Saturday, August 18, 2018

Latest blog posts

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...

Nicaragua: 81 deaths that affect us all

Over the last month, we have seen a brutal escalation of institutional violence in Nicaragua. A recent report by Amnesty International highlights the country’s strategy of repression, excessive use of force, extrajudicial executions and control of the media. Most recently pro-government armed groups have been used to halt protests in the streets and as a result, at least 81 people have been killed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k7cYE3geVo&feature=youtu.behttp:// Amnesty International video The foundations of international democracy suffer when a State violates civil and human rights.  The international community must speak out against repression by the Nicaraguan State. Since 18th April, the State has tried to silence the...

Brazil: lorry drivers strike brings chaos

São Paulo, 29 May 2018: A week-long strike by hundreds of thousands of lorry drivers, blockading highways and interrupting deliveries of petrol, food, medical supplies and livestock, paralysed Brazil. Without fuel, planes were grounded, buses were unable to run, and cars were stranded. Without medicines and blood, hospitals cancelled operations and turned patients away. Schools and universities closed down. Without feed, millions of chickens and pigs died of starvation. Without transport, thousands of litres of milk were poured into the ground. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-g1OWOWbPk Lorry drivers speaking about the strike. Later in the report, a 'Military intervention now!' banner is visible in the...

Colombia: an election which may determine the fate of peace

Colombia: an election which will determine the fate of peace By Thomas Mortensen, Colombia Country Manager, Christian Aid As Colombians head to the polls on the 27th May, the internationally recognised peace agreement signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in late 2016, hangs in the balance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGh4F_AlWxA&feature=youtu.be Edited highlights of a debate between Colombian presidential candidates Ivan Duque and Gustavo Petro, held at New York's Columbia University, 24 March 2018. A full recording can be watched here. This agreement has the potential to put an end to more than 60 years of conflict which left 8 million victims, including 7 million...

Brazil: Geisel authorized targeted killings

In the last two weeks the Brazilian scholar Matias Spektor of the Fundação Getúlio Vargas has brought to light documents which take us back to the dark depths of the country’s military regime which governed from 1964 to 1984. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaiFvx6lNSU Matias Spektor comments on the discovery of the CIA documents. Interview by Pedro Bial, Video: Fatos Incríveis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2mP3XbFZPY Jair Bolsonaro defends Reserve General Antonio Hamilton Mourão, who spoke of 'military intervention', criticised the military policing of Rio as a 'weak military intervention', and is a fan of Col.Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, in charge of torture during the 1970s military dictatorship. Video: Portal da...

Brazil: Lula imprisoned

The imprisonment of former president Lula takes place against a background which is complicated at best and murky at worst. The case against him is as follows: Lula’s wife, who died two years ago, had been eligible to purchase a $0.5 million duplex apartment in the seaside resort of Guarujá in São Paulo state, but subject to paying for an upgrade which was undertaken by OAS, a company belonging to the notorious construction giant Oderbrecht.  She did not pay the sums, and signed no deed or transfer, thus renouncing her title, but the upgrade went ahead anyway. Despite the absence of any...

Brazil: Lula’s last stand

São Paulo, 16 April. Lula disappeared into the federal police building in Curitiba on 7 April and nobody knows when he will be seen again. Two days before, after the Supreme Court refused to grant him a habeas corpus, the PT’s presidential candidate had bunkered down at the HQ of the metalworkers union in São Bernardo, surrounded by thousands of loyal supporters who filled the streets around the squat blue building. Judge Sergio Moro had given him until 6 p.m. on Friday 6  April to turn himself in and begin serving his 12 year sentence.  When I looked at the images...

Brazil: the judges, the generals and all the president’s men

In a decision as closely watched as a World Cup final, Brazil’s Supreme Court decided by 6 to 5 to reject a habeas corpus application for ex-president Lula, opening the way for his imminent arrest.  The eleven judges spent 11 hours proffering their votes in erudite, legal language peppered with Latin expressions, impossible for the man or woman in the street to understand.  Five voted for the habeas corpus, which would have allowed Lula to remain at liberty while appealing his case to the Supreme Court, five voted against. It then fell to the court president Carmen Lucia to...