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The Americas Uncovered Podcast #1 – The Condor Files

By |2/December/2022|

In the first episode of our new podcast The Americas Uncovered, host Dr Peter Watt speaks to Dr Francesca Lessa about her book The Condor Trials.

Peter Watt speaks to Dr Francesca Lessa about her book The Condor Trials: Transnational Repression and Human Rights in South America. 28 November 2022 marks 47 years since the beginning of Operación Cóndor (Operation Condor) a US government backed campaign of state terrorism implemented by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America.

Presented by Dr Peter Watt (University of Sheffield, UK) // Produced by Pablo Navarrete // Music by Peter Watt

Listen to the podcast here or below.

The Americas Uncovered Podcast #1 – The Condor Files

By |2/December/2022|

In the first episode of our new podcast The Americas Uncovered, host Dr Peter Watt speaks to Dr Francesca Lessa about her book The Condor Trials.

Peter Watt speaks to Dr Francesca Lessa about her book The Condor Trials: Transnational Repression and Human Rights in South America. 28 November 2022 marks 47 years since the beginning of Operación Cóndor (Operation Condor) a US government backed campaign of state terrorism implemented by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America.

Presented by Dr Peter Watt (University of Sheffield, UK) // Produced by Pablo Navarrete // Music by Peter Watt

Listen to the podcast here or below.

Could China Help Brazil Overcome its Economic Crisis?

By |1/December/2022|

Brazil will need to seek greater balance in its trade agenda if it wants to return to being a solid economy.

The October 30 election victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for a third term as the president of Brazil is expected to revise the relations between Brasília and Beijing.

Brazil is going through a serious economic, political, social and environmental crisis. Fighting poverty, resuming economic growth with income redistribution, reindustrialising the country and reversing environmental abuses are urgent tasks, which will demand unprecedented national and international finesse from the new government.

The economic partnership between Brazil and China, which has advanced greatly in the past two decades, may be one of the keys to reversing the crisis that Brazil faces. But some challenges will need to be faced with diplomacy and strategic planning.

Despite the ‘insults‘ directed by the government of former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro toward China, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the inevitable distancing of diplomatic relations between the two countries, bilateral trade has increased.

In 2021, bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$135.4 billion, with Brazil recording a trade surplus of $40 billion with China, which was only surpassed by Taiwan, Australia and South Korea. China has been Brazil’s largest trading partner since 2009, accounting for almost double the volume that Brazil imported from its second-largest partner in 2021, the US ($70.5 billion), with which it recorded a deficit of $8.3 billion.

A profitable but unbalanced relationship

Brazil’s export mix, however, is vulnerable in the long term: It is not very diversified and is based on products of low aggregate value.

The four main products it exports (iron ore, soy, crude oil and animal protein) accounted for 87.7 per cent of total exports to China in 2021. Meanwhile, the exports of Chinese products to Brazil are highly diversified, with a predominance of manufactured products, and with a high technological index. For example, the main import item from China to Brazil (telecommunications equipment) accounted for only 5.9 per cent of imports.

The Brazilian commodities sector, which is an important component of the economy, represented 68.3 per cent of exports by Brazil in the first half of 2022 and has contributed for years to the increase in international reserves.

On the other hand, the commodities sector has a high concentration of wealth, pays few taxes, generates relatively few and low-skill jobs, is subject to cyclical price changes and, in many cases, causes environmental damage, which needs to be better controlled by the state.

In this sense, the initiative announced by COFCO International – the largest buyer of Brazilian food in China – to monitor and prohibit the purchase of soybeans planted in areas of illegal deforestation in Brazil beginning from 2023 was important.

But it will also require the Brazilian state – which has become notorious in recent years for encouraging deforestation and the invasion of Indigenous reserves – to guarantee the effectiveness of the initiative.

China needs Brazil’s natural resources for its development, and Brazil needs the Chinese market for its commodities. But in the medium and long terms, Brazil will need

WATCH: Colombian Senator María José Pizarro on International Solidarity

By |27/November/2022|

An interview with Colombian senator María José Pizarro of the governing Historic Pact coalition.

Following the election of Colombia’s first progressive government, Senator María José Pizarro discusses hopes and challenges facing the governing Historic Pact coalition, as well as the importance of international solidarity to supporting peace and human rights.

This interview was recorded at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool, England, on 27 September 2022. The visit was organised by Justice for Colombia.

You can watch Senator Pizarro’s interview below.

 

WATCH: Analysing AMLO: Mexico under López Obrador (Alborada Online)

By |11/November/2022|

As Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador approaches four years in office, our panel analyses advances and challenges under his government.

The 2018 election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador raised hope that Mexico could change direction from the neoliberal policies of his predecessors and a new approach to the drugs war that has left over 200,000 dead since 2006. Almost four years into a six-year term, how has AMLO’s government fared? What have been its main achievements? And what do the critics say? We are joined by a leading panel to discuss these questions and others.

This event was held on Wednesday 9 November 2022.

Speakers:

You can watch this event on our YouTube channel or below and listen to it as a podcast.

To see the full list of our Alborada Online events click here.

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After Victory, What Will Lula’s Foreign Policy Look Like?

By |10/November/2022|

The election of Lula Da Silva should see Brazil return to being a major player on the global stage after four years of diplomatic isolation under far-right Jair Bolsonaro.

The tenure of President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil is defined by the deforestation of the Amazon, the return of 33 million Brazilians to hunger and the terrible governance of the country during the pandemic.

But it also marked a radical turning point on a subject that receives little public attention in general: foreign policy. It’s not just that the Bolsonaro government has transformed Brazil, a giant in land area and population, into a kind of diplomatic dwarf. Nor is it just the fact that Bolsonaro turned the country’s back to Latin America and Africa. The most serious thing is that in his pursuit of aligning Brazil to the United States, Bolsonaro broke with a long tradition of Brazilian foreign policy: the respect for constitutional principles of national independence, self-determination of the peoples, non-intervention, equality between States, defence of peace and peaceful solution of conflicts.

Despite the different foreign policies adopted by Brazilian governments over the years, no president had ever so openly broken with these principles. Never had a Brazilian president expressed such open support for a candidate in a US election, as Bolsonaro did to Trump and against Biden in 2020. Never had a president so openly despised Brazil’s main trading partner, as Bolsonaro did with China on different occasions. Never had a Brazilian president offended the wife of another president as Jair Bolsonaro, his Economy Minister, Paulo Guedes, and his son, Representative Eduardo Bolsonaro, did in relation to Emmanuel Macron’s wife, Brigitte. And never, at least since re-democratisation in the 1980s, has a president talked so openly about invading a neighbouring country as Bolsonaro did toward Venezuela.

This attitude has thrown Brazil into a position of unprecedented diplomatic isolation for a country recognised for its absence of conflicts with other countries and its capacity for diplomatic mediation. As a result, during the campaign for the 2022 elections – won by Lula da Silva on Sunday 30 October, by a narrow margin of 2.1 million votes, with 50.9 per cent of the votes for Lula against 49.1 per cent for Bolsonaro – the topic of foreign policy appeared frequently, with Lula promising to resume Brazil’s leading role in international politics.

‘We are lucky that the Chinese see Brazil as a historic entity, which will exist with or without Bolsonaro. Otherwise, the possibility of having had problems of various types would be great. … [For example, China] could simply not give us vaccines,’ Professor of Economics at Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ) Elias Jabbour tells me. ‘Brazil should once again play a decisive role in major international issues,’ he adds.

The Return of ‘Active and Assertive’ Foreign Policy?

International relations during the first Lula administrations, from 2003 to 2011, were marked by Celso Amorim, Minister of Foreign Affairs. He called for an ‘active and assertive’ foreign policy. By ‘assertive,’ Amorim meant a firmer attitude to refuse outside pressure and place Brazil’s interests on

Lula’s Victory Is a Testament to Solidarity

By |3/November/2022|

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Lula Da Silva’s historic victory in the Brazilian presidential election.

Lula’s historic victory, unthinkable just two years ago, couldn’t have happened without millions of people fighting for it. As Bolsonaro supporters refuse to accept the results, the mobilisation of those masses will be key to securing democracy.

Ediane Maria Nascimento speaks with confidence, not born from grandeur but from gratitude. Wearing a broad smile, and with her arms behind her back, she thanks everybody who has gathered in São Paulo to campaign for Lula in the presidential election. Ediane would have been forgiven for any smugness, since she did what Lula failed to do three weeks earlier: win an election the first time round.

2 October did not just mark the first round of the presidential election. It marked the general election, in which members of the National Congress and legislative assemblies were running for office right around the country. And it marked the first ever election of a domestic worker to São Paulo’s state legislature. A Black woman from the north-eastern state of Pernambuco, Ediane had worked as a housemaid her entire life while raising four children on her own. ‘My mother was domestic, I was domestic. My daughter broke the cycle, and now I broke it too.’

Ediane was one of several women from minority ethnic backgrounds to make history that day. Others included Sônia Guajajara – an Indigenous woman who, like Ediane, successfully ran as a candidate for the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) – and Danieli Balbi – a Black transgender woman representing the Communist Party of Brazil. Both PSOL and the Communist Party were two of ten political parties that had coalesced around Lula, including his own Worker’s Party (PT), the Green Party and the Brazilian Democratic Movement.

Lula’s campaign was much more than a coalition of political parties. Standing in the Brazilian sunshine, Ediane was not wearing PSOL merchandise. Instead, her red T-shirt was adorned with a four-letter logo: MTST. Ediane is Leader of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto, translating to the Homeless Workers’ Movement. The group, founded in 1984, uses a variety of methods – from staging squatters’ occupations to lobbying legislators – to confront Brazil’s neoliberal housing model and increase the provision of social housing.

MTST is one of countless social movements that, like the coalition of political parties, rallied behind Lula. Another is the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra(MST), or the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, which fights for access to land for poor workers. Another is the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), which seeks to promote the rights, protect the lands, and strengthen the union of Indigenous peoples. Their leader is none other than Sônia Guajajara.

On Sunday, Lula was elected President of Brazil. Much has been made of his stunning political comeback. Indeed, the idea of Lula winning the 2022 election was unthinkable as recently as two years ago, when he was still serving an unjust conviction in prison for corruption. Lula’s courageous refusal to let the

WATCH: Brazil’s Presidential Election Run-Off (Alborada Online)

By |28/October/2022|

Our panel analyses what’s at stake for Brazil and beyond as former president Lula Da Silva faces incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in a 30 October election run-off.

Watch the video recording of our event held on 25 October 2022 on our YouTube channel or below.

You can find more information about the speakers and the event here.

Listen to the event on Spotify and elsewhere here.

To see the full list of our Alborada Online events click here.

Indestructible Podcast #15 – El Salvador under President Nayib Bukele

By |15/October/2022|

In the 15th episode of Indestructible Rodrigo interviews Salvadoran human rights activist Tatiana Marroquín.

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

In this 15th episode of Indestructible Podcast, Rodrigo speaks to independent economist, feminist and human rights activist Tatiana Marroquín about the record of El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele.

The podcast is available on Spotify and other podcast streaming website

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Please consider supporting the podcast on Patreon.

::: Episode 15:

El Salvador under Nayib Bukele. With Tatiana Marroquín

Listen to episode 15 on Audioboom and a range of other podcast streaming websites

Watch the episode here or below. 

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

Brazil’s Lula Remerges in a Very Different Political World

By |11/October/2022|

If Lula wins re-election, he must restore trust in a nation damaged by fascism’s sophisticated propaganda machine.

Brazil’s first round of elections, held on 2 October, yielded a major victory for the man who held the presidency from 2003 to 2010, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Winning 48 per cent of the vote in a multi-candidate race, Lula now heads to a runoff against incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro, who won 43 per cent. It’s the first chapter of a dramatic comeback for a leader who was once hailed as the epitome of Latin America’s resurgent Left, who was then imprisoned on corruption charges by a politicised judiciary, eventually was released, and has now emerged onto the political scene in a very different nation than the one he once led.

A founding member of Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT), Lula ran for president several times before winning in 2002. A year later I recall sitting in a huge stadium in Porto Alegre for the second annual World Social Forum (WSF), getting ready alongside tens of thousands of people to hear the new president speak. The WSF was an organised response to the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, where world leaders annually hobnob with corporate executives to explore capitalist solutions to the problems created by capitalism.

In 2003, the crowds that had gathered in a Porto Alegre stadium to explore alternatives to capitalism greeted Lula with coordinated roars of ‘olè olè olè Lula!’ It seemed at that moment that everything could change for the better, and that, in the words of Indian writer Arundhati Roy, who also addressed the WSF, ‘another world is not only possible, she is on her way.’ Indeed, Lula’s rewriting of Brazil’s economic priorities emphasising benefits for low-income communities was a welcome change in a world seduced by neoliberalism. He went on to win re-election in 2006.

In subsequent years, Lula moved closer toward the political centre. Maria Luisa Mendonça, director of Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights, says, ‘I don’t think Lula is this radical leftwing person’ today. In an interview she explains, ‘many social movements had criticisms of the Workers’ Party before because they thought [the party] could move to make structural changes in Brazil.’ Still, she maintains that Lula’s changes to Brazil were profound. ‘The amount of investment that the Workers’ Party did, in education for example, [was] unprecedented.’ She asserts that ‘they really made concrete improvements in the lives of people.’

Fast-forward to 2018 and Bolsonaro swept into power, glorifying the ugliest aspects of bigoted conservatism and making them central to his rule, and decimating Lula’s legacy of economic investments in the poor. Business executives in the US celebrated his win, excited at the prospect of a deregulated economy in which they could invest and from which they could extract wealth.

Today, Latin America’s largest democracy has been shattered by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Bolsonaro’s fascist and conspiracy-fuelled leadership elevated snake oil cures above common sense scientific mitigation. The Amazon rainforest has suffered the ravages of unfettered deforestation, and

WATCH: What’s at Stake in the Brazilian Election

By |10/October/2022|

Alborada contributing editor Juliano Fiori speaks to the UK’s Not the Andrew Marr Show about Brazil’s election and what might happen in the run-off on 30 October.

Watch the video interview here or below. Click here or below to listen to the interview.

 

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|

Watch this documentary on the student protest movement in Chile in 2011 (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|

Watch this documentary on the student protest movement in Chile in 2011 (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|

Watch this documentary on the student protest movement in Chile in 2011 (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’