Latin America in view, September-October 2013

September 23, 2013

Ecuador—Oil drilling in the Yasuni national park of the Amazon is likely to begin after a proposed $3.6 billion fund failed to draw substantial donations from developed countries. The idea, proposed by the government of President Rafael Correa, was to solicit funding to not drill for oil, thus preserving this natural biosphere and not contribute additional greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. With only $12 million raised, Correa has canceled the initiative and will open the area for drilling. The hopes of environmentalists proved no match for the “logic” of capitalism’s voracious appetite for production and more production fueled by oil. Correa, as with many “progressive” leaders, is under the sway of “developmental-ism.”

Brazil—Rapes in Rio de Janeiro, including public ones, have been a horrid fact of life, drawing little notice or investigation by the police and governmental authorities. It is overwhelmingly poor working-class women who are victims, and their protests are ignored. Only the public rape of a U.S. woman drew the attention of authorities, who tracked down the assailants. It turned out they had previously raped a working-class Brazilian woman. When she went to the police, nothing was done. Brazil, which prides itself on female equality, with a woman president and other women in high positions, is a deeply classist society as well as a misogynist and race-determined one.

Mexico—Escuelita Zapatista (little school) has just completed its first course, with hundreds of Mexican and international activists spending five days in Indigenous communities in Chiapas, living, working and learning “the Zapatista meaning of freedom.” In addition, there were live video conferences every day, broadcast internationally, with the presence and voice of Indigenous women and men explaining Zapatista autonomy, the rights of women in their communities, resistance to the government authorities, authentic participatory democracy, and the Zapatista system of justice.

—Eugene Walker

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