Friday, December 14, 2018

Latest blog posts

Brazil: The toxic impact of bauxite mining in Oriximiná

In a book released by the Comissão Pró-Índio de São Paulo this week, the affected population reveals the socio-environmental consequences of 40 years of bauxite extraction in Oriximiná, Brazil. The book “Antes a Água era Cristalina, Pura e Sadia – Percepções quilombolas e ribeirinhas dos impactos e riscos da mineração em Oriximiná, Pará”  discusses the consequences of bauxite extraction from the point of view of the impacted population. The study gathers testimonies selected from 47 interviews carried out with residents of Quilombo Boa Vista, and the Boa Nova and Saracá riverine communities who report impacts on watercourses and reveal a...

To end Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

In November-December 2018 Christian Aid promoted a Month of Awareness of Gender Based Violence, working with its partners in the region, around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November) and International Human Rights Day (10 December). The Latin American and Caribbean region has the highest rates of violence against women, girls and LGBTI population in the world. Not coincidently, it is also the most unequal region with different layers of intersecting inequalities. In Central America, 2 out of 3 women who die violent deaths are killed because they are women, and in half of all...

The Mad Hatter’s tea-party: Bolsonaro chooses his cabinet

São Paulo, 3 December:  During the election campaign, president-elect Jair Bolsonaro boasted he would pare the number of cabinet ministers down from its present total of 29 to a mere 15, but he has been overtaken by reality and the number is 22 and counting. The new government includes generals (and an admiral), Cold War warriors, climate deniers and Chicago boys.  Add to the mix the three Bolsonaro sons, Flavio, Eduardo and Carlos, who, although elected on their father’s coat tails, respectively senator, federal deputy and municipal councillor, behave more like the arrogant children of an absolute monarch, making...

A repudiation of all who preach human rights violations

Bernardo Kucinski is a highly respected Brazilian journalist and writer. After decades in journalism, he recently turned to literature, writing, among other works, a widely acclaimed short novel, entitled “K”, based on the ‘disappearance’ of his sister during the military dictatorship. On 25 October of this year Bernardo gave a public address in the Tucarena Theatre, São Paulo, on being awarded the prestigious Vladimir Herzog Prize for Human Rights and Amnesty, journalism category. This is a shortened version of what he said, translated from the Portuguese by Sue Branford: Good evening everyone. I understand that I was chosen to receive...

Brazil on the threshold

‘Remember Germany, 1934,’ my moderate brother advises, ‘and be explicit’. For forty years, I have written from the threshold between resistance and liberation. I never imagined we would live on the threshold between ‘the least worse’ and fascism. My eyes brim with tears. I don’t want to leave the House of Rivers. ‘In times of fake news and seamless editing,’ I reply, ‘I affirm the intelligence of the readers of my stories, to create space for the most diverse, active interpretation. How else will we nurture new methods capable of responding to the radically unprecedented questions of our time?’ Sunday,...

Brazil post-elections: the quid pro quo

Only four days after Jair Bolsonaro's election, federal judge Sergio Moro, Lula’s nemesis, hurried to Rio to accept the president elect’s invitation to become his minister of Justice. Even Bolsonaro was impressed by the judge’s enthusiasm. “He accepted as eagerly as a student getting his diploma at graduation,” he said. The new minister will be boss of a greatly enhanced ministry, responsible for  the federal police, prisons, Funai and corruption investigations, including  money laundering. By accepting an executive post, Moro is obliged to renounce his role as judge, but the PT’s conviction that Moro was never an impartial judge has...

Brazil: on the eve of elections, Haddad up, Bolsonaro down

São Paulo, October 23. On the eve of the second round of the presidential elections, armed police and officials from electoral tribunals invaded at least 30 state universities up and down the country, confiscating anti-fascist banners and posters, intimidating lecturers and students and interrupting debates.  Judges justified these arbritrary actions by saying the materials and activities were pro-Fernando Haddad, the PT candidate. So they confiscated a Manifesto in Defence of Democracy and Public Universities in Campina Grande, and tore down a banner saying Down with Fascism in Niteroi. In Rio court officials also confiscated hundreds of copies of a special edition...

Brazil’s elections: Christian churches sound the alarm

On Sunday 28 October, Brazil will elect a new President in the middle of the worst political crisis since the dictatorship in the 1960s. In the past three years headlines about Brazil have taken a more ominous tone and now the door to the past seems to be open once again. Back in 2015, the international economic crisis had plunged the country into a deep recession that triggered disruption throughout the Brazilian political system. The controversial impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and a series of corruption scandals that affected the entire political class mark a turning point for the country...

Amid the furore of Brazil’s 2018 elections: listening for the quiet voices

One afternoon in October 2013, I arrived for an appointment at a public building in a small town in Brazil. Sitting opposite in the waiting room, there was a woman smoking quietly. After a long wait, I was becoming annoyed by the smoke, so I asked the receptionist if smoking was allowed inside public buildings and he replied, to my surprise, “No problem.” The smoker must have heard my inquiry, but continued smoking, staring straight at me. I felt threatened and looked at my phone to avoid eye contact. I looked up smoking laws to find out smoking was...

Amazon Diary 2: In the shadows of the dictatorship

This is the second of three Letters from the Amazon, written in recent weeks by LAB collaborator Dan Baron Cohen. Further letters will be published in the next few months. You can see them all here. Cabelo Seco, Marabá. 2 October 2018. The motorcycle-taxi slows to a halt beside me on the Trans-Amazonia highway, in front of the Headquarters of the 4th Battalion. ‘Where to?’ asks the taxi-driver. I’m in shock. No one had warned me that just two days earlier, a new coronel from Special Missions had replaced the previous regional commander of the Military Police, a key figure...

Amazon Diary 1: Everything that no-one wants

This is the first of three Letters from the Amazon, written in recent weeks by LAB collaborator Dan Baron Cohen. Further letters will be published in the next few months. You can see them all here. Cabelo Seco, Marabá. 7 September 2018 Our descent into Belém airport is announced. I close my Mac and look past the man beside me at the distant cityscape. The sky is black with imminent storm. My neighbour turns off his mobile. He has been listening to the unmistakable tones of angry accusation by the presidential frontrunner, Jair Bolsonaro, the full three hours of the flight. 'How...

Amazon Diary 3: Create a horizon of good living

This is the Dan Baron Cohen's third letter from the Amazon. Further letters will be published in the next few months. You can see them all here. Cabelo Seco, Marabá. 18 October 2018. You know the rivers and forests of the Amazon are our world’s most advanced technology, for living well. Invite everyone, the afraid, the silent and the angry, to create a horizon of good living, to sustain not to choke the future An explosion of angry voices right outside our home sends startled cats darting in all directions. Harsh street lights on the Tocantins River boardwalk glint in the blade...

Bolsonaro’s dirty tricks

An avalanche of millions of anti-PT messages, most of them slanderous lies or fake news, has inundated the screens of Brazilian WhatsApp users in favour of Jair Bolsonaro’s election campaign, sent by companies paid for the service. The accusation was made by leading newspaper Folha De S.Paulo, but at first ignored by TV Globo, which preferred to play down the biggest scandal of the campaign, which could have determined the result of the first round. Polls showed a last minute surge in votes for Bolsonaro and pro-Bolsonaro candidates around the country. The newspaper said pro-Bolsonaro businessmen had paid millions of...

Are Brazilians sleepwalking into disaster?

São Paulo,12 October. Are we heading for a repeat of the fiasco which followed previous elections of so-called salvadores da pátria - messianic figures who promise to put an end to corruption? In 1961 it was Janio Quadros with his broom, in 1989 it was Fernando Collor, the caçador dos marajás, or hunter of the mandarins – both governments ended prematurely, and both were succeeded by their vice-presidents. Jair Bolsonaro’s candidate for vice president is a garrulous ultra-reactionary general, Hamilton Mourão, and he has surrounded himself with other generals, who are his advisers and future ministers. The military could return by...