Archive for March, 2014

Brazil: Truth and impunity

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo for March 27, 2014. See original here. On March 31, 1964, Brazilian military forces, with the full support of the United States under President Lyndon Johnson, overthrew center-left President João Goulart. The coup in Brazil came six months after the US-backed coup against Dominican President Juan Bosch during the Kennedy presidency. The military ruled Brazil until they were replaced by an elected government in 1985.]

coupFifty years after the coup that toppled the government of João Goulart, the truth about what happened is beginning gradually to surface

By Eric Nepomuceno

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the civilian-military coup that toppled the government of João “Jango” Goulart and initiated a 21-year dictatorship, there is a little of everything in Brazil. Some are nostalgic, some have forgotten those evil times and some are indifferent, believing that turning to the past is unnecessary. And the latter are the majority, the keepers of a very revealing silence about Brazilians’ chronic terror during a dreadful past.

And there are a few – very few – agents of state terrorism who, for some reason, have chosen to tell part of what they know. In this way, the truth is beginning gradually to be uncovered. This occurs with the support of a contorted and despicable amnesty law decreed by the military as the dictatorship was beginning to decline and ratified four years ago by the Supreme Court in a manner as surprising as it was cowardly. (more…)

Colombia: Gustavo Petro leaves a void in the Colombian Left

Monday, March 24th, 2014

FARC warns that Santos’ ruling may affect peace process

[Translation of an article from El Telégrafo of Guayaquil, Ecuador, for March 21, 2014.  See original here and related article here.]

Political leaders and analysts believe that the removal of the mayor of Bogotá will have repercussions in the presidential elections next May. The former official has announced that he will promote voting for “none of the above.”

The former mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, a one-time militant with the M-19 guerrilla movement, is the only local official on the left who has managed to hold a high political office in Colombia. His removal from office is without doubt a blow to the left, which saw in him the possibility of governing [the country], analysts stress.

President Juan Manuel Santos removed Petro in compliance with a request by the attorney general, who held that the mayor committed serious errors in the course of transferring the Bogota garbage collection system from the private sector to the public in 2012, and after denying a petition for a preliminary injunction in the case made on Tuesday by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (more…)

Mexico: The effects of fracking for shale gas in Los Ramones, Nuevo León

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
((Don Alvaro Cortez Plata -- photo by Sanjuana Martínez))

((Don Alvaro Cortez Plata — photo by Sanjuana Martínez))

“The explosion, like a roar that comes from the earth, and everything shakes; I’ve never felt anything like it”

 [Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for March 16, 2014.  See original here.]

by Sanjuana Martínez

Los Ramones, Nuevo León, March 15 — Álvaro Cortez Plata does not know what fracking is, nor does he have any information on the so-called Plan Monterrey VI, much less does he know the name of the transnational that contracted with Pemex to extract shale gas from his village; but he has felt the earth shake a hundred times since last October, tremors that begin with a kind of roar, followed by a swaying like waves on the sea and, finally, a creaking sound that breaks walls, smashes glass and buckles floors.

“It is a roar that comes from the earth, an explosion; everything shakes, something I had never felt as long as I’ve lived,” says this 64-year-old campesino as he points out the cracks in his adobe house in this town at the epicenter of the earthquakes, 80 kilometers north of Monterrey.  His daughter, Argelia Sanjuanita, points out the damage inside the house. “Just last night and at eight this morning we felt more tremors. The people who live closer to the wells have more damage to their houses; some of them have collapsed.” (more…)

Venezuela: The Caracazo and civilian-military unity

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo for March 2, 2014. See original here.]

By Beto Almeida

“The Bolivarian Revolution is peaceful but armed”

Twenty-five years ago, on February 27, 1989, the president of Venezuela at the time, Carlos Andrés Pérez, launched an explosive neoliberal package that drastically increased the prices of gasoline and food. The people of Caracas rebelled, took to the streets, looted supermarkets, clothing stores, butchers’ shops. Pérez ordered the army to repress them harshly. Hundreds of citizens were killed. The exact number is yet to be calculated, since many were buried in common graves or thrown onto the city garbage dump.

When I had the opportunity to interview President Chávez in the Miraflores Palace, he told me he was in the service then and knew when the order to repress was given and when the troops left for the poor neighborhoods, crushing the rebellion that came to be known as the Caracazo, without pity or remorse. Chávez said that the Caracazo was the fuse, the avalanche, the fundamental encouragement for the Bolivarian military movement, the building of which he led in barracks throughout the nation, to spring into action. That repression had provoked the progressive and nationalist ranks of the military. (more…)