Articles2017-09-08T23:48:22+00:00

Colombia’s Genocidal State

By |11/May/2021|

The violence being carried out against protesters is a continuation of the Colombian state’s history of repression.

As police and military forces in Colombia use violence to try to repress the massive mobilisations that grew out of a national strike, demonstrators have seen flagrant violations of their human rights.

Mainstream media in Colombia and the South American continent have been selectively silent about the atrocities, and so those seeking to either learn or share information on the situation have had to turn to social media to break the media blockade. During the day, photos are shared of the colourful marches and joyful mobilisations. At night, videos of terror start appearing with a distressing frequency: the mobile anti-riot squad (ESMAD) and police shooting firearms at defenceless protesters, agents of security forces chasing after young people in the poor neighbourhoods to either shoot at them or arrest them and instilling terror in the population, and mothers crying and screaming because their children were killed.

According to Temblores and Indepaz, two human rights organisations that have been tracking reports of police violence, from 28 April to 8 May, the violent actions of the state security forces resulted in the death of at least 47 people, the arbitrary detention of 963 people, 28 victims of eye-related injuries, and 12 victims of sexual violence. In total, they registered 1,876 cases of police violence.

It has also been reported that in addition to the constant and systematic attacks by security forces on protesters, people carrying out roles of accompaniment and verification in the mobilisations – such as human rights defenders, journalists, and medical first aid workers – have also been the target of attacks and human rights violations by the police. The armed attack against a group of Colombian human rights defenders who were accompanying the verification mission of the United Nations in Cali on the night of 3 May was condemned widely, but far from being an exception, it is part of a strategy of terror and intimidation against those who speak out against the state’s repression.

After several nights of terror, the silence of the international community was broken. The United Nations Human Rights Office released a strong statement on the morning of 4 May expressing that it is ‘deeply alarmed’ at what is happening in Cali where ‘police opened fire on demonstrators protesting against tax reforms, reportedly killing and injuring a number of people.’ The international body reminds the authorities of the Colombian state that they have the ‘responsibility to protect human rights, including the right to life and security of person, and to facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.’ After the UN declaration, the EU, US, and others joined it in condemning the situation and calling on the Colombian government to withdraw the army from the streets and for an end to the violence against the civilian population.

However, instead of withdrawing the security forces or trying to limit their violent actions, the national

Colombian Security Forces Are Massacring People on the Streets

By |6/May/2021|

In Colombia the right-wing government of Iván Duque is killing people protesting its economic policies and widespread human rights abuses.

More info here.

For more information on the situation in Colombia visit AlboradaJustice for ColombiaProgressive International and Red Condors.

Para ver el video con subtítulos en español presione ‘Spanish (Latin American)’ en la sección ‘Settings’ en el video en YouTube.

Colombian Police are Killing Civilians. British Police are Training Them.

By |3/May/2021|

Following the recent killings of several civilians in protests in Colombia, Britain’s training of Colombian security forces is at odds with its stated commitment to human rights.

Leer versión del articulo en español aquí

Over recent days, the Colombian national police have killed a number of civilians protesting a proposed tax hike on basic goods. Many more civilians have been injured, and Colombia’s riot police reportedly sexually assaulted a woman.

Though numbers remain unclear, human rights group Isais Cifuentes de Cali has estimated up to 14 people have died.

Documents obtained by The Canary can reveal that the UK’s College of Policing has been training Colombian police over the past three years. This is despite Colombia being one of only 30 countries the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCD) lists as “Human rights priority countries”.

National strike

Colombia’s unpopular president Iván Duque has been rocked by a national strike. The strike is in response to proposed tax hikes on everyday items. According to a recent poll, his disapproval rating has fallen to 69 per cent – the lowest level since he was first elected in 2018.

Characteristically, the Colombian police, a long-time recipient of US and British assistance, have responded with grim brutality.

In a particularly disturbing video, a police officer in Colombia’s third largest city, Cali, is seen shooting a protester as he runs away. The protester died later.

Some scenes were also grimly reminiscent of Augusto Pinochet’s Chilean regime, with the Colombian police using sports centres to detain strikers.

Repression was also widespread in the Colombian capital, Bogotá. The country’s notorious ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron) unit filled streets with tear gas and assaulted protesters in the capital.

British training

According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the UK’s College of Policing has been training Colombian police. This has been happening over the past three consecutive years – 2018, 2019, and 2020. All of the training took place in Colombia.

The issue is of public concern in light of the UK government’s possible complicity in human rights abuses abroad. But the College has refused to disclose where exactly the training occurred, the nature of the training, and the cost.

In recent years, the College has come under fire for receiving millions of pounds to train repressive police regimes. These include Saudi Arabia, where the death penalty remains legal.

What’s more, the College insisted that it ‘can neither confirm nor deny whether the above information represents all the information held that would meet the terms of your request’, citing National Security concerns. To this end, the College absurdly claimed that it didn’t know how many Colombian police officers it had trained during 2018-2020. In response to an internal review, it was unable to offer even an estimate.

The College’s website adds that:

‘The UK police service works closely with government departments… to ensure that any assistance provided is consistent with the UK’s national objectives.’

Given that Colombia is a resource-rich nation in a

Hundreds of Ex-Rebels Murdered in Colombia Despite Peace Agreement

By |3/May/2021|

Despite the Peace Agreement of 2016, the killing of ex-rebels, social leaders and trade union organisers continue at alarming rates.

By Rodrigo Acuña for Truthout.org

So far this year alone, Colombia has seen 33 massacres of social leaders, trade union organizers and ex-guerrilla fighters belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). At least 119 people have been murdered by paramilitary groups, state security forces or unidentified assassins as of April 27, according to the Instituto de Estudio para el Desarrollo y la Paz, or Institute of Study for Development and Peace. According to Colombia’s Ombudsman’s Office, in the first three months of 2021, more than 27,000 Colombians were forcibly displaced due to violence by groups fighting for territorial control and control of the drug trade — an increase of 177 percent compared to last year.

Colombia has a long history of political violence. For over five decades, beginning in the 1960s, it was gripped by a civil war between numerous left-wing rebel movements, right-wing paramilitaries and a corrupt U.S.-backed authoritarian state. This conflict resulted in more than 7 million people internally displaced and over 220,000 people killed. Of those murdered, 10,000 are considered “false positives” — often poor peasants who were murdered by the Colombian military and then dressed up as rebels so soldiers could boost their statistics in the war against leftist insurgents. In 2013, in one of the most comprehensive studies into the conflict, the National Center of Historical Memory noted that between 1980 to 2012, 1,982 massacres occurred in Colombia with 1,166 attributed to the paramilitaries, 343 to the rebels (i.e., multiple armed groups such as the FARC, ELN, M19 and EPL) and 295 to government security forces. In November 2016, after years of delicate negotiations in Norway and Cuba, the FARC and the Colombian State reached a historic peace agreement.

Under the 2016 peace deal, the FARC guerrillas were allowed to create their own political party according to Nick MacWilliam, a trade unions and programs officer at Justice for Colombia in the United Kingdom. As a result, several of their leaders won seats in congress while more than 13,000 rebels surrendered their weapons, commencing a process to integrate themselves into civilian life. MacWilliam notes that, “based in specially created ‘reincorporation zones’ scattered around the country, former guerrilla combatants developed sustainable projects, enrolled on educational courses and undertook vocational training” taking up “diverse new roles in medicine, journalism, tourism, textiles, agriculture and even beer brewing.”

Heading the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia last year, Carlos Ruiz Massieu stated that, “despite continued attacks and stigmatization against them, the vast majority of those who laid down their weapons remain engaged in the reintegration process.”

Still, the number of ongoing murders of ex-FARC combatants is staggering. Mariela Kohon, a senior international officer at the Trades Union Congress

La Policía Colombiana Está Matando a Civiles. La Policía Británica Los Está Entrenando.

By |3/May/2021|

La policía colombiana, que desde hace mucho tiempo ha recibido ayuda de Estados Unidos y Gran Bretaña.

En los últimos días, la policía nacional colombiana ha asesinado a varios civiles que protestaban por una propuesta de aumento de impuestos sobre los productos básicos. Muchos más civiles han resultado heridos y, según informes, la policía antidisturbios de Colombia agredió sexualmente a una mujer.

Aunque las cifras siguen sin estar claras, el grupo de derechos humanos Isais Cifuentes de Cali ha estimado que han muerto alrededor 14 personas.

Documentos obtenidos por The Canary revelan que el Colegio de Policía del Reino Unido ha estado entrenando a la policía colombiana durante los últimos tres años. Esto a pesar de que Colombia es uno de los 30 países que la Oficina de Relaciones Exteriores, Commonwealth y Desarrollo (FCD) enumera como “países prioritarios en materia de derechos humanos”.

Huelga nacional

El impopular presidente de Colombia, Iván Duque, ha sido remecido por una huelga nacional. La huelga es en respuesta a los anunciados aumentos de impuestos sobre los artículos de uso diario. Según una encuesta reciente, su índice de desaprobación ha caído al 69%, el nivel más bajo desde que fue elegido por primera vez en 2018.

Como es característico, la policía colombiana, que desde hace mucho tiempo ha recibido ayuda de Estados Unidos y Gran Bretaña, ha respondido con cruel brutalidad.

En un video particularmente perturbador, se ve a un oficial de policía en la tercera ciudad más grande de Colombia, Cali, disparando a un manifestante mientras huye. El manifestante murió más tarde.

Algunas escenas también recordaban al sombrío régimen chileno de Augusto Pinochet, cuando la policía colombiana ha estado utilizando los recintos deportivos para detener a los huelguistas.

La represión en la capital colombiana, Bogotá también ha sido extensa. El tristemente célebre, ESMAD (Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios), llenó las calles de gases lacrimógenos y agredió a los manifestantes en la capital.

Entrenamiento británico

Según documentos obtenidos en virtud de la Ley de Libertad de Información (FOIA), el Colegio de Policía del Reino Unido ha estado capacitando a la policía colombiana. Esto ha estado sucediendo durante los últimos tres años consecutivos: 2018, 2019 y 2020. Toda la capacitación se llevó a cabo en Colombia.

El tema es de preocupación pública a la luz de la posible complicidad del gobierno del Reino Unido en abusos contra los derechos humanos en el extranjero. Pero el Colegio se ha negado a revelar dónde ocurrió exactamente la capacitación, la naturaleza de la capacitación y el costo.

En los últimos años, el Colegio ha sido criticado por recibir millones de libras para entrenar regímenes policiales represivos. Estos incluyen Arabia Saudita, donde la pena de muerte sigue siendo legal.

Es más, el Colegio insistió en que “no puede confirmar ni negar si la información anterior representa toda la información en su poder que cumpliría con los términos de su solicitud”, aduciendo razones de Seguridad Nacional. Para ello, el Colegio afirmó

How Kowtowing to Trump Guided British Support for Juan Guaidó

By |27/April/2021|

Recently published ministerial diaries reveal the cynicism of British support for Juan Guaidó.

The recently published diary of former minister of state for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan provides crucial details on the decision-making process behind Britain’s recognition of Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaidó as president in January 2019.

On 23 January, the day that Guaidó declared himself president, Duncan writes,

I insist on tweeting something supportive, but speak to Andrew Soper, our Ambassador [in Caracas] first, as we don’t want him to be chucked out. So we are one step away from saying we recognise Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim President, but choosing only to say for the time being that we consider Maduro illegitimate.

The next day, then foreign minister Jeremy Hunt visited Washington, attending a ‘mid-morning meeting with SofS Mike Pompeo, and then Vice-pres Mike Pence. [Hunt] then takes us a little by surprise and ramps it up by suddenly saying that we will consider recognising Guaidó. It throws us somewhat, but we will adjust accordingly.’

US pressure, it seems, was key to forcing Hunt’s hand on Venezuela. Indeed, Duncan continues by writing on 25 January that the foreign secretary, Hunt

confides that we need to use Venezuela as an issue on which we can be as fully in line with the US as possible, because [Hunt] is out of line on a number of issues such as Syria. It’s one of those trade-off moments which we need if we are to handle the Trump administration cleverly.

Such declarations detail how concern for human rights is a veil for a far more cynical policy. Apparently quoting Hunt, Duncan continues: ‘Venezuela is in their back yard, and it’s probably the only foreign adventure they might just pursue.’

Just one month prior, Hunt had contradicted Donald Trump’s statements regarding the defeat of ISIS and withdrawal of US troops from Syria, seemingly embarrassing the president.

On top of geopolitical concerns, Duncan’s past remarks highlight Britain’s interest in Venezuelan oil. In 2018, Duncan declared: ‘The revival of the oil industry [in Venezuela] will be an essential element in any recovery, and I can imagine that British companies like Shell and BP, will want to be part of it.’

Duncan’s diary also suggests how humanitarian concerns are prompted by foreign policy interests. On 4 February, Duncan notes that he had

a very friendly phone call with DfID Secretary Penny Morduant, which I’d been trying to achieve for a week. My pitch was clear – when we lift the lid [on recognising Guaidó], Venezuela will be seen as the most pressing country of need in the western hemisphere; it affects its neighbours too, who are hosting 3 million migrants; our current activity comprising two humanitarian advisers and aid through multilateral organisations looks too flimsy; this is a Global Britain moment; it needs to be part of our broader policy in the continent; it allies us with all the Lima Group countries, along with the US and Canada; we need to gear up now in anticipation; we need to brand

Gabriel García Márquez and Magical Internationalism

By |26/April/2021|

Gabriel García Márquez was a militant journalist with a lifelong dedication to revolutionary internationalism.

Sometimes what is obvious hides what is important. Gabriel García Márquez is best known as the craftsman par excellence of the genre ‘magical realism’, rather than his profound passion for the profession of journalism that led him to traverse – with the eagerness of a chronicler and a vallenato rhythm in his step – countless cafes, newsrooms, and continents.

Gabo, or Gabito, as he was known to his friends in Aracataca, a town camouflaged among the banana plantations of Colombia’s Caribbean coast, produced a journalism that few recognise, journalism militantly committed to a national and global context. International affairs, and in particular the people that rose up against US imperialism, were the ink for his pen. Instead of hiding behind the sudden fame produced by the publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude in 1967, over the years he became radicalised and refined his writing with an acidic humour indebted to those brought up in that ‘village of twenty houses of mud and reed built on the shore of a river of diaphanous waters that rushed down a bed of polished stones, as enormous and white as prehistoric eggs.’

Crossing a huge diversity of literary and journalistic genres, García Márquez managed to hybridise both professions by deepening his political thought and extending his journalistic interventions to a range of spheres, stretching from reflections within a national and regional context, to international relations and the reality of other continents. The development of Gabo’s personal and professional life went hand in hand with the development of the twentieth century, meaning that many of the major, transcendental social and historical events in mankind’s history in turn became the fundamental building blocks of his own being: the fall of Nazism and fascism in Europe; the Bogotazo and the war between the liberals and conservatives in Colombia; the deployment of Colombian troops in the Korean War; the consolidation of the Soviet Union and the socioeconomic model of Eastern Europe; the triumph of the Cuban revolution; the dictatorship of Rojas Pinilla and Operation Condor in Latin America and the Caribbean; the development of what’s called the Cold War; the hegemonic anti-communist discourse; and the battles for national liberation on the African and Asian continents. All of this, amongst many other events, were key elements in the publications of the writer from Aracataca.

Born and raised in a humble family on the fringes of the Caribbean – with all that this implies including his revolutionary identification with that famous socialist island – García Márquez was, however, a pilgrim of the world. His passion to know the truth, that age-old fetish of journalists, led him to travel and engage with the reality of the different people that he met, and with that he constructed a committed, situated, and militant journalism, that until his last days, sought to create scenarios and platforms which many, many journalists from the continent could publish from without fear of censorship.

After passing through numerous towns

In Che Guevara’s Veins Flowed the Blood of Irish Rebels

By |20/April/2021|

A shared anti-imperialist cause has forged a deep bond between Ireland and Latin America.

‘In my son’s veins flowed the blood of Irish rebels’, once proclaimed Ernesto Guevara Lynch, father of the legendary Che Guevara, who was proud of his Irish roots and how his family built a new life in Argentina after fleeing Ireland during the Cromwell era.

Rebellious Irish blood was essential during Latin America’s emancipatory struggles – and it remains so today. Latinos and the Irish have been fighting imperialism together since the nineteenth century, when Irish immigrants, fleeing the famine and oppression caused by the British Empire, found in Latin America a new battleground to challenge the cruelty of colonialism.

The Irish and their descendants contributed to the formation of many of the new Latin American republics, such as in Chile with Bernardo O’Higgins or those Irish present in the Bolivarian army. The converse is also true – recall the Irish-Argentine Eamon Bulfin: it was he, born in Buenos Aires, who raised the Irish Republican flag at the General Post Office during the Easter Uprising in 1916.

Che, the Irish

 The most famous ‘Irish representative’ and central character of the Cuban revolution was Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara: his Celtic ancestors, the Lynches, suffered at the hands of Oliver Cromwell, the man who overthrew the monarchy and instituted his own control of England for several years.

Members of Che’s family fled Ireland and went to Spain, later leaving for Argentina, while the country was still a Spanish colony. Che’s great-grandfather even fought in the War of Independence against Spain in the middle of the nineteenth century. Like many other members of the Irish diaspora, the Lynches had important ties to their ancestral lands, although Che only ever spent one day in Ireland.

On that day, an Aeroflot flight to Havana from Moscow was diverted at Shannon Airport. The plane stopped to refuel but was unable to take off due to the fog. During his brief visit, Che said he was proud of his Irish ancestry and Irish connection, declaring that the Irish had overthrown the British Empire, referring to the Irish War of Independence, waged from 1919 to 1921.

Cuba

These ties were not just in ancestral history. Fidel Castro became a revolutionary during his time as a student political organiser at the University of Havana, inspired by Julio Antonio Mella, a well-known founder of the Cuban Communist Party.

The militant Mella was exiled to Mexico after becoming a threat to the bloody dictatorship of Cuban president Gerardo Machado. There, he mobilised with other communists. Mella’s mother, Cecilia McPartland, was born in Ireland – meaning one of the greatest heroes in Cuban history, who inspired Cuban revolutionaries during the 1950s, was of Irish descent.

In 1981, when Irish Republican prisoners were in the middle of a historic hunger strike against the British state, it was Fidel Castro who once again sided with the oppressed.

The hunger strike was the result of a five-year battle between Irish nationalists and the British autocracy, which broke out

Archives

Cuba Libre to Covid-Libre

By |31/March/2021|

The achievements of Cuba’s Covid vaccination programme highlight the failure of the market.

On 23 March 2021, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a group of Conservative Party backbenchers: ‘The reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed, my friends.’ Johnson was articulating the dogma that the pursuit of private profit through capitalist free markets leads to efficient outcomes. In reality, however, Britain’s accomplishments in developing the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and in the national vaccination rollout have more to do with state investments than the market mechanism. Government money subsidised the vaccine development at the University of Oxford, and it is the state-funded National Health Service that has carried out the vaccination programme. Johnson did not admit that it is due to capitalism and greed that Britain now has the fifth worst Covid-19 mortality rate in the world with over 126,500 deaths (almost 1,857 per million people in the population) and counting.

The British government, like most neoliberal regimes, refused to take the measures necessary to slow and halt community transmission, it failed early on to provide health care and social care workers with adequate PPE and other resources which could have saved the lives of hundreds of frontline staff who died as a result. It contracted private businesses to carry out essential activities, most with little or no relevant experience, for example, instead of equipping the community-based GP system of the National Health Service to take charge of ‘track and trace’, the government dished out £37 billion to Serco to manage part of the system. In public health terms it has been disastrous; but measured by Boris Johnson’s celebrated standards of capitalism and greed it is has indeed excelled. The greatest beneficiaries of Britain’s response to the pandemic have been the private corporations making huge profits. Around 2,500 Accenture, Deloitte and McKinsey consultants are on an average daily rate of £1,000, with some paid £6,624 a day.

Johnson has now laid out a road map for reopening the economy. As a result, even the most optimistic scenario predicts a third wave between September 2021 and January 2022 resulting in at least 30,000 additional deaths in Britain. These deaths are preventable. But it precisely because the British government is driven by the capitalism and greed that it insists that we have to learn to ‘live with the virus’ so that the business of business can continue.

Contrary to Johnson’s claims, this pandemic has affirmed that public healthcare needs cannot be adequately met under a profit-based system. Indeed, it is the absence of the capitalist profit motive which underlies the outstanding domestic and international response to Covid-19 by socialist Cuba, which now has five vaccines in clinical trials and is set to be among the first nations to vaccinate its entire population.

By reacting quickly and decisively, by mobilising its public healthcare system and world-leading biotech sector, Cuba has kept contagion and fatalities low. In 2020 Cuba confirmed a total of 12,225 coronavirus cases and 146 deaths in a population of

Colombia’s Ongoing Human Rights Crisis

By |30/March/2021|

As Colombia approaches the fifth anniversary of its historic agreement, the peace process is under strain from political hostility, failures in implementation and an escalating human rights crisis.

The peace agreement signed in 2016 between the Colombian government and the country’s largest Marxist guerrilla organisation, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), brought hope to millions of people – in Colombia and around the world, including the many Colombians forced into international exile by conflict – that the country was finally leaving decades of violence behind. Following four years of negotiations in Havana, Cuba, the peace agreement not only addressed ending armed confrontation between the state and the FARC, but also the root causes of the conflict to ensure peace would be permanent.

The ambitious scope of the agreement provided for, among other areas, political participation, infrastructural development in the poorest rural regions and a new approach to the long-running issue of drugs production. Previous attempts by the left to participate in electoral politics had been met with massacre – orchestrated by the state and its paramilitary proxies. At the same time, chronic underdevelopment across swathes of rural Colombia denied millions of people access to healthcare, schools or decent roads.

Repressive anti-drugs policies, meanwhile, criminalised and targeted those at the very bottom of the production chain. These were poor rural farmers left with little alternative to growing coca – the base ingredient in cocaine – and marijuana due to Colombia’s free-market trade deals that saw small-scale agriculture crushed by multinational food imports.

Many Colombians – particularly those in regions most impacted by conflict and state abandonment – saw a negotiated settlement as vital to move the country forward. Yet the peace process encountered bitter hostility on the political right, centred around the hardline former president Álvaro Uribe. His Democratic Centre party led opposition to negotiations with the FARC, successfully mobilising its base to stun many observers when Colombians narrowly rejected the agreement in a public referendum in October 2016. Nevertheless, with a few amendments, the agreement was ratified in the national congress soon afterwards.

Under the terms of the agreement, the FARC reformed as a political party, taking a number of seats in congress, and more than 13,000 guerrillas put down their weapons and began transitioning to civilian life. Based in specially-created ‘reincorporation zones’ scattered around the country, former guerrilla combatants developed sustainable projects, enrolled on educational courses and undertook vocational training. They took up diverse new roles in medicine, journalism, tourism, textiles, agriculture and even beer brewing. The vast majority remain in the peace process today.

Unfortunately, as Colombia approaches the fifth anniversary of the signing of the agreement, the peace process is under strain from ongoing political opposition, failures in implementation and an escalating human rights crisis impacting much of the country. The presidential election in 2018 of Iván Duque – like Uribe, a member of the Democratic Centre – sparked concerns in the pro-peace movement over his party’s strong opposition to the agreement.

Indeed, Duque soon sought to make unilateral changes to the agreement’s

British Media Silence on Lula’s Persecution

By |30/March/2021|

Why was the British media silent for so long about Lula’s predicament under Operation Car Wash?

During the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s international reputation was positive, based on combatting hunger and lifting people out of poverty. Brazil was seen as a culturally rich, joyful ‘country of tomorrow’. Under Lula its foreign policy aimed to make the world a more egalitarian and peaceful place and he left office with record levels of popularity at home and abroad.

However, during Dilma Rousseff’s mandate, news from Brazil began to be focused almost entirely on governmental corruption. President Rousseff was impeached in a soft coup for alleged ‘creative accounting’, as the anti-graft Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato) that put former President Lula in jail dominated coverage of the country.

Overnight, a low-level judge, Sérgio Moro, from a provincial capital in the south of Brazil, became a world celebrity. He was praised and awarded prizes for daring to go against the ‘mighty and powerful’. He made the covers of international magazines, whilst Lula languished in prison.

After almost five years of smears, Lula is back in the news. So, what happened to the celebrated Car Wash that put him in jail? The British press decided to focus solely on the ‘downfall’ of Brazil’s charismatic former leader, portrayed as the leftist mastermind behind the largest corruption scandal in Brazil.

But Lula is back in the news. Back because his legal processes were quashed by the Supreme Court and because he is still the most likely presidential candidate to take on Bolsonaro and steer Brazil out of the mire.

So why did Lula go from hero to pariah to riding high again? Don’t look towards the British media for an explanation. There is hardly ever any context of what goes on in countries in the global south. Politics shapes things in the UK, the US, sometimes in Europe, but if you follow the media, elsewhere things just happen. The Amazon is destroyed, the indigenous peoples are massacred, criminal gangs run favelas, regardless of politics. Weird and horrific figures like Bolsonaro and the extreme-right just pop-up like mushrooms out of nowhere.

But politics does matter. It matters at home and it matters abroad. The context to what happened to Operation Car Wash, described by Supreme Justice Mendes as the ‘biggest legal scandal in history’, and why Lula is back is a lesson not just for Brazil, but for the world.

Right from the beginning of the corruption task force, the Brazilian media was co-opted. It received first-hand information they never checked or investigated. For years, people were named and shamed and tried by public opinion, even before they got to court.

However, though the media ignored it, academics and legal experts were warning about the illegal and unorthodox practices of the Operation which, this Tuesday, led the Supreme Court to declare former Judge Moro biased.

At the time, an atmosphere of terror against dissenting opinion ruled over Brazil: if you questioned Car Wash in anyway or defended the rights of its victims, you were against

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