South America

‘Living corpses’: Why Colombia’s national tree is at risk

“They are essentially living corpses,” says Colombian scientist Rodrigo Bernal of Colombia’s national tree. Lucy Sherriff BBC The ceroxylon quindiuense, a distinct species of palm tree which was declared the country’s national tree in 1985, is on the verge of extinction and most Colombians are not even aware of the problem. That is because it takes decades for the palms to show signs of decay, even when they have already reached the end of their lifespan and scientifically they are dead, explains ... Read More »

The ordinary people making the world more right-wing

Around the world, conservative groups have been gaining influence, bolstering the power of right-wing leaders. It is a trend driven not only by older generations but also by the young. Prof Richard Youngs Carnegie Europe BBC The rapid rise of Brazil’s new far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro may have surprised some observers but it did not come out of thin air. His success follows years of support from powerful social movements. Such groups have increasingly found a voice in countries from ... Read More »

Brazil’s incomplete democratic transition

In 1986, just a year after Brazil shed over two decades of military rule, the famed Império Serrano samba school in Rio de Janeiro brought a new song to the… By Vinicius Mariano de Carvalho The Washington Post “Eu quero, a bem da verdade” (“I want, for the sake of the truth”) immediately enthralled the public, with lyrics that spoke to the basic desires of all Brazilians. “Give me what’s mine / 20 years were taken from us,” rang the chorus, ... Read More »

How Brazil’s left should respond to Bolsonaro

SÃO PAULO — Brazilians have now democratically elected a far-right president who is obsessed with death and torture and brags about his love of firearms. Rosana Pinheiro-Machado The Washington Post The flagship policies of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, involve harsher penalties for criminal offenses and legalizing firearms. “Good citizens,” he argues, must be able to defend themselves against “bandits,” a term he uses loosely. He has called left-wing and liberal activists “red outlaws” who must be “banished ... Read More »

Bolsonaro wins Brazil election, promises to purge leftists from country

After the most polarized and divisive campaign in its modern history, Brazil has elected as its next president a right-wing politician who openly disdains human rights and admires military dictators. Helder Ferreira The Conversation Jair Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old congressman who had strong evangelical backing for his law-and-order stance on policing, support for gun rights and opposition to abortion, won 55.7 percent of votes. Bolsonaro’s leftist competitor, Fernando Haddad, a former education minister and ex-mayor of São Paulo, received 45 percent of the… Bolsonaro’s angry, populist… Bolsonaro wins Brazil… Read More »

UN names Human Rights Prize winners for 2018

Asma Jahangir, Rebeca Gyumi, Joenia Wapichana and Front Line Defenders honoured by the UN for promoting human rights. Al Jazeera The United Nations has hailed the “inspiring” work of four individuals and organisations as it announced the winners of its Human Rights Prize for 2018. The honour was given on Friday to Asma Jahangir, the late Pakistani lawyer and leading human rights defender, along with Tanzanian activist Rebeca Gyumi, Brazil’s first indigenous lawyer Joenia Wapichana and Irish human rights groups Front… UN names Human… Read More »

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Is No Friend of Liberty

The prospect of the left-wing Workers’ Party returning to power in Brazil has encouraged many to enthusiastically support the candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s far right candidate. Juan Carlos Hidalgo The National Interest ”The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” goes the ancient proverb. In the case of Brazil, the prospect of the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) returning to power has encouraged the markets and some liberty advocates to enthusiastically support the candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro, a far ... Read More »

Migrants in caravan set sights on Mexico border amid Trump threats

GUATEMALA CITY — As about 3,000 Hondurans made their way through Guatemala, attention — and pressure — turned to Mexico Thursday, after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border if authorities there fail to stop the impromptu caravan. CBS News “I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!,” Trump tweeted. He went on ... Read More »

‘We are not criminals’: The ‘March of the Migrants’ reaches Guatemala

Esquipula, Guatemala: Hundreds of Hondurans hoping to reach the United States bedded down for the night in Esquipula overnight after Guatemala blinked in its attempts to halt their advance. The Canberra Times Reuters, AAP The group estimated at 1600 to 2000 people fleeing poverty and violence in Honduras marched into Guatemala in sweltering heat on Monday, twice pushing past outnumbered police sent to stop them – first at the border and then at a… After those encounters, Mexico’s immigration authority sent out ... Read More »

Costa Rica Launches Initiative on Environment and Human Rights

“For All Initiative” Promotes Gender Equality in Global Environmental Treaties Marcos Orellana HRW Today, Costa Rica will launch an initiative aiming to make gender equality and human rights integral components of global environmental agreements. Costa Rica’s Vice President Epsy Campbell Barr will launch the For All Initiative at the United Nations General Assembly’s high-level segment. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, are expected to join the launch in New… ... Read More »

Refugees from Venezuela are fleeing to Latin American cities, not refugee camps

More than 2.3 million Venezuelans – roughly 7 percent of the entire population – have fled the country’s political and economic crisis since 2014, the largest human displacement in Latin America’s history. Robert Muggah The Conversation Earlier this year as many as 5,000 Venezuelans crossed the border every day, most of them seeking safety in poor cities and towns in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Impromptu refugee camps are springing up in towns across South America, fueling anxieties that ... Read More »

How to Respond to Venezuela’s Humanitarian Emergency

Numbers tell the grim tale of Venezuela’s continuing slide into socio-economic ruin. ICG With 1.6 million people fleeing the country since 2015, international donors should step up aid to neighbouring states, while concerned parties fine-tune pressure for political change in Caracas and prepare for worst-case scenarios. Colombia’s hosting of a meeting on Venezuela today stands as an important opportunity to draw attention to the severity of the nation’s crisis, the suffering of its people and the burden it puts on ... Read More »

Chinese medical vessel docks in Venezuela

The humanitarian tour will provide medical help to the crisis-ridden country, but Venezuelan officials said it was also part of a “strategic defense operation.” Medication prices have soared as the currency tanks. DW The Chinese army medical vessel “Peace Ark” arrived in Venezuela’s La Guaira port on Saturday, as the country faces a deep economic crisis that has devastated its public health services. It is the latest stop for the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s ship in its 11-nation “Mission Harmony” ... Read More »

Brazil’s Lula: Saint or sinner?

Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva is seen as much as a saviour as he is a sinner in Brazil: a man who came to power promising change yet ended up leaving politics with a very different legacy. BBC His life mirrored that of many Brazilians. He was born in 1945 into a poor family in the north-east of Brazil and, by the time he was seven, his family had moved to São Paulo to find work – as many millions ... Read More »

World politics explainer: Pinochet’s Chile

General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, a career military officer, was appointed Commander in Chief of the Chilean army by President Salvador Allende on August 1973. Peter Read The Conversation Eighteen days later, with the connivance, if not the assistance, of the US, he authorised a coup against Allende’s Socialist government. To be clear, Pinochet’s rule was not the first, last or worst dictatorship in the history of Latin America. But it did grip the attention of western countries because of Chile’s ... Read More »

4 charts show Venezuela’s worsening migrant crisis

A few years ago, Venezuela seemed to be setting the standard for social welfare in the region. Rebecca Hanson The Conversation In 2015, the United Nations recognized Venezuela as having made the most advances in the fight against hunger in the Latin American and Caribbean region. National rates of poverty and inequality declined under President Hugo Chávez from the early 2000s until 2012. Yet this is the same country where inflation last year reached 2,616 percent. The International Monetary Fund ... Read More »