Ultra-rightwing neoliberals from the United States, Europe, and Latin America are preparing a mega-event on the banks of the Paraná River in Rosario, Argentina. Mario Vargas Llosa is presiding over the meeting, which will culminate in the speeches of two of his political colleagues: former Spanish president José María Aznar and the newly elected mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri. The meeting, being billed as a sort of pseudo-academic seminar, actually has two underlying political objectives: a continental reorganization of neoliberal forces and a corresponding disqualification of what they call "populism."
On March 4 2008, more than 800 women of the Vía Campesina movement in Brazil invaded the Tarumã Plantation in the state of Río Grande do Sul. The farm’s monoculture of trees are grown on 2,100 hectares belonging to the Swedish-Finnish firm, Stora Enso, the second largest paper company in the world. The women began pulling out the eucalyptus trees in the morning, replacing them with native species in protest against the alarming spread of “green deserts” in the country. State governor Yeda Crusius rushed to defend the interests of the company, sending in a military brigade, which violently fired rubber bullets at those occupying the farm, wounding more than 50, and detaining the majority of those present by enclosing them in sports stadium.
Semi-secretly established in 2005, a Salvadoran branch of the International Law Enforcement Academy, a U.S.-sponsored global network of police schools, has angered critics and human rights activists, who wonder if it will perpetuate long-standing patterns of police and military abuse in the country. A NACLA investigation sponsored by the Samuel Chavkin Investigative Fund finds that establishing transparency in the academy’s operations—including making public its course materials and the names of its graduates—is the first critical step in ensuring it does not become, or has not already become, a new School of the Americas.
Gun violence has plagued Latin America since the early days of the colonial era. In June, archaeologists excavating an old Inca cemetery near Lima found a skull marred by a pair of small, round holes—evidence of the oldest gunshot victim in the Americas yet discovered. The musket, in this case likely fired during the final battle for the Incan empire in 1536, was brought over by the Spaniards, and in a sense, the invasion of gun technology continues.
The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), illegally targeted in the 1980’s by the largest FBI Internal Security investigation of the Reagan era, has in recent months again received threatening communications from the U.S. Department of Justice. Citing the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, a letter sent to CISPES in January questions the organization’s relationship with the leftist Salvadoran political party known as the Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation, or FMLN. CISPES received similar inquiries in the 1980s which eventually led to an illegal FBI investigation into its activities.
The history of the armed conflict in Colombia is not only a history of war, but also one of missed opportunities for a negotiated solution. The recent cease-fire negotiation with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group is a case in point. Initiated in the summer of 2005, the negotiations have reached a dead-end, and have lost momentum.
Editor's Note: The international human rights case charging eight Guatemalan former military and police officials with genocide, state terrorism, torture and other crimes began February 4 in Madrid. Kate Doyle, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive and director of their Guatemala Project, attended the closed hearings as part of the investigative and legal team working on the Guatemalan Genocide Case. This is the fifth and final installment of her five-part series on the opening days of the case, in which witnesses gave harrowing testimony on a period known in Guatemala as the “Silent Holocaust.”
Reflecting on Cuba’s Fidel Castro stepping down from power in February, U.S. newspapers relied on several worn-out themes and stereotypes that disparage Castro, gloss over U.S. aggression against Cuba, and idealize capitalism. News articles on Cuba often promote these themes and stereotypes through assumption, suggestion, and innuendo, blithely ignoring investigation, analysis, or evidence.
Sadly, the operation on March 1 in which the Colombian Armed Forces shot and killed Luis Edgar Devia Silva, a.k.a. “Raúl Reyes,” spokesman for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), along with sixteen other guerrillas in a camp across the Putumayo River in Ecuador, was yet another case of the oft-mentioned “death foretold” that characterizes the country’s seemingly endless civil war.
Editor's Note: The international human rights case charging eight Guatemalan former military and police officials with genocide, state terrorism, torture and other crimes began February 4 in Madrid. Kate Doyle, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive and director of their Guatemala Project, attended the closed hearings as part of the investigative and legal team working on the Guatemalan Genocide Case. This is the fourth installment of her five-part series on the opening days of the case, in which witnesses gave harrowing testimony on a period known in Guatemala as the “Silent Holocaust.”