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Judi Lynn

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Brazil: Bolsonaro's Conservative Government Brings Hunger Back

Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 10:58 am
Article: Lateinamerika Nachrichten
Originally posted at https://scoop.me/brazil-bolsonaros-hunger/

By Lateinamerika Nachrichten / Claudia Fix, Julia Ganter

At the end of April, the official number of covid deaths in Brazil surpassed 400,000. Measured by the number of inhabitants, no country in the Americas has seen more people die from infection with the coronavirus. But it is not only this number that is shocking. Meanwhile, the social impact of the Bolsonaro government’s failed pandemic policy is also becoming increasingly clear. By Claudia Fix & Julia Ganter for Lateinamerika Nachrichten

“Hunger is back,” recent studies note. The crisis threatens to undo the successful fight against hunger and absolute poverty between 2003 and 2013. And yet Brazil is the world’s third-largest food exporter.

Brazil had experienced a success story: In 2014, the proportion of Brazilians suffering from hunger fell to less than five percent and the country disappeared from the United Nations’ world hunger map for the first time. For the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, this was already reason enough in an interview with El País in 2019 to declare the statement that people in Brazil still suffer from hunger to be a “lie” and “populist talk.“

But whether the president wants to admit it or not, the country is far from having solved the problem of hunger. Brazil was already rapidly moving back onto the world hunger map in 2019. According to the Nationwide Household Sample Survey (PNAD, comparable to the German microcensus), the percentage of households with food insecurity increased by 63 percent between 2013 and 2018. In absolute terms, this means that by the beginning of 2018, some 85 million Brazilians were already worried about their future access to food, it was already limited, or they were going hungry – a shocking record since data collection began in 2004.

. . .

The “fight against hunger” was one of the most important campaign promises of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s presidential campaign. In his inaugural speech in 2003, he proclaimed, “If, at the end of my term, all Brazilians can eat a meal three times a day, then I will have fulfilled the mission of my presidency.” In just his first 30 days, his government launched the “Zero Hunger” program, and between 2004 and 2013, the number of hungry people halved to 7.2 million.


Even The New York Times Now Admits That It's US Sanctions, Not Socialism, That's Destroying Venezuel

JUNE 8, 2021
Even The New York Times Now Admits That It’s US Sanctions, Not Socialism, That’s Destroying Venezuela


The facile right-wing talking point that the economic crisis facing Venezuela “proves” that “socialism always ends in failure” has become so hackneyed by overuse that it has attained its own tongue-in-cheek name. The ad Venezuelum, as it has come to be known, has slowly developed into such a tedious and predictable right-wing tactic that it seems to now serve as an all-purpose retort to try to discredit even the most modest of left-of-center proposals. In October 2018, for instance, then-President Trump responded to a plan by progressive Democrats in congress to introduce a bill to establish a system of universal public healthcare – something which every industrialized country other than the US already has – by stating: “It’s going to be a disaster for our country. It will turn our country into a Venezuela.”

Analysts on the left have long toiled against the ad Venezuelum by pointing out the myriad genuine explanations behind the economic crisis that has been roiling the country since around 2014. Caleb Maupin, for instance, has argued that falling oil prices were a key factor in the collapse of Venezuela’s economy. This is hardly a controversial point given that Venezuela’s dependence on oil, which was first discovered in the 1920s, has led to a highly unstable economy featuring regular bouts of economic chaos caused by a sudden drop in the price of crude. In the early 1980s, during the government of Luis Herrera (of the right-wing COPEI party), for example, there was a huge economic crisis with many of the same features as the one confronting the country today. Needless to say, no one at the time tried to pass this off as proof that capitalism doesn’t work.

Ryan Mallet-Outtrim, who himself lived in Venezuela for several years, has argued that the government’s monetary policy has been one of the main factors behind the crisis. In particular, he pointed out that the fixed exchange rate, which of course is hardly socialistic in nature, had an unintended effect on demand for currency that in turn led to an inflationary spiral. He is not alone is his criticism of the fixed exchange rate; economist Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), who like Mallet-Outtrim is broadly sympathetic to the Chavista government, has argued for years that Venezuela should drop it in favor of a floating exchange rate.

I myself argued in a 2016 essay for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs that an economic war waged by a domestic societal elite, and abetted by the United States, has been a major cause of the crisis. Though dismissed by critics of Chavismo as a conspiracy theory, there is, in fact, ample evidence of an economic war against the Venezuelan government ever since Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998. The so-called oil strike, for instance, (in reality a management-led lockout) was a transparent attempt to bring about regime change by crippling the economy. Cases of hoarding goods and deliberately disrupting supply chains on the part of the opposition-friendly private business sector, meanwhile, have been well-documented.


U.S. Imperialists Deprive Cuba of Syringes That Are Needed Now

JUNE 4, 2021


Cuba, the first Latin America country to develop its own COVID-19 vaccines, presently is short of syringes for immunizing its population against the virus. It’s not feasible for Cuba to make its own syringes. The U.S. blockade prevents Cuba from importing them from abroad.

Syringes are lacking all over. The New York Times estimates an overall need of between “eight billion and 10 billion syringes for Covid-19 vaccinations alone.” Manufacturing capabilities are increasing, but that’s of no use to Cuba.

According to Global Health Partners, “Cuba needs roughly 30 million syringes for their mass Covid vaccination campaign and they’re short 20 million.” Solidarity organizations are seeking donated funds to buy syringes and ship them to Cuba. (Readers may donate by contacting Global Health Partners or visiting here.)

The shortage of syringes poses great hardship for the Cuban people. That’s not new. Calling for economic blockade in 1960, State Department official Lester Mallory was confident that making Cubans suffer would push them toward overthrowing their government.


Peru Has a Choice: Democracy or a Return to Dictatorship

The country’s elections this weekend offer two stark choices: a deepening of democracy or a return to right-wing dictatorship.


On January 6, 2021, Americans were horrified to witness Donald Trump’s right-wing supporters storm the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election. Their attempted insurrection against American democracy colossally failed, but the riot served as a reminder to Americans that democracy is fragile — and is a system that must be constantly defended.

I’m currently in Lima, Peru with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to serve as an election observer for the country’s June 6 presidential runoff election. This Sunday, Peruvians will choose between leftist candidate Pedro Castillo, an educator and union leader, and Keiko Fujimori, a career politician and daughter of former dictator Alberto Fujimori.

I’ve served as a poll watcher in local and national US elections, but the stakes have never been as high as they currently are here in Peru.

In the past two days, all four groups that DSA’s observer delegation has met with have expressed serious concerns about the possibility of a right-wing coup attempt should Pedro Castillo win. Castillo is currently leading in the polls. The four organisations — made up of indigenous leaders, lawyers, human rights experts, and trade union leaders — also expressed fears that Keiko Fujimori and her supporters in the military, courts, legislature, and media would engage in fraud or violence to secure her victory at any cost.

Legal experts with Peru’s Mesa de Abogados Por La Democracia (Lawyer’s Table for Democracy) shared their fear that this election could result in a return to Fujimorismo, the term used to describe the right-wing authoritarianism and violence of Alberto Fujimori’s ten-year dictatorship. Fujimori’s government forcibly sterilized 272,028 mostly indigenous, rural, and poor women and murdered thousands of Peruvians in terrible acts of state-sponsored terrorism. Mass graves around the country have still yet to be uncovered.


Colombia turns on media amid barrage of lies and propaganda

by Adriaan Alsema May 26, 2021

Public support for Colombia’s mass media has plummeted as they persistently contradict citizen reporting, a poll confirmed.

According to pollster Invamer, public approval of the news media dropped from 41% to 31% since ongoing anti-government protests began on April 28.

The approval of “the media” in Colombia has been dropping for a decade, but plummeted in May after a wave of social media reports on police brutality was blatantly contradicted by mass media.

Colombians become their own reporters

While citizens reported extreme violence by the security forces on social media, Colombia’s mass media almost exclusively reported on incidents of vandalism by “protesters.”

On some days, citizens were literally begging the international community for help while media were replicating a government conspiracy theory that the largely peaceful protests would be coordinated by guerrilla groups.


Moments after delivering his Battle of Pichincha address in Loja in 1981, President Jaime Rolds die

Moments after delivering his Battle of Pichincha address in Loja in 1981, President Jaime Roldós died in a plane crash.
Did the CIA assassinate him?
May 23, 2021 | 15 comments

León Roldós (left) was appointed vice president a few days after his brother, Jaime Roldós, died in a
1981 plane crash. Osvaldo Hurtado Larrea (center) carries Jaime Roldós’ coffin.

By Sylvan Hardy

Those who knew him remember his May 24, 1981 speech commemorating the Battle of Pichincha and Ecuador’s independence from Spain as being one of President Jaime Roldós’ most passionate. He said Ecuador should not become involved in “inconsequential entanglements”, a reference to pressure by the U.S. to oppose leftist insurgencies in Latin America. Instead, he said the country must pick its battles wisely, as it did in 1822, and should pursue a “humanist” agenda to improve the lives of its citizens.

Within a hour of the speech, Roldós and his wife Martha Bucaram were dead as their airplane exploded in mid-air, crashing into Huairapungo Mountain, 15 kilometers from Loja.

Did the U.S. government play a role in the tragedy? Was his death an assassination aimed eliminating Latin American governments not in lockstep with the U.S. Cold War strategy of fighting communism? More than seven years after Ecuador’s former attorney general Galo Chiriboga opened an investigation to determine the cause of the explosion that killed Roldós, there is no definitive answer.

Jaime Roldos and his wife Martha shortly before they boarded the presidential aircraft on
May 24, 1881, in Loja.

A CIA document released in 2014 reveals that Ecuador, like other South American countries, was part in the U.S.-backed Operation Condor plan from the 1970s to the mid-1980s. The U.S. State Department document said the plan was intended to maintain Latin America as the “backyard for the U.S.”

The document states that Ecuador, then under a military dictatorship, became part of Operation Condor in 1978, joining the dictatorships of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in endorsing state-sponsored terror to control what was perceived to be the threat of communism and to “eliminate subversive sectors of society.”


Colombia trying to cover up attempted indigenous massacre

by Adriaan Alsema May 10, 2021

Colombia’s mass media and the Cali Police Department tried to cover up an attempted massacre of native Colombians by far-right supporters of President Ivan Duque.

At least eight indigenous protesters were injured on Sunday when heavily armed supporters of the increasingly authoritarian president indiscriminately opened fire on the buses they were driving.

The armed residents from an upscale neighborhood in the south of Cali received help from at least one policeman while preparing the massacre, according to video footage.

In order to cover up the attempted massacre, Cali Police chief Juan Carlos Rodriguez falsely accused the victims of incinerating two vehicle and falsely claimed that some were carrying firearms.

La FM director journalist Luis Carlos Velez subsequently reported that locals blamed native Colombians for breaking into their housing complex and vandalized vehicles.


White supremacy in Colombia Part 4: Racist Cali's 'genocide risk'

The Zarzur family and their servants. (Image: Soho)

by Adriaan Alsema May 23, 2021

Deeply-rooted racism of the white elite in Colombia’s third largest city Cali poses a genocide risk for local black community, according to a study.

Cali found itself in the spotlight during ongoing anti-government protests because of extreme violence that human rights NGO CODHES attributed to racist policing and an armed white elite.

The city has a long history of institutionalized racism and white supremacy that has its origin in the city’s leading role in Colombia’s exploitation of slaves in sugar plantations of the Valle del Cauca province.

The recent surge of violence against Cali’s black community “runs the risk of becoming a genocide” unless measures are taken, according to CODHES.


The women of the Amazon who dream the resistance

In Ecuador, indigenous women lead a march to the capital, to demand an end to the pillaging of their land

Gabriela Ruiz Agila
22 May 2021, 12.00am

On 26 March, Ecuador’s ombudsman (or “people’s defender”) Freddy Carrión visited Pastaza, the country’s largest province, and paid homage to the resilience of Amazonian women. María Taant, a leader of the Shuar indigenous people, sang a song invoking the great anaconda of the Amazon jungle. Hours later, she would be dead, a tragic road accident that left the Amazonian women’s movement bereft while also demanding they continue the struggle to defend their territory.

In memory of María Taant, we remember the march from Puyo to Quito on 8 March 2018, when María Taant and her companions delivered the Mandate of Amazonian Women to the government of Lenín Moreno. It read: "we demand the deletion of the contracts and/or agreements and concessions granted by the Ecuadorian government to oil and mining companies in the south-central Amazon."

For five days, the women kept vigil in the Plaza Grande, Quito’s central public square. Their struggle and persistence now resonates around the world. One of them, Nemonte Nenquim, led the Waorani people’s battle to protect 500,000 acres of rain forest from oil extraction. Her grassroots activism won the prestigious Goldman environmental prize for 2020 and a place on the New York Times’s 100 most influential people list.

The events of March 2018 were transformative. The women of the Amazon – from the Kichwa, Shuar, Achuar, Shiwiar, Waorani, Sapara and Mestizo peoples – had gathered to tell a story of negotiation and struggle, as they sought to redefine their place in the family and in wider society. For many years, they had been cultivating knowledge and resistance in their territories and communities.

Source: Shuar People. 13 March 2018. Maria Taant sings to give heart to the women of the Amazon, gathered in the Plaza Grande in Quito

Taant was prepared for the struggle. Eleven days before leaving for Quito, she fasted, visited the waterfall, dreamed and spoke to her ancestors. Widowed seven years before the march to Quito, she was raising four children – a daughter and three sons – on her own. At 25 she had been chosen by the Shuar elders to be a healer. At 47, she did not dream of shields as male warriors do, but of women walking, painting the great anaconda, talking and laughing. She dreamt the resistance. She saw it all clearly: a gruelling journey followed by hours of waiting. "It will be hard for them to listen to us," she told her gathered sisters.


Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia preserve the Inca Qhapaq am trail by promoting local tourism

May 21, 2021

The governments of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador are taking steps to restore and preserve the Qhapaq Ñam Andean Inca route and promote local tourism in the region.

Qhapaq Ñam in the Peruvian Andes.

Qhapaq Ñam was the backbone of the Inca Empire’s political and economic power. It served as an extensive Inca communication, trade and defense network of roads and associated structures, covering an area of more than 30,000 square kilometres.

During the last days of the empire, it connected Cusco with Cuenca, which was being built to be the northern Inca capital.

Since 2014, Qhapaq Ñam has been considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its development and preservation is not only important for historic reasons, but for the Andean countries’ tourism industry and culture. Peruvian Minister of Culture and Tourism, Wilma Alanoca, confirmed the proposal of a project in the area that is expected to benefit 15 local communities along the route.

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