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Indigenous Brazilian electronic art comes to London’s British Academy

by Shafik Meghji A fishing net that recreates the sound of the ocean. An earthenware pot that emits traditional stories and songs. A cocoon-like structure that pulses with light to the rhythm of your beating heart. These are some of the results of an innovative project that paired non-indigenous artists and indigenous communities in north-eastern Brazil and asked them to produce joint pieces of electronic art. Four of the artworks will be displayed at the British Academy’s Summer Showcase in London on 21-22 June. ‘The...

El Salvador: reconciliation or impunity?

El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly is expected to vote soon on a controversial new 'Special Law of Transitional and Restorative Justice for National Reconciliation'. Despite its title, the law would provide both army and guerrilla soldiers with de facto impunity for crimes against human rights committed during the country’s bitter conflict in the 1970s and 1980s. The proposed legislation is supported by both the right-wing ARENA party and, surprisingly, by the party of the FMLN former guerrillas, some of whom have their own war-crimes to exonerate. Opposed by incoming president Nayib Bukele and roundly condemned by most victims'...
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Bolsonaro: beginning or end?

Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning for Bolsonaro? São Paulo, 27 May. Crowds dressed in green and yellow took to the streets this Sunday in support of President Jair Bolsonaro. The more extreme protesters demanded the closing down of the Supreme Court and Congress, but others wanted the immediate approval of the government’s Pensions Bill and anti-crime measures. A giant inflatable Sergio Moro, the Justice Minister, dressed as Superman, towered over protesters on the grass in front of Congress in Brasilia. Demonstrators...

Voices launched in New York

Martin Paddio of Monthly Review Press Hosted by Monthly Review Press, NACLA, Voices editor Tom Gatehouse, and the New York Latin America Bureau team, Voices of Latin America: Social Movements and the New Activism was launched in Brooklyn, New York on 16th May at the Verso loft in Jay Street, on the East River under the shadow of the historic Brooklyn Bridge.The event was chaired via Skype by Marcos Orellana, Director of Environment and Human Rights at Human Rights Watch.In addition to human rights work, Marcos represented the eight-nation Independent Association of...

Ayahuasca, colonialist mysticism and the exploitation of indigenous people

A year ago, a video spread online where the Canadian Sebastian Woodroffe was lynched and killed by indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon. He had previously shot dead the 81-year-old environmental activist and medicine woman Olivia Arévalo, after she denied him ayahuasca. Olivia Arévalo was a Healer and not a Shaman, Kevin Tucker explains. The latter is a colonial construction, and that is very important to the context. Throughout her whole life, Olivia Arévalo had defended her culture and nature's rights, while trying to survive in a post-...

Alan García – the broken leader

In 1980, I was working for small weekly newspaper in my native Peru called Kausachum, a quechua word that means ‘Long life’. The editor was Augusto Zimmerman, an experienced journalist who had been the press chief of General Juan Velasco, former leader of an improbable left-wing military government from 1968 to 1975. One day, Luis González Posadas, Velasco’s brother-in-law and a member of the APRA party (American Revolutionary Popular Alliance), the oldest political party in Peru, came to the magazine to talk to Zimmermann. He insisted that we should interview a young Apra deputy called Alan García, and called...

Bolsonaro: from bananas to pineapples

São Paulo, April 5: ‘If he sees a banana skin on the pavement across the road, he will cross over to slip on it’, said columnist Elio Gaspari, describing the Brazilian president’s unerring capacity to provoke self-inflicted crises. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QHDGdzFyY8 Bolsonaro's call to commemorate the military coup. Video: Al Jazeera, 31 March 2019 The latest example of the Bolsonaro boomerang effect was his order to all military establishments to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the 1964 coup, which overthrew an elected president to usher in a brutal 21-year dictatorship, notorious for the imprisonment and...

Water for Life

On 22 March, World Water Day, CONIC, Christian Aid and CREAS launched an online training course for faith communities in Brazil: 'Water for Life. The idea for this came from the Alternative World Water Forum 2018. Water is part of the Creation, and as such, it needs to be protected and cared for, like all living beings; there is no possibility of life without water, therefore, the protection of springs, rivers, glaciers, seas, mineral water sources and aquifers should be understood by Christians as a consequence of a coherent practice of their faith...

Brumadinho: a gallery of destruction

On 25 January 2019 a huge tailings dam at the Feijão iron ore mine, near Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais, Brazil, collapsed suddenly and catastrophically. The resulting wave of toxic sludge engulfed part of the mine workings, a packed workers' canteen, and rushed down into the Paraopeba river, washing away houses, cattle, mine personnel and people living close to the river banks. The number of bodies identified stood at 212 as of 21 March, with a further 93 still missing. Christian Aid is supporting communities and providing emergency aid through local partners such as ...

Mexico: more than 800 socio-environmental conflicts since 2006

A project called 'Talking to Goliath' has mapped social and environmental conflicts across the length and breadth of Mexico, caused by the development, expansion or operation of mining, oil exploration and drillling, wind-power and hydroelectric projects. FLACSO Mexico, in partnership with De Montfort University, Leicester, UK has produced a detailed map of Mexico with coloured markers to indicate the site of each conflict reported in the press since 2006. The map is based on a comprehensive database of all conflicts identified. The project ('Talking with Goliath:...

Bolivia: land rights victory for Tsimane people

Even though Bolivia has had a progressive government for more than a decade (one of the last remaining in the region), indigenous rights are still under threat. Deforested clearing made by illegal settlers. Photo: Ricardo Gutierrez Illegal settlements, mining and timber companies are occupying indigenous territories causing tremendous environmental impact and provoking migration to the nearer cities. Indigenous organizations and indigenous leaders have been blackmailed, threatened and persecuted by the government. Many indigenous organizations are losing the strength and capacity to fight back for their lands. However, other organizations have...

Venezuela: the alternative of a coalition government

This article is based on a letter submitted in February 2019 to the European Commission and to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The author is Victor Álvarez R., a Venezuelan economist and winner of the Premio Nacional de Ciencia 2013. He was Minister of Basic Industries and Mining during the Chavez presidency The English translation has been revised by Mike Gatehouse for LAB. The political elites in Venezuela are committed to mutual extermination, for better or worse. The extremists at both sides await the grand final battle, hoping to defeat and impose a humiliating and unconditional...

The first family, the generals, the oranges and the Cheshire cat

25 February. It’s less than two months since Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in as president, but so much has happened that it seems like six months. In January Brazil was hit by a series of tragedies, all of them avoidable if safety precautions had been taken seriously. Instead we watched in sadness and horror as helicopters flew back and forwards to the small town of Brumadinho in Minas Gerais with, swinging below them, the body bags of those recovered from the avalanche of mud that swept all before it when an iron ore tailings dam collapsed.   No warning sirens sounded,...

Chile: Challenging broadcasting laws to defend community radio

Chile's broadcasting laws criminalise broadcasting without a licence. For six years Radio Aukan, has been unable to get a broadcasting licence. https://youtu.be/XU0OKZHlp38 Radio Aukan is a vibrant community radio station collective which reports on topics including indigenous rights and the environment. In 2015 Radio Aukan's equipment was been seized and Francisco Orellana, a member of staff, was charged by the public prosecutor for broadcasting without a licence. The potential sentence is up to three years in prison and a large fine. Chile’s broadcasting laws have been heavily criticised by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights as incompatible with international human rights standards. Francisco...

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