Around Latin America

-After a brief attempt to negotiate with the right-wing government of Sebastian Piñera, striking Chilean university students have broken off talks and threatened to return to the streets in the fact of governmental “intransigence.” Students are outraged over government plans to make students further pay for educational expenses and the use of violence and police brutality (including the murder of a teenager) against student protesters earlier this year.

-Also in Chile, the Chilean government has expelled Argentine military member and human rights violator Alejandro Duret. Duret is a suspect in the kidnapping, torture, and murder of individuals during Argentina’s Dirty War.

-Boz has some brief-but-important comments as to why the U.S. should pay attention to social media in Latin America.

-Sony has ordered Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega to stop using the song “Stand By Me,” made famous by Ben E. King, in his campaign materials as the former-Sandinista runs for re-election. The music company has threatened legal action of Ortega does not stop airing a commercial that features the song.

-Thousands of Venezuelans expressed their grief over the death of former president Carlos Andres Pérez this week in a clear public battle over how a controversial ex-president should be remembered, . Perez died over nine months ago in Miami at the age of 88, but after much controversy and familial fighting, his body returned to Venezuela. Pérez was president from 1974-1979 and again from 1989-1993. During his first term, he promoted the potential of petroleum for Venezuela’s economy and nationalized oil production just as the world was entering a series of oil crises. For better and for worse, hese moves laid some of the foundation for connections between oil production and development in Venezuela that continue to this day. He also spoke out against the Pinochet regime in Chile and the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua. Over time, however, his administration was increasingly accused of corruption, and in 1979, the opposition Partido Social Cristiano de Venezuela (Social Christian Party of Venezuela) swept Pérez’s Acción Democrática (Democratic Action) from office. Pérez’s second term from1989-1993 was far more tumultuous. Shortly after winning election, he signed an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and began promoting massive neoliberal policies in Venezuela, in spite of the fact that he had run a populist campaign that harshly condemned neoliberalism in which he described the IMF as a “neutron bomb” and World Bank employees as “genocide workers in the pay of economic totalitarianism.” When thousands of people took to the streets to protest, rightfully indignant at the fact that Pérez had basically reneged on his most important rhetoric, Pérez sent the National Guard to crack down on protesters.  The National Guard employed brutal authoritarian tactics, ultimately killing hundreds and probably thousands of Venezuelans in what is now known as the Caracazo. In spite of his radical shift and brutal tactics, Pérez survived two coup attempts in 1992 (including one led by then-lieutenant-colonel Hugo Chávez). However, it was not the military, but charges of corruption, that ultimately brought Pérez down. He was charged with misappropriation of funds and impeached. While he was convicted of these charges and spent 28 months in prison, he continued to play a role in politics and continued to face more charges of corruption, ultimately entering self-exile in Florida in 2001, where he lived until his death in December 2010.


About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
This entry was posted in Argentina, Argentina's Military Dictatorship (1976-1983), Around Latin America, Augusto Pinochet, Chile, Human Rights Issues, Memory Struggles, Military Dictatorships, Nicaragua, Police Violence, Student Movements, Venezuela. Bookmark the permalink.