Around Latin America

-A Guatemalan judge has denied dictator and ex-general Efraín Ríos Montt’s claim that an amnesty protects him from prosecution for human rights violations his regime committed, leaving the general open to more genocide charges. Ríos Montt governed from 1981-1982 during a particularly brutal phase of Guatemala’s thirty-plus year civil war. Meanwhile, a Florida immigration judge ruled that Salvadoran ex-Defense Minister Eugenio Vides Casanova can be deported from the US for his role in the human rights abuses during El Salvador’s civil war of 1980-1992, though the fact that Casanova does not currently face any charges means his deportation is more a matter of theory than reality right now.

-There are several stories on civil unrest and social movements in different parts of Latin America worth highlighting:

-A Panamanian teen died over the weekend amidst indigenous protests against mining and hydroelectric projects that would impact indigenous lands, bringing the death total to two during the protests, which have been taking place since early-February.

-Mexico’s Huichol peoples are also protesting mining in the northern part of the country, where hundreds of Huichol community members recently marched to a sacred site in an attempt to bring attention to their cause.

-Meanwhile, protests and social unrest in southern Chile have intensified, as people have mobilized to condemn the high costs of food and fuel for one of the more isolated parts of the country.

-At the same time, land conflicts in eastern Paraguay continue to intensify as families plan to move to a national park, raising the concerns of the World Wildlife Fund even while trying to ease their situation with the government. Public sentiment against the landless families is not defusing tensions, either, as one Paraguayan elite declared that the protesters “should be treated like the wives of ‘malandros’ (criminals); they only respond to beatings.”

-In Argentina, teachers have gone on a 48-hour strike, demanding better salaries. They took the action after talks broke down between the teachers, who are demanding a salary of US$686/month, and the Kirchner government, which offered US$640/month.

-In a major find, Brazilian archaeologists are claiming they have found a rock carving that is 10,500-12,000 years old, making it the oldest such carving found in the Americas. If they findings are correct, the announcement joins recent discoveries in Chile and Peru that only add to the mounting evidence that challenges the Bering Land Bridge theory that indigenous peoples only migrated by foot throughout the Americas and possibly forces us to push back the dates of migration.

-A Brazilian senator, João Ribeiro, of the center-right Partido da República,  (Republic Party), will face trial before the Supreme Court (the only court that can try a senator) over charges of using slave labor after authorities found over thirty workers kept in slave-like conditions on his ranch in the state of Pará in 2004.

-A report from the European Union has found that Nicaragua’s 2011 election lacked “transparency.” The report adds to allegations that had already appeared in the immediate aftermath of Daniel Ortega’s re-election to a third term (and second consecutive term) as president.

-Colombia’s guerrilla movement Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionárias de Colombia (Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia) surprised many last week when it announced that it will cease the practice of kidnapping people for ransom, a practice it has employed for decades, and will release the hostages it currently holds captive. However, that does not mean an end to the violence, as Monday’s FARC attack on a military base demonstrated.

-Also in Colombia, a high court removed one of the country’s chief prosecutors from her position over allegations she was improperly elected. Although the court ruled that Viviane Morelos did not receive the needed number of votes for one of the most powerful posts in the country in 2010, her marriage to an ex-congressman tied to right-wing paramilitaries and drug lords has overshadowed her term as well.

-In a reminder that Carnival is not all fun and games, one person died and 120 were injured in accidents and clashes during the celebration in Haiti two weeks ago.

-Apparently, Brazilian Ricardo Sergio Freire dos Santos thought he had a passing resemblance to Jack Nicholson. Unfortunately for him, the police disagreed, and he was arrested for impersonating the award-winning actor.

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, Around Latin America, Brazil, Carnaval, Chile, Colombia, Drugs and the Drug Trade in the Americas, Educational Reforms, El Salvador, El Salvador's Civil War (1980-1992), Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionárias de Colombia (FARC), Guatemala, Guatemala's Civil War, Haiti, Human Rights Violations, Indigenous Peoples, Labor in Latin America, Mexico, National Parks, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Paramilitary Groups, Peasant Movements, Poverty, Social Movements. Bookmark the permalink.