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Nobody’s Backyard

Nobody’s Backyard: not Washington’s, nor the Vatican’s, nor (yet) Beijing’s

Dear LAB supporter and friend,

Pope Francis has just spent what is a widely seen as a successful visit to Brazil. The popularity was palpable, says Jan Rocha in the latest post to her São Paulo blog, but will it be enough to stem the church’s haemorrhage of flock and influence (Read more)? Francis McDonagh, meanwhile, has taken a close look at what the Pope said in an unscripted address to young Argentine pilgrims, and the wording of separate speeches to the Brazilian bishops and to leaders of civil society. In different words for his different audiences, he reiterates his conviction that the Catholic Church needs shaking up, needs to go down into the streets and listen to people(Read more).

The protests in Brazil have abated, perhaps partly in anticipation of the Pope’s visit, but few expect the lull to last. People are gaining a sense of their own power and that is intoxicating. In a joint article for Red Pepper and LAB, Sue Branford and Hilary Wainwright speak to a range of commentators on the Brazilian left about the way forward (Read more)

The other major and, as yet, unresolved story in Latin America in recent weeks has, of course, been the US foreign policy debacle around the whistle-blower Edward Snowden . We carry both a news story (Read more) and a comment piece (Read more) from the Bolivia Information Forum, along with a statement of solidarity with Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange from social movements in the ALBA countries (Read more). In a hard-hitting article Ben Dangl, editor of UpsideDownWorld, argues that the incident demonstrates unequivocally that Latin America is no longer Washington’s backyard – something clear to almost everyone in the Region except the US itself (Read more).

We are pleased to announce a new regular blogger for LAB – Luis Vasquez, a social anthropologist from Mexico. In his first post, he speaks of how, as China moves cautiously towards increased specialisation and higher wages, Mexico is travelling in the opposite direction by seeking to become ‘the new workshop of the world’ by slashing wages and abolishing labour rights. (Read more)

We also introduce a new blog from Ana Caistor Arendar and Matt Kennard, who are on a trip through Latin America after a stint in Mexico. Their first post describes their visit to a Zapatista village in southern Mexico (Read more). LAB would welcome new bloggers, who can bring us that special mix of personal perspective combined with insight into social and political developments in Latin America.

In Other News

Argentina: Two analysts look critically at the land policies of the current government. (Read more)

Brazil: In Rio, the programme to ‘pacify’ townships, uncritically praised by much of the media during the Pope’s visit, has claimed another victim. Amildo de Souza, taken away for questioning by the police in Rocinha, has disappeared (Read more).

Che Guevara & Ciro Bustos: LAB editor Javier Farje interviews the veteran Argentine guerrilla fighter on his memories of Che Guevara and their failed attempts to create guerrilla focos in Salta and Bolivia (Read more)

Venezuela: Samuel Grove interviews George Ciccariello-Maher on his recent book, We created Chavez. (Read more).

Chile: Claudia Orellana interviews a student in the occupation of the school at which she herself was a pupil in the 1980s and explains how students today are campaigning for market-free education (Read more).

Partners

LAB welcomes a number of new partners: Banana Link, Guatemala Solidarity Network, Editorial Cartonera Intercultural–Laboratorio de Prácticas Artísticas Comunitarias (Ecuador) and Argentina Research Network UK. Their profiles can be accessed here. Any organisation wishing to become a LAB partner can do so (it’s free) by completing a profile questionnaire (in English, Spanish, Portuguese or French) here.

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Best wishes,

The LAB Team