Articles by: Elyssa Pachico
Marco Enriquez Ominami railed against Chile's ruling center-left coalition, the Concertación, for being "dinosaurs" who were "out of touch" with the public. Although he captured only 20% of the vote in the first round of Chile's presidential elections, it was still a remarkable feat for a 36-year-old senator running as a progressive independent in a country where for the past 20 years without fail, about 60% of the vote has gone to the Concertación and 40% has gone to the right. For now, polls show that conservative billionaire Sebastian Piñera (who won 44% of the vote in the first round) will most likely win Chile's second round of presidential elections on January 17.
In early 2007, around the same time that Colombia’s government awarded thousands of dollars worth of agricultural subsidies to a pair of convicted drug lords, farmers in Boyaca province anxiously awaited their own emergency aid. For Feliciano Zapata, a surprise February frost meant he could harvest nothing from his acres of beans, potatoes and peas. Taking no chances, Zapata hired a camera crew to film the brown and withered crops, keeping the video as evidence of his losses when he and more than 2,200 other affected farmers applied for emergency government support. Four months later, Zapata received about $54. “Even the camera crew cost more than that,” he observed. His wife, who’d also applied for assistance as she’d lost about two acres of her own land, received about $1.50, not enough to cover transportation costs back to the farm.
Last January in northern Nicaragua, as a crowd of hundreds blockaded the Panamerican Highway late into the cool Monday night—soaking tires in gasoline before setting them on fire, hurling rocks at police and TV cameramen, bringing traffic to a standstill for 10 miles—the words once again began appearing in news reports and political speeches and inside the National Assembly debate halls: No Pago, No Pago!