Threats multiply – LAB Newsletter June 2019

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2 July 2019

Dear LAB Supporter and Friend

Threats multiply – to women, diversity and the environment

Somos Guerreras

Somos Guerreras is a collective of seasoned artists comprised of rappers Rebeca Lane (Guatemala), Nakury (Costa Rica) and Audry Funk (Mexico). They are visiting London for the first time in early July, and will appear at the Festival of Latin American Women in the Arts (FLAWA). LAB’s Louise Morris, author of the Women and Culture chapters in Voices of Latin America will be co-hosting a panel discussion with the visitors on 11 July at the Institute of Education, Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL. Details here, and (free) tickets here. Somos Guerreras is also performing on 12 July, details here. Collections will be taken at both events for Honduran women’s organization Las Hormigas (see details in Voices of Latin America, Chapter 2 to help them build a women’s refuge in Intibuca.

Brazil

Rio state deputy Dani Monteiro, who grew up in a favela, denounces growing army and police violence, citing the example of the recent execution of musician Evaldo Santos Rosa during an army sweep and a police operation in which state governor (and Bolsonaro supporter) Wilson Witzel took part in person. She says that the policies of the present government write off the young and aim to destroy all the life chances of the youth of Brazil. Dani is proposing 20 per cent minimum quotas for black and indigenous people in all consultative councils and regulatory bodies in the state (Read more…).

For his part, president Jair Bolsonaro has begun a widespread purge of military and civilian officials who fail to back his most extreme policies. In particular he has eviscerated Funai, the National Indian Foundation, IBAMA, the environment agency and ICMBio, the Chico Mendez Institute. Meanwhile, seizures of illegally felled timber have declined precipitously (Read more…)

Not all is going Bolsonaro’s way, however, reports LAB’s Jan Rocha, as details are leaked of direct collusion between judge (now Minister of Justice) Sergio Moro and prosecutors in the indictment which put Lula behind bars (and out of the presidential race) in 2017. LGBT people are fighting back against the president’s homophobia. In Brasilia the state supreme court ruled that homophobia is a racist crime, while in São Paulo an estimated three million people took part in the city’s biggest Gay Parade ever (Read more…)

Indigenous people, perhaps the group most under threat from the new president, are also fighting back. Sue Branford recounts how the Sareré-Mawé are renewing their claim to their territory, and are determined to defend it (Read more…)

Dan Baron Cohen adds to his Amazon Diary blog with two posts about a trip to Europe he made recently with Elisa Dias, a percussionist in the AfroRaiz collective, a project of the Rios de Encontro initiative in Cabelo Seco, a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Marabá, Pará, on the Tocantins tributary of the Amazon. They visited Brussels (Read more…) and Cologne (Read more…), meeting with green officials and school children to explain why the Amazon region is becoming arid.

El Salvador

The country’s legislative assembly is to vote soon on a controversial new law which, if passed, would give de facto immunity from prosecution for some of those involved in the worst human rights abuses of the country’s bloody civil war, including the massacre at El Mozote in December 1981 where the army’s Atlacatl Battalion massacred at least 900 people, including 553 children. Bizarrely the new law is being backed by both the traditional right and the FLMN. (Read more…)

Venezuela

New LAB partner OjosIlegales RED has produced a short video-documentary, detailing the efforts of the Pumé indigenous people from the Llanos area to defend their land against cattle ranchers and illegal or semi-legal mining (Read more…). Read the extensive comments below this article on the LAB website.

Bolivia

Isaac Niemand’s one hour film Cholet, documents the work of Freddy Mamani, who built more than 60 Salas de Eventos in El Alto, Bolivia. It also shows the growing number of wealthy Aymara business people displaying their wealth in dance halls and banqueting rooms and, often, grand apartments on the top floors for themselves and their children (Read more…). 

Colombia

LAB partner Christian Aid has a project called Ten Years, documenting the Afro-Colombian and indigenous Wounaan communities in the Valle del Cauca and their experience of the Peace Agreement. Instead of peace, they report increased human rights violations, with various armed groups moving into areas formerly controlled by the FARC (Read more…). The Duque government’s commitment to implementing the peace agreement is called into question by a communiqué signed by a number of international organizations, including OXFAM (Read more…)

Climate change

Distinguished author, reporter and documentary filmmaker Eliane Brum (interviewed in Voices of Latin America, Chapter 1) has written a long, thoughtful article for El Pais (translated for LAB), reflecting on the significance of the climate rebellion movements and the influence of Great Thunberg, the 15-year-old Swedish girl who has addressed international leaders with the message: ‘I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act… act as if the house is on fire, because it is’ (Read more…)

Best wishes,

The LAB Team

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