Articles Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Demanding More Than Democracy

    Over a million people filled the streets along the historic route of Mexican social protest on May Day–marching from the Angel of Independence to the Zocalo, and then filling the enormous square at the city’s centre. This was the largest demonstration in the city’s history, a great peaceful outpouring crying out, not just for formal democracy at the ballot box, but for more. The multitude demanded true choice in the country’s coming national elections, but they wanted more than that, too. People took to the streets to demand a basic change in their country’s direction.

  • Whatever Happened to Lula?

    The election of Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva raised great expectations on the centre-left. For most, his election heralded a new progressive epoch, which, while not revolutionary, defined the “end of neoliberalism.” Noted progressive religious figures like Leonardo Boff announced imminent “change,” which would challenge U.S. hegemony and lead to great popular participation. These hopes have not been realized.

    The rightward turn of the da Silva regime has spurred a range of explanations. In the first few months of his regime, da Silva loyalists argued that the orthodox neoliberal policies were “tactical moves” to stabilize the economy before turning to social reform. As da Silva’s policies, appointment alliances and legislation all converged into a logically coherent, orthodox neoliberal strategy, however, this explanation has gradually lost credibility. Among radical sectors of the Left, it has been replaced by a much more convincing, multi-causal explanation.

  • Peasant Movements in Latin America

    At the end of the seventies, many experts argued that peasant movements were an anachronistic, declining force for social transformation. These observers failed to see or understand the emergence of a new generation of modern peasant leaders based on mass organizations, capable of compensating for demographic changes through greater organization and through coalition building with urban-poor neighborhood organizations and trade unions. Peasant organizations have more than made up for quantitative losses in relative population with qualitative gains in organization, leadership, strategies and tactics.

  • Hugo Chavez & The “New Democracy”

    In the working-class neighbourhood of Catia on Caracas’ west side, the streets are strewn with refuse; even the public spaces, the plazas and street-shopping laneways are neglected. Caracas’ west side is part of the sprawling district of Sucre, one of Latin America’s largest and one of Caracas’ oldest barrios. At a meeting called by local activists last January, Catia residents complained that the Sucre district council wasn’t doing its job, that the head of the district council was inept and wholly corrupt. Not only was the council neglecting garbage collection and other community services for which they were responsible, they were extorting small businesses in the area.

  • “War on Terror” Has Latin America Indigenous People in its Sights

    The “War on Terror,” identified in Amnesty International’s 2004 annual report as a new source of human-rights abuses, is threatening to expand to Latin America, targeting indigenous movements that are demanding autonomy and protesting free-market policies and “neoliberal” globalization.

    In the United States, “there is a perception of indigenous activists as destabilizing elements and terrorists,” and their demands and activism have begun to be cast in a criminal light, said lawyer José Aylwin, of the Institute of Indigenous Studies at the University of the Border in Temuco (670 kilometres south of the Chilean capital).

  • Searching Through the Scraps: Women and MIning in Bolivia

    Beginning in the fifteenth-century silver exploitation of Potosi, and continuing to today, women have been involved in intricate and often invisible ways in the Bolivian mining sector. Dawn Paley reports from Bolivia.

  • The Two Bolivias Square Off

    With the embers of the “Gas War” of 2003 still glowing, the failure of the government to respond to protestors’ demands has fanned new flames of indignation, reaction and counter-reaction throughout Bolivia in recent weeks. The country has become increasingly polarized as the Right and the Left radicalize their respective agendas.

  • Red Ballot: Voting for Revolution in Venezuela

    Venezuelans waited hours to cast their vote in a referendum to decide not only the future of President Hugo Chávez, but also of the Bolivarian revolution that he has spearheaded. The result was a remarkable mobilization amongst the poor that was a reflection of Chavez’s decision not only to campaign against neoliberalism electorally but actually to govern against neoliberalism.

  • Canadian Crimes in Haiti: Beyond Complicity

    Human Rights

    In light of the graphic and well documented human-rights reports coming out of Haiti, the Canadian government has a number of serious questions to answer. It is doubtful that Canada has ever been so heavily implicated in an illegal intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean as it has in the case of Haiti.

  • Plan Petroleum in Colombia

    Despite U.S. government claims, there is still no evidence that Plan Colombia has achieved its principal goal of dramatically reducing the flow of cocaine to the United States. On the other hand, Plan Colombia’s militarization of Putumayo has contributed significantly to increased oil exploration by multinational companies in this resource-rich region.

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