Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Latest blog posts

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...

Brazil: as the dust settles, the picture is grim

On Sunday night we watched in horror as Bolsonaro’s percentage of the vote crept up to 47%, 48%...it seemed clear that he would win the election on the first round. But then the votes from the Northeast states began to trickle in and his numbers fell, while Haddad’s rose. In the end, Jair Bolsonaro, the extreme right-wing candidate, scored 46% of valid votes, while Fernando Haddad of the PT, reached 29%.  Ciro Gomes managed just over 12% but all the other candidates, whether of the left, right or centre were reduced to single figures. Abstentions, blank and null votes...

Bolsonaro’s Black Box

P oll after poll this week has shown support for the ex-army captain, Jair Bolsonaro, is growing, while the number backing Fernando Haddad, from the Workers’ Party (PT), after his initial spectacular surge in ratings, remains stationary. This is in spite of – or probably because of – Jair Bolsonaro’s absence from TV debates, as he recovers from an assassination attempt, and from TV party political propaganda, where his party, the PSL, is only allowed 8 seconds. Instead Bolsonaro’s followers have successfully exploited social media, with an aggressive campaign which includes a deluge of fake news about the PT, Haddad...

Brazil: Bolsonaro is “the backwardness no country deserves”

He is the backwardness no country deserves to have. And we are the women who will not let him win Women in Brazil have become the main voice of resistance against far-right presidential candidate,Jair Bolsonaro, who is leading the polls for the presidential election taking place on Sunday.  Protests organised on social media took hundreds of thousands of women to the streets on September 29 to show their opposition to the candidate's fascist, sexist, misogynistic, racist and LGBT-phobic ideas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q5bIYh4uOg Bolsonaro has made many offensive comments on women. He told a fellow MP that she didn't deserve to be raped because she...

Brazil’s elections: right or left?

With just a few days to go elections on 7 October, polls indicate a run off in the second round between the small PSL’s ultra right-wing candidate Jair Bolsanaro and the PT’s Fernando Haddad, who shot into second place once Lula was finally banned from standing by the Electoral Court, in the early hours of 1 September. This election is full of novelties, among them an assassination attempt. Bolsanaro was seriously injured when a man fought his way through the crowds and plunged a knife into his stomach, as the candidate was being carried on the shoulders of enthusiastic supporters....

Brazil’s indigenous cultures: fragile or flexible?

Film: Ex-Pajé (Ex-shaman) (80 minutes) Directed by Luiz Bolognesi, 2018 With Perpera Suruí, Kabena Cinta Larga, Ubiratan Suruí and Agamenon Suruí… as themselves. Films about Indians deep in the Amazon raise an expectation of denunciation and commitment.  And not without reason, for as LAB friends and followers know, Indian populations in the Amazon face threats from infrastructure projects, from mining, from predatory logging, and from land-grabbers and their henchmen searching for ever more space to plant soybean and graze cattle. The ‘unrule’ of law is still, over enormous areas, the ‘rule’. Sue Branford and Maurício Torres have documented this vividly for LAB...

Amazon frontier: The Third Bank of the River

BOOK REVIEW Chris Feliciano Arnold, The Third Bank of the River. New York: Picador 2018 This book has been classified as ‘travel-writing’, but it is much more than that. The author, Chris Feliciano Arnold, born in Brazil and adopted into a middle-class California family, tells the story of the Amazon river and its associated port-towns near the headwaters on the frontier between Brazil, Colombia and Peru – from the early days of the conquest to the present, through the lives of ordinary people engaged in epic struggles against forces beyond their control. The title is taken from João Guimarães Rosa’s 1962 short...

Haiti: what fuelled the petrol protests?

After days of violent street protests, Haiti’s Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant and his cabinet resigned on Saturday July 14. The resignations followed a widespread backlash against the steep rise in fuel prices – a 38% hike on gasoline, 47% on diesel and 51% on kerosene. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjFuJ7FIVOM Al Jazeera report published on July 8 (added by LAB). Buildings and cars were burned, flaming roadblocks were installed, and shops looted. The prices were raised after the government removed fuel subsidies on the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in return for access to nearly $100m in grants and loans. The price increases are...

Inequality & LGBTI rights

Latin America and the Caribbean is a place of paradoxes. The region is usually depicted as relaxed, diverse, happy and open. But unfortunately, it also it stands close to the top of the international charts that measure violence against LGBTI people. According to the European advocacy organization TGEU, the region accounts for 78% of the world toll of trans people murdered from January 2008 to January 2016. Patriarchy maintains a tenacious grip on society, fomenting prejudice and conservatism, even among certain churches, and sometimes threatening or achieving regressive changes to social policy.  Yet, at the same time, this is...

Brazil: the impact of hydroelectric dams

LAB correspondent Marilene Cardoso Riveiro has made a beautiful short video, entitled 'Costs', about the impact of hydroelectric dams in Brazil on the communities directly affected. Construction work, the destruction of villages, flooding of land, diversion of water courses, damage to fisheries... https://vimeo.com/267872971 The video was shown at the Alternative World Water Forum in March 2018 in Brasilia; also at the exhibition 'Dead Water', being shown at Amnesty Interational's Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA, until 29 July. It will aslo be screened at Farnham Pottery (Pottery Lane, Wrecclesham, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 4SL - https://www.thefarnhampottery.co.uk/about-us) next Tuesday, 31st July, as part of the...

Brazil: The courageous work of Clamor

Jan Rocha, author of LAB's widely-read Brazil blogs, has just published a new history of  Clamor, the group which took in refugees from the South American dictatorships and denounced the crimes of Plan Condor. The book, Solidariedade Não Tem Fronteiras, with a foreword by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, is launched on 10 July in São Paulo, at the Bar Tubaína, Rua Haddock Lobo 74. Jan writes: Exactly 40 years to, the World Cup was held in Argentina. But, not far from the chosen stadiums with their impeccable grass pitches, thousands of men and women were being tortured and killed in secret prison...

Brazil: indigenous lands in São Paulo state under threat

About 600 indigenous people living in eight villages located in the city of Peruíbe, on the coast of São Paulo state, are at risk of losing their lands. After decades of living in a territory that has 6 km of beach, popular with tourists and people from the city, indigenous people of the Tupi-Guarani ethnic group won approval to claim their territory in 2016. But in June of the same year, a local land owner whose properties surround and overlap with the villages, filed a petition in the Federal Supreme Court (STF) against the demarcation process. In early June, there...

Bom dia, Lula

Updated 23 June, to reflect latest legal decision. In his prison cell, every morning at 7 o’clock, Lula hears hundreds of supporters camped nearby shout Good Morning Lula. At night they shout Boa Noite.  It is a way of demonstrating to him, and to the world, that, even though he is locked away in a prison cell at the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba, he is not forgotten. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K62fYGXSPF0 One of the many 'Bom Dia Lula' actions. Video via Midia Ninja In fact, more than two months after Lula began his 12-year sentence for corruption, he continues to lead the presidential race,...

Colombia: election result imperils peace

On Sunday 17th June Colombians headed to the polls to vote for their new President. As of 5.30pm the results pointed to a clear victory by the candidate Ivan Duque with around 55% of the votes. The candidate through his political campaign has pledged to do substantial adjustments to the peace agreement between the Government and the guerrilla group, the FARC, signed in November 2016. Ivan Duque represents the far-right wing party, Centro Democrático, founded by former President Alvaro Uribe in 2013. Thomas Mortensen, Christian Aid´s Country Manager in Colombia says: “We are concerned about calls by the new President to...