Around Latin America

While at the AHA, a decent number of stories came out of Latin America late last week.

-Ecuadoran courts upheld an $18 billion judgement against Chevron for the deaths and damages (human and environmental) caused when the company dumped millions of gallons of waste water into streams and creeks in the country between 1960 and 1992.

-In another case of corporate crime, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline Argentina was fined US$90,000 for testing vaccines on babies only from poor families.

-Last week, the rightist government of Sebastián Piñera announced plans to change references to the right-wing Pinochet regime in textbook, replacing the term “dictatorship” in books with the term “military regime.” However, the decision immediately led to controversy and outrage, and in the face of widespread opposition to the change both in Chile and among international human rights groups, the government has backtracked on its decision.  For those who might think this is just semantics, Greg has an excellent and concise write-up on why word choices matter on these issues.

-Brazilian indigenous peoples have created a tent city outside of Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro to protest of the treatment of Brazil’s native peoples and the ongoing seizure of their land. The stadium will be the site of the final game of the 2014 World Cup.

-Venezuelan opposition forces and the United States have spoken out against Hugo Chávez’s recent shuffling of his inner circle of advisers and new appointments in his government. The U.S. has alleged that Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, Chávez’s  new defense minister, is linked to drug traffickers.

-Authorities have labeled as suspicious a fire that destroyed the home of a Mapuche activist’s family. The Mapuches, Chile’s largest indigenous peoples, have been fighting for years for equal rights and treatment, and protection of their land and resources, and violence towards Mapuches is traceable back to the colonial era.

-While Guatemala inaugurates right-wing candidate (and ex-general during the Guatemalan Civil War) Otto Perez Molina next week, it is also inaugurating its first woman vice-president in Roxana Baldetti, and some Guatemalan women are hoping Baldetti’s inauguration marks a new era of openings for women in politics.

-Will Jamaica’s new prime minister usher in a new, better era for LGBT rights in the Caribbean country where gays and lesbians continue to face some of the most severe and widespread repression, violence, and threats in the western hemisphere?

-A dam burst in Brazil forced several thousand people from their homes in the state of Rio de Janeiro. This does not

-Fernando Llort addressed the removal of his mural from the Metropolitan Cathedral in El Salvador last week. The church had commissioned the mural in the 1990s to mark the 1992 signing of peace accords that brought an end to a brutal civil war in the Central American country.

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.
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