Brazil: Divisions left and right

[Translations of two articles, from Brasil de Fato for November 14, 2014, and Carta Maior for November 11, 2014. See originals here and here and related articles here, here and here.]

SakamotoDemonstration in São Paulo sends messages to the federal government and to the ultra-conservatives

By Leonardo Sakamoto

Called by the Homeless Workers’ Movement [MTST], a march in São Paulo on November 13 to demand popular reforms and to criticize ultra-conservative rhetoric began at the Museum of Art on Paulista Avenue, passed through the wealthy Jardins neighborhood and ended at the Praça Roosevelt.

With the participation of social organizations, labor unions and leftist political parties (both pro-administration and in the opposition), the action sent a message to Dilma: if there is a reduction in resources for social programs and if the demands of the financial market are prioritized to the detriment of programs that guarantee the dignity of workers, the social movements will close down the country. The action also attacked the demands for impeachment by groups unhappy with the results of the elections. Read the rest of this entry »

The consolidation of the Latin American Left

[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo, Brazil, for October 29, 2014. See original here and related articles here and here.]

by Emir Sader

There has been much talk recently of an eventual end to the cycle of progressive government in Latin America. Real difficulties in countries like Venezuela and Argentina, added to a slowing of the pace of expansion of the region’s economies, have fed these speculations.

This year’s electoral calendar could be a test of the vigor of these governments. The year began with the inauguration of Michele Bachelet in Chile, who defeated Sebastián Piñera. Soon afterward, the Frente Farabundo Martí elected the president of El Salvador. In October Evo Morales was re-elected in the first round of voting. Now Dilma is re-elected and Tabaré Vázquez’s performance in the first round has made him the favorite for continuation of Frente Amplio administrations in Uruguay. Read the rest of this entry »

Colombia: Fixing the blame

[Translations of two articles, the first from Semana of Bogotá, Colombia, for October 30, 2014, the second from La República of Montevideo, Uruguay, for the same date. See originals here and here and related articles here, here, here, here and here.]

FARC acknowledges damage it has caused to civilian population

By Victoria Sandino

For the first time in its history, the FARC guerrilla force admitted on Thursday in Havana that its actions have affected the civilian population throughout the armed conflict despite their not being “the principal or secondary target” of the guerrilla and stressed that they accept their responsibility.

“We are aware that the results of our actions have not always been what were predicted or hoped for by FARC and we accept the consequences, since it could not be otherwise. FARC will accept the appropriate responsibility,” states a communiqué released by the guerrilla group’s peace delegation.

The statement, read to the press by guerrilla fighter “Pablo Atrato,” holds that it “is clear” that as a guerrilla force FARC has “intervened in an active way” and “had an impact on the adversary and in some ways has affected the population living immersed in war.” Read the rest of this entry »

Colombia: Uribe, paramilitarism and imperialist intervention in Latin America

((Álvaro Uribe))

((Álvaro Uribe))

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for October 16, 2014. See original here and related articles here, here and here. The author is an activist in the Brazilian chapter of the Marcha Patriótica movement.]

By Javier D. Rodríguez

A few weeks ago a debate was held in the national congress of the Republic of Colombia on the connections between former President and now Senator Álvaro Uribe Vélez and paramilitary groups and narcotraffickers. The debate, initiated by Senator Iván Cepeda of the Polo Democrático Alternativo, sought to ask the Justice Department for results of the investigation into criminal acts allegedly carried out by Uribe, described in detail by Cepeda and other participants during the discussion, which lasted more than eight hours.

The history of Uribe’s involvement in public office is long, as is the history of his corruption scandals and his ties to the paramilitary and drug trafficking. At the time of his first public office as director of civil aviation in 1980, there were charges that he granted permits to planes used by drug trafficking cartels; afterward, as national congressman in 1989, the same Uribe would be one of the main critics of the deportation of drug traffickers; and in his term as governor of the department of Antioquia he was responsible for the birth and growth of paramilitarism through the creation of armed civilian groups called “Convivir” [Asociaciones Comunitarias de Vigilancia Rural]. Read the rest of this entry »

Mexico: Who benefits from the massacre in Iguala?

In Guerrero more than in any other state in Mexico, the army rules more than the elected governor

[Translation of an article from Más por Más of Mexico City for October 13, 2014. See original here.]

by Diego Enrique Osorno

In the early ‘70s the Mexican government, under pressure from the United States, carried out an ostentatious operation to eradicate the production of illegal drugs in Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua, which for a while left United States consumers with no marijuana or opiates. Nevertheless, just as this was happening, drug baron Alberto Sicilia Falcón and a group of military chiefs brought to Guerrero, for the first time, the massive cultivation of marijuana and opium poppies. So Sicilia, the drug trafficker, benefited from the production and sale of drugs, filling the void in the market left by Operation Condor in the Golden Triangle, while the maneuver aided the generals in Guerrero in their dirty war against the movement led by teachers’ college professor and guerrilla Lucio Cabañas, since the campesinos growing marijuana and poppies with their consent were turning into informers and collaborators with the army.

This is the origin of the famous marijuana known as Acapulco Gold, which could be a brand of the Mexican army. Testimony, documents and analysis of this reality can be read in a chapter of the book El Cártel de Sinaloa: Una historia del uso político del narco (Grijalbo, 2009). Read the rest of this entry »

The double standard of the Mexican blue helmets

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x pena nieto[Translation of an article from Proceso of Mexico City for September 24, 2014. See original here.]

by Jorge Carrasco Araizaga

Mexico City – The presidential announcement that the armed forces will participate in United Nations peace-keeping operations shatters the Mexican military’s traditional isolation in international questions. But basically it is a measure that contradicts the soldiers’ and marines’ activities inside the country.

If the army and the navy want to show the world that they are prepared to participate in humanitarian actions by joining the UN blue helmets, they would first have to demonstrate to Mexicans that they are capable of respecting human rights.

Just when the Mexican army is in the midst of a serious controversy over its probable responsibility for the summary execution of civilians in Tlatlaya, in the state of Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto has announced before the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York that Mexican civilian and military personnel will take part in humanitarian missions when requested by the UN and when the intervention has the consent of the country affected. Read the rest of this entry »

Rafael Correa: “Conservative restoration” threatens progressive governments of Latin America

((Photo by Miguel Romero))

((Photo by Miguel Romero))

Ecuadorian president calls for limits on for-profit communications media

[Abridged translation of an interview from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for July 22, 2014. See original here and related article here.]

by Beto Almeida, Emir Sader and Valter Xéu

On a recent trip through Brazil, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa granted an exclusive interview to Brasil de Fato. In addition to journalist Beto Almeida, representing newspaper and television show “Cidade Livre” of Brasília, journalist Valter Xéu of the web page Pátria Latina and sociologist Emir Sader also took part.

Correa, who has presided over Ecuador since 2007 and intends to run for re-election in 2017, was in Brazil to take part in a meeting of Unasur (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas), made up of South American countries, with BRICS, consisting of China, Russia, Brazil, South Africa and India. Read the rest of this entry »

Environmentalists move to the right in politics

[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo, Brazil, for September 20, 2014. See original here and related article here.]

By Emir Sader

Originally, environmentalist demands sprang from within leftist parties, thus enriching and expanding their platforms. Leaving behind the narrow vision that a resolution of the contradiction between capital and labor would resolve all others, demands about gender, about ethnicity, about the environment, came to rejuvenate the Left.

But this process also affected the traditional leftist parties. Some, like the social democrats or the nationalists, supported variants on neoliberalism; others,in particular the communist parties, were directly affected by the fall of the USSR. Within this context, social movements and even NGOs participated actively in resistance against ascendant neoliberalism. Read the rest of this entry »

Lacalle Pou and the New Right in Uruguay

((Luis Lacalle Pou))

((Luis Lacalle Pou))

[Translation of an article from Tiempo Argentino of Buenos Aires for September 7, 2014. See original here and related article here.]

By Juan Manuel Karg

Next October 26, Uruguay will hold new presidential elections. The Frente Amplio (FA) will try for another term in office, this time with the combination Tabaré Vázquez / Raúl Sendic to replace Mujica / Astori, current president and vice president. According to the polls released so far, the ticket headed by the former president [Vázquez] will win, although, like it or not, there will probably be a runoff with the young Luis Lacalle Pou, the surprise on Uruguay’s new political map. What are the main points of the Frente Amplio’s current campaign? What are the proposals of their opponents, represented principally by the candidacy of Lacalle and the Partido Nacional?

((Tabaré Vázquez))

((Tabaré Vázquez))

The Frente Amplio platform for the 2015-2020 term as published is striking in its review of conditions in Uruguay before 2004, when Tabaré Vázquez first won the presidential election for the FA. “We were handed the government of a country with one of the highest levels of per capita debt in the world, with a stagnant productive apparatus and with poverty and destitution at the highest levels in history,” the introduction reminds us, in a portrayal that was quite similar to every other country in the region. Then, before moving on to specific proposals for the new term, it points out the achievements by the two consecutive administrations: sustained growth of the gross domestic product, real increases in salaries and retirement pay, decreases in the rate of unemployment and an expansion of social policies to attack poverty and destitution. Read the rest of this entry »

The conservative restoration in Latin America

[Translation of an editorial from Página12 of Buenos Aires for September 6, 2014. See original here.]

By Emir Sader

The failure of the military coup against the government of Hugo Chávez in 2002 left the Latin American Right practically disarmed in the face of the proliferating progressive governments of the continent. Since then, it has managed to regain only two governments through bloodless coups – those of Honduras and Paraguay – where the processes of change had not yet managed to gain strength.

But there are signs of a rebuilding of conservative forces in countries on the continent with progressive governments. The threats to continuity in countries like Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, as well as the problems faced in Venezuela, and, in a different way, even in Ecuador, indicate a phenomenon of this kind.

What do these conservative attacks consist of and how are they carried out? Read the rest of this entry »

Brazil: A platform to please the bankers

((Marina Silva))

((Marina Silva))

An ecologically correct Thatcherite in the court of candidate Marina Silva

[Translation of an article from Página12 of Buenos Aires, Argentina, for August 25, 2014. See original here and related articles here and here.]

By Dario Pignotti

Ever since the environmentalist leader announced she will run in the presidential election, the only person in her entourage to offer details on her platform has been María Alice Setúbal, of the dynasty that founded and still runs the most important private bank in Brazil.

((María Alice Setúbal))

((María Alice Setúbal))

María Alice Setúbal has promised that if Marina is chosen in the October 5 election, the future administration, beginning on January 1, 2015, will do away with President Dilma Rousseff’s heterodoxies, detested in the financial community, where she is described as a “statist and interventionist.”

Marina Silva (of the Brazilian Socialist Party) is diametrically opposite Dilma (of the Workers’ Party), Setúbal explained, since the ecologist’s economic plan “focuses on clear points, stressing tax reform and fiscal responsibility,” to be achieved by cutting expenses and shrinking the state. Marina, in second place in the polls, with 21 percent of the intended vote, 15 points below Dilma, was named candidate last Wednesday shortly after the death of former Socialist Party presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in an airplane crash in São Paulo. Read the rest of this entry »

Power, and Barrick Gold, corrupt: they take the gold and leave the cyanide

gold_barrick[Translation of an article from El Clarín of Santiago, Chile, for August 25, 2014. See original here and go here for more information.]

By Alicia Gariazzo

Eighty percent of the gold produced in the world is for jewelry. Supplying the gold for a wedding ring takes 18 tons of earth and leaves 12 cubic meters of waste. The low-grade mineral that is dug up is sprayed with a solution of cyanide, which releases tiny particles of gold as it lixiviates, or filters through. The waste cyanide is carried away in water through pipes to the tailings dams. The dams are left uncovered so the cyanide can disintegrate and the water can evaporate. Close to 100 toxic chemicals and heavy metals are released as the cyanide breaks down.

They remain intact after the process and they cannot be removed from an area several kilometers in diameter. One teaspoon of a two-percent solution can kill an adult. The method of lixiviation, banned in Canada and throughout the industrialized world, requires 180 tons of cyanide a month, which, since it is imported, has to be transported over land from the ports of entry. Another method, used less often, is amalgamation based on mercury. Modern dentistry now prohibits the use of the amalgam in teeth because of the secondary effect the mercury produces, even in small quantities. Read the rest of this entry »