Monday, March 24, 2008

Lots Going on in Latin America

In trying to catch up with what had happened in Latin America in the 5 days I was without internet, I quickly discovered that there was lots going on, and I don't have time to go into each item and comment in detail. Still, these stories from last week are well worth checking out, with a major tip of the hat to the good folks at the Latin Americanist, Boz, and frequent commenter Randy.

-I agree with Boz - while many people ignored and even laughed at Lula's suggestion for a South American Defense Council in February, the Ecuador/Colombia events gave Lula's proposal sudden prescience. The one thing I will add here is that the fact that sucha good idea came from Brazil prior to these events does not surprise me - while he has numerous (and usually irrational) detractors in Brazil, from a purely objective standpoint I find Lula to be one of the most intelligent and downright sensible presidents, particuarly in foreign policy, that I've ever seen or studied, in Brazil and elsewhere. This offers just one more example of that sensibility and leadership.

-In the wake of the imprisonment and probably torture and rape of a 15-year-old girl in Brazil last year, it seems the prisons are at it again, with a 12-year-old girl being kept near male inmates in a prison in Mato Grosso do Sul. As the Latin Americanist points out, this is now the third such incident in fewer than 4 months. There are many areas in which Brazil's prison system is appalling, but this is just a totally new and inexcusable level of abuse.

-Japan wants Peru to give former Peruvian president (and Japanese citizen) Alberto Fujimori a fair trial. The way to guarantee this trial is fair is to see Fujimori jailed for human rights abuses during his administration. I don't care if he fought against the rebel Shining Path successfully and brought "economic success" to Peru (though I'm always leery of those who have nostalgia for the way things were in the 90s in Latin America - the 90s generally tended to be unfair beneficiaries of appalling neo-liberal policies); the fact that he also oversaw military and even paramilitary forces that killed innocent civilians as well as members of the Shining Path should result in jail time and disgrace.

-Rodolfo Eduardo Almiron Sena, a high-ranking member of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (AAA), a paramilitary right-wing group that participated in the murder of leftists and "subversives" prior to and during Argentina's Dirty War, was extradited from Spain to Argentina to face trial. Sena fled prior to the Dirty War, but the AAA had already participated in hundreds of random killings prior to 1976, so here's hoping he meets the same fate as various members of the military, the Church, and others who also aided in human rights violations in Argentina.

-And finally, in my absence, Randy was on a roll, with great analysis and comments on cocaine production arriving to Brazil's Amazon (on which I may have further thoughts later), why we should ignore the crocodile tears of Baby Doc Duvalier, in exile in France, and the polyglot nature of Suriname, which is indeed one of the "forgotten 3" of Latin America (along with French Guyana and Guyana - a friend and I always joked that he would be the first "French Guayanist" scholar, and I the first "Surinamist," in Latin American History.