Dear LAB Supporter and Friend,
International Women’s Day
March 8, International Women’s Day, saw huge, unprecedented demonstrations across Latin America. In Guatemala, the date is a painful anniversary of the death in 2017 of 41 girls and young women in a state-run children’s home in Guatemala City, the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción. Christian Aid’s Nathalie Mercier describes the scant progress towards justice and the wider battle for gender equity in the country.
LAB's work to document the Voices of Latin America, the rich and varied activity of social movements, finds women at the forefront of the great majority of the campaigns and activities. We will do our best to convey their words and experiences as we work on our next major book (due for publication in May 2021), The Heart of Our Earth – community resistance to mining in Latin America. We will only achieve this if we can raise the funds to continue. THIS LINK is where you can donate to LAB, and if possible set the donation to repeat monthly or annually. A big thanks to all who have already done this.
Chile, saw a huge demonstration on 8 March. The wider struggle of women in Chile and the looming battle for a new constitution are analysed here by Carole Concha Bell. Mexico’s demonstration was followed by a one-day strike by women on 9 March. Useful round-ups of IWD actions in the region are in photos, here and, on video, here.
Earlier, in Guatemala, the International Day of Mother Tongue was celebrated on 21 February. Nathalie Mercier looks at the significance of language and asks, in English and (Mayan) K’iche’ what it means to ‘be OK’. Back in the UK, LAB editor Nick Caistor went to an exhibition at Camden Arts Centre (continuing until 5 April) of brilliantly coloured canvases by Argentine artist Vivian Suter, who lives in the Guatemalan highlands.
Many more articles on IWD were listed on LAB’s Facebook page, though you will have to scroll down to find them. We are increasingly using Facebook to bring to the attention of our 3,800 followers (currently, and growing) some of the myriad excellent articles and videos from around the web.
The growing role of social media in campaigning and elections was examined in the journalism chapter of LAB’s Voices of Latin America. Robert Eveson looks at the way social media use affects democracy, both in positive and negative ways. This is a theme LAB will be returning to.
Brazil’s indigenous peoples under threat
Concern for the survival of indigenous groups in Brazil is mounting as the effects of the overtly racist policies of Jair Bolsonaro combine with his fealty to agribusiness and megamining. Anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro calls it ‘the final offensive against indigenous people’, in an article translated by LAB from our São Paulo partner Agência Pública, a network of independent journalists. We will be publishing their articles monthly. LAB’s Sue Branford continues to chronicle these trends for US website Mongabay. A campaign has been launched to nominate chief Raoni Yanomani for the Nobel Peace Prize 2020.
A second Agência Pública article warns of the widespread offloading of toxic agricultural chemicals onto the Brazilian market. Multinational giant Syngenta, for instance, continues to market Paraquat in Brazil, although this chemical has been banned in the EU since 2007.
Meanwhile, in the Peruvian Amazon, efforts continue to bring to justice the murderers of five indigenous Saweto men, killed in 2014 because of their opposition to illegal logging. Six years later, logging continues and impunity thrives.
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Back in Brazil, LAB editor Sue Branford exposes the rapid increase in illegal timber exports from the Amazon region, including rare and valuable trees like the Ipê, facilitated by the Bolsonaro government’s bonfire of regulations, controls and inspection regimes.
However, the reputation of Bolsonaro’s presidency continues its rapid downward spiral. Jan Rocha notes how the president clowns for the cameras, while murder and femicide rates spike and the economy languishes.
Bolivia: what happened in 2019?
The answers to some questions are beginning to become clearer: why did Evo Morales resign? What was the role of the Army? And, in the build-up to the elections (due in May), how come the opposition is so divided? Bolivia Information Forum (BIF) has done an excellent job of documentation and analysis. LAB has published their two most recent bulletins. The latest is here.
The death of Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal on 1 March spurred tributes from around the world. LAB’s is by Nick Caistor, who interviewed the poet-priest ten years ago, and who wrote the Guardian obituary.
In Haiti, women known as Madan Sara work tirelessly to buy, distribute, and sell food and other essentials in markets through the country. They are celebrated in a film being made by Street Team Producions.
Missing LAB books: do you have any of these titles?
LAB’s partner Practical Action Publishing have done a magnificent job of scanning books on LAB’s back-list (well over 100) to make them available in digital form. These can be ordered from Development Bookshop, and universities, schools and colleges can obtain subscriptions to use them for course reading from Development Bookshelf.
There are a few titles we haven’t been able to locate. If, by chance, you have a copy of any of the following, could you let us know? E-mail Mike.Gatehouse@lab.org.uk –if you are willing to part with your copy, Practical Action will scan it (unfortunately this means dismembering the book), and let you have a free digital copy in exchange in due course.
These are the ‘missing’ titles:
|Cuba in Focus
|Deeper Than Debt
|Dominican Republic: Beyond the Lighthouse
|Human Rights in Latin America
|Jamaica in Focus
|Language of the Land
|Patterns of Protest
|The Battle of Venezuela
|The Latin American City 2nd Edition
|The Story of Colors/La Historia de Colores
|Travels in ‘Paradise’
The LAB Team