Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Around Latin America

-First, the earthquake in Haiti is an absolutely devastating tragedy, and the news will only get worse as estimates become available. And it hasn't just hit Haitians. There are reports that the U.N. headquarters there has collapsed. This will affect numerous countries, especially Brazil, which has been the head of and formed the majority of the peacekeeping missions there since the early 2000s. Brazil is already reporting the confirmed deaths of "at least" 11 Brazilian soldiers, with reports on peacekeeping troops still unavailable. Randy points us to places to donate aid

Mercy Corps
Doctors Without Borders
Charity Navigator (interactive map for charities in Haiti).

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, so even a tiny donation in U.S. dollars could go a long way. I strenuously urge anybody and everybody who can to contribute to help Haitians.

-In other news, Chile last week opened up its Museum of Memory, which deals with the horrors of the Pinochet Regime. Lillie has been following this for quite awhile, and offers a good summary of the pros and cons of the museum.

-Chile was also able to repatriate the remains of five indigenous people who had been taken to Europe a century ago to be displayed as "curiosities." The issue of repatriation of indigenous people's remains and indigenous artifacts in Latin America is a heated issue, of course.

-I had commented before on the Brazilian military's opposition to the formation of a Truth Commission in Brazil. Sectors of the Catholic Church are now joining in on that opposition out of fear that the broader human rights plan that includes the Commission may also pave the way to gay marriage and legalized abortion.

-Honduras's military is expected to appear before the Supreme Court tomorrow (English summarization here) to determine whether the court will drop charges or not against the military for illegally removing Manuel Zelaya from Honduras last June. Meanwhile, in disgusting news,Honduras' National Association of Industrialists named Robert Micheletti the "Hero of the 21st Century." There has been strong evidence for awhile that the coup was done at least in part to protect the interests of a tiny minority of wealthy elites, but this definitely adds to that argument.

-Finally, because it's already been far from a cheerful beginning to the year, Erwin links us to this powerful video compiling human rights abuses from the victims' perspectives. It's only 60 seconds, but it's a powerful and important reminder of how far the human rights struggle has to go, and how it affects its victims directly.