Latest stories from Quick Reads + Latin America
A collaborator of Proyecto Matria [es] shot a video about the Puerto Rican feminist non governmental organization in English, as a gift and a way to spread the word about the wonderful work they do. Proyecto Matria supports the development of women by offering alternative housing and comprehensive services in areas such as education, psychosocial support, and entrepreneurship to overcome situations of violence and gender discrimination.
The website Indigenous News analizes a report carried out by BMC Psychiatry which studied 748 children, whose ages range between 9 and 15, from nine different schools attended by low socioeconomic classes in the city of Arica, in northern Chile. Out of the total number of children that took part of the study, 37% were Aymara.
Aymara families live a traditional lifestyle. Elders advise the youth, mothers take care of household tasks and educate the children, while fathers are the bread-winners and often make family decisions.
The study concludes:
Although Aymara children have migrated from the high Andean plateau to the city, this migration has not resulted in a greater presence of anxiety and depressive symptoms. Greater involvement with the Aymara culture may be a protective factor against anxiety and depressive symptoms in Aymara children. This point to an additional benefit of maintaining cultural traditions within this population.
A video by WITNESS on the Human Rights Channel of YouTube wrapped up some of the most significant protests and human rights abuses of 2013. Dozens of clips shot by citizens worldwide are edited together to show efforts to withstand injustice and oppression, from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, Cambodia to Brazil.
A post on the WITNESS blog by Madeleine Bair from December 2013, celebrates the power of citizen activism using new technologies including video, while readers are reminded that the difficulty of verification and establishing authenticity remains a big obstacle.
“Citizen footage can and is throwing a spotlight on otherwise inaccessible places such as prisons, war zones, and homes,” says Bair. “But given the uncertainties inherent in such footage, reporters and investigators must use it with caution.”
In El Salvador, “results show Salvador Sanchez Ceren (FMLN) winning 49%, just short of the 50% he needed to win in the first round. Norman Quijano (ARENA) is in second place with 39%,” writes Boz from Bloggings by boz, where he shares “Five points on El Salvador's elections.”
Meanwhile in Costa Rica, The Tico Times reports:
Center-left presidential candidate Luis Guillermo Solís will battle ruling party candidate Johnny Araya in a runoff on April 6 after Solís shocked many in this small Central American country by taking first place in preliminary results released late Sunday night.
Costa Rica’s elections, which were peaceful, showed a growing polarization among progressive and conservative voters.
Online news site El Faro has published a Storify post [es] with early citizen reports and reactions about today's presidential elections in El Salvador. They also have a special section [es] dedicated to the elections where they share photos, tweets and more.
— Glenda Umaña (@glendacnn) February 2, 2014
I found my name on the electoral roll. I'm so excited about voting that I'm in tears!
This is part of the electoral party that is currently taking place in Costa Rica.
Costa Ricans are using the hashtag #VivoMiVoto to share reports and photographs.
David Sasaki shares viral videos and social media memes from Mexico to show how “the meme has been embraced by a Mexican middle class as a tool to confront the impunity of the country’s elite.” For example:
In the same way that literature inevitably builds on the books of the past, memes in Mexico are often inspired by their predecessors. The week after subway riders protested the fare hike, leftist legislators rallied against the proposed energy reform bill, which allows private investment in Pemex, the state oil monopoly. For some reason, one of these legislators decided to strip down to his undies in protest. Twitter users immediately dubbed this decision “#PosMeEncuero,” or “well, then, I’ll just get naked.” It’s a playful example of how Mexicans creatively address their feelings of powerlessness.
The almost-naked legislator then inspired the protesters of the metro fare hike who not only jumped the turnstiles, but did so in their underwear.
You can find more examples in his blog.
Colombian blogger Javier Moreno typed “[Name of country] is” on Google search to see auto-complete suggestions for each country in Latin America and Europe. He modeled his experiment after the English version of the Google search “Why [country] is.”
From his search in Colombia he got results like “Ecuador is dangerous,” “Brazil is a Latin country”, “Bolivia is God's people,” “France is socialist,” “Belguim is expensive,” and “Spain is different.”
He added his results to two maps in his blog Rango Finito [es].
“The Government is appropriating our spiritual values of the Amazon region, it’s seeking to deconceptualize our cultural concepts”, says [Carlos Pérez, President of ECUARUNARI (Confederation of Kichwa Peoples of Ecuador)]. “It doesn’t know what Pachamama is. It doesn’t understand the rights of nature. It doesn’t understand Sumak Kawsay (good living), it doesn’t understand the right to water.”
In Intercontinental Cry journalist Robin Llewellyn writes about repression and indigenous rights under President Rafael Correa.
“He is definitely an outstanding representative of Central American writers 2.0 who use new formats and genres”, she writes. Mildred also shares two micro-stories written by Sánchez Arguello and a link to his blog [es].
Iván's File Cabinet shares some of the must-haves if you want to be a journalist in Cuba.
Blogger Denise Duncan makes a confession [es] on her blog:
¿Por qué voy a viajar 1400 kilómetros para votar por Luis Guillermo Solís? ¿Por qué ir y volver de Barcelona a Madrid en 24 horas? ¡Pero es un voto, nada más!, podría pensarse. ¿Qué diferencia hay? Una: estoy enamorada.
Why am I going to travel 1400 kilometers to vote for Luis Guillermo Solís? Why am I going from Barcelona to Madrid and back in 24 hours? But it's just a vote, nothing else!, you could think. What's the difference? One: I'm in love.
Denise is a Barcelona-based Costa Rican citizen and she'll have to travel from there to Madrid to cast her vote for Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera [es], a candidate running for president in the upcoming elections on February 2, 2014.
She remembers an earlier experience, when she spent 24 hours in a train to meet the man who is now her husband. She ends her confession saying:
Entonces brindaré por lo que viene, por un cambio que hará que mi corazón diga: yo recorrí 1400 kilómetros por dos hombres decentes en mi vida. Uno es mi marido. El otro el Presidente de la República.
Then I'll make a toast for what's yet to come, for a change that will make my heart say: I traveled 1400 kilometers because of two men in my life. One is my husband. The other one is the President of the Republic.
The anonymous Twitter user behind the handle @EnLaCatedral is determined to share [es] the whole content of “Conversation in the Cathedral“, a novel by Literature Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, 140 characters at a time. The novel by the Peruvian author begins with these words republished by @EnLaCatedral:
DESDE LA puerta de La Crónica Santiago mira la avenida Tacna, sin amor: automóviles, edificios desiguales y descoloridos
— Conversación (@EnLaCatedral) enero 16, 2014
FROM THE entrance of [newspaper] La Crónica, Santiago looks at Tacna Avenue, loveless: automobiles, uneven and washed out buildings
Nick MacWilliam from the blog Sounds and Colours has compiled a list of 10 documentaries, “looking at all manner of musical styles and movements from the region, with films focused on Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Venezuela.”
This list makes no attempt to rank the films, nor does it purport that these films are any better or worse than other music documentaries related to South America. The idea is to provide a sample of some of the films out there so that, firstly, they are enjoyed and, secondly, we hope they will open a few doors for our readers into new areas of regional identity.
The films are available online, for free.
Despite the fact that sex work is legal in Honduras, many groups and individuals view their actions as immoral. Those who murder sex workers believe they can literally treat these human beings as garbage to be disposed of. Such violence takes place against the broader backdrop of widespread gender- and sexuality-based violence that imperils women and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) persons all through Honduras.
At least 9 sex workers were killed in San Pedro Sula in less than a month, according to a report by Amnesty International. The organization has released an Urgent Action calling for “exhaustive investigations into these attacks.”
jmc strategies blogs about the issue of Haitian statelessness in the Dominican Republic, specifically addressing anti-Haitian sentiment, questionable labour and living conditions, and forced repatriations, while offering solutions to the impasse.
The interactive platform Ojo al voto [es] wants to provide young voters with useful and straightforward information about the upcoming presidential and legislative elections in Costa Rica, scheduled for February 2, 2014.
The Hivos Central America website explains:
Ojo al voto is an interactive platform, independent from the mainstream media, that combines detailed information about political parties and the profiles and platforms of presidential and legislative candidates with digital storytelling and data visualizations.
This innovative initiative is especially aimed at young voters between the age of 18 and 37, who represent 48 percent of the electorate according to Costa Rica’s Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE). A poll published by the daily newspaper ‘La Nación’ showed that 5 out of 10 young people claimed to be indifferent to politics. Working in this climate of apathy, Ojo al Voto’s challenge is to bring youth closer to politics.
Although dam developers and governments insist that local communities benefit from these projects, the reality on the ground in Panama suggests the opposite: communities are plunged further into poverty, environments are destroyed and irreparable harm is caused. As one witness who is living in the wake of the Chan 75 project said: “The government and the company [AES, a US-based energy global company] promised development but instead they have created a disaster.”
In Intercontinental Cry, Jennifer Kennedy writes about the effect of hydroelectric dam projects on Panamanian Indigenous communities. She concludes:
Both the human and environmental cost of large dam development is undeniable. And communities will continue to defend their livelihoods, environments and resources, staunchly resisting destructive dam development projects.
[All links lead to Portuguese language pages, except where otherwise stated]
The Portuguese language version of the educational manual for human rights “Understanding Human Rights” is available online. The website provides the complete manual in pdf format or divided into chapters, as well as training material, bibliographical references and institutional information specifically aimed at countries with Portuguese as an official language.
Originally [en] developed by the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Graz, Austria, the Portuguese language version was produced by the Institute of International Law and Cooperation with Lusophone Countries and Communities at the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra - “IUS Gentium Conimbrigae” (IGC), also known as Human Rights Centre (CDH):
Com este projeto pretende o IGC/CDH contribuir para uma difusão de informação teórica, prática e de acesso fácil relativa aos direitos humanos, na senda do artº 1º, nº 1, da Declaração das Nações Unidas sobre Educação e Formação em Direitos Humanos, de 2011, segundo a qual “Todas as pessoas têm direito a saber, procurar e receber informações sobre todos os direitos humanos e liberdades fundamentais e devem ter acesso à educação e formação em matéria de direitos humanos”.
With this project, the IGC/CDH seeks to contribute to a dissemination of easily accessible theoretical and practical information relating to human rights, complying with Article 1, nº 1, of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training 2011, according to which “Everyone has the right to know, seek and receive information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms and should have access to human rights education and training”.
In addition to Portuguese, the manual has already been published in 15 other languages [en].
Tim's El Salvador Blog summarizes the first presidential debate ever held in El Salvador:
The three leading presidential candidates Norman Quijano (ARENA), Salvador Sánchez Cerén (FMLN), and Antonio Saca (Unidad), were joined on the stage by two minor candidates, Óscar Lemus (FPS) and René Rodríguez Hurtado (PSP). The debate had four rounds of questions, touching on the topics of education, citizen security, healthcare and the economy.
In the end, I doubt that many minds were changed by this debate, but the fact that the debate took place is yet another step forward for Salvadoran democracy.
Supporters marched in Bogotá and in other major cities to support Mayor Gustavo Petro, who was dismissed from his duties by Colombia's Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado and banned from public office for 15 years.
Mike's Bogotá Blog shares photos and an account of the march on January 10, 2014:
[...] the most widespread motive I heard for backing Petro was on general democratic principles: Ousting him this way, by an extremely conservative unelected official, was anti-democratic.
Kenneth Lowe in Colombia Reports adds:
The former mayor is currently waiting for the inspector general to rule on [his] appeal. The United Nations and the Inter-American Court for Human Rights are also studying claims Ordoñez overreached his authority by removing the elected official from office.
The website Blogueiras Negras (Black Bloggers, in the feminine), has created a list of the 25 most influential Brazilian black women on the Internet [pt].
The list includes human rights advocates, journalists, writers, researchers, feminists, urban artists and more, besides individual and collective blogs and Facebook pages that fight for gender equality and against racism and prejudice in Brazil.
Blogueiras Negras also adds a list of 10 inspiring black women online from around the world.
Santiago, Lima, Mexico City and Oaxaca have been some of the cities in which photographer Carla Mc-Kay has photographed punks, thrashers, transvestites, black metal fans, new waves and otakus, recording their everyday lives in their habitat.
Sentidos Comunes has published Carla Mc-Kay's photographs in a photo essay titled “Street Youth” [es].
Polls show that the election will be a close call between the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional – FMLN) and the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista – ARENA).
The FMLN’s presidential ticket, headed by current vice-president Salvador Sánchez Cerén, is expected to attract the majority of the votes in comparison to the opposition, but not to garner more than the 50% needed to avoid a runoff election.
Many Bolivians are excited that the Dakar Rally off-road race will pass through their national territory. On her personal blog, journalist Fabiola Chambi showcases what tourists that may arrive to her hometown of Tupiza would want to see, as well as some of the prime watching spots along the route [es].
The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is offering a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): “Social Media for Journalists: The Basics.” The free course in English starts February 3 and ends March 9, 2014.
The MOOC will give students an overview of the use of social media in journalism and best practices in finding and distributing news with these tools. Students will learn about the best journalistic uses of professional Facebook and Twitter accounts, where to find sources and story ideas on social media, how to verify information and other ethical considerations, how to cultivate an audience and a brand, developing a content strategy, and measuring success on social media.
Click here to register.
To mark the end of the “official” Christmas season in Puerto Rico, we share some links to the online magazine La Respuesta, which focuses on gathering the experience of the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States, about some thoughts regarding Puerto Rican Christmas traditions by two authors living in the diaspora.
Yessenia Flores Díaz, in her post “Preparando para las Navidades en la Casa de Abuela,” remembers her Christmastime experiences during her childhood while growing up in Brooklyn, New York, when visiting her grandmother's apartment:
You can only imagine the energy inside my abuelita’s tiny two-bedroom apartment during this time of year, the beginning of Advent, when she received her offspring and their offspring and their offspring’s offspring. My family is huge and to give you an idea, my dad is number 17 of 19 children born to Felix and Regina Flores (en paz descanse) in rural Puerto Rico [...]. Yes, you read that correctly. It is not a typo. I come from a large, loving family.
Dorian Ortega, in her post “My Acculturatd Chrismas: An Introduction to Acculturated Stress and Cultural Buffers,” explains the ways that Puerto Rican immigrants have dealt with acculturated stress provoked by suddenly having to live in a culture quite different from theirs. One of thos ways is by holing on to their Christmas traditions:
Puerto Ricans have immigrated to the U.S. for over 60 years and for the first time in this century, outnumber the population in Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans continue to rank highest among Latina/os for mental illnesses and have experienced their share of acculturative stressors. However, studies show that a strong cultural identity and adaptability serve as great protective buffers. My family, like many others, have found ways to hold on to our traditions brought by our ancestors and adapted them for the generations raised in a country with both similar and conflicting values. The holidays have served as a way to relate to one another and bring peace, which helps in times of distress.
Puerto Rico is currently going through one of the worst economic crises in its history. Its public debt reached $70 billion in 2013, an amount that is practically unpayable for the country. The severity of the problem has resulted in Puerto Rico being called “the Greece of the Caribbean” on several occasions.
In this context, Sergio Marxuach, Director of Public Policy for the Center for a New Economy (CNE), a non-partisan think tank dealing with topics related to Puerto Rico's economy, recently wrote an article published originally in the newspaper El Nuevo Día (The New Day) where he reflects [es] upon what awaits Puerto Rico in 2014:
Hemos visto cómo todo lo que parecía sólido en Puerto Rico —los bancos, la propiedad inmueble, la deuda gubernamental— se ha desvanecido en el aire, tal y como advirtiera Karl Marx en 1848. Esto no se debe a una situación coyuntural pasajera, o a que nuestros gobernantes no han sabido utilizar bien los poderes que supuestamente tienen. No. Esta crisis es mucho más profunda y va a requerir en este año que comienza que Puerto Rico tome decisiones de naturaleza moral y existencial.
We have seen how everything that appeared to be solid in Puerto Rico —the banks, real estate, and government debt— has vanished into thin air, just exactly as Karl Marx warned in 1848. This is not due to a passing economic situation, or to our government officials not knowing how to effectively utilize the powers that they supposedly have. No. This crisis is much deeper and it is going to force Puerto Rico to make both moral and existential decisions in the coming year.
The article by Marxuach has been republished on the CNE's webpage and in the online magazine 80 grados [es]. It has also been shared widely on social networks.
Renowned, multi-talented Puerto Rican pianist and composer Brenda Hopkins Miranda has written an article for the online magazine 80 grados in which she asks herself why Puerto Rico has not taken full advantage of its wealth of homegrown musical talent and calls for music to become one of the pilars of the country's economic development [es]. Miranda's piece was motivated by her experience during a recent visit to Costa Rica during which she was struck by the fact that the vast majority of the music being played everywhere from a jazz cafe she visited to the radios of passing cars and on television was pure Puerto Rican. Reflecting on the tremendous amount of music production in Puerto Rico, she writes the following:
Cada vez que viajo lo compruebo: la música es nuestro producto nacional. La música nos distingue. ¡Puerto Rico es música! Cuando estoy en otro país y digo que soy puertorriqueña de lo primero que me hablan usualmente es de nuestra música y nuestros artistas. Aquí lo sabemos. Por algo decimos que en Puerto Rico encuentras un músico “en cada esquina” o “debajo de cualquier piedra”. Estamos hablando de músicos de la más alta calidad. Y por supuesto no son solo nuestros músicos los que se destacan. También sobresale el talento de nuestros reconocidos ingenieros de sonido, luminotécnicos y artistas gráficos entre otros. Ya lo dije antes, el petróleo puertorriqueño es nuestro recurso humano.
Every time I travel I realize it: music is our national product. Music sets us apart. Puerto Rico is music! When I am in another country and I say I am Puerto Rican, the first thing people usually want to talk about is our music and our artists. We know this. That's why in Puerto Rico we say you can find a musician “on every corner” or “under every rock.” We are talking about musicians of the highest caliber. And it is not just our musicians that stand out. The talent of our sound engineers, lighting designers and graphic artists, among others, is also well known. I have said it before, Puerto Rico's petroleum is its people.