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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 138,213

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While Left Governments in South America Face Setbacks, Gains of Progressive Period Likely to Endure

While Left Governments in South America Face Setbacks, Gains of Progressive Period Likely to Endure

Written by Benjamin Dangl
Published: 07 December 2015

It's hard to tell before the dust settles, and the situation in each country is unique, but it's very likely that 2015 will be viewed as a critical year for leftist governments in South America.

Chavismo took a blow yesterday in the country's Parliamentary elections, the right won the presidential elections in Argentina a couple of weeks ago, Ecuador's Correa recently announced he would not seek re-election in 2017, impeachment proceedings are moving forward against the Workers' Party President Rousseff in Brazil, and Evo Morales' MAS party lost regional elections in March.

In general terms, and aside from debates about how progressive each of these governments are, the defeats point to clearer political fault lines in the region. It could be described, as many have, as the end of a progressive cycle, or the receding waves of the pink tide. But the goal of many of these administrations, and their champions and beneficiaries, was to create economic, political and social changes that would outlast electoral defeats. From Venezuela to Argentina, generations have been impacted by the social programs, rights, regional solidarity, and empowering politics of these administrations. The political experience of living under these governments has shaped progressive ideology and imagination that will survive presidents.

In addition, while politics might change above, social movements have been organizing all of these years in ways that aren't defined wholly by party power, but by autonomous relations strengthened from below, in urban peripheries, for women’s rights, and in the various struggles against extractivism.

More:
http://www.towardfreedom.com/31-archives/americas/4103-while-left-governments-in-south-america-face-setbacks-gains-of-progressive-period-likely-to-endure

A Tale of Two Elections

A Tale of Two Elections


Venezuelans will vote today in fair and transparent elections. But you wouldn’t know it from the US government and media.


by Keane Bhatt
12.6.15

Electoral observers who cover Latin America and the Caribbean see the threat of “systematic, massive fraud” in upcoming elections in a country of longstanding strategic concern to the United States. They argue that “incidents of violence, fraud and voter intimidation” have created a process that falls “far short of minimum standards for fair elections.” The president has been ruling by decree for almost a year, fulfilling a promise articulated in 1997: “First thing, after I establish my power . . . I would close that congress thing.”

A group of leading opposition candidates recently stated that they are “convinced that honest, free, transparent and democratic elections cannot be obtained under the presidency,” citing “reprisals and repression by police against peaceful demonstrators” that left two candidates injured.

The United States isn’t too worried about the state of affairs. In fact, it’s invested nearly $30 million dollars in the elections. After all, this isn’t Venezuela; it’s Haiti. Contrary to the distorted portrayals of Venezuela repeatedly put forth by the media, think tanks, and the US government, the country’s electoral processes couldn’t be more different than Haiti’s. In Haiti’s October 25 presidential primary, over 70 percent of registered voters abstained, just as they did in 2010 for the flawed elections that brought Michel Martelly to power.

Venezuela’s elections routinely produce the opposite result: 79.7 percent of the electorate voted in the 2013 presidential contest, and even its subsequent municipal elections boasted a 58.9 percent participation rate. Polls regarding today’s legislative elections indicate an expected voter turnout of above 70 percent, suggesting that the Venezuelan electorate appears stubbornly unaffected by the “campaigns of fear, violence, and intimidation” that State Department spokesperson John Kirby alleges are occurring.

More:
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/12/venezuela-elections-fraud-free-chavez-maduro-haiti-latin-america/

Where Uruguay leads, the rest of the world struggles to keep up

Where Uruguay leads, the rest of the world struggles to keep up

Emma Graham-Harrison
Saturday 5 December 2015 19.05 EST

As the world’s most powerful nations squabbled in Paris over the cost of small cuts to their fossil fuel use, Uruguay grabbed international headlines by announcing that 95% of its electricity already came from renewable energy resources. It had taken less than a decade to make the shift, and prices had fallen in real terms, said the head of climate change policy – a job that doesn’t even exist in many countries.

This announcement came on top of a string of other transformations. In 2012 a landmark abortion law made it only the second country in Latin America, after Cuba, to give women access to safe abortions. The following year, gay marriage was approved, and then-president José Mujica shepherded a bill to legalise marijuana through parliament, insisting it was the only way to limit the influence of drug cartels.

What’s more, the country cracked down so strongly on cigarette advertising, in a successful bid to cut smoking rates, that it is now being sued by tobacco giant Philip Morris.

Mujica himself became internationally famous for refusing to enjoy the trappings of presidential power – staying in his tiny house rather than moving into the official mansion – and giving away 90% of his salary.

More:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/06/uruguay-climate-change-reform-progress

Jimmy Morales, the New Face of Guatemala’s Military Old Guard

Jimmy Morales, the New Face of Guatemala’s Military Old Guard
Posted 4 December 2015 18:55 GMT


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Guatemala's President-elect Jimmy Morales, despite political inexperience, has close ties to Guatemala's military dictatorship
(Jeff Abbott)
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It is almost a bad joke: Jimmy Morales, a former TV comedian who regularly performed in blackface and was famous for having once played a campesino who almost became president, has actually become…Guatemala's president.

The October 25 run-off election wasn’t even close, as Morales, running under the banner of the tiny National Convergence Front (FCN) party, captured nearly 70 percent of the vote.

Morales had campaigned as an outsider candidate, the antithesis of a career politician. His campaign slogan, “not corrupt or a thief,” looked to ease voters’ minds following the revelation of a massive corruption scandal within the administration of ex-general Otto Pérez Molina. But unbeknownst to many Guatemalans, their new president’s backers represent the same forces that carried out some of the worst crimes of the country’s 36-year-long internal armed conflict.

In fact, the FCN was founded by the same military interests that cast shadows over Pérez Molina’s cabinet. Retired Generals Jose Luis Quilo Ayuso and Luis Felipe Miranda Trejo, from the Association of Military Veterans of Guatemala (AVEMILGUA), founded the party in 2004 to rebuild the prestige and respect for the military that they felt had been tarnished since the signing of the peace accords in 1996, and to represent the nationalistic interests of the Guatemalan military.

More:
https://globalvoices.org/2015/12/04/jimmy-morales-the-new-face-of-guatemalas-military-old-guard/

Bolivian Archaeologists Dig For Rare Artefacts

Bolivian Archaeologists Dig For Rare Artefacts
Published 30 November 2015

Pieces of pottery have been discovered in La Paz from the time of the famous Tiwanaku civilization that dates back to 2,500 B.C.

A group of Bolivian archaeologists have been camped out in the center of La Paz ever since rare pieces of pottery and ceramics were discovered from thousands of years ago. They carefully remove fragments from the earth, and then painstakingly tag and mark each piece for the Ministry of Culture.

To members of the general public, the bits of broken pottery may look insignificant, but archaeologists have said they represent a very important find for the country.

“These fragments and other utensils date back to the Tiwanaku people who arrived in this area 2,500 years B.C.,” archaeologist Carlos Lemus, who is part of the team working at the site in the neighborhood of Miraflores in La Paz, told teleSUR. “We have only just started our work but the artifacts date back to the arrival in La Paz of the first farmers who came from Tiwanaku,” Lemus said.

The famed Tiwanaku culture is an ancient Bolivian civilization located near Lake Titicaca and built 4,000-meters above sea level.

Builders stumbled across the rare pieces of broken pottery from this era during the construction of a new cable car station in the center of La Paz.

More:
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Bolivian-Archaeologists-Dig-For-Rare-Artefacts-20151130-0030.html

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More images Tiwanaku:
https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1185&bih=617&q=Tiwanaku&oq=Tiwanaku&gs_l=img.12..0l10.608.608.0.1905.1.1.0.0.0.0.149.149.0j1.1.0....0...1ac.1.64.img..0.1.147.zen6WX6YvLs#imgrc=_

Explore Machu Picchu's Inca remains through Street View

Explore Machu Picchu's Inca remains through Street View

No hiking required.

Nick Summers , @nisummers
1h ago in Internet

Google's Street View "Trekker" backpacks sure get around. After snapping the British Museum and the ancient city of Petra, they've now been to Machu Picchu in Peru. It's an iconic peak rising 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) above sea level, where travellers can gaze upon the remains of the Inca Empire. With Street View, you can take the trip from the comfort of your living room, picking through the crumbling walls and soaking up the various temples, terraces and plazas at your own pace. It's an architectural marvel and as you would expect, Google's stitched panoramas do a good job of capturing the atmosphere. Useful if you're a history teacher, or just trying to persuade your significant other to take a vacation there.

http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/03/google-street-view-machu-picchu/

Google street view:
http://www.google.com/maps/streetview/#machu-picchu

Venezuela’s electoral system is being unfairly maligned

Venezuela’s electoral system is being unfairly maligned

Caracas is experiencing rising discontent fueled by economic woes. But it hasn’t had trouble holding clean elections

November 30, 2015 2:00AM ET
by Lauren Carasik - @LCarasik

On Dec. 6 Venezuelans will go to the polls to elect their representatives in high-stakes legislative elections. The vote comes amid international scrutiny over the integrity of the country’s electoral process. The U.S. government, the Organization of American States (OAS) and human rights groups have all called for credible elections. Some in the U.S. media have already indicted the elections’ validity.

But these critics ignore the fact that thousands of domestic observers and hundreds of international monitors from the Union of South American Nations and other groups have already signed on to oversee the elections. It is clear that much of the diplomatic posturing is not meant to protect Venezuela’s electoral integrity but to further delegitimize the government of President Nicolás Maduro.

No election system is perfect, but Venezuela has one of the most efficient, secure and transparent electoral systems. “The election process in Venezuela is the best in the world,” said former President Jimmy Carter in 2012 — praise echoed by other neutral observers.

Venezuelan voters use electronic machines, which print out a paper receipt that allows voters to check their choices against the electronic ballot. After voting has ended, 54 percent of machines are audited at random, in the presence of witnesses from pro-government and opposition political parties, and compared with a tally of paper receipts. The National Electoral Council (CNE) has implemented additional safeguards and audits, making the process more inclusive than ever before, with 96.5 percent of eligible Venezuelans registered to vote (compared with fewer than 76 percent of eligible Americans).

More:
http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/11/venezuelas-electoral-system-is-being-unfairly-maligned.html

Mexico experts: passageway may lead to Aztec ruler's tomb

Mexico experts: passageway may lead to Aztec ruler's tomb
By MARK STEVENSON
Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- A Mexican archaeologist said his team has found a tunnel-like passageway that apparently leads to two sealed chambers, the latest chapter in the search for the as-yet undiscovered tomb of an Aztec ruler.

The Aztecs are believed to have cremated the remains of their leaders during their 1325-1521 rule, but the final resting place of the cremains has never been found. Outside experts said Tuesday the find at Mexico City's Templo Mayor ruin complex would be significant.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said Monday that a team led by archaeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan had discovered an 8.4-meter (27-foot) long tunnel leading into the center of a circular platform where dead rulers were believed to be cremated.The mouth of the tunnel was sealed by a 3-ton slab of rock. When experts lifted it in 2013, they found a hollow space marked by offerings by both rich and grisly.

. . .

Any artifacts linked to an emperor would bring tremendous pride to Mexico. The country has sought unsuccessfully to recover Aztec artifacts like the feather-adorned "shield of Ahuizotl" and the "Montezuma headdress" from the Ethnology Museum in Vienna, Austria.

But Lopez Lujan is being cautious, saying the presence of graves at the end of the newly found passageway is simply a theory that could be wrong. The blocked-up entrances will be excavated starting in 2016.

More:
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LT_MEXICO_AZTEC_DISCOVERY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2015-12-01-10-27-27

The United Arab Emirates has deployed a team of Colombian mercenaries to fight in Yemen

Source: Business Insider

The United Arab Emirates has deployed a team of Colombian mercenaries to fight in Yemen
Jeremy Bender Tomorrow at 7:46 AM  

The United Arab Emirates has trained hundreds of mercenaries recruited from Latin America and sent them to fight in Yemen, according to The New York Times.

The Emirates have steadily built up the mercenary force over the past five years. The deployment to Yemen is the first time the Emirates has sent mercenaries into an active war zone.

The development of the mercenary force, which is largely comprised of fighters from Colombia, allows the wealthy Gulf nation to engage in combat operations abroad with little risk to their own citizens.

“Mercenaries are an attractive option for rich countries who wish to wage war yet whose citizens may not want to fight,” Atlantic Council senior fellow Sean McFate told the Times.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/uae-deployed-colombian-mercenaries-to-yemen-2015-12

Mexican rights agency: police excessive force in 5 deaths

Mexican rights agency: police excessive force in 5 deaths
Associated Press
43 minutes ago

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's governmental human rights commission says excessive force by federal police resulted in five civilian deaths in a January confrontation. It says one other person was executed.

The commission criticized authorities' handling of the Jan. 6 confrontation in the western state of Michoacan, when federal forces moved in to dislodge members of self-defense groups who had seized Apatzingan city hall to protest electricity rates and crime.

Authorities moved in at dawn to clear the camp and confrontations ensued. Protesters attacked a federal police convoy that was taking seized vehicles to an impound yard.

Commission President Luis Gonzalez Perez said "excessive use of force resulted in the death of five people, and illegal execution of one person by federal police."

More:
http://news.yahoo.com/mexican-rights-agency-police-excessive-force-5-deaths-220845514.html
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