Around Latin America

-A “renewal” of a party, or a sign of disorder? That’s the question after thirteen of the twenty-four members of the executive committee of Guatemala’s ruling party, the Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (National Unity of Hope, UNE), stepped down this week.

-Following a protest in Mato Grosso earlier this week, hundreds of indigenous peoples invaded the construction site of the Belo Monte dam in the state of Pará.

-Meanwhile, in showing support for and solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, around 150 Brazilians have launched “Occupy Rio,” joining their counterparts in São Paulo, who initiated their own “Occupy” movement on October 15.

-American-initiated crime on the U.S. border? Indeed. Americans owe the government of Ciudad Juárez over $10 million in fines that they don’t pay when crossing the border. While police take one license plate off cars in order to encourage individuals to pay the fine and recover their plates, apparently many Americans simply ignore the law and opt for paying for new plates instead.

-Following the Senate’s lead, the Uruguayan Chamber of Deputies has voted to revoke the 1986 amnesty law that prohibited the investigation and prosecution of human rights violators during the military dictatorship of 1975-1983, thus opening the path towards the search for justice against surviving military members who tortured, murdered, and disappeared victims.

-In Peru, investigators have agreed to re-open inquiries into the forced sterilization of women during the presidency of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). The Fujimori government initiated the forced sterilizations in order to “combat poverty.” There is evidence that this occurred in at least 2,000 cases, though advocates say the real number is probably closer to 200,000, and that the forced sterilizations constitute a crime against humanity. Fujimori is currently serving a 25-year sentence for other crimes and human rights violations during his administration.

-Finally, as excellent as news into human rights violations in Latin America is, Mike reminds us that there are American human rights violators who go unpunished in the U.S.. He quotes a Henry Kissinger diplomatic message to Argentina, to damning effect:

—“Look, our basic attitude is that we would like you to succeed. I have an old-fashioned view that friends ought to be supported. What is not understood in the United States is that you have a civil war. We read about human rights problems but not the context. The quicker you succeed the better…The human rights problem is a growing one.  Your Ambassador can apprise you. We want a stable situation. We won’t cause you unnecessary difficulties. If you can finish before Congress gets back, the better. Whatever freedoms you could restore would help.” (October 1976)

While you wouldn’t expect the AP to rock the boat, I would have like to have seem them follow up on the lack of effort on the part of the United States to come to grips with its frequent support and encouragement of murderous regimes and terrorists in Central and South America.

The two countries [Uruguay and Argentina] are among several Latin American nations still struggling to come to terms with Cold War dictatorships in which regimes routinely tortured, killed or “disappeared” suspected opponents. Most of those dictatorships ended nearly three decades ago.They are struggling to come to terms with their past. In the United States, on the other hand, the majority of the people are either unaware of what the US did during the Cold War or they justify our government’s actions with the all so persuasive, “we won, didn’t we?”

Indeed. While it’s good to see those who directly committed torture and murder in Latin America face justice, it’s a sad fact that many in the U.S. will never receive the judicial reckoning they also have earned through their actions.


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 Alberto Fujimori, Around Latin America, Border Issues, Brazil, Guatemala, Human Rights Issues, Human Rights Violations, Indigenous Peoples, Mexico, Peru, Rio de Janeiro, Uruguay, Uruguay's Military Dictatorship (1973-1985). Bookmark the permalink.