Posts by: Emily Achtenberg

Aug 29, 2018
Emily Achtenberg

Will an inquiry into Bolivia’s potential ties to the massive Lava Jato bribery scandal help Evo Morales, or derail his bid for a fourth presidential term?

Feb 7, 2018
Emily Achtenberg

In Bolivia and Honduras, ambitious presidents have aligned with the courts to overturn constitutional term limits. Is Honduras’s current electoral crisis a harbinger of Bolivia’s political future?

Aug 21, 2017
Emily Achtenberg

Six years after massive protests halted plans for a proposed highway through the TIPNIS, Bolivian President Evo Morales has promulgated a new law "de-protecting" the reserve and allowing construction of the road.

Aug 10, 2017
Emily Achtenberg

China has become the principal funder and contractor for President Evo Morales’s state-led development project. What's at stake for Bolivia?

Mar 14, 2017
Emily Achtenberg

Argentinian President Macri’s crackdown on immigrants, echoing Trump, ignites a fierce national debate and raises diplomatic tensions with Bolivia.

Feb 14, 2017
Emily Achtenberg

A growing resistance to the Chepete/ El Bala megadam is challenging President Evo Morales’s plan to convert Bolivia into South America’s leading energy powerhouse. 

Nov 22, 2016
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivia’s brutal cooperative mining conflict reveals the growing contradictions and perils of extractivism, as the government and popular sectors struggle to control a dwindling mining surplus.

Jul 5, 2016
Emily Achtenberg

The shutdown of Bolivia’s state-run textile company calls into question the alliance between President Evo Morales and the Bolivian Workers Central at a crucial political and economic juncture.

Apr 15, 2016
Emily Achtenberg

The surprising defeat of Evo Morales’s referendum bid to run for a fourth presidential term poses new challenges and opportunities for progressive forces in Bolivia.

Feb 9, 2016
Emily Achtenberg

Will Bolivians approve a constitutional amendment that would allow President Evo Morales to run for a fourth term?

Dec 24, 2015
Emily Achtenberg

Barcelona's anti-displacement activists are successfully challenging global banking and real estate interests, while building new political models that transcend recent Latin American experience.

Oct 29, 2015
Emily Achtenberg

The new film Our Brand is Crisis doesn’t tell us how a president who authorized the massacre of indigenous Bolivians has lived with impunity in the U.S. for 12 years.

Sep 3, 2015
Emily Achtenberg

The government’s recent attack on four research NGOs highlights the need for continuing debate around Bolivia’s extractivist development model. 

Jul 8, 2015
Emily Achtenberg

President Evo Morales and Bolivia’s social movements look to Pope Francis’s historic visit to advance their political agendas.

Jun 15, 2015
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivian President Evo Morales escalates the stakes in the debate over extractivism as an anti-poverty strategy.

Apr 17, 2015
Emily Achtenberg

Setbacks for the ruling MAS party in Bolivia’s subnational elections show that voters want more local democracy and accountability, without necessarily rejecting the MAS political project.

Mar 28, 2015
Emily Achtenberg

The strategy of “defeating” the political right by incorporating elite sectors into Bolivia's ruling MAS party will be put to the test in Evo Morales’s third term.

Mar 3, 2015
Emily Achtenberg

A new Chilean law bans profits, tuition, and selective admissions in private primary and secondary schools that receive state subsidies--but students say much more is needed to dismantle the most commodified education system in the world. 

Dec 26, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

How a spectacular urban cable car system and a new municipal bus program are revolutionizing mass transit in La Paz and El Alto, with the help of some political competition.

Oct 30, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

A report from Bolivia's highland provincial capital of Achacachi, on the elections and the continuing contradictions of Bolivia’s “process of change.”

Sep 29, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivian president Evo Morales is expected to win the October 12 national elections by a landslide. But will Morales and the MAS party that emerges from the electoral process have the political will to deepen Bolivia's "process of change?" 

Sep 4, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

As Bolivia’s election campaign moves into full swing ahead of the scheduled October 12 vote, President Evo Morales’s controversial plan to build a highway through the TIPNIS indigenous territory and national park has resurfaced.

Jul 25, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

In recent months, Bolivia has witnessed dramatic rebellions by rank-and-file military and police officers. Are these mobilizations a threat to the goverment of President Evo Morales, or an example of pragmatic protest politics at work during an election year?

May 30, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

Valparaíso civil society responded to April's massive fires with community-led relief and reconstruction initiatives. Can an urban catastrophe become an opportunity for progressive grassroots change?

May 9, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

The conflict over Bolivia's new mining law offers a window into the complexity and contradictions of the country's mining sector, as they play out during the run-up to October’s presidential election.

Apr 17, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

In a setback for local democracy, political rights, and the struggle for a sustainable, inclusive city, President Santos ratified the dismissal of leftist Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro, defying a ruling by the IACHR.

Mar 31, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivia's Amazonian region is experiencing the most disastrous flooding of the past 100 years. Two Brazilian mega-dams on the Bolivian border may be contributing significantly to this tragedy.

Mar 14, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

Even as they continue to shape the domestic political agenda, Chile's resurgent social movements are mobilizing to build cross-border solidarity, pressuring newly-elected President Michelle Bachelet to ally with other leftist governments in the region.

Feb 27, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivia's highest court has rejected a constitutional challenge to the country's restrictive abortion law, while ruling that legal abortions no longer require a judge's consent. Both opponents and advocates of abortion rights have found reasons to celebrate.

Feb 17, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

A proposed children’s rights law being considered by the Bolivian Congress is facing opposition from an unlikely source: a union representing the child workers themselves.

Feb 2, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

CONAMAQ, a federation of Bolivian highland indigenous peoples, has split into two parallel organizations after a bitter struggle. Is this the result of internal political conflict, or a government strategy to undermine opposition?

Jan 16, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

Michelle Bachelet won a landslide victory in Chile’s December presidential run-off election, campaigning on a radical platform of educational, tax, and constitutional reform. But she now faces formidable obstacles, as Chile’s anti-democratic institutions and alienated electorate conspire to discourage systemic change.
 

Jan 3, 2014
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivian workers received an unexpected gift this past Christmas: an extra payment equal to one month’s wages, mandated by President Evo Morales on November 20. Is this a redistributive measure to socialize profits, or an electoral strategy to shore up key voting sectors and finance the presidential campaign?

Dec 21, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

Newly-annointed President Juan Orlando Hernández is gearing up to lead the most authoritarian administration in Honduran history, under the cloud of a tainted election, a violence-plagued society, and a failed economy. Can Honduran social movements curtail the abuses of the regime through the combined efforts of a viable political opposition party and massive popular resistance?

Dec 9, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

A report on the author's experience observing the election with the National Lawyers Guild. The electoral outcome, and recent indications of electoral "mischief," can only be understood in the context of Honduras's repressive political climate and systemic flaws in the electoral system.

Nov 21, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

On September 25, Bolivians marked the second anniversary of events at Chaparina, where national police brutally repressed indigenous marchers protesting the construction of a government-proposed highway through the TIPNIS indigenous territory and national park. Two years later, the central question—who ordered the attack?—has not been answered.
 

Nov 8, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

Last month, Bolivians marked the tenth anniversary of "Black October," a watershed moment in a popular uprising that culminated with the election of Evo Morales. Today, both Morales and popular sectors view the legacy of Black October through the lens of their own political agendas.

Oct 24, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

A photo essay from the week of September 11, 2013 in Chile, marking the 40th anniversary of the overthrow of Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government by a U.S.-backed military coup (Part 2). 

Oct 10, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

A photo essay from the week of September 11, 2013 in Chile, marking the 40th anniversary of the overthrow of Salvador Allende's Popular Unity government by a US-backed military coup (Part 1 of 2).

Sep 30, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

Reflections on events in Chile marking the 40th anniversary of the overthrow of Salvador Allende's Popular Unity government, from an eyewitness to the commemoration.

Aug 27, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

Recent events in Bolivia have reignited continuing tensions over the proposed TIPNIS highway, as indigenous leaders face serious criminal charges and the Morales government has confirmed that undercover police agents infiltrated the landmark 2011 anti-highway mobilization.

Aug 14, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

The saga of Edward Snowden and the “hijacking” of Evo Morales’s presidential jet continues to reverberate in Bolivia, where it has reignited a controversy over Brazil’s grant of political asylum to rightwing politician Roger Pinto.

Aug 1, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

A tribute to Ben Kohl, Latin American scholar, activist, and NACLA contributor, by his colleagues.

Jul 11, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

Last week’s grounding of Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane in Europe, after U.S. officials apparently suspected whistle-blower Edward Snowden of being on board, caused an uproar in Latin America. If the U.S. government was seeking to intimidate Morales and other Latin American leaders who might consider harboring Snowden, its strategy has completely backfired.

Jun 21, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

The growing contradiction between Bolivia's international championship of environmental and indigenous rights, and its vigorous domestic pursuit of extractivist economic policies, is exemplified by Vice President Alvaro García Linera. He recently  addressed New York City's Left Forum on climate justice, after announcing his government's new plan to exploit oil and gas in its national parks. 

Jun 5, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

Since the 2000 Water Wars, Bolivia has faced even greater water challenges: how to develop successful alternative models to water privatization, and how to combat water scarcity.

May 23, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

As Bolivia inaugurates its first natural gas liquids separation plant, an important step towards the industrialization of gas, its obligations to Brazil—the major consumer of Bolivia's gas—pose a significant challenge.

May 11, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

Two recent events in Bolivia—President Evo Morales's expulsion of USAID, and a judicial ruling enabling Morales to run for a third presidential term—could have important implications for Bolivia's political future.

Apr 25, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivian President Evo Morales has put the controversial TIPNIS highway on hold for three years, until extreme poverty is eliminated in the TIPNIS. The surprise announcement comes amidst continuing conflict over the proposed road and ahead of the 2014 presidential elections where Morales is seeking a third term.

Apr 13, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivia's National Revolution of 1952, whose 61st anniversary occurred on April 9, has been relegated to the dustbin of history by successive Bolivian governments. Yet, this historic episode has profound and continuing relevance for events in Bolivia today.

Mar 31, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

Recent data on land titling and redistribution in Bolivia provide a useful picture of what the Morales government has accomplished to date, as well as the unfinished business that lies ahead.

Mar 15, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

The Academy Award-nominated film “NO” re-opens a window on an inspirational moment in Latin American history, when Chileans used the ballot box to bring down the notorious dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in a 1988 plebiscite. Even more interesting is some of the history surrounding the event that the film leaves out, especially concerning the U.S. government's role in the "NO" campaign.

Mar 1, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

In the United States, Cuba, and elsewhere in Latin America, Venezuela's creative oil assistance programs are playing a vital role in economic stabilization and poverty reduction. Cutbacks in these programs, which may result from changing political and economic circumstances in Venezuela, would be devastating to many countries.

Feb 15, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

While widening inequality is helping to stifle the U.S. economy, in Bolivia domestic demand fueled by rising incomes and narrowing inequality is a driving force behind the country's newly found economic prosperity. The U.S. could learn a lot from Bolivia's example.

Jan 31, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

A unique experiment in urban planning and preservation has successfully revitalized Havana's decaying historic district while largely avoiding the displacement of existing residents. Will Cuba’s new laws that legalize the free market sale of housing lead to the gentrification of this dynamic neighborhood?

Jan 18, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

While President Evo Morales decrees that Bolivia’s TIPNIS conflict is resolved, conflicting reports issued by the government and religious and human rights groups over the past few weeks have served to extend the controversy over the proposed highway that would bisect this indigenous territory and national park in the Amazon lowlands.

Jan 4, 2013
Emily Achtenberg

The new eco-thriller, “A Dark Truth,” sensationalizes contemporary conflicts over water rights and environmental justice in Latin America, and disrespects the popular movements that are the main protagonists of those struggles.

Dec 13, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

The Bolivian government’s controversial consultation process in the TIPNIS indigenous territory has concluded. Were the results a triumph for participatory democracy, or a foregone conclusion from a government determined to build a highway through the national park?

Nov 30, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

The tradition of dual residency—between city and countryside, or across national borders—has long been an important survival strategy, and a source of solidarity, for indigenous communities. But in places like Oaxaca, Mexico and the Bolivian highlands, the practice is now becoming a source of conflict, pitting residents, communities, and social sectors against one another in new forms of economic and political competition.

Nov 16, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivia's new Mother Earth law, enshrining the legal rights of nature, offers a potentially revolutionary tool for groups engaged in environmental conflicts. But critics say the law may help to legitimize the government's neo-extractivist economic model, under the guise of "integral development."

Nov 1, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivia's successful return to the international credit markets highlights the positive results of President Evo Morales's economic pragmatism, as well as some ironic impacts of the global financial crisis.

Oct 19, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivian President Evo Morales has signed a new construction contract for the first segment of a controversial highway that would bisect the TIPNIS Indigenous Territory and National Park, ramping up the stakes in the conflict as indigenous resistance and community divisions continue.

Oct 1, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Rival mineworker factions have signed an agreement with the Bolivian government to end a violent dispute at the Colquiri tin mine. The conflict offers a window into the complexity of Bolivia’s mining sector, and the challenges faced by the government in balancing the competing expectations of salaried and cooperative mineworkers.

Sep 13, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Almost a year after resigning as Bolivia’s Defense Minister, Cecilia Chacón has broken her silence to question President Evo Morales’ appointment of ex-Interior Minister Sacha Llorenti as ambassador to the UN—an act which, she says, signifies impunity for those responsible for the police repression of lowland indigenous marchers last September 25 at Chaparina.

Aug 30, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Five days past its official deadline and with less than half the communities polled, the consultation process on the Bolivian government’s proposed highway through the TIPNIS has ground to a halt amidst continuing controversy and local resistance. Meanwhile, tensions are mounting over the perceived militarization of the TIPNIS.

Aug 16, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

In the ongoing struggle against the Bolivian government’s plan to build a highway through the Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS), lowland indigenous women have been on the front lines. Their protagonism has sparked controversy in a society where patriarchal traditions and attitudes still run deep, despite important recent advances.

Aug 5, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

As the Bolivian government launches its controversial consultation process on the TIPNIS highway, affected communities are responding with a creative range of tactics—some in support, and others in resistance—attesting to the deep divisions the process has created.

Jul 20, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

How the iconic Cuban song Guántanamera came to America 50 years ago, thanks to the U.S.-Cuban trade embargo and a progressive summer camp.

Jul 13, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Following a two-week vigil in La Paz, frustrated lowland indigenous marchers protesting the Bolivian government's plan to build a highway through the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS) have decided to return to their native communities. The marchers have pledged to resist the government's proposed consultation process on the road.

Jul 2, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

The second national indigenous march to protest the Bolivian government's proposed highway through the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS) reached La Paz last week on the heels of a violent police strike. The government linked both the police and the TIPNIS protesters to a possible coup attempt.

Jun 8, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

A World Bank tribunal ruled last week that the Pacific Rim Mining Corporation can't sue the government of El Salvador under DR-CAFTA for denying its mining permit—but can proceed under El Salvador's own investment law using the same international tribunal. The case could undermine the growing campaign in El Salvador to legally ban metallic mining. 

May 23, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

The second indigenous march in defense of Bolivia’s Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS) is taking place in a changed political climate, featuring a more aggressive government strategy as well as a multitude of urban conflicts. Whether the success of the first march can be replicated under these conditions remains an open question.

May 10, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

On May 1, President Evo Morales seized control of Bolivia's electric grid from one Spanish company and inaugurated a $600 million gas processing plant with another. Two weeks earlier, he boosted incentives for crude oil production in Bolivia's "nationalized" oil and gas sector by 300%, demonstrating an increasingly pragmatic, investor-friendly approach to nationalization.

Apr 27, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

After a week fraught with tension, the second march to protest the Bolivian government’s proposed highway through the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS) is set to depart April 27 from the Amazonian department of Beni, headed towards the highland capital of La Paz. The march seeks to build an indigenous-urban alliance in broad defense of indigenous, environmental, and human rights.

Apr 16, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

President Evo Morales's surprise announcement that Bolivia will revoke its contract with Brazilian company OAS to build the controversial TIPNIS highway has failed to defuse tensions, but could represent a paradigm shift in the TIPNIS controversy, with an opportunity to return to "ground zero."

Apr 6, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

In the run-up to the May-June consulta that will decide the fate of the proposed highway through the TIPNIS Indigenous Territory and National Park, the Bolivian government is signing agreements with lowland indigenous groups and seeking to cancel its contract with Brazilian company OAS to build the TIPNIS road, causing a shift in political alliances around the TIPNIS conflict.  

Mar 23, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

A majority of community authorities in the TIPNIS indigenous territory and national park have announced plans for another national march, beginning April 20, to protest the government-proposed highway that would bisect their ancestral homeland. They have pledged to simultaneously resist the government-sponsored consultation process.

Mar 15, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

A tribute to Domitila Barrios de Chungara, long-time Bolivian social activist, feminist, and mine union leader whose 1978 hunger strike is credited with bringing down the dictatorship and changing the course of Bolivian history.

Mar 2, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

The general assembly of the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) has declared its support for the upcoming march to defend the Isiboro-Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS), contradicting the executive committee's position announced just last week. The dispute highlights how growing internal divisions within the COB have been intensified by the TIPNIS conflict.

Feb 24, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Lowland indigenous leaders say that the vast majority of their communities reject the Bolivian government’s proposed highway through the Isiboro-Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS). So why do these communities oppose the "prior, free, and informed" consultation process to be carried out by the government, which should allow their views to prevail?

Feb 17, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

The new law requiring the Bolivian government to consult with indigenous groups in the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS) about the proposed highway that would bisect the reserve has revived a nagging question: why are alternative routes for the road not being considered?

Feb 10, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

On February 9, Bolivia’s Plurinational Assembly passed a controversial new law mandating a consultation process for indigenous communities in the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS), to redetermine the fate of a government-proposed highway that would bisect the reserve. The next chapter of the TIPNIS conflict is likely to be more contentious than ever.

Feb 3, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Bolivia’s controversy over the recently-cancelled TIPNIS highway intensified this week, as the CONISUR counter-march arrived to La Paz. The Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) government renewed its campaign for a formal consulta process to redetermine the fate of the road, fanning the flames of popular discontent and conflict between indigenous sectors.

Jan 27, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Mass evictions and police violence at Pinheirinho, a favela on the outskirts of São Paolo, illustrate the collateral damage of Brazil's development boom in urban areas, while a conflict plays out between the state and federal government. President Dilma Rousseff's silence on the issue is deafening.

Jan 20, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Less than three months ago, indigenous protesters forced Bolivian president Evo Morales to sign a law cancelling the government’s proposed highway through the Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS). Now, with a pro-highway counter-march and a legislative strategy to amend or bypass the law, the controversial road project may be on the verge of resurrection.

Jan 13, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Fifty-six judges of Bolivia's top courts, elected in a historic but controversial popular vote last October, were sworn in by President Evo Morales on January 3. The new judges, 50% women and 40% indigenous, have changed the face of Bolivian justice, but confront significant challenges of legitimacy and obstacles to implementing judicial reform.

Jan 6, 2012
Emily Achtenberg

Two precedent-setting environmental challenges in Ecuador—an initiative to save the Yasuní rainforest, and a landmark lawsuit against Chevron Oil for dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste—have recently returned to the headlines, with their fates potentially intertwined.

Dec 23, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

More than 240 U.S. and international labor, environmental, and civil society organizations are calling for the World Bank to dismiss a $77 million lawsuit brought by the Pacific Rim Mining Corporation against the government of El Salvador under DR-CAFTA, for failing to grant a permit for its proposed cyanide-leach gold mining operation.

Dec 9, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

This week, Bolivian government officials and lowland indigenous leaders agreed on a new regulation defining the “untouchable” character of the TIPNIS national park and indigenous territory. But six weeks after pressure from indigenous protesters forced President Evo Morales to cancel the TIPNIS highway, the conflict shows no signs of abating.

Nov 19, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

The new "framework agreement" restoring diplomatic ties between Bolivia and the United States represents a significant political achievement for Bolivia, as well as a victory for Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca that could help to strengthen Bolivia's "process of change."

Nov 11, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

In October, Bolivian President Evo Morales signed a new law banning construction of the controversial TIPNIS highway. The law is now provoking a new round of conflicts between lowland indigenous groups and the Bolivian government, over what it means for the reserve to be declared an "untouchable" ecological zone.

Oct 28, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

A new law signed by President Evo Morales has officially cancelled the controversial TIPNIS highway, bowing to demands of  indigenous protesters after their 360-mile cross-country march. But the fractures in Morales’ political base and divisions among Bolivia’s social movements triggered by the TIPNIS conflict will be more difficult to resolve.

Oct 20, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

This week, two historic events took place in Bolivia: the arrival in La Paz of indigenous marchers protesting the TIPNIS highway, and the country's first-ever popular judicial elections. Both sent a wake-up call to President Evo Morales.

Oct 14, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

This week the focus of Bolivia’s TIPNIS conflict shifted to La Paz, with passage of a new law by the Bolivian Congress, massive demonstrations in support of President Evo Morales, and preparations for Sunday’s judicial elections, ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of the indigenous march early next week.

Oct 7, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

A recent protest in Washington, D.C. against the TIPNIS highway in Bolivia serves as a reminder of how conservative forces are exploiting the TIPNIS conflict to undermine President Evo Morales’s leftist government. For the most part, though, the anti-highway movement is not so much against the government as it is for a recovery and revitalization of Bolivia’s “process of change.”

Sep 30, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

In the wake of Sunday’s brutal repression of indigenous marchers against the TIPNIS highway, the past few days have brought renewed popular mobilizations, a few revelations, and more mixed messages from the Bolivian government.

Sep 28, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

Sunday’s brutal repression by federal police of lowland indigenous marchers protesting the TIPNIS highway has sparked widespread public outrage in Bolivia, while the MAS government’s response raises more questions than answers. With conservative opponents of Evo Morales also seeking to exploit the crisis, it's a critical moment for Bolivia's process of change.

Sep 23, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

While President Evo Morales was busy defending the rights of Mother Earth at the United Nations this week, Bolivia’s TIPNIS conflict escalated beyond the regional boundaries of Beni and Cochabamba into the national and international arena.

Sep 18, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

On September 11, Bolivians observed the third anniversary of the Pando massacre, a brutal attack on indigenous peasants and students in the Amazonian lowlands and the most deadly act of political violence in the country since 2003. The tragic event marked a turning point in Bolivia’s recent history, and has special relevance today for the escalating conflict over the TIPNIS highway.

Sep 2, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

Negotiations between the Bolivian government and indigenous groups protesting the proposed TIPNIS highway broke down before getting off the ground this week, while a visit from Brazil’s ex-president Lula served as a reminder of the larger geopolitical interests involved. Brazil has a major stake in the road's construction, but it also needs a stable political environment in Bolivia to advance its overall economic agenda.

Aug 26, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

After a week of polarizing rhetoric and escalating conflict, the government and indigenous groups protesting construction of the TIPNIS highway have begun negotiations. While the outcome of the process is uncertain, it’s even less clear whether the fractured political alliance between President Evo Morales and the indigenous groups that helped bring him to power can be repaired.

Aug 19, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

It’s been a busy week in Bolivia, with major mobilizations by indigenous peoples in the Amazon marching against the TIPNIS highway, and by civic groups in Potosí and neighborhood organizations in El Alto who are demanding more, not less, development.

Aug 12, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

Next Monday, representatives of three indigenous groups and their supporters will begin a 375-mile trek from the Bolivian lowlands to the capital of La Paz, to protest the government’s plan to build a highway through their ancestral homeland. The march opens a new chapter in the increasingly conflictive relationship between leftist president Evo Morales and the social movements that brought him to power, and could be another defining moment for the MAS government.

Aug 5, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

Last week, after a wave of popular protests, the Salvadoran legislative assembly voted to repeal controversial Decree 743 which required the country’s highest judicial body to  reach decisions by unanimous consent. The action ended two months of political turmoil, averted a constitutional crisis, and represents a victory for civil society that strengthens the role of democratic institutions in El Salvador.

Jul 29, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

Left-leaning president Ollanta Humala faces the formidable task of resolving a growing number of mining conflicts, especially in the Puno region where widespread protests shut down the economy last spring. While lame duck president Alan García made numerous concessions to the protesters, the conflicts are far from resolved and could become the defining challenge of the new administration.

Jul 22, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

San Salvador polls show a sharp drop in President Mauricio Funes’s approval ratings over the past several months. But on a recent visit to San José Las Flores in Chalatenango, members of the Cambridge, MA Sister City delegation were impressed by the strong support Funes continues to receive in the countryside, and the visible accomplishments of the government’s new initiatives in health, education, agriculture, and infrastructure development.

Jul 15, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

A musical tribute to Facundo Cabral, Argentinian political protest singer, songwriter, and novelist assassinated in Guatemala last week, composed and sung by Chilean-American folksinger Sergio Reyes.

Jul 8, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

President Mauricio Funes reaffirmed last week that no mining projects will be permitted in El Salvador during his presidency, and condemned the recent murders of anti-mining activists.  But anti-mining organizations want a permanent legal ban on mining activity, and are critical of the government’s ongoing study to evaluate the costs and benefits of mining. At a recent meeting with international solidarity activists, Environmental Minister Herman Rosa Chávez offered insight into the government’s position.

Jun 17, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

Over the past 40 years, Bolivia has experienced an average of one “social conflict” per day, according to a recent report that measures episodes of conflict reported in the press. Underlying these statistics is the defining role played by Bolivia’s social movements—arguably the most powerful and combative in the hemisphere—in the country’s political history.

Jun 9, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

Last week Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff launched an ambitious program to eradicate extreme poverty by 2014. Under the “Brazil Without Poverty” initiative, the government will spend $12.5 billion a year to expand cash transfers and health, education, and job training services for some 16 million people (8.5% of Brazil’s population) with incomes of up to $44 per month, who have failed to benefit from Brazil’s rapidly expanding economy.
The announcement comes as Rousseff continues to be challenged, in the international spotlight, by conflicts that expose the high cost of economic progress borne by Brazil’s most impoverished and indigenous communities.

May 27, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

In remote corners of Bolivia, local communities are pioneering sustainable mining and forestry strategies that could provide useful models in the global struggle against climate change.
 
Cotapata Mining Cooperative

May 20, 2011
Emily Achtenberg
May 13, 2011
Emily Achtenberg

The feature film “También La Lluvia” (“Even the Rain”) has been giving U.S. movie audiences a taste of the popular struggle against water privatization that took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2000.   
Drawing parallels between the exploitation of indigenous people—and their organized resistance—in colonial, neoliberal, and contemporary times, the film was shot on location in Cochabamba and features 3,000 extras drawn from the city’s poor southern hillside neighborhoods who were actual protagonists in the Water War. The main indigenous character (played by an actor/ filmmaker from El Alto) is partially modeled on Oscar Olivera, a leader of the water revolt.