The indigenous U'wa of northeast Colombia are battle-hardened experts at fending off greedy oil companies' attempts to drill on their lands. Up until now, these corporations have been foreign, but the latest threat comes from the homegrown Ecopetrol, Colombia's partly state-owned energy company. As government and corporate officials recently announced new plans for expanded oil explorations, the U'wa have once again started to hunker down, preparing for the long battle ahead.
The Latin America Solidarity Coalition Coordinating Committee has adopted the following talking points for use by local activists to educate their communities and influence opinion makers and elected officials. With a new administration soon to be inaugurated in Washington, DC, it is time for progressive activists to demand a new foreign policy toward Latin American and the Caribbean.
At the end of his six-month tour at the U.S. detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Matthew Diaz made a decision that would change his life—and possibly that of hundreds of prisoners held in the Pentagon's legal vacuum. In return, Diaz was fired, jailed, and had his legal license suspended. Since blowing the whistle on the illegal detainment of so-called "enemy combatants," Diaz's life has been a daily struggle.
John McCain, who has harshly criticized the idea of sitting down with "dictators" without pre-conditions, appears to have done just that. In 1985, McCain traveled to Chile for a friendly meeting with Chile's military ruler, General Augusto Pinochet, one of the world's most notorious violators of human rights credited with killing more than 3,000 civilians and jailing tens of thousands of others.
The third Americas Social Forum (ASF) took place in Guatemala City from October 7 to 12, 2008. Thousands of people and organizations, from every corner of the American hemisphere, gathered in the campus of the University of San Carlos, Guatemala, to participate, debate, exhibit, network, and develop progressive alternatives. As usual for any World Social Forum event, the ASF process in Guatemala was not without internal debates.
After tens of thousands of marchers arrived to La Paz, Bolivia’s four main political parties reached an agreement on October 20 to hold a national referendum on a proposed new constitution that would "refound" the Andean nation. If the accord holds, Bolivia will vote on the draft constitution on January 25, 2009, or 13 months after the country’s Constituent Assembly first presented the document to congress.
Reggaetón made its electoral debut this year. First, Daddy Yankee turned heads when he publicly endorsed Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Barack Obama followed suit highlighting reggaetoneros support for the Democratic ticket in videos. But it is in Puerto Rico that reggaetón is making the largest political waves. Although dismissed by some as apolitical party music, this electoral season confirms reggaetón's politicization. What that means, exactly, depends on who is doing the politicking.
Latin America has been notoriously absent from the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama. Nonetheless, Obama promises to foster a new era of hemispheric relations based upon mutual understanding and respect for national sovereignty. If he is elected, the strengths and weaknesses of his policies toward Latin America in the eyes of progressives will rely upon his ability to remain committed to a broad-range approach to the region despite conflicting interest groups and pressures on his administration.
In the southwestern department of Cauca on October 14, over 12,000 peaceful protestors from indigenous and other popular movements were violently attacked by Colombian security forces. The repression against the indigenous mobilization is only the latest sign of a growing wave of violent acts and selective assassinations against Colombia's popular movements by all armed actors of Colombia's internal conflict.
As stock markets tumble, plans for an alternative, regional financial framework gained new momentum among South American leaders. At a recent Summit, presidents from Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela agreed to bring the stalled Bank of the South online. They also drew up a series of integration projects and cooperation agreements.