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Canada’s Role in the Horrors of Guatemalan Civil War

By |21/October/2021|

Canada has played a historic role in driving conflict and instability in Guatemala as part of its long-term coveting of the Central American country’s natural resources.

‘Canada’s bilateral programming in Guatemala is aligned with Canada’s feminist international assistance policy and focuses on supporting the most vulnerable, including women and girls, Indigenous peoples, and rural populations through gender equality, human rights, inclusive governance, and economic growth.’

Embassy of Canada to Guatemala

Jacobo Árbenz knew his administration was in danger. Although he won the Guatemalan presidency handily in 1950, a vote which gave him a massive popular mandate to pursue nationalist agrarian reforms targeting the holdings of foreign companies (in particular the US-based United Fruit Company), by early 1954 he had come to realise that he was unlikely to serve out his term. The CIA, in collaboration with US business and elements of the Guatemalan military, was plotting against his administration, and if the fate of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 was any indication, then President Árbenz had little time left.

Around one year before the US coup forced him from power, Árbenz’s foreign minister, Guillermo Toriello Garrido, contacted the government of Canada. Officials within the Canadian government had already voiced their disdain for Árbenz’s nationalist program. Before his election in 1950, the Ottawa trade commissioner in Guatemala described Árbenz as ‘unscrupulous, daring and ruthless, and not one to be allayed in his aims by bloodshed or killing.’ The trade commissioner’s opinion was clearly shared at the highest levels of power. When Toriello contacted the Canadians and asked to open embassies in the two countries – a clear sign of normalising relations which could have helped the image of the increasingly embattled Árbenz administration – the Department of External Affairs refused. Reporter Peter Macfarlane later revealed that ‘at external affairs and in Canadian board rooms…the coup [against Árbenz] was chalked up as another victory of the Free World against the [Red] Menace.’

Árbenz was no communist. He was a moderately leftwing nationalist who viewed his administration’s agrarian agenda not as an ideological project, but as a common-sense initiative for restoring resource sovereignty to his people. But this agenda was too much for US interests, and Canada stood idly by as Washington enacted its regime change policy. During Operation PBSuccess, the CIA initiative which toppled Árbenz, the Canadian government authorised only one military action in Guatemala: a plan to evacuate Canadian citizens should the CIA-orchestrated coup fail and plunge the country into chaos.

Throughout subsequent decades, the Canadian government quietly profited from the imposition of far-right authoritarianism in Guatemala. While the state massacred leftwing activists and Árbenz supporters, displaced Indigenous people from their lands for the benefit of North American capital and committed genocide against the Mayan people, Canada sold large amounts of weapons and technology to the perpetrators of the violence. CIA operations conducted against anti-government forces during the Guatemalan Civil War often used P-47 and F-47N fighter planes and C-47 and C-54 cargo planes, whose engines were built

Canada’s Role in the Horrors of Guatemalan Civil War

By |21/October/2021|

Canada has played a historic role in driving conflict and instability in Guatemala as part of its long-term coveting of the Central American country’s natural resources.

‘Canada’s bilateral programming in Guatemala is aligned with Canada’s feminist international assistance policy and focuses on supporting the most vulnerable, including women and girls, Indigenous peoples, and rural populations through gender equality, human rights, inclusive governance, and economic growth.’

Embassy of Canada to Guatemala

Jacobo Árbenz knew his administration was in danger. Although he won the Guatemalan presidency handily in 1950, a vote which gave him a massive popular mandate to pursue nationalist agrarian reforms targeting the holdings of foreign companies (in particular the US-based United Fruit Company), by early 1954 he had come to realise that he was unlikely to serve out his term. The CIA, in collaboration with US business and elements of the Guatemalan military, was plotting against his administration, and if the fate of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 was any indication, then President Árbenz had little time left.

Around one year before the US coup forced him from power, Árbenz’s foreign minister, Guillermo Toriello Garrido, contacted the government of Canada. Officials within the Canadian government had already voiced their disdain for Árbenz’s nationalist program. Before his election in 1950, the Ottawa trade commissioner in Guatemala described Árbenz as ‘unscrupulous, daring and ruthless, and not one to be allayed in his aims by bloodshed or killing.’ The trade commissioner’s opinion was clearly shared at the highest levels of power. When Toriello contacted the Canadians and asked to open embassies in the two countries – a clear sign of normalising relations which could have helped the image of the increasingly embattled Árbenz administration – the Department of External Affairs refused. Reporter Peter Macfarlane later revealed that ‘at external affairs and in Canadian board rooms…the coup [against Árbenz] was chalked up as another victory of the Free World against the [Red] Menace.’

Árbenz was no communist. He was a moderately leftwing nationalist who viewed his administration’s agrarian agenda not as an ideological project, but as a common-sense initiative for restoring resource sovereignty to his people. But this agenda was too much for US interests, and Canada stood idly by as Washington enacted its regime change policy. During Operation PBSuccess, the CIA initiative which toppled Árbenz, the Canadian government authorised only one military action in Guatemala: a plan to evacuate Canadian citizens should the CIA-orchestrated coup fail and plunge the country into chaos.

Throughout subsequent decades, the Canadian government quietly profited from the imposition of far-right authoritarianism in Guatemala. While the state massacred leftwing activists and Árbenz supporters, displaced Indigenous people from their lands for the benefit of North American capital and committed genocide against the Mayan people, Canada sold large amounts of weapons and technology to the perpetrators of the violence. CIA operations conducted against anti-government forces during the Guatemalan Civil War often used P-47 and F-47N fighter planes and C-47 and C-54 cargo planes, whose engines were built

Indestructible Podcast #8: The UK and Latin America

By |14/October/2021|

In the eighth episode of Indestructible Rodrigo interviews journalist Grace Livingstone.

Indestructible: Latin America with Rodrigo Acuña is a new podcast from Alborada bringing you monthly discussions with some of the most interesting voices working on and from Latin America.

In the eight episode of Indestructible Podcast Rodrigo interviews Grace Livingstone who is a journalist and academic, specialising in Latin American affairs. She has reported for the BBC World Service, The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent on Sunday and the New Statesman. She is an affiliated lecturer at the Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge.

The podcast is available on Spotify and other podcast streaming websites.

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Please consider supporting the podcast on Patreon.

::: Episode 8:

The UK and Latin America: An Interview with Grace Livingstone 

Listen to episode 8 on Audioboom and range of other podcast streaming websites

Click here to go to the Indestructible homepage.

Presented by Alborada contributing editor Rodrigo Acuña

Produced and edited by Pablo Navarrete

Music by Chylez Productions.

Please consider supporting the podcast on Patreon.

Get in touch with the podcast: info [at] alborada [dot] net

 

 

Australia’s Clandestine Role in the 1973 Coup in Chile

By |8/October/2021|

Recently declassified documents confirm what researchers have long claimed: that Australian intelligence worked with the CIA to instigate a coup in Chile during the Cold War.

On 2 June, the Australian government conceded for the first time that the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) supported CIA covert operations in Chile in the early 1970s. These operations created the climate for a coup against the democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende and his Popular Unity government. The National Security Archive (NSA) recently published some of the ASIS’ station reports in Santiago, and the story has drawn attention in the Australian media.

The subject of ASIS and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) activities in Chile has been the subject of inquiry by journalists, politicians and researchers for decades. But the Australian government has long worked to cover its paper trail in Chile. Even though the declassification of these documents for the first time is a significant development, few details are revealed by the heavily redacted documents beyond the admission that Australia had an ASIS station in Santiago and collaborated to some degree with the CIA.

Clinton Fernandes, a professor of politics at the University of New South Wales began the process to declassify the ASIS’ station reports in Chile in 2017 with barrister Ian Latham and solicitor Hugh Macken. According to Fernandes, when he started searching for the archives on ASIS records in Chile, the Australian ‘government’s response was that we can’t even confirm or deny the existence of records.’

On 26 May, Fernandes and his legal team filed a 16-page set of arguments for the declassification of ASIS records on Chile and, in early June, Fernandes was finally given files on ASIS activities in Chile.

Decades of Secrecy

Fernandes was not the first to look into ASIS’ activities in Chile in the early 1970s. Journalist Ian Frykberg published an article in October 1974 in the Sydney Morning Herald citing two former intelligence agents who claimed it was likely that the Australian mission in Chile was working with the CIA by ‘acting as the conduct for money passing from the CIA to newspapers and individuals leaking propaganda information to newspapers and other influential people.’

On 2 December 1974, Clyde Cameron, the Labor and Immigration Minister, wrote to the Attorney General Senator Lionel Murphy about ASIO agents in Chile. ‘I am particularly disturbed to learn that ASIO agents have been posing as migration officers in South America,’ Cameron wrote, ‘and I am now convinced – though firm denials are to be expected – that the reports of ASIO collaboration with the CIA in bringing about the overthrow of the Allende Government is very close to the mark.’

In 1977, a Royal Commission into Australia’s Intelligence and Security (popularly known as the Hope Royal Commission) was tabled before the Australian Parliament. At the commission, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam stated, ‘It has been written – and I cannot deny it – that when my Government took office, Australian intelligence personnel were working as proxies of the CIA in destabilising the government of Chile.’

In 1983, Seymour Hersh published a biography on ex-US Secretary

Latin America’s Left and Constitutional Change

By |28/September/2021|

Why is constitutional change important for Latin America’s resurgent Left? We examine the cases of Chile, Colombia and Bolivia.

Oour latest Alborada Online show brought together academics and analysts to explore the possibilities and limitations of constitutional reform projects in Chile, Bolivia and Colombia and how the leftwing forces in these countries have shaped and been shaped by them. The different strategies of constitutional change are of key importance for Latin America’s Left and the future of democratic socialism in the region.

Event info here.

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Indestructible Podcast #7: CODEPINK’S Struggle for Peace

By |24/September/2021|

In the seventh episode of Indestructible Rodrigo interviews CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin.

Indestructible: Latin America with Rodrigo Acuña is a new podcast from Alborada bringing you monthly discussions with some of the most interesting voices working on and from Latin America.

In the seventh episode of Indestructible Rodrigo interviews Medea Benjamin about US foreign policy towards Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine, Venezuela, Cuba and Peru. Medea is one of the United States’ most distinguished peace activists and the co-founder of both the women-led peace group CODEPINK and the human rights group Global Exchange.

The podcast is available on Spotify and other podcast streaming websites.

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Please consider supporting the podcast on Patreon.

::: Episode 7:

CODEPINK’S Struggle for Peace: An Interview with Medea Benjamin

Listen to episode 7 on Audioboom and range of other podcast streaming websites

Click here to go to the Indestructible homepage.

Presented by Alborada contributing editor Rodrigo Acuña

Produced and edited by Pablo Navarrete

Music by Chylez Productions.

Please consider supporting the podcast on Patreon.

Get in touch with the podcast: info [at] alborada [dot] net

 

 

The Extradition of Chile’s Adriana Rivas (Part 2)

By |14/September/2021|

Rodrigo Acuña speaks to lawyer Adriana Navarro about the the case of Adriana Rivas, an alleged agent of the Pinochet dictatorship fighting extradition from Australia to Chile.

Alborada contributing editor Rodrigo Acuña speaks to lawyer and human rights activist Adriana Navarro about the the case of Adriana Rivas, an alleged agent of the Pinochet dictatorship’s secret police in Chile. Rivas is currently trying to avoid being extradited to Chile from Australia.

Interview conducted on 24 August 2021.

Watch a June 2020 interview with Navarro by Rodrigo on the same issue.

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Chile’s Piñera Met by Protests on Secretive UK Visit

By |10/September/2021|

Boris Johnson’s hosting of Chilean president Sebastian Piñera is further proof that UK foreign policy in Latin America is not based on respect for human rights or the promotion of democracy.

On 10 September 2021, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed Chilean President Sebastián Piñera to 10 Downing Street, his official residence in central London. Piñera’s arrival in the UK marked the final instalment of a relatively secretive European tour, during which the embattled president called on the Vatican, Paris, Madrid, and Rome. Official confirmation of Piñera’s visit was released late on 9 September, likely to thwart mobilisations against his administration’s appalling human rights record. Protesters nonetheless gathered outside of Johnson’s residence, with Chileans and others loudly condemning Piñera, a right-wing oligarch and millionaire, for his brutal crackdown of nationwide protests over the past two years. Given the British state has been a key supplier of arms aiding repression in Chile, it seems unlikely that Johnson attempted to broach the issue of human rights.

Neoliberalism and repression

After cancelling his original trip to Europe in June, Piñera stepped off his private plane in London late on Thursday evening to little pomp and ceremony.

According to official accounts, Johnson and Piñera‘s discussions on Friday morning focussed on the climate crisis, the Coronavirus pandemic, and political issues in Latin America. With recent electoral victories for the Left in Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina, Piñera represents an important UK ally within a region that seems once again to be drifting from the foreign policy prescriptions of the imperialist states. To this end, the UK government has remained largely silent in the face of massive human rights abuses in Chile beginning in late 2019.

In October 2019, Chile became the site of a student mobilisation which rapidly transformed into a mass uprising against the rising cost of everyday life – a symptom of a process of neoliberal economic restructuring initiated under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet that came to power following a US- and UK-sponsored coup against the socialist government of Salvador Alllende. Piñera’s government responded to the mass protests – which, by late October, were attracting over one million people onto the streets of Santiago – with brutal violence.

During the first month, the death toll rose to 20, with 473 others injured. Many more have since been killed, injured, and sexually abused by the Chilean police, such that Piñera has been referred to the International Criminal Court. A particular aspect of the official repression in Chile was the targeting of protesters’ eyes with rubber bullets. During the first two weeks of protests, the Chilean police fired 104,000 cartridges, with 126 people being struck in the eye. Though they fired 43,000 in November, 214 protesters were struck in the eye – suggesting the Chilean police had adopted a deliberate and cynical policy of shoot-to-blind. Eyepatches became emblematic of resistance.

British assistance

Though British military assistance to repressive state security apparatuses across Latin America remains an issue of critical importance, it is largely

How Canada Benefits from Crisis in Colombia

By |9/September/2021|

Canadian capitalism has reaped the rewards of conflict and inequality in Colombia, helping to generate the conditions which today see Colombians on the steets in unprecedented numbers.

In May 2021, Colombian-Canadians and solidarity activists held protests in several major cities, including Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. The events were organised in order to draw attention to the ongoing protest movement in Colombia, which arose in opposition to a tax reform proposed by President Iván Duque that would have cut taxes for major corporations while increasing taxes on wages and consumption – in other words, it would have taxed the working class while excluding the largest earners. The Duque administration sought to repress the protests using massive violence, a strategy that was condemned by ‘the UN, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International and a host of foreign governments.’

‘The government is responding [with] militarisation, repressing people,’ said Luisa Isidro, an organiser of the Winnipeg event. In Toronto, many protestors held signs reading ‘Nos están matando’: They are killing us. ‘It’s a huge pain that I really can’t describe,’ said Maria Varon. ‘People are being killed. We feel that pain, and that’s why we want to show our support.’ The Duque administration eventually withdrew the tax reform, but protests have persisted. ‘People are still protesting even though that tax reform is done because people are still getting killed,’ said Varon. ‘And it goes deeper than that. It’s the corruption, people are tired of being abused.’

On 9 May, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau, issued a statement on the events in Colombia which equated the actions of some protestors with the extreme violence doled out by the police (by that point, police had killed dozens of protestors and injured hundreds). ‘Canada condemns the violence, including the disproportionate use of force by security forces, and urges that the violence cease,’ Garneau wrote, before throwing Canada’s diplomatic weight behind the Colombian far-right’s narrative of the protestors as immoral criminals: ‘We are also concerned with the acts of vandalism and attacks directed against public officials responsible for the protection of all Colombian citizens.’

Garneau’s statement was the Canadian government’s first response to violence in Colombia under the far-right Duque administration. Prior to these protests, Canadian officials had been silent on the political violence that has engulfed many regions of the country, intensifying every year since Duque began violating the 2016 peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla organisation. This violence has contributed to the endurance of the protest movement. As Nick MacWilliam writes, ‘violence towards trade unionists, as well as community leaders, human rights defenders and social activists, underpins public indignation at the Colombian government.’

Whenever Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made public statements in regard to the Colombian government, he has offered unequivocal support to the Duque administration. In August 2018, he tweeted, ‘[t]oday, Colombia’s new President, Iván Duque, took office and joins … others with a gender-equal cabinet. Iván, I look forward to working with you and your entire team.’ One month later, Trudeau again showed his appreciation:

Venezuela Dialogue Offers Way Out of Crisis

By |7/September/2021|

Having failed in multiple hardline strategies – involving coups, mercenaries and sanctions – to depose the elected Venezuelan government, dialogue is the only realistic option left for Venezuela’s weak and fractured opposition.

There are high hopes surrounding the upcoming round of negotiations between the Venezuelan government and the extreme rightwing of the opposition. The sides are set to meet on 3 September in Mexico after having signed a memorandum of understanding in August.

That document established a seven-point agenda with a broad scope that encompasses elections, political rights and the economy, among others. It calls for lifting the sanctions and ending violent coup attempts. These talks have the potential to end years of political and economic instability caused in large part by US intervention.

Despite the intense pressure imposed by the Trump administration, the Maduro government enters the talks in its strongest position in years. The governing PSUV party swept legislative elections in 2020. The response to the pandemic has been successful, despite dire prognostications. Leftwing victories in presidential elections in Mexico (2018), Argentina (2019), post-coup Bolivia (2020) and Peru (2021) have eased regional pressure. Currently, the threat of an invasion or coup is almost non-existent.

Conversely, the opposition faction in these talks – extremists because they supported the sanctions and attempted several coups while boycotting elections – enters divided and weakened. This coalition includes various opposition parties, including Juan Guaidó’s Popular Will and Henrique Capriles’ Justice First. Capriles, a two-time losing presidential candidate, has broken with Guaidó and no longer recognises the ‘interim government’, while fellow party member Julio Borges continues to pretend to be Guaidó’s foreign minister.

For his part, scandals continue to plague Guaidó. It was recently revealed that Guaidó’s team spent $6.5 million in legal fees to challenge ownership of $2 billion in Venezuelan gold held in the Bank of England. The money to pay the lawyers came from accounts frozen by the US government and handed to Guaidó. The legal challenge blocked the gold from being used to buy food and medicine for the Venezuelan people in a deal that President Maduro and the UN Development Programme agreed to in May 2020.

Citgo was among the other assets handed to Guaidó by the Trump administration. The oil company posted $667 million in losses in 2020. Due to the sanctions, its charitable wing, the Simon Bolivar Foundation, was initially blocked from financing treatment for Venezuelan children with rare cancers. The Venezuelan government also saw its attempts to pay blocked by the international finance system. Once Citgo was given to Guaidó’s people, the Foundation was free from the sanctions, yet it decided to stop paying for the treatments. Fourteen children have died while waiting for treatment, victims of both cancer and an economic war.

Guaidó repeatedly defends US sanctions, while 71 per cent of Venezuelans believe they’ve had a negative impact on the country. He also attempted several coups, authorised a contract with mercenaries that could have sparked a civil war, his appointees are mired in corruption

Colombia: Continuing Violence amid a Legacy of Impunity

By |29/August/2021|

The Colombian government’s brutal treatment of protesters and its attempts to tighten control of state institutions have exacerbated the human rights and political crisis facing the country.

In April this year, millions of Colombians took to the streets to express their discontent at struggling to survive in one of Latin America’s most brutally unequal societies. Coordinated by trade unions and social movements, and joined by masses of disenfranchised young people from working-class urban areas, the so-called National Strike protests were the largest the country had seen in decades. Diverse movements – indigenous people, students, public sector workers, LGBTQ activists and many others – unified around the Strike’s central demands for economic justice, human rights and peace. The message was unmistakably clear: we’ve had enough.

Having launched in November 2019 as an ongoing series of mass mobilisations, the National Strike sought to exert maximum pressure on the government of President Iván Duque, whose election in 2018 veered the country back towards a hard-right course last taken by Duque’s predecessor – and political mentor – Álvaro Uribe in the 2000s. Duque’s economic governance of Colombia has been characterised by policies which have adversely impacted the most disadvantaged social sectors. April’s mobilisations centred opposition to Duque’s proposed tax reforms as the core grievance, with the Colombian equivalent of Britain’s Trades Union Congress, the CUT trade union confederation, warning that the reforms would see living standards deteriorate yet further for millions of families already trapped in grinding poverty.

It is not difficult to understand public anger over Colombia’s deeply unequal economic model. The government’s woefully inadequate response to the global pandemic exposed the system’s failings, as millions of people lost their incomes and underfunded health services teetered on the brink of collapse. While the government largely abdicated its responsibilities towards the public, it scrambled to protect major corporations such as the Avianca airline.

Since the pandemic began, trade unions have fought to protect their members and hold government failings to account. Health workers have risked their lives to treat the sick without personal protective equipment, leading to a spate of deaths and resignations among frontline medical staff, which increased the burden on public hospitals. Teacher unions, meanwhile, requested stringent biosecurity measures for classrooms to safely reopen, a measure implemented only after extensive government delay.

Nevertheless, this has not prevented politicians in Duque’s party, the Democratic Centre, from falsely accusing teachers, particularly those in the large FECODE teachers union, of a desire to indoctrinate and harm vulnerable students. Teachers’ only ‘crime’ has been their robust trade unionism, an admirable quality under normal circumstances, but one which takes on new dimensions given the violence that has targeted Colombian labour organising for decades.

Senators with massive social media followings have driven this stigmatisation even as trade unionists are being murdered with horrifying frequency. Colombia’s ruling class historically advanced and consolidated its interests through blood, with more than 3,200 trade unionists killed between 1971 and 2018, often with the involvement of multinational corporations and national elites.

Amid a legacy of impunity, the violence goes

Indestructible Podcast #6: Australia’s Role in Chile in the 1970s

By |16/August/2021|

In the sixth episode of Indestructible Rodrigo interviews Clinton Fernandes about Australia’s intelligence agencies involvement in Chile in the 1970s.

Indestructible: Latin America with Rodrigo Acuña is a new podcast from Alborada bringing you monthly discussions with some of the most interesting voices working on and from Latin America.

In the sixth episode of Indestructible Rodrigo interviews Clinton Fernandes about Australia’s intelligence agencies involvement in Chile in the 1970s and Canberra’s foreign policy towards East Timor, Indonesia, China and the United States. Clinton is a former Australian Army officer who served in the Australian Intelligence Corps and currently works as a Professor of International and Political Studies at the University of New South Wales.

The podcast is available on Spotify and other podcast streaming websites.

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Please consider supporting the podcast on Patreon.

::: Episode 6:

Australia’s Role in Chile in the 1970s: An Interview with Clinton Fernandes 

Listen to episode 6 on Audioboom and range of other podcast streaming websites

Click here to go to the Indestructible homepage.

Presented by Alborada contributing editor Rodrigo Acuña

Produced and edited by Pablo Navarrete

Music by Chylez Productions.

Please consider supporting the podcast on Patreon.

Get in touch with the podcast: info [at] alborada [dot] net

‘The Pink Wave’ in Latin America

By |4/August/2021|

Not the Andrew Marr Show spoke to Rodrigo Acuña (host of Alborada’s Indestructible podcast), Pablo Navarrete (founder and co-editor of Alborada) and Adam Samuels about the recent ‘Pink Wave’ in Latin America.

Follow the UK based online Not the Andrew Marr Show here.

Follow Rodrigo Acuña here; follow Pablo Navarrete here; follow Adam Samuels here.

 

 

From Stroessner to Syngenta: Paraguay’s Soy Conflicts

By |23/July/2021|

The ‘soybeanisation’ of the Paraguayan economy has had a devastating impact on the country’s ecology, rural populations and democratic process, but it has been lucrative for foreign corporations and the domestic oligarchy.

In 2003, the agrichemical behemoth Syngenta published a controversial advertisement in Argentinian newspapers. It showed a map of South America with a large portion of the Southern Cone – Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil – highlighted in green and labelled the ‘United Republic of Soybeans.’ The ad was criticised as an expression of neocolonial avarice directed at one of the region’s most profitable exports. Echoes of the 20th century’s ‘banana republics,’ maldeveloped export economies governed by brutal puppets of US corporations, were obvious: either Syngenta did not notice the historical correlation or, more likely, deliberately stoked the legacies of foreign meddling in the region.

The implications of the ad were obvious: for multinational agribusiness, the people of Latin America do not matter, nor do fair labour practices or the sanctity of democratically-elected governments. These companies only see profit, and they are more than willing to reorganise the region at will to enrich themselves. Agribusiness concerns such as Syngenta, Monsanto, and Bayer have insinuated themselves with governments throughout the region, which have then facilitated the dispossession of rural campesinos – expelling them from their homes, deforesting their lands, murdering them if they become too rebellious – so that the land can be purchased by their corporate friends.

In the words of Joel E. Correia, ‘soy is a central node in networks of social, political-economic, scientific and ecological relations literally rooted in, reshaping and reterritorializing many states in South America..’ Some scholars refer to this violent neocolonial process as the sojización, or ‘soybeanisation,’ of the Southern Cone.

Soybean production is central to the political and economic functioning of the Paraguayan state. In fact, sojización recently played a decisive role in the country’s national politics. As noted above, an integral part of soybeanisation is the eviction of rural farmers so that their land can be purchased by multinational agribusiness corporations. In 2012, an eviction of this kind led to a massacre, a national scandal and a legal coup against the leftwing president Fernando Lugo.

On 15 June 2012, 300 police officers descended on the town of Curuguaty to evict 70 landless farmers from their property. This land had been belonged to the state before military dictator Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled for a 35-year period known as the stronato (1954-1989), transferred ownership to a friend. The confrontation, whose exact details remain muddled, led to the deaths of 11 campesinos and six policemen. Rightwing forces in Congress used the killings as a pretext to impeach President Lugo, who, as a former bishop, a student of liberation theology and the first progressive head of state in the country’s history, was seen as dangerously sympathetic to the plight of the farmers.

The fall of Lugo, who was a thorn in the side of agribusiness, was immediately followed by a scramble to appease these powerful forces. The next president, Federico

Photography

Kiev, 26 May 2018

By |27/May/2018|

Liverpool supporters attending the Champions League final carry banners in solidarity with Brazilian former president Lula Da Silva and Catalan political prisoners. Polls show that if Lula ran in this year’s presidential election, he would win by a landslide and restore the Workers’ Party to government.

Video

Chile’s Student Uprising (Documentary)

By |2/April/2020|

(Director Roberto Navarrete, 35 mins, Alborada Films, 2014)

Mass student protests took place in Chile between 2011 and 2013 demanding a free and state-funded education system and radical change in society. The documentary puts these protests in their historical context of widespread dissatisfaction with the economic model put in place under the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), but that still remains largely in place.

The film’s director travelled to Chile between 2011 and 2013 to speak to then student leaders (now Members of Congress) such as Camila Vallejo and Giorgio Jackson, and also to other students, to explore why their protests had caused such effect in Chile and inspired others in the country and beyond.

“Roberto Navarrete’s is the most complete and compelling visual account of Chile’s student uprising to date. All the lessons from Patricio Guzmán’s path-breaking style of documenting in film are there: poetic visuals, an engaged narrative, the focus on personal feelings and stories combined with subtle and accessible analysis, plus a sense of the tragic tempered by the optimism of the will. Navarrete adds to it the passion and distance of the exile’s gaze, and a Latin American Beckettian flare for celebration while thinking. This is a must see for all those interested in the current sway of global rebellions that show us all the shape of things to come. Superb!”

Dr Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Professor in Law, Birbeck, University of London and author of ‘Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11th, 1973’

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Video

Chile’s Student Uprising (Documentary)

By |2/April/2020|

(Director Roberto Navarrete, 35 mins, Alborada Films, 2014)

Mass student protests took place in Chile between 2011 and 2013 demanding a free and state-funded education system and radical change in society. The documentary puts these protests in their historical context of widespread dissatisfaction with the economic model put in place under the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), but that still remains largely in place.

The film’s director travelled to Chile between 2011 and 2013 to speak to then student leaders (now Members of Congress) such as Camila Vallejo and Giorgio Jackson, and also to other students, to explore why their protests had caused such effect in Chile and inspired others in the country and beyond.

“Roberto Navarrete’s is the most complete and compelling visual account of Chile’s student uprising to date. All the lessons from Patricio Guzmán’s path-breaking style of documenting in film are there: poetic visuals, an engaged narrative, the focus on personal feelings and stories combined with subtle and accessible analysis, plus a sense of the tragic tempered by the optimism of the will. Navarrete adds to it the passion and distance of the exile’s gaze, and a Latin American Beckettian flare for celebration while thinking. This is a must see for all those interested in the current sway of global rebellions that show us all the shape of things to come. Superb!”

Dr Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Professor in Law, Birbeck, University of London and author of ‘Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11th, 1973’

Chile’s Student Uprising (Documentary)

By |2/April/2020|

(Director Roberto Navarrete, 35 mins, Alborada Films, 2014)

Mass student protests took place in Chile between 2011 and 2013 demanding a free and state-funded education system and radical change in society. The documentary puts these protests in their historical context of widespread dissatisfaction with the economic model put in place under the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), but that still remains largely in place.

The film’s director travelled to Chile between 2011 and 2013 to speak to then student leaders (now Members of Congress) such as Camila Vallejo and Giorgio Jackson, and also to other students, to explore why their protests had caused such effect in Chile and inspired others in the country and beyond.

“Roberto Navarrete’s is the most complete and compelling visual account of Chile’s student uprising to date. All the lessons from Patricio Guzmán’s path-breaking style of documenting in film are there: poetic visuals, an engaged narrative, the focus on personal feelings and stories combined with subtle and accessible analysis, plus a sense of the tragic tempered by the optimism of the will. Navarrete adds to it the passion and distance of the exile’s gaze, and a Latin American Beckettian flare for celebration while thinking. This is a must see for all those interested in the current sway of global rebellions that show us all the shape of things to come. Superb!”

Dr Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Professor in Law, Birbeck, University of London and author of ‘Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11th, 1973’