Indigenous communities throughout Mexico protest presidential election, press for self-rule
- Residents have banned political parties, destroyed protest signs, patrolled streets for campaign paraphernalia, and blocked ballot delivery throughout small towns in the western state of Michoacán as anti-government sentiment has grown.
- Seven municipalities covering 16 towns and at least 50,000 voters have decided to opt out of the election, and Maya communities in Guerrero and Chiapas have begun mobilizing as well.
- Although popular leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has advocated for Mexico’s indigenous communities in the past, historical and ongoing neglect by and corruption in the government has led many indigenous Mexicans to disengage and push for greater autonomy.
“Indigenous Mexicans spurn presidential vote with blockades, bulldozers” (Reuters | June 2018)
“The Mexican indigenous community that ran politicians out of town” (The Guardian | April 2018)
“Mexico’s Indigenous Council Continues Campaign Despite Violence” (teleSUR English | January 2018)
Afro-Brazilian Women’s Mobilization Moment
The current global push for the redress of epidemic violence against women—from #NiUnaMenos to #MeToo—has long been of national concern in Brazil, with women sharing stories of sexual assault via #MeuPrimeiroAssedio (#MyFirstHarassment) and demonstrations for reproductive rights having sought to counter entrenched conservative religious interests. For Afro-Brazilian women, this is part of decades of mobilization that has attempted to draw attention to both material and ideological disparities threatening their security. High homicide and sexual violence rates, reproductive healthcare limitations, anti-black beauty standards, and lack of positive cultural representation have led activists to demand attention to institutions and cultural practices that they argue have marginalized their welfare. From mass demonstrations to digital organizing, black women have taken the lead in movements for both racial and gender justice, challenging Brazil’s deeply embedded ideology of colorblindness and calling instead for more research into and accountability for persistent economic and cultural disparities.
“Beyond #MeToo, Brazilian women rise up against racism and sexism” (The Conversation, via Salon | January 2018)
“Afro-Brazilian Feminists and the Fight for Racial and Gender Inclusion” (Black Perspectives | February 2017)
“Black Women March Against Violence in Brazil” (teleSUR | November 2015)
“Interview with Djamila Ribeiro: Fighting Racism and Sexism in Post-Coup Brazil” (The Council on Hemispheric Affairs | December 2017)
“Black Brazilian Feminists Say: ‘Autonomy is the Only Way.’” (For Harriet | July 2015)
“Brazil: Report Exposes High Rates of Rape Among Women, Girls” (teleSUR | January 2018)
“The campaigners challenging misogyny and sexism in Brazil” (The Guardian | December 2015)
Geledés Black Woman Institute
Black Women of Brazil
New database catalogs human rights violations for the Caribbean’s vulnerable communities
- The Shared Incidents Database (SID) will document violations affecting people with HIV, sex workers, people with substance addiction, gay and bisexual men, trans people, vulnerable youth, migrants, and the incarcerated.
- The database is a collaboration between the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral (COIN), based in the Dominican Republic.
- Human rights and social justice organizations across the Caribbean are being trained in the use of SID, which creators envision as a tool in program development, policy creation, petitioning, and reporting.
“Caribbean’s first online human rights database launched” (The Jamaica Observer | May 2017)
“New Database Aims to Track Rights Violations of Caribbean’s Most Vulnerable Communities” (Global Voices | May 2017)
“Caribbean’s First Online Human Rights Incidence Database Launched” (Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition | May 2017)
Panama announces plans to crack down on immigration from Colombia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua
- Panamanian officials have announced new restrictions on immigration from the three countries, including conducting financial checks and shortening the duration of tourist permits from 180 days to 90 days.
- Anti-immigration sentiment has grown over the last year, with Colombians and Venezuelans particularly targeted and maligned as connected to drug trafficking and other crime in the country.
- Around 250,000 have immigrated to Panama from the three countries since 2010.
“Panama to Crack Down on Immigration, Colombians and Venezuelans” (teleSUR | May 2017)
“Panama cuts stays for Colombians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans” (The Associated Press via The Washington Post | May 2017)
“Panama to tighten immigration policy for Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua” (Reuters | May 2017)
The Uncertain Task of Defining Race in Brazilian Affirmative Action
The redress of racial injustice in Brazil, long stymied by the country’s reputation as a “racial democracy,” has gained increasing political attention thanks to the work of black activists across the nation. Brazil’s recent attempts to install socioeconomic and racial quotas in public university admissions have created a number of challenges as fraud and race-policing have pitted student against student in ensuring fair enforcement, particularly as verification committees decide race based on appearance rather than heritage. Foreign Policy and The Globe and Mail examine the volatile debates surrounding Brazil’s new affirmative action policies and the general uneasiness the country has experienced as it has begun to address the long history of discrimination against its black, brown, and indigenous citizens.
“Brazil’s New Problem With Blackness” (Foreign Policy | April 2017)
“Black or white? In Brazil, a panel will decide for you” (The Globe and Mail | January 2017)
(Image Credit: Tiago Mazza Chiaravalloti/NurPhoto, via Foreign Policy)
Severe drug shortages leave Venezuelans with epilepsy and their families struggling
- With 85 of every 100 drugs missing, Venezuela faces an acute shortage of pharmaceutical drugs needed to treat a range of otherwise manageable illnesses, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, HIV, and cancer.
- Families report traveling hundreds of miles to obtain necessary drugs, sourcing from abroad, and taking expired or inappropriate medication.
- President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the shortage on a right-wing plot to overthrow him and announced new counteractive investments, although little progress has been seen.
“Epileptics struggle amid drug shortages in Venezuela” (Reuters | March 2017)
“Venezuela Is Falling Apart” (The Atlantic | May 2016)
“‘You name it, we can’t treat it.’” (Caracas Chronicles | March 2016)
“Falta de medicinas descompensa a los pacientes psiquiátricos” (El Universal | August 2014)
(Image Credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlings/Reuters)
Budget cuts and proposed land rights and environmental rollbacks threaten indigenous communities in Brazil
- Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI), the government agency responsible for the protection of indigenous communities, faces large budget cuts under President Michel Temer’s government that advocates say could increase the insecurity of indigenous groups, particularly of the more than 100 uncontacted groups in the country.
- A draft decree seeks to increase the level of scrutiny applied in the demarcation of indigenous land reservations, annulling certain previously secured land rights and making the recognition of new claims considerably more difficult.
- A proposed bill seeks to overhaul environmental licensing protocol, shifting from federally managed licensing procedures to flexible, state-based determinations of licensing necessity for agricultural and land-use projects.
“Temer government set to overthrow Brazil’s environmental agenda” (Mongabay)
“Brazil’s plan to roll back environment laws draws fire: ‘The danger is real’” (The Guardian)
“Brazil budget cuts put uncontacted Amazon tribe at risk, say activists” (The Guardian)
(Image Credit: Ricardo Stuckert/The Guardian)