-Yesterday marked the 48th anniversary of the military coup that launched Brazil’s 21-year dictatorship, and last Thursday, when retired soldiers got together to celebrate the event, hundreds of people gathered to provide a counter-demonstration, calling the officers “murderers” and demanding justice before police, in a move reminiscent of the worst years of the dictatorship, used tear gas and pepper spray to break up the protest.
-Leaders from the NAFTA countries are gathering today to discuss trade and energy policy, among other things.
-The Brazilian state of Bahia has passed a law banning the use of public funds for events that play songs that are offensive to women and/or gays. The ban will most likely affect the playing of Brazilian funk, which sometimes (though not always) devolves into pointedly misogynistic lyrics that objectify women.
–Former Argentine President Carlos Menem and an ex-judge have been ordered to stand trial for obstruction of justice in the 1994 bombing of the Associación Mutual Israelita Argentina, which left 85 dead. Menem is charged with tampering with evidence, concealing evidence, and abuse of authority in the case.
-Former Mexican President Enrique de la Madrid died this past weekend at the age of 77. De la Madrid, who served as president from 1982-1988, launched a modestly successful effort against corruption, initiated policies that ushered in an era of neoliberalism in Mexico, and witnessed the devastation of the 1985 earthquake.
-In a major setback for women’s and children’s rights, Brazil’s highest court ruled that sex with a 12-year-old is not necessarily statutory rape. The government has pledged to challenge the ruling, and a justice in the case said the decision could be revised.
-At a military base, Argentine officials have discovered 43 Ford Falcons that the Argentine military dictatorship of 1976-1984 may have used to kidnap people who the regime then tortured and often murdered and “disappeared.” The discovery suggests the military’s efforts to cover up its repressive human rights violations.
-Thousands of Guatemalan farmers last week protested the forced expulsion of indigenous peoples from their land so that mining and hydroelectric dam projects could proceed.
-Finally, as Argentina opens a new museum exhibit on the Malvinas/Falkland Islands and the war that ultimately led to the end of the military dictatorship (and marked a turning point in Margaret Thatcher’s administration), a report claims that Argentina had plans to invade the islands as early as the 1960s. Unlike the 1982 war, the 1960s vision of war included plans to remove the islands’ residents and transplant Argentines to the island, according to the report.