On May 1st, the day the Bolivian government announced the “nationalization” of the country’s vast oil and gas reserves, I went out to witness the symbolic takeover of a former Bolivian refinery that was privatized in the late 1990s. A cheering crowd looked on as a young employee of Bolivia’s state oil and gas company, Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB), strung a YPFB banner over the metal letters spelling out the name of the Brazilian company Petrobras. Another banner hung on the front gate proclaimed, “Nationalized: Property of Bolivia.”
Days before Brazil’s October 1 national elections, about 300 members of Vía Campesina and the Landless Rural Workers' Movement (MST) camped in front of the Santa Rita farm. Located in Santo Antônio da Platina in the state of Paraná, the farm belongs to Abelardo Lupion, a federal congressman of the right-wing Liberal Front Party. Vía Campesina alleges that Lupion illegally bought the farm from the U.S.-based Monsanto Corporation in return for using his political power to legalize the pesticide glyphosate in Brazil.
In 2003, after several weeks of massive protests and violent state repression, Bolivian President Gonzalo “Goni” Sánchez de Lozada signed his resignation and fled to Miami. It was October 17. The day is etched in the collective memory of Bolivians as the victorious culmination of a hard-fought battle—a war, in fact, or the “Gas War” as most Bolivians still call it.
In this commentary, Miguel d’Escoto Brockman, the former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua (1979-1990) and a Maryknoll Priest, ponders the hypocrisy of the U.S. War on Terror on the 30th anniversary of the Cubana Flight 455 bombing over Barbados.
Argentina has opened several high profile criminal cases charging former military officers for human rights abuses during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. For the first time in the nation’s history, an Argentine court sentenced a military officer to life for crimes against humanity earlier this month. As the South American country re-evaluates its dark history, new skeletons in the closet have reappeared.
Breaking down the fences of the large estates was not as difficult as fighting the technological packages of the transnationals,” Huli recounts as he sits in his kitchen and pours hot water into the mate we share while his son romps around the house. He says the campesinos of Brazil's Landless Rural Workers' Movement (MST, for the Portuguese initials) dreamed for years of reclaiming their land, believing that it would solve all their problems: food for their children, a dignified life of hard work on the farm, education, health, and housing. However, the reality would prove much more difficult, for surprises they had never imagined lay ahead.
General Alfredo Stroessner, Paraguay’s long-time dictator, died on August 16 at the age of 93 after almost two decades of exile in Brazil. His thirty-year reign was so repressive that even the selectively principled Reagan administration decided to distance itself from his authoritarian rule.
At 13,000 feet, the hip hop movement in El Alto, Bolivia is probably the highest in the world. The music blends ancient Andean folk styles and new hip hop beats with lyrics about revolution and social change.
On August 5th, 2006, a large group of men and women from the town of Telixlahuaca assembled in front of the state-owned radio and television station Corporación Oaxaqueña de Radio y Television (CORTV) on the western edge of Oaxaca City, to read a petition and declare themselves to be in solidarity with the Asamblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca (APPO).
On September 2, President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana’s People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP), was sworn in to a second five-year term in office. Given the level of violence that marked Jagdeo’s last five years as president, August 28’s relatively incident-free election was a major success for a country in drastic need of a societal transformation, let alone political change.