Stories from Quick Reads and Latin America
Relatively young by Bolivian city standards, the city of El Alto celebrates its 30th anniversary on March 6th, 2015. What initially started as a small suburb of the city of La Paz, the seat of government located 4,070 meters above sea level, it became its own municipality in 1985. It is now Bolivia's second largest city according to the 2012 Census.
The city's population is comprised primarily of Aymara migrants from the Altiplano that take part in informal and formal commerce and manufacturing. While it counts on a rich cultural tradition, El Alto is also known for its role in the 2003 “Gas War,” that ultimately led to the resignation of then-President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in the wake of 80 people left dead. The slogan “El Alto on its feet, never on its knees,” has been used since the 1980s, and is still used today to reflect the resilient character of its residents.
To celebrate El Alto's anniversary, the hashtag #ElAlto30 has been making its rounds on social media.
Indigenous People, Afro-Colombians and Peasants Unite Against Illegal Mining in River Ovejas, Colombia
Despite threats, indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia, members from five different areas within the ancestral territory of Sat Tama Kiwe de Caldono, Afro-descendents from the La Toma Community Council and resident campesinos in the surrounding areas joined together to protest against illegal mining in the area of Río Ovejas in the north of Cauca. The demonstration began on Friday, 13 February and lasted for three days.
Natalio Pinto, one of the participants, told Global Voices that participation was something of a stress test:
El recorrido se hizo al borde del río, abriendo trocha y cruzando las montañas, fueron 3 días de jornada, casi 30 horas.
The route followed the river, opening trails and crossing the mountains. It lasted three full days, nearly 30 hours.
With regards to the protest's goals, she added:
El tercer día del encuentro se dio una asamblea en la cual participaron los indígenas de La Laguna Siberia, Territorio ancestral Sa’th Tama Kiwe, el Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma, así como campesinos que viven en zonas cercanas y representantes de otros consejos comunitarios afros y cabildos indígenas. La idea es formar un frente común en defensa del territorio y en contra de la minería ilegal y multinacional que amenaza el río Ovejas. La jornada sirvió también para solidarizarse con las compañeras que participaron en “la marcha de los turbantes” en noviembre/diciembre pasado. La marcha de los turbantes llevó a mujeres del Consejo Comunitario Afro La Toma caminando desde el Cauca hasta Bogotá para pedirle al Estado una respuesta efectiva contra la minería ilegal en el río Ovejas. A raíz de esto amenazaron a varias lideresas de la comunidad, la cuales tuvieron que salir desplazadas.
On the third day of the protest, there was a meeting in which indigenous people from the Laguna Siberia participated, alongside those from the ancestral territory of Sa’th Tama Kiwe, the Afro-Colombian Community Council from La Toma and campesinos that live in nearby areas as well as representatives from other Afro-Colombian community councils and other indigenous councils. The idea is to form a common front in defense of the land and against illegal and multinational mining that threatens the River Ovejas. The event also served to show solidarity with female colleagues that participated in the ‘march of the turbans’ in November/December last year. The march of the turbans involved women from the Afro-Colombian Community Council in La Toma walking from Cauca to Bogota in order to request an effective response from the State regarding illegal mining in River Ovejas. As a result of this, various female leaders were threatened and furthermore had to leave displaced.
Images have circulated on Twitter:
Indigenous community from Caldono protest against illegal mining in favor of the River Ovejas.
In other areas support of the fight against mining was also heard:
Acabo de llegar de una minga en el norte del Cauca; aprendí más sobre el río Ovejas. Ahora grito y gritaré más fuerte:¡No a la mega minería! — paola ochoa rivera (@visosvioleta) febrero 16, 2015
I've just left the protest in the north of Cauca; I learned a lot about the River Ovejas. Now I shout and I will shout even louder: No to mega mining!
Twitter users tweeted in solidarity:
“UNIDAD indígenas/campesinos/afros!! “Minga en defensa del territorio, del río Ovejas, porque la minería está destruyendo lo que es nuestro” — Kiwe Nasa (@KiweNasa) febrero 16, 2015
‘UNITY indigenous/campesinos/Afro-Colombians!!’ ‘Protest in defense of the River Ovejas territory because mining is destroying what is ours’
Desireé Lozano, a blogger for the Spanish-language website Voces Visibles (Visible Voices), reflects on the existing limitations on women’s political participation in Venezuela. According to the sociologist Evangelina García Prince, a kind of political apartheid that excludes women from decision-making reigns in the Venezuelan parties:
En los partidos venezolanos, el discurso oficial no incluye una perspectiva de género ni una propuesta de las mujeres sobre las mujeres o de la organización sobre sus frentes internos o externos. Estos esconden la exclusión efectiva de la consideración del tema de la igualdad y la atención a las diferencias de género
In the Venezuelan parties, the official discourse does not include a gender perspective or any proposal from women about women, or a perspective on the organization of their internal and external fronts. These hide the effective exclusion from considering the issue of equality and focus on gender differences.
On the other hand, Sonia Sgambatti, a lawyer and professor at the Central University of Venezuela, explains that there is still a long way to go in this matter. For example, the Chamber of Deputies of the National Assembly of Venezuela consists of 167 deputies, out of which only 31 are women, representing 18.6% of the total:
Con la mirada en el futuro, Sgambatti indica que las mujeres venezolanas deben, con valentía y tenacidad, participar activamente de la vida política y social del país. “Por la tanto debemos exigir a la Asamblea Nacional reformar la Ley Orgánica de Procesos Electorales para incorporar la cuota electoral femenina o promulgar una Ley Orgánica de Cuotas Electorales Femeninas, con el objetivo de lograr la igualdad de género en esta materia”.
Looking ahead, Sgambatti indicates that Venezuelan women must, with courage and tenacity, actively participate in the political and social life of the country. “Therefore, we must demand the National Assembly to reform the Organic Law on Electoral Processes to incorporate a female electoral quota or to enact an Organic Law of Women's Electoral Quotas, with the goal of achieving gender equality in this matter.”
The communication platform, Courage for Tamaulipas, and Ecuadorian sketch artist, Xavier “Bonil” Bonilla, were the only Latin Americans nominated at the Index Freedom of Expression Awards, which recognizes organizations and individuals in the fight against censorship.
The awards were created by Index on Censorship, an international organization dedicated to defending freedom of expression. Awards are given out in four categories: journalism, art, campaigns, and digital activism. Out of a total of 2,000 nominations, only 17 advanced to the final round.
Bonilla, who's nominated in the art category, has been the target of fines and various legal battles in Ecuador. In 2013 President Rafael Correa passed a law allowing the government to control certain content by journalists. Among the first victims were the newspaper El Universo as well as Bonilla himself. Both had to retract a drawing and pay a fine.
Meanwhile, Courage for Tamaulipas is competing in the digital activism category, and here the public can vote by clicking on the following link. The Mexican site was created in one of the most dangerous areas for journalism. Since 2010, six journalists have been killed, and violence by drug cartels in the region has resulted in a media blackout. Now drug-related violence is reported anonymously by the citizens.
Since the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa last September, a group of citizens driven by Mexican journalist and producer Epigmenio Ibarra has decided to prevent the case from being forgotten by conducting a roll call of the names of each student every day at 10 p.m. Mexico Central Time.
Mexicans and foreigners alike have joined this initiative both within and outside of the country.
— Ara-Ídem (@5AraCoelli) January 27, 2015
We say their names every night. We will continue doing so until we conquer truth and get justice.
Each name is normally accompanied by an illustration from the Illustrators for Ayotzinapa movement to keep the memory of the students humanized. Some also add the phrase “Because if we forget, they win” to remind people about the importance of maintaining their memory alive.
— Sussan Buendia (@Buendia_Tunel) February 3, 2015
No to closing the case. We're going to push harder, we will cast a shadow over EPN. 10pm Roll call.
The roll call continues to gain traction.
— Alejandro T (@birkut) February 4, 2015
The daily roll call by @epigmenioibarra continues to get up to 500RTs per student.
Cada noche los RTs del pase de lista del 1 al 43 alcanza a miles en sus TLs, es otra pequeña marcha que acompaña. Sigamos juntos.
— Compa Salces (@carlossalces) January 27, 2015
Each night, RTs of the roll call from 1 to 43 reaches thousands in their TLs. It's another small protest accompanying the efforts. Let's continue together.
And every day there is a call to join this roll call where the following hashtags, relevant to the movement, are included: #YaMeCansé (#TiredofThis), #AcciónGlobalporAyotzinapa (#GlobalActionforAyotzinapa), #NosFaltan43 (#We'reMissing43), among others.
— Compa MariaIsabel (@wixaritari) February 4, 2015
Group: Those against apathy and neglect and because #We'reMissing43, let's join the roll call #WeAreAllAyotzinapa with @epigmenioibarra
— Frank (@frankcjc) January 30, 2015
Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it. Ready for the roll call with @epigmenioibarra
@faeriedevilish, blogging for Infoactivismo, reflects on the need to be creative in communicating our protests. Along those lines, the author explains the importance of creativity while referring to protesting events in Ayotzinapa, where photocopies of the victims’ faces were used to attract and generate awareness about the terrible incidents.
Illustrators not only made use of online resources to get the public's attention, but the streets also took the leading role for young people's creativity.
En una ciudad en la que la proliferación de marchas lleva en el mejor de los casos a una saturación, y en el peor de ellos, a prejuicios de clase, hacer que las marchas de Acción Global Ayotzinapa dieran incentivos para seguir participando fue un reto gigantesco.
Y es que marchar es del Contingente Carreola. Marchar es usar tu talento para incidir – como los jóvenes de la ENAP que pintaron las caras de lxs desaparecidxs en Reforma, lxs estudiantes de la Nacional de Música que marchaban interpretando música. Marchar es de quienes cuentan del 1 al 43, y de quienes cambian los dichos machistas por versiones feministas.
Marchar no es aburrido ni tedioso: es una forma de participación social que, de hecho, puede ser bastante divertida.
In a city where a proliferation of marches can either fill the streets or lead to class prejudices, it was a huge challenge to have the Ayotzinapa Global Action encourage further participation.
The march is lead by the Stroller Contingent. Marching uses your talent to have an affect on people, such as the kids from the National School of Plastic Arts who painted their faces reflecting the people who disappeared during the Reform period, and students from the National Conservatory of Music marched while playing music. The march has people from ages 1 to 43 and those willing to change their chauvinist remarks for more feminist ones.
Marching isn't boring or tedious. It's a way to participate in something social and fun.
You can follow Infoactivism on Twitter.
Illegal mining is a problem affecting the Colombian department of Santander, where residents have seen first-hand how extraction and other processes linked to mining cause pollution. The video below was produced by Corporación PODION, as part of the project “Caravan for the awareness and collection of complaints in defense of the land and the environment within the department of Santander”. It was carried out in October 2014 with the goal of highlighting different complaints and testimonies regarding the violation of environmental rights in the region:
The Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America explained the seriousness of the situation in Vélez and Landázuri in a statement:
La comunidad de estos dos municipios, se ha opuesto de manera enérgica ante el inminente deterioro de sus condiciones de vida y el grave daño ambiental que implicará la explotación de 60.000 toneladas de carbón al mes tomando 3 lt/seg de agua, lo que implica más de 93 millones de litros de agua anual, el vertimiento de 0.83 lt/seg , es decir, más de 25 millones de litros de agua contaminada vertida sobre sus territorios y, la remoción de más de 821.955 metros cúbicos de madera nativa, entre ceibas, roble y caracolí.
The community of these two municipalities has vigorously opposed the imminent deterioration of their living conditions and the serious environmental damage that the exploitation of 60,000 tonnes of coal monthly using 3 litres/sec of water will entail. This means more than 93 millions of litres of water yearly at a flow of 0.83 litres/sec. In other words, more than 25 million litres of contaminated water discharged over the land as well as the removal of more than 821, 955 cubic metres of native trees amongst which kapok, oak and cashew can be found.
Photos of the environmental damage caused by mining have circulated on Twitter:
— jhoney (@J_honey20) junio 9, 2014
ecocide in Santander, thousands of fish dead because of Hidrosogamoso
Twitter users have also expressed their disagreement with the mining developments in the region:
Imagínense esa locura. Santander es una zona inestable geológicamente y pretenden hacer minería y piscinas con cianuro. Un suicidio.
— yoligrilla (@yoligrilla) noviembre 25, 2014
Just imagine the craziness of this. Santander is a geologically unstable area and they are trying to mine and make cyanide pools there. Suicide.
Following the case of Reina Maraz, a Bolivian Quechua who was detained in Argentina for three years without knowing why, the Court of Buenos Aires province has approved the Registry of Translators for Indigenous Languages.
According to research from the Instituto Nacional de Asuntos Indígenas (National Institute of Indigenous Affairs), during 2004-2005 it recognized the existence of 38 native people communities based on a Complementary Poll of Indigenous Communities from Argentina:
Los pueblos con mayor población a nivel nacional en orden descendente son: el pueblo Mapuche con 113.680, el pueblo Kolla con 70.505 y el pueblo Toba con 69.452 habitantes. En cuanto a los de menor población, se encuentran los pueblos Quechua con 561, los Chulupí con 553, los Sanavirón con 528, los Tapiete con 484 y por último, el pueblo Maimará con 178 habitantes.
Similar registers already exist in Peru, with its Registry of Interpreters of Indigenous and Native Languages, and Bolivia, whose General Law of Linguistic Rights and Policies outlines its main objectives as:
1. Reconocer, proteger, promover, difundir, desarrollar y regular los derechos lingüísticos individuales y colectivos de los habitantes del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia.
2. Generar políticas públicas y obligaciones institucionales para su implementación, en el marco de la Constitución Política del Estado, convenios internacionales y disposiciones legales en vigencia.
3. Recuperar, vitalizar, revitalizar y desarrollar los idiomas oficiales en riesgo de extinción, estableciendo acciones para su uso en todas las instancias del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia.
¡Hola! Mi nombre es Alejandra Baca, pero todos me dicen Ale, excepto los doctores, ellos me dicen “Karlita”. Vivo en Chihuahua, México. Me gusta estudiar, bailar, leer y salir con mis amigos. Estudio la Lic. en Administración y soy misionera.
Hi! My name is Alejandra Baca, but everyone calls me Ale except the doctors, who call me “Karlita.” I live in Chihuahua, Mexico. I like to study, dance, read, and go out with friends. I'm working on my degree in administration, and I'm a missionary.
The introduction from Alejandra Baca's blog, I Have Cancer and Keep Shining, where she writes about having non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Her cancer was diagnosed when she was 17. After a bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy sessions, she's had to give up modeling.
Los grandes cambios siempre vienen acompañados de una fuerte sacudida. No es el fin del mundo. Es el inicio de uno nuevo.
— Ale Baca (@AleeBaca) January 13, 201
“Big changes are always accompanied by a big blow. It's not the end of the world. It's the beginning of a new one.
February 4th is World Cancer Day (#DiaMundialcontraelCancer).
Höség is a Hungarian word that means heat, and that's what supportive people are giving children in the highest zones of Peruvian Andes, where temperatures are so low that “it's winter every day after five in the afternoon”.
Warm and functional. Thought on the needs of children who live over 9800 f.a.s.l. Waterproof and windproof. With fiberfill and fleece lining to keep warm but also comfortable. Hood, elastic cuffs and high collar neck to keep the cold out.
Coral color inspired by cochinilla, a natural dye from the Peruvian Andes, making it visible from a distance.
A happy jacket for kids between 0 and 16 years.
A jacket designed with love.
Nuestro mensaje a los niños cuando le entregamos las casacas va más allá del simple hecho de abrigar, es darles calor humano.
Our message to children when we hand them the jackets goes beyond the simple fact of getting them warm, it's to bring them love and affection.
The jackets are personally delivered by Sznak and his brothers, the brains and hearts behind Höség.