Southern Cone
quilombo

Military Police evict land occupation in Brazil

Brazilian Military Police completed the eviction of a long-standing land occupation called Quilombo Campo Grande in Minas Gerais state, after a struggle of almost three days. Police brought in armored vehicles and fired tear-gas to clear the community from the land, before moving in to destroy homes and crops. Also demolished was the Eduardo Galeano Popular School, where children, youth and adults studied together. The Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), whose followers established the squatter community on the abandoned lands of a bankrupt sugar mill 22 years ago, protested that the mass eviction leaves some 450 families homeless in the midst of a pandemic. (Photo: MST via Brasil de Fato)

Southern Cone
curacautin

Chile: Mapuche mobilize after racist mob attacks

Chile’s Mapuche indigenous people are holding emergency community meetings in their territory to discuss how to respond to a wave of racist attacks. The most serious incident occurred in Curacaut√≠n, Araucan√≠a region, where a group of Mapuche protesters were holding an occupation of the municipal building. The protest had been called in solidarity with Celestino C√≥rdova, a Mapuche leader imprisoned in relation to a conflict over land rights, and now on hunger strike to demand his freedom. The protesters were set upon by a mob, who ejected them from the municipal building before beating them in the street and setting several of their vehicles on fire.¬†The attackers used racist slurs and slogans such as “¬°Quer√≠an terrorismo, ac√° tienen terrorismo!” (You wanted terrorism, now you have terrorism!). The Carabineros looked on but did not interfere, only acting afterwards to remove remnant protesters from the building. (Photo:¬†Resumen, Concepci√≥n)

Southern Cone
santiago protest

Protests erupt in Santiago, S√£o Paulo

Protesters and riot police clashed on the outskirts of the Chilean capital Santiago, amid growing anger over food shortages during the lockdown imposed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Police deployed armored vehicles, water cannons and tear-gas to put down protests in the poor district of El Bosque. Residents blocked traffic and hurled stones at police in running clashes that lasted most of the day. Sporadic incidents were also reported in other parts of the city. Nightly pot-banging protests have been held for weeks in several neighborhoods, promoted under the hashtag #CacerolasContraElHambre‚ÄĒor, pot-banging against hunger.¬†That same day, hundreds poured out of the favelas to fill the main streets of S√£o Paulo, Brazil. In an audacious move, the favela residents marched on the state governor’s palace, demanding more support in the face of the lockdown. (Photo: Piensa Presna)

Southern Cone
Plaza Dignidad

Chile: protest against ‘new normality’

For the first time since Chile was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, protesters gathered in Santiago’s Plaza Italia‚ÄĒwhich had been renamed “Plaza Dignidad” during last year’s popular uprising. Demonstrators were opposing President Sebasti√°n Pi√Īera’s call for the country to return to work under a “new normality,” in spite of the COVID-19 threat. The protesters wore masks, but were nonetheless quickly dispersed by the Carabineros, with 14 arrested. Gatherings of more than 50 continue to be banned nationwide. (Photo via Twitter)

Southern Cone
lithium

Chile: indigenous win a round in lithium struggle

The¬†First Environmental Tribunal in the Chile’s northern city of Antofagasta¬†ruled in favor of indigenous communities that had brought suit against Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM), the world’s second-largest miner of lithium. The court found SQM’s compliance plan for water preservation submitted to Chile’s Environment Superintendency (SMA) was “insufficient,” citing the “particular fragility” of the lithium-rich but extremely arid salt-flats where the company hopes to expand operations, the Salar de Atacama. Under the ruling, SQM must submit a new compliance plan, pay multi-million fines to the SMA for being out of compliance, or suspend operations. “We must protect sensitive ecosystems even more when they constitute the ancestral habitat of our native peoples whom the State of Chile is obliged to protect,” the court’s chief justice, Mauricio Oviedo, said in a statement. The case was brought by the local Council of Atacame√Īo Pueblos, representing the impacted indigenous communities of Peine and Camar. (Photo:¬†First Environmental Tribunal of Antofagasta)

Southern Cone
Chile protest

Chile to vote on new constitution next year

Chile’s President Sebastian Pi√Īera signed a law allowing a referendum on a new constitution for the country. The law was passed by the Chilean congress following more than two months of mass protests. The referendum is scheduled for April 26, and asks voters two questions: should Chile have a new constitution; and who should write it, an assembly of elected citizens or an assembly that would include a mix of current lawmakers? Revocation of the Pinochet-era constitution has been a key demand of the protest movement, which began with an uprising against transit fare hikes in Santiago. (Photo:¬†Carlos Figueroa/Wikimedia via Jurist)

Southern Cone
Chile protests

UN documents rights abuses in Chile protests

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a new report¬†that international human rights norms had been violated by both police and army personnel during the recent mass protests in Chile which led the government to declare a state of emergency. The report said that these rights violations should be prosecuted. The 30-page report, based on research during the first three weeks of November, extensively details multiple allegations, including of torture, and rape and other forms of sexual violence, against people held in detention. The leader of the OHCHR mission in Chile, Imma Guerras-Delgado, told journalists in Geneva, that the overall management of demonstrations by the police “was carried out in a fundamentally repressive manner.” (Photo: KaosEnLaRed)

Southern Cone
Salar de Atacama

Chile: lithium interests under pressure by uprising

Chilean company Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM), under pressure from the government amid falling prices and rising protests, committed to define by year’s end the destination for lithium from its lease area at the Salar de Maricunga. SQM, one of the world’s top producers, already has a larger lithium mine in production at another area of salt-flats, the Salar de Atacama‚ÄĒbut operations there were suspended for several days¬†as campesinos blocked roads to the site as part of the popular uprising in Chile. Leaders of the Consejo de Pueblos Atacame√Īos, representing 18 indigenous communities, pledged to resist any expansion of lithium operations in the area, citing threats to local water sources.¬†(Photo via¬†El Ciudadano)

Southern Cone
Montevideo protest

Uruguay: mass march against militarization

Some 60,000 marched in Montevideo against the “Vivir sin Miedo” (Live Without Fear) campaign, an anti-crime initiative that goes before the voters in this week’s elections in Uruguay. The referendum, pushed by Sen. Jorge Larra√Īaga of the right-wing National Party, would create a new military police force, the National Guard; allow security forces to carry out night raids; and impose mandatory life terms for serious crimes. The group Madres y Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos, made up of survivors of those “disappeared” during the years of military rule in Uruguay, issued a statement warning that approval of the initiative could be a step back toward dictatorship. (Photo:¬†La Izquierda Diario)

Southern Cone

Chile: Mapuche join protest mobilization

Leaders of Chile’s Mapuche indigenous people announced their support for the massive protests that are sweeping the country, saying they will press their demands for local autonomy in their traditional territories. Auc√°n Huilcam√°nn of the Consejo de Todas las Tierras (Council of All Lands) made the declaration in the city of Temuco, Araucan√≠a region, standing beside Marcelo Catrillanca‚ÄĒfather of a young Mapuche man killed by the paramilitary Carabineros last year, an outrage that sparked local protests. Camilo Catrillanca was shot in the back last November while working his lands in the community of Temucuicui. He had been driving his tractor away from an outpost of the Carabineros’ Special Police Operations Group (GOPE)‚ÄĒthe same elite force that now being unleashed on protesters in Chile’s cities. Four ex-Carabineros have been arrested in the case.¬†(Photo:¬†Soy Chile)

Southern Cone
Santiago protest

Econo-protests from Santiago to Beirut

A state of emergency has been declared in Chile following protests that initially erupted over transit fare hikes in Santiago but quickly escalated to an uprising over general economic agony. Youth have blocked thoroughfares, burned buses and ransacked shops, while whole families have filled the streets in a nationwide cacerolazo‚ÄĒbeating pots and pans to express outrage over the high cost of living. Protesters have similarly taken the streets, erected barricades and clashed with police in Lebanon, where a state of “economic emergency” has been declared. Again, demonstrations were initially sparked by government plans to impose a tax on text messaging, but protests have continued even after the tax was rescinded in response to the upsurge of popular anger. Demonstrators have revived the slogan from the 2011 Arab Revolution, “The people demand the fall of the regime.” (Photo: KaosEnLaRed)

Southern Cone
Italy

Calabrian connection in Brazil narco busts

Brazilian police¬†arrested a man accused as a leader of the notorious First Capital Command drug gang, who was named as a top contact in South America of southern Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta crime network. “Andre do Rap,” detained in Sao Paolo in an operation that included US DEA agents, is said to have overseen massive cocaine exports to Europe via Italy’s southern region of Calabria.¬†In July, police arrested two Italian nationals at a luxury seaside apartment in Sao Paulo, who were also said to be ‘Ndrangheta operatives. A month earlier, accused top ‘Ndrangheta figure Rocco Morabito escaped from a prison in Uruguay‚ÄĒangering Rome, which had been awaiting his extradition. (Map:¬†Perry-Casta√Īeda Library Map Collection)