Street protests continue to rock Brazil and, frustrated by mainstream media coverage, a new group of citizen journalists is using digital tools to tell a different side of the story
But the battles are not just being waged on the street. Angered by what they see as a misrepresentation of the issues by traditional media, new independent media collectives and networks have emerged over the past year. Armed with smartphones, digital cameras, and apps such as Twitcasting and Twitcam that allow them to broadcast live online, they are presenting their own version of events. Some of them are reaching a huge audience across the country and are now looking to expand their reach internationally.
Although these alliances will primarily be closer to home, most of Latin America is a naturally ally not only because of its increasing trade and commercial relations with China, but because of its common interest in an international political order that favors respect for national sovereignty and independence over unilateral intervention and military force.
In the last week or so much of the international business press has been focused on the problems of financial stability in developing countries, some of whom have recently become more vulnerable to capital outflows.
The main cause is that investors are trying to get the jump on possible moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve to allow U.S. interest rates to rise, which will draw capital from developing countries and cause their borrowing costs to rise.
Argentina has gotten some of this attention, as it allowed the peso to fall by 15 percent in one day and increased some access for Argentines to dollars on the official market.
Venezuela is not so much affected by these market developments, but is always negatively portrayed in the international media, and more so in the last year since its exchange rate system problems have caused its inflation to rise to an annual rate of 56 percent over the past year.
The two countries face different sets of problems, but they will both likely have to stabilize their exchange rates in order to resolve them.
This is where international help can make a big difference, and there is one country that has both the ability to help and a compelling interest in doing so: China.
China has already helped Venezuela with tens of billions of dollars of loans – much of which has already been repaid – as well as investment.
It has also provided significant lending and investment in Ecuador, Cuba, Brazil, and other countries. But there is more that they could do at this moment.
Gordon Duff first reported in Veterans Today another financial scandal motive for the Repubs wanting to hold up Obama Care. New regulations were going into effect to stop the cross collateralization of insurance company reserves, who are all owned by banks, so they could be market traded. The sums involved were astronomical.
“The Obama Care issue is about ‘funds in management.’ The health insurance industry, through investment banks and hedge funds, accounts for 35% of the entire investment capital of the United States.
This sector has been totally unregulated with, not just individual policyholders but industries and government forced to subsidize a health care Ponzi scheme where in some cases fewer than 3% of policy premiums were paid back in benefits.”
The America media, like a long chain of administrations, never really seems to understand the South American psyché, in all of its national complexity, nor what is going on there. So there is very little coverage or attention, and what there is trades in stereotypes and shallow commentary. In contrast I think the nations of our Southern Hemisphere, are undergoing an extraordinary transition, which constitutes one of the most interesting geopolitical developments going on. As you read this keep in mind Uruguay’s recent legalization of marijuana.
Brazil: The demonstrations are starting to turn violent. The day after the government revoked the transportation fare increases the demonstrations swelled again and engaged in more aggressive clashes with police.
President Dilma Rousseff decided to call off a visit to Japan that was planned for next week. The forthcoming visit by Pope Francis might also have to be rescheduled if the demonstrations continue.
In Rio de Janeiro riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at groups of masked young men trying to approach the City Hall late on Thursday. At least 29 people were reported to be injured in the clashes.
Some reports suggest about 300,000 people were taking part in an anti-government rally in the city. One news service reported more than 800,000 people participated in demonstrations in the major Brazilian cities
Comment: The polling agency, Datafolha, published its findings from a poll of the demonstrators in Sao Paulo yesterday. More than half of the demonstrators are under 25. Seventy-seven percent have higher education. Eighty-four percent back no political party, suggesting they do not vote.
The dominant issue for more than half was the fare increase which has been withdrawn. Corruption, a better transportation system, against all politicians and against violence and repression were distant other issues.
What the poll and anecdotal reports indicate is that the beneficiaries of Brazilian prosperity are protesting. The poll found no poor or disadvantaged people and few unemployed among the protestors. Brazil has low unemployment even for workers under age 25. The protestors have no organization or leadership. They gather by cell-phone notification. Expect the demonstrations to expand this weekend and become more violent.
Brazil: The largest anti-government demonstrations in 20 years, according to news analysts, have continued for five days in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and eight other cities. News reports said 65,000 people demonstrated in Sao Paulo and over 100,000 marched in Rio. Social networking enabled coordinated marches in Sao Paulo, Rio and Belo Horizonte. Most of the demonstrations have been peaceful.
President Dilma Rousseff said in a brief statement, “Peaceful demonstrations are legitimate and part of democracy. It is natural for young people to demonstrate.”
No deaths have been reported. About 200 people have been injured around the country.
Comment: An increase in the cost of public transportation in Sao Paulo sparked the first demonstrations, which flash mob tactics swelled. As the demonstrations spread, demonstrators said they were protesting government corruption, poor economic conditions, criminal violence and lack of public safety, official spending for the Olympics in 2016 and the World Cup in 2014 and rising prices.
The government response has been much more restrained than that of the Turkish government and the violence has been much less. Nevertheless, the phenomenology looks very similar.
The police said they would not intervene to stop the demonstrations provided they did not result in property destructions. A small group of protestors in Rio set a car on fire. The car fire prompted the clash with police, which dominated international media coverage and misrepresented the peaceful nature of the demonstrations.
At last week’s annual summit of the Organization of American States, Latin American leaders distanced themselves from the United States’ drug policies and agreed to consider the widespread legalization of marijuana.
The OAS summit “was really a tipping point for this movement” to end the war on drugs, said Pedro Abramovay, a campaign director for Avaaz, a global nonprofit group that has petitioned the OAS to liberalize its drug policies.
The move comes as Uruguay debates a bill to legalize the production and sale of pot (it is already legal there for personal use) and as Chile considers decriminalizing it. Latin American leaders also have kept a close eye on how Colorado and Washington, having legalized marijuana, will go about regulating its consumption.
At the summit, which wrapped up on Friday in Antigua, Guatemala, delegates reviewed a recent OAS study that explores a range of options for a new regional drug policy that might include legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis, and even abandoning the fight against the coca production in some areas. “Never before has a multilateral organization engaged in such an inclusive and intellectually legitimate analysis of drug policy options,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. The delegates agreed to create a high-level commission to debate the study and make policy suggestions.
A shocking report detailing horrific atrocities committed against Brazilian Indians in the 1940s, 50s and 60s has resurfaced – 45 years after it was mysteriously ‘destroyed’ in a fire.
The Figueiredo report was commissioned by the Minister of the Interior in 1967 and caused an international outcry after it revealed crimes against Brazil’s indigenous population at the hands of powerful landowners and the government’s own Indian Protection Service (SPI). The report led to the foundation of tribal rights organization Survival International two years later.
The 7,000-page document, compiled by public prosecutor Jader de Figueiredo Correia, detailed mass murder, torture, enslavement, bacteriological warfare, sexual abuse, land theft and neglect waged against Brazil’s indigenous population. Some tribes were completely wiped out as a result and many more were decimated.
The report was recently rediscovered in Brazil’s Museum of the Indian and will now be considered by Brazil’s National Truth Commission, which is investigating human rights violations which occurred between 1947 and 1988.
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Other examples include the poisoning of hundreds of Indians with sugar laced with arsenic, and severe methods of torture such as slowly crushing the victims’ ankles with an instrument known as the ‘trunk’.
Last Monday, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC) met for its second summit in Santiago, Chile, one year after its founding meeting in Caracas, Venezuela in 2011. The Summit is the culmination of roughly a decade of efforts to create a viable mechanism for greater integration in the Americas, and particularly a year of planning by a “troika” of representatives from, believe it or not, Chile, Venezuela and Cuba. They were able to pull it off successfully, despite their obvious differences, and all 33 presidents or heads of state from the region attended, with the exception of Hugo Chavez from Venezuela, who sent a letter with his Vice-President Nicolás Maduro.
CELAC explicitly excludes the US and Canada, a historic first for a hemispheric organization with huge symbolic importance, because it answers a long-standing dream for unity of the subcontinent that harks back to Simón Bolívar and the struggles for independence from the European colonial powers. Beyond the symbolism, however, it is strategically crucial: It means that there is now a subcontinent bloc of developing nations that can speak with one voice,, and also serve as a counterweight to US political and economic hegemony.
The Swiss Federal Institute (SFI) in Zurich released a study entitled “The Network of Global Corporate Control” that proves a small consortiums of corporations – mainly banks – run the world. A mere 147 corporations which form a “super entity” have control 40% of the world’s wealth; which is the real economy. These mega-corporations are at the center of the global economy. The banks found to be most influential include:
• Goldman Sachs
• JPMorgan Chase & Co
• Vanguard Group
• Deutsche Bank
• Bank of New York Melon Corp
• Morgan Stanley
• Bank of America Corp
• Société Générale
However as the connections to the controlling groups are networked throughout the world, they become the catalyst for global financial collapse.
Forecasts of Abundance Collide with Planetary Realities
Last winter, fossil-fuel enthusiasts began trumpeting the dawn of a new “golden age of oil” that would kick-start the American economy, generate millions of new jobs, and free this country from its dependence on imported petroleum. Ed Morse, head commodities analyst at Citibank, was typical. In the Wall Street Journal he crowed, “The United States has become the fastest-growing oil and gas producer in the world, and is likely to remain so for the rest of this decade and into the 2020s.”
Once this surge in U.S. energy production was linked to a predicted boom in energy from Canada’s tar sands reserves, the results seemed obvious and uncontestable. “North America,” he announced, “is becoming the new Middle East.” Many other analysts have elaborated similarly on this rosy scenario, which now provides the foundation for Mitt Romney’s plan to achieve “energy independence” by 2020.
By employing impressive new technologies — notably deepwater drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or hydro-fracking) — energy companies were said to be on the verge of unlocking vast new stores of oil in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and shale formations across the United States. “A ‘Great Revival’ in U.S. oil production is taking shape — a major break from the near 40-year trend of falling output,” James Burkhard of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in January 2012.
Increased output was also predicted elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere, especially Canada and Brazil. “The outline of a new world oil map is emerging, and it is centered not on the Middle East but on the Western Hemisphere,” Daniel Yergin, chairman of CERA, wrote in the Washington Post. “The new energy axis runs from Alberta, Canada, down through North Dakota and South Texas… to huge offshore oil deposits found near Brazil.”
It turns out, however, that the future may prove far more recalcitrant than these prophets of an American energy cornucopia imagine. To reach their ambitious targets, energy firms will have to overcome severe geological and environmental barriers — and recent developments suggest that they are going to have a tough time doing so.