Around Latin America

May 2, 2012

-Following Argentina’s nationalization of YPF, Bolivia marked International Workers’ Day by nationalizing its electrical grid, appropriating the Spanish Red Electrica company in order to assert greater national control over energy. Unsurprisingly, both Spain and the European Union are condemning the move, saying (in increasingly unoriginal rhetoric) that the move will discourage foreign investment in the Andean country.

-Yesterday also marked the 35th anniversary of the first march of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, who for years protested against Argentine military dictatorship’s use of kidnapping, murder, and disappearance against their children during Argentina’s “Dirty War.”

-A Wall Street Journal editorial by Mary Anastasia O’Grady ran this week calling student leader Camila Vallejo a “red-diaper baby.” In rhetoric found in Chile in the Cold War years leading up to the military coup that deposed democratically-elected president Salvador Allende and ushered in a regime that murdered 3000 citizens and tortured tens of thousands more, O’Grade declared that the “left” was providing the country with an “invitation to tyranny.” However,  Vallejo herself has taken the name-calling in stride, saying O’Grady’s hand-wringing shows that the students’ causes and successes reveal a country “advancing.”

-Speaking of the Chilean military regime, Chilean families whose loved ones were “disappeared” between 1973 and 1990 during the military regime of Augusto Pinochet have filed a lawsuit against 1500 former members of the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (Directory of National Intelligence; DINA) in order to find out the fate of their relatives and friends.

-Gunmen in the northeastern Brazilian city of João Pessoa attacked a journalist’s home and vehicle. Although nobody was hurt, this is not the first instance of violence against journalists in Brazil; the attack comes on the heels of attacks on journalists in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia last week.

-A pre-dawn bomb blast shook the EU offices in Buenos Aires, causing minor structural damage but no injuries. The blast comes in the wake of increasing tensions between Argentina and the EU after Argentina nationalized oil production a few weeks ago.

-Earlier last month, Foxconn, the company responsible for production of Apple products and other goods and the object of criticism regarding workers’ rights and treatment in China, opened its first plant in Brazil. However, it has not taken long for those accusations to reach South America as well, as Brazilian Foxconn workers are threatening to strike over terrible working conditions, including poor food, bad transportation, and even a lack of water.

-Guatemalan officials have charged a former officer in the national police force to stand trial for his role in the Spanish Embassy fire of 1980 that left 37 people dead.

-Finally, I can’t help but think that unexploded ordnance would make for a terrible doorstep.

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