Friday, January 15, 2010

Around Latin America

I had hoped to write in depth about some of these stories in individual posts, but an unexpected trip out of town will keep me from blogging for several days. I still hope to come back to a couple of these, but until then, the stories themselves are well worth checking out.

-Death squads in Colombia have apparently begun targeting Afro-Colombian activists. The racial tensions in Colombia are often under-acknowledged, but stories like this serve as a strong reminder that complex race-relations among Afro-descendants and others in the Americas are not the monopoly of Brazil and the United States alone.

-Also in Colombia, another 14 soldiers have been set free from jail in the Soacha murders case. Like the previous 17 soldiers, the men were set free on a technicality, thus setting back efforts against paramilitary actions and human rights violations in Colombia even further.

-Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has been cleared in the assassination of an opposition lawyer. The investigation arose when Rodrigo Rosenberg was murdered last May, with a videotape surfacing with Rosenberg claiming that if he were killed, it was because Colom had ordered it. The incident led to protests both against and in favor of Colom, and even the FBI had gotten involved with the investigation. The investigation ruled Rosenberg's death a suicide in which he tried to take down Colom's government with him, which sounds somewhat unlikely, but isn't so strange within the way the report narrates the events. They may be wrong still, but it appears Colom has emerged from this strange challenge to his office.

-Some in Brazil and the U.S. wonder if a new film on Lula's early years as a metal-worker and union leader will influence the elections this year. [I'll certainly have more on this later.]

-It turns out, Roberto Micheletti isn't the only perpetual participant in Honduran politics, as the Honduran Congress handed out 50 other lifetime government positions. And as for Micheletti himself, not only is he remaining in politics, but he plans to continue to be a very vocal participant.

-Finally, in Argentina, prison riots are bringing the issue of prisoners' rights to the fore in Argentina, which, like many other countries in the Americas (including the U.S.), suffers from an appalling penal system that demonstrates little concern for the conditions of prisons and rights of prisoners.