Saturday, February 20, 2010

Around Latin America - Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Honduras, Colombia, and Panama

-A high-ranking official in the Argentine government is saying that the country does not plan to invade the Malvinas/Falklands islands or go to war with England, but that it does want to negotiate with Great Britain over the issue of oil drilling (part of the islands' new economic boom) in the ocean near the islands.

-Bolivia has opened up its military archives from its dictatorship period of 1960-1980. This is a major gain for historians and scholars interested in the Bolivian dictatorship, and scholars of dictatorships in the Americas more generally, as the Bolivian dictatorship has remained relatively understudied. Access to archives should lead to a new boom in research and new insights into one of the "forgotten" dictatorships in South America.

-Justice in Peru's Amazonian basin continues to be lopsided, as two indigenous peoples cleared of the killing of police in 2009 remain behind bars even while police officers involved in the murder of 10 indigenous protesters remain free.

-Speaking of the Amazonian basin, this article does a great job of demonstrating the vulgar and violent abuse of power that politicians and elites use in getting land in northern Brazil, as well as some of the ways that the poor and small-landholders are fighting back against elites' land-grabs. Another article does an interesting job in suggesting the ways in which the Landless Movement (MST) in Brazil has been disappointed by Lula's policies, and the uphill battles the MST is facing. Meanwhile, Brazil's agricultural production is looking at a boom year for soybean farming in the wake of beneficial rainfall. Of course, accompanying that rainfall is an increase in the mosquito population, with the result that five states in Brazil already have had dengue outbreaks this year.

-Although most in the world associate Carnaval with partying and scantily-clad women, this article does a great job detailing the complicated and conflicting meanings behind Carnaval for women and homosexuals. The article comments on how the relatively free attitudes towards sexuality, women, and homosexuals during Carnaval highlights the often-repressive social context these groups are forced to endure during the majority of the year, an argument that James Green has demonstrated has a strong historical precedent.

-A report in Pravda is saying that Colombian paramilitaries killed 30,000 people between the early-1980s and 2003. Though I'd like to see more research into the numbers, there's no doubt paramilitary groups are responsible for a large number of the total deaths in Colombia's civil war.

-RNS has a great preview of a few of the members of the Honduran Truth Commission, and what their appointments mean for the process of chronicling the abuses of the coupist government last year. Among other things, RNS suggests that "human rights abuses might actually be on the agenda after all."

-As Venezuela's economy faces the possibility of recession, as well as electrical shortages, Colombia is turning to look for trade partners elsewhere, and has begun exploring the possibility of a free-trade agreement with Panama.

-Finally, I'm not terribly convinced by this article suggesting that slums offer insights into how to better plan cities and help "save the planet." Among other things, it really glosses over the economic and socio-political issues that many slum residents have to deal with, focusing on global slums more as planning models than as the result of very real inequalities and suffering.