Will Chile be the next to join South America's growing anti-imperialist bloc? Michelle Bachelet will certainly not prove a radical populist like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez or Bolivia's newly-elected Evo Morales. But she could prove a more moderate member of the bloc, like Brazil's Lula de Silva, Argentina's Néstor Kirchner or Uruguay's Tabare Vazquez. (Peru could be next, where candidate Ollanta Humala is cut from the more radical mold.) From the AP, Jan. 16:
From Reuters Dec. 9:
The founder of Argentina's leading human rights group was laid to rest yesterday, 28 years after she was abducted during the country's military dictatorship. Family and friends buried the ashes of Azucena Villaflor on a prominent Buenos Aires plaza that for many Argentines has come to symbolize the fight for justice by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. The group of mothers, often seen wearing white handkerchiefs, have pressed for a full accounting of their sons and daughters, who went missing during Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship known as the ''Dirty War." ''Azucena rest in peace, this is your place," said Marta Vazquez, one of the mothers. Villaflor was kidnapped by state security agents in December 1977. Forensic experts identified her remains in July after they were unearthed in a cemetery on the outskirts of the Argentine capital.
Some 30,000-40,000 people marched through a heavy rain on Nov. 4 in the Argentine seaside resort of Mar del Plata, in Buenos Aires province, to protest the presence of US president George W. Bush among the 32 heads of state in the city to attend the Nov. 4-5 Fourth Summit of the Americas. The march was led by Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Bolivian leftist presidential candidate and coca growers leader Evo Morales, and Hebe de Bonafini of the human rights group Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.
From Chile's English-language Santiago Times, Oct. 14:
Second-To-Last Yagana Woman Dies Of A Heart Attack
The second-to-last member of Chile's pre-colonial Yagán tribe, 84-year-old Emelinda Acuña, died on Wednesday, taking with her the traditions, stories, and secrets of a little-known indigenous population. The only remaining pureblooded member of the Yagán tribe is now Acuña's sister-in-law, Cristina Calderón.
On Oct. 3 some 300 Paraguayan indigenous people from the departments of Canindeyu, Alto Paraguay, Caaguazu, San Pedro and Caazapa arrived in Asuncion and began a protest encampment in the Plaza Italia to demand that Congress approve reforms to Law 904/81, the Statute of Indigenous Communities. The Chamber of Deputies is currently debating the reforms, which would allow the country's indigenous communities to participate in decisions affecting them; an indigenous council's role in decision-making was eliminated under a separate law passed last year.
Controversy is raging in Paraguay, where the U.S. military is conducting secretive operations. 500 U.S. troops arrived in the country on July 1st with planes, weapons and ammunition. Eyewitness reports prove that an airbase exists in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay, which is 200 kilometers from the border with Bolivia and may be utilized by the U.S. military. Officials in Paraguay claim the military operations are routine humanitarian efforts and deny that any plans are underway for a U.S. base. Yet human rights groups in the area are deeply worried.
Dozens of protesters shouted, "Rumsfeld, you fascist, you are the terrorist," on Aug. 17 as US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld presented a floral offering at the Tomb of the Heroes in downtown Asuncion during a brief visit to Paraguay. The protest was organized by the Peace and Justice Service-Paraguay (SERPAJ-PY), which called Rumsfeld's visit "an extension of the process of war" by the US against the region. Rumsfeld arrived in Paraguay on Aug. 16 to start a three-day visit to the region.
Early on Aug. 2, unidentified individuals broke into and used homemade explosives to set fire to the Quebracho Poty community radio station at the San Ramon Nonato parish in Puerto Casado, Paraguay. No one was hurt, but the attack left virtually the entire station destroyed. Some people believe the attack may have been carried out by employees of the Victoria company, owned by the World Unification Church of Korean businessperson Sun Myung Moon.