Category Archives: Latin America

Bolivia becomes first nation to legalise child labour

Jack Simpson reports for The Independent:

‘Bolivia has become the first country to legalise child labour after a law was signed by Vice- President  Alvaro Garcia Linera on Thursday. The new legislation was first approved by Congress earlier this month, and now the signature from Linera means the age that children can legally work is to be lowered from 14 to 10.

Under the new legislation, children above the age of 10 will be allowed to become self-employed workers as long as they have enrolled in school and have the permission of their parents. Children over the age of 12 will be permitted to take on contract work, again with parental consent and compulsory school attendance.

The law to lower the age in which children can legally work, is all part of the Bolivian government’s plan to help Bolivians living in poverty. It is hoped that adding another wage to a family’s income could alleviate the financial burdens that a large proportion of Bolivians face.’

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Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz Hails New BRICS Bank Challenging U.S.-Dominated World Bank & IMF

‘A group of five countries have launched their own development bank to challenge the U.S.-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Leaders from the so-called BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — unveiled the New Development Bank at a summit in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai. Together, BRICS countries account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population. To discuss this development, we are joined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and the World Bank’s former chief economist. “It’s very important in many ways,” Stiglitz says of the New Development Bank’s founding. “This is adding to the flow of money that will go to finance infrastructure, adaptation to climate change — all the needs that are so evident in the poorest countries. It [also] reflects a fundamental change in global economic and political power. The BRICS countries today are richer than the advanced countries were when the World Bank and the IMF were founded. We’re in a different world — but the old institutions haven’t kept up.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

China’s President offers to build a railway across South America

From the Business Standard:

‘Firming up ‘s engagement with resource-rich Latin America, President Xi Jinping has offered to build a railway network across the continent, considered the backyard of the US.
During his meet with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on the sidelines of BRICS summit in Brasilia yesterday, Xi proposed that China, Peru and  form a working group to promote cooperation on the project.

He suggested that a trilateral working group be established to guide their cooperation in all related aspects including planning, design, construction and operation of the transcontinental railway, state run China Daily said today. Experts say collaboration on the railway project, which would run from the Peruvian Pacific coast to the Brazilian Atlantic coast, will be a good example of China’s positive impact on the Latin American continent, the Daily said.’

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Chile invokes anti-terrorism laws after device explodes in subway

Rosalba O’Brien reports for Reuters:

The government plans to use anti-terrorism legislation to prosecute those responsible for an explosive device which detonated in an empty metro carriage. Photo via @Dip_Calderon‘The Chilean government said on Tuesday it will invoke anti-terrorist laws in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the explosion of a homemade device on a Santiago subway train late Sunday night. The incendiary device, which had been placed inside a backpack, caused minor damage and no injuries. No one has claimed responsibility.

Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said on Tuesday that the government has decided the attack was serious and subject to the anti-terrorism laws. “We think the intention was to hurt innocent people,” he said. The laws, which date from the 1973-90 rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet, give prosecutors more powers and allow for harsher sentencing. The government has been criticized for using them in a long-running and often violent struggle with indigenous Mapuche activists over land rights in southern Chile.’

Jim Rickards: BRICS Development Bank A Significant Step Away From The Dollar

Nafeez Ahmed: World Bank and UN carbon offset scheme ‘complicit’ in genocidal land grabs, say NGOs

Nafeez Ahmed writes for the Guardian:

A Kenyan farmer tends newly planted trees‘Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 500 million acres of land in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean was acquired or negotiated under deals brokered on behalf of foreign governments or transnational corporations. Many such deals are geared toward growing crops or biofuels for export to richer, developed countries – with the consequence that small-holder farmers are displaced from their land and lose their livelihood while local communities go hungry.

The concentration of ownership of the world’s farmland in the hands of powerful investors and corporations is rapidly accelerating, driven by resource scarcity and, thus, rising prices. According to a new report by the US land rights organisation Grain: “The powerful demands of food and energy industries are shifting farmland and water away from direct local food production to the production of commodities for industrial processing.” Less known factors, however, include ‘conservation‘ and ‘carbon offsetting.”

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‘Lost’ Amazonian tribe under threat from illegal loggers operating in their traditional territories

Jonathan Brown reports for The Independent:

‘At first they were little more than fleeting sightings of naked figures on the edge of the forest. But as the days went by, the men and boys grew bolder, venturing into the village to pilfer pots and vegetables before disappearing back into the safety of trees. After they were first glimpsed by other people on the outskirts of an Asháninka indigenous community on the upper reaches of Brazil’s Envira River, “a few dozen” members of an unnamed Amazonian tribe finally made contact with a settled population 20 days ago. That came four years after a tribal group, reportedly from the same Amazonian tribe, were filmed from the air in 2010. When the images were released in January 2011, they created a worldwide sensation.

It is believed the tribe had been driven across the border from their centuries’ old nomadic existence by the activities of illegal loggers and possibly drug-traffickers operating in their traditional territories in Peru. Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department, Funai, confirmed that the group had taken the momentous decision to make contact at the village of Sympatico in the state of Acre, more than a week’s travel by foot and canoe from the nearest road. Sympatico, just 25 miles from the border, is very close to the area where a tribe group was filmed four years ago. It is estimated that there are at least four such communities living in Acre, constituting a population of around 600. A further two tribes are believed to occupy territory in Peru. But no one knows exactly how many individuals there are now living in the pristine forest of the western Amazon.’

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Venezuela accused of forging Maduro assassination plot evidence

Reuters reports:

‘Venezuelan officials used forged emails to accuse government adversaries of plotting to kill President Nicolas Maduro, according to a private investigation firm hired by one of the accused.

Ruling Socialist Party leaders in May said a group of ardent government critics were preparing to “annihilate” Maduro as part of a planned coup, showing images of emails they said were evidence of the plot.

The images of the emails showed “many indications of user manipulation,” according to the report released on Tuesday by Kivu Consulting. Records subpoenaed from Google also showed that messages attributed to consultant Pedro Burelli had never actually been sent, the report added.’

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Chilean Court Rules U.S. Had Role in Murders

Pascale Bonnefoy reports for The New York Times:

The United States military intelligence services played a pivotal role in setting up the murders of two American citizens in 1973, providing the Chilean military with the information that led to their deaths, a court here has ruled.

The recent court decision found that an American naval officer, Ray E. Davis, alerted Chilean officials to the activities of two Americans, Charles Horman, 31, a filmmaker, and Frank Teruggi, 24, a student and an antiwar activist, which led to their arrests and executions.

The murders were part of an American-supported coup that ousted the leftist government of President Salvador Allende. The killing of the two men was portrayed in the 1982 film “Missing.”’

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Peru now has a “licence to kill” environmental protesters

David Hill writes for the Guardian:

Peruvian security forces arrest a protester in June 2009 during conflict that led to more than 30 people dying and over 200 injured. ‘Some of the recent media coverage about the fact that more than 50 people in Peru – the vast majority of them indigenous – are on trial following protests and fatal conflict in the Amazon over five years ago missed a crucial point. Yes, the hearings are finally going ahead and the charges are widely held to be trumped-up, but what about the government functionaries who apparently gave the riot police the order to attack the protestors, the police themselves, and – following Wikileaks’ revelations of cables in which the US ambassador in Lima criticized the Peruvian government’s “reluctance to use force” and wrote there could be “implications for the recently implemented Peru-US FTA” if the protests continued – the role of the US government?’

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UN committee backs Argentina over Falkland Islands

Alexandra Olsen reports for the Associated Press:

‘A United Nations’ committee approved a new resolution calling on the UK and Argentina to negotiate a solution to their dispute over the Falkland Islands, essentially favouring Argentina’s stance in the long-running feud. The 24-nation Decolonization Committee passed the resolution by consensus despite passionate speeches from two Falkland Islands representatives who said most islanders wanted to keep things as they are.

The decision showed that the committee members have been largely unmoved by a referendum in the Falkland Islands last year in which more than 99 per cent of voters favoured remaining a British Overseas Territory. The UK has rebuffed Argentina’s calls to negotiate the sovereignty of the south Atlantic islands, saying it is up to people who live there to decide. Argentinian Foreign Minister Hector Timerman attacked the UK for ignoring dozens of UN resolutions urging the two countries to talk.’

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Cuba’s Raul Castro urges defence of ally President Maduro in Venezuela

From AFP:

‘Cuban President Raul Castro warned allies on Saturday that Havana’s closest ally Venezuela needed support amid fallout from deadly anti-government protests. “Venezuela today needs our staunchest support,” Castro, 83, said in a rare international speech at a Group of 77 and China meeting in Bolivia.  “The oligarchs who could not get rid of President Hugo Chavez think the time has come to topple the Bolivarian revolution and President (Nicolas) Maduro,” Castro argued, calling the elected socialist government in Caracas “the front line of independence, freedom and dignity”.

Maduro is the closest regional ally of Cuba, the region’s only one-party communist state. Venezuelan economic support is critical to keeping the Cuban government and economy afloat. Cash-strapped Havana still has a centrally planned economy and cannot get access to international loans, and Venezuela supplies it with cut-rate oil. But inflation near 60 percent, widespread shortages of basic goods and soaring crime have plunged Venezuela — an oil-rich OPEC member — into political and economic crisis.’

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Ghana footballer Sulley Muntari giving away money in Brazil

World Cup fans of all stripes revel on beach despite Fifa’s colonising

Hadley Freeman writes for The Guardian:

‘Rio is, simply, the most fun of the host cities and so plenty are simply staying here instead of traipsing around the country, happy to catch whatever games come. The biggest presence on the beach by far, after Brazil fans, are the Argentinians, but there are also plenty of Russia, America, Australia, France and, yes, England fans, or to use the American journalist Adrian Chen’s phrase, the Sad English. But the World Cup is not all classic Rio joy, and neither is Copacabana. At one end you find the deadening corporate fist of Fifa thumping down into the sand with Fan Fest. Those who have never been to a World Cup are, in all likelihood, living in currently blissful ignorance of Fan Fest. That bliss shall now be shattered.

Back in 2002, Fifa noticed how popular the free screenings of the games were in the host cities, so they decided that, as they were making so much money out of the rest of the World Cup, it would be ridiculous not to cash in on this, too. So since 2006, there have been Fifa Fan Fests, which are perhaps best described as a festival with all the worst things of a festival, and some football: gigantic adverts for precious corporate sponsors are everywhere and, while entrance is free, the miles and miles of Fifa-branded tat on sale is certainly not, ranging from R$30 (£7.90) face paint to R$480 (£126) bottles of Fifa wine. It all adds nicely to the untaxed billions Fifa will gleefully reap in Brazil, as they squat in the country like a greedy bullfrog on a lilypad.’

READ MORE @ THE GUARDIAN…

“A Neo-Liberal Trojan Horse”: Dave Zirin on Brazil’s Mass Protests and Abolishing FIFA

Two years later, Julian Assange remains trapped in Ecuadorian Embassy: Interview with Wikileaks lawyer Michael Ratner

U.S. Supreme Court Preserves Power of Finance Over Argentina: Interview with Bill Black

Dispatches From Brazil’s World Cup: ‘No One Lives Here Anymore’

Dave Zirin writes for The Nation:

What is left of Favela do Metro.‘Favela do Metro was once a community of 700 families living a five-minute walk—just up the Rua São Francisco Xavier—from Rio’s legendary Maracanã Stadium. Now it’s a couple of storefronts and a tonnage of rubble. All of the 700 families are gone, uprooted by a World Cup agenda that looked at their homes and envisioned parking lots for the Maracanã. Even that was too much for city planners, as the parking lot has yet to be built, with the World Cup already underway. Perhaps it will be ready for cars by the start of Rio’s 2016 Olympics. When I asked one of the former favela residents, hanging around a food stand, to explain the delays, he said, “If they can’t finish the World Cup stadiums, do you really think they care about this place?”

Instead, all around are empty lots—case studies in demolition, with the jagged remnants of what were once people’s homes there for all to see. There are dolls with missing heads and limbs, couches without cushions and razor-sharp exposed springs, and a sink leaning precariously on a mountain of wood shavings. The owners’ memories have become someone else’s garbage. On one wall is spray-painted, “What happened to the families? No one lives here anymore.”’

READ MORE @ THE NATION…

Documentary: The Other Side of Brazil’s World Cup

Editor’s Note: You can also catch VICE’s Dispatches from Brazil here. And you can follow Tim Pool on Twitter here.

Brazil 2014: Inside the World Cup’s ever-escalating security arms race

Ariel Bogle writes for The Week:

Riot police patrol the Santinho beach in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina state‘International mega-events like the FIFA World Cup are part of an ever-escalating, increasingly expensive security tech arms race that may have lasting repercussions for the privacy of citizens in host countries. So far, Brazil has reportedly spent almost $900 million not only on 150,000 or so personnel, but also on U.S. military bomb-disposal robotsa bunch of Israeli drones, a British mobile scanner that can spot a plastic 3D printed pistol, and ninety Chinese-built X-Ray Inspection systems, not to mention, facial recognition goggleshigh-tech surveillance helicopters, and digital command centers, and much more besides.

High-tech security gadgetry inside and outside of the stadiums is by no means unique to Brazil. Each new city must replicate and surpass the security of previous hosts. The recent Sochi Winter Olympics featured the VibraImage, which detected agitated visitors by measuring facial and muscle vibrations. Police during the 2012 London Olympics could keep an eye on every corner of the city with their expanded CCTV surveillance camera system. And South Africa’s 2010 World Cup had a quantum cryptography system to thwart hackers. Minority Report-esque armed guards with facial recognition goggles are perhaps not the image FIFA would endorse for the World Cup. But as Colin Bennett and Kevin Haggerty note in their book, Security Games: Surveillance and Control at Mega-Events, security, as for the World Cup, is now part of the “Olympic ritual.” So how did we get here? History, powerful stakeholders, and the chance for host countries to secure a significant security legacy.’

READ MORE @ THE WEEK…

Brazil 2014: A World Cup for Corporations

Marta Molina writes for Waging Nonviolence:

copa‘In Brazil there’s always room for soccer. Anywhere. On the street, on the beach, on improvised fields. It is played barefoot, with shoes, in stadiums, as part of a team or among friends. Even the great players, Pelé, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, or Neymar began playing this way. A visitor to Brazil can find goals in the most inhospitable places, in the countryside, in cities, in the jungle, in indigenous villages or in favelas. But as the sport has turned into an industry, that playful, collective game, with its beauty born of the joy of playing for the sake of playing, has begun to disappear.

The World Cup 2014, which will be the privilege of a few and a headache for many, has sparked unprecedented organizing against FIFA. In 11 of the 12 cities that will host one of the games, social movements have united under the banner of the People’s Committees to demand that citizens’ human rights stop being violated for the sake of an event in which few will be able to participate. Members from all sectors of society and many existing social movements have joined in the organizing, including the São Paulo metro workers, who yesterday, on the eve of the cup, declared a strike to demand higher wages and protest the firing of fellow employees.’

READ MORE @ WAGING NONVIOLENCE…

Argentina appoints new secretary of ‘national thought’

From AFP:

Cristina Kirchner has created the new post of secretary for strategic co-ordination of national thought‘Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner has created a new post: secretary for strategic co-ordination of national thought. Opposition leaders immediately derided the initiative, with some bristling over what they see as the post’s fascist overtones. “With a year and a half to go before they leave office, they could have named someone to act instead of think,” said Ernesto Sanz, head of the opposition Radical Civic Union.

Ricardo Forster, who was named to the post, said the idea was to “build networks among academics and intellectuals who are thinking about joint projects in Latin America”. He said it had nothing to do with trying to inculcate “uniformity of thought”. The 56-year-old trained philosopher is a member of a circle of intellectuals close to Kirchner, whose term ends in 2015.

“It’s pathetic and deplorable to designate a strategic secretary for national thought, as if those who aren’t Kichneristas are not national,” said Federico Pinedo, head of a conservative bloc in the lower house. “That’s old-style fascism.”‘

SOURCE

John Oliver on FIFA and the World Cup

9/11 Victim’s Bill Blocked By Chiquita Bananas

How the UK taught Brazil’s dictators interrogation techniques

Emily Buchanan writes for BBC News:

Pictures showing some of the dead and disappeared‘As the world focuses on the World Cup, which opens in Brazil in less than a fortnight, many Brazilians are wrestling with painful discoveries about the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. The BBC has found evidence that the UK actively collaborated with the generals – and trained them in sophisticated interrogation techniques.

Brazil’s 21-year dictatorship is less well known abroad than that of Argentina or Chile, but it was still brutal. Hundreds died and thousands were imprisoned and tortured. One of those tortured was a left-wing guerrilla who is now the country’s president, Dilma Rousseff. She set up a Truth Commission to unearth long-buried facts about the past.

As former victims and a few military players come forward to give evidence, Britain’s secret role has emerged. By the early 1970s Brazil’s rulers were engaged in a bitter struggle against left-wing guerrillas. Swept up in the oppression were union leaders, students, journalists and almost anyone who voiced opposition.’

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Ecuador transfers half of its gold reserves to Goldman Sachs in exchange for “liquidity”

Mike Krieger writes for Liberty Blitzkrieg:

‘This is a great example of how the game works. In a world in which every government on earth needs “liquidity” to survive, and the primary goal of every government is and always has been survival (the retention of arbitrary power at all costs), the provider of liquidity is king. So what is liquidity and who provides it?

In the current financial system (post Bretton Woods), the primary engine of global liquidity is the U.S. dollar and dollar based assets generally as a result of  its reserve currency status. Ever since Nixon defaulted on the U.S. dollar’s gold backing in 1971, the creation of this “liquidity” has zero restrictions whatsoever and is merely based on the whims and desires of the central planners in chief, i.e., the Federal Reserve. As the primary creator of the liquidity that every government on earth needs to survive, the Federal Reserve is thus the most powerful player globally in not only economic, but also geopolitical affairs.

The example of the so-called sovereign nation of Ecuador relinquishing its gold reserves to Goldman Sachs for “liquidity” which can be conjured up by the Fed on a whim and at zero cost tells you all you need to know about how the world works.’

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Who’s in control – nation states or global corporations?

Gary Younge writes for The Guardian:

Greek newspapers are on display in Athen‘The night in 2002 when Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won his landslide victory in Brazil’s presidential elections, he warned supporters: “So far, it has been easy. The hard part begins now.” He wasn’t wrong. As head of the leftwing Workers’ party he was elected on a platform of fighting poverty and redistributing wealth. A year earlier, the party had produced a document, Another Brazil is Possible, laying out its electoral programme. In a section entitled “The Necessary Rupture”, it argued: “Regarding the foreign debt, now predominantly private, it will be necessary to denounce the agreement with the IMF, in order to free the economic policy from the restrictions imposed on growth and on the defence of Brazilian commercial interests.”

But on the way to Lula’s inauguration the invisible hand of the market tore up his electoral promises and boxed the country around the ears for its reckless democratic choice. In the three months between his winning and being sworn in, the currency plummeted by 30%, $6bn in hot money left the country, and some agencies gave Brazil the highest debt-risk ratings in the world. “We are in government but not in power,” said Lula’s close aide, Dominican friar Frei Betto. “Power today is global power, the power of the big companies, the power of financial capital.”‘

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Why Uruguay’s President is the Most Bad-Ass Leader in the World

Abby Martin applauds Uruguay’s President, Jose Mujica, for his decision to give up his presidential mansion to 100 Syrian refugee children, accept Guantanamo Bay detainees into the country and reject the war on drugs.’ (Breaking the Set)

Corruption to Blame for Some Brazil World Cup Cost Rises

Tariq Panja reports for Bloomberg:

‘Corruption is partly to blame for Brazil’s World Cup stadiums ending up over budget and becoming some of the world’s most expensive soccer venues, a government official said.

The latest estimate for 12 new and refurbished stadiums shows costs of about 8 billion reais ($3.6 billion), 2.7 billion reais more than the first detailed estimate issued in 2010 and almost four times the amount Brazil told soccer’s governing body stadiums would cost in its 2007 hosting file.

Almost every arena is more expensive than first anticipated, with the publicly funded Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia the most expensive at $900 million, almost three times the original estimate. The facility is now the second most-expensive soccer stadium behind England’s $1.2 billion Wembley Stadium.’

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Brazil’s Dance With the Devil: Dave Zirin on the People’s Revolt Challenging 2014 World Cup

‘In his new book, “Brazil’s Dance With the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics and the Fight for Democracy,” sportswriter Dave Zirin tackles the growing unrest in Brazil in the leadup to one of sport’s biggest spectacles. Thousands of police officers have joined bus drivers for day two of a massive strike in São Paulo, just weeks before the World Cup is set to begin. Meanwhile, more than ten thousand people have occupied a lot next to one of the arenas that will host the World Cup’s opening match. They call their protest, “The People’s Cup” and are opposing the nearly half a billion dollars spent on the stadium, even as their communities lack adequate hospitals and schools. Demonstrations throughout the country have called attention to similar concerns. Zirin joins us to discuss the protests rocking Brazil, as well as the biggest sporting controversy in the United States — the NBA’s attempt to oust owner Donald Sterling over his racist comments about African Americans. Zirin is a sports columnist for The Nation magazine and host of Edge of Sports Radio on Sirius/XM.’ (Democracy Now!)