Torquato Jardim,  a prosecutor well versed in dealing with the courts in whose hands Temer’s future may now lie. Jardim is also a critic of the Lava Jato corruption investigations. As such he is welcomed by the many politicians, including Temer, who, while in public heartily defending...

Brazil: Temer teeters as plea bargain revelations unleash chaos

São Paulo, May 22. Few Brazilians were familiar with the name of Joesley Batista, who with his brother, Wesley, owns Brazil’s biggest meat packing industry, JBS, now part of the multinational holding J&F. But the revelations of his secretly taped tête a tête with President Michel Temer, alone in the Jaburu Palace late at night on March 7, off the official agenda, have placed a ticking time bomb under the government. In the barely audible conversation, Temer apparently agrees with the payment of a monthly bribe to the disgraced and imprisoned politician Eduardo Cunha to keep his mouth shut, and...