In the headlines: Protests take over Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, and Haiti; Argentina puts Peronists back in power; Brazil suffers the largest oil spill in its history while former President Lula is released from prison; and more.
Argentines elected to put Peronists back in power after the presidential election last month. President Mauricio Macri lost the vote to leftist Alberto Fernandez and former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who ran as his running mate. Fernandez won with 47% of the vote, enough to prevent a run-off election, and gained most of his support from those hoping a different party will fix the country’s economic crisis. Many seem optimistic that Fernandez and Kirchner will be able to improve the economy. Fernandez vowed to work with Macri in order to have a seamless transition of power.
After a contentious presidential election last month that led to massive street protests, President Evo Morales resigned following a report from the Organization of American States (OAS) found “clear manipulations” in the vote count. Bolivia’s Electoral Board abruptly halted the public tally with only 83% of votes counted, claiming the stoppage was intended to focus on a slower official calculation. After a 24-hour silence, official election results were announced with 98.4% of the votes counted, giving Morales a 10% lead over Carlos Mesa, just enough to avoid a run-off election. Following the vote, the opposition called for peaceful protests, but clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters were violent, leaving three dead. Roadblocks brought business to a stop, protesters burned government buildings and forced resignations from politicians aligned with Morales, and the military and police supported the protests suggesting Morales resign to bring peace.
By Madeline Asta
‘Machismo’. The idea that masculine pride comes from strength and aggression. A concept that is predominantly associated with Latin American culture and customs, but is also prevalent in societies across the globe. Historically and contemporarily, ‘machismo’ is used to justify male sexual, physical, and emotional dominance, primarily over females. It is the stereotype that the man goes to work and makes a living while the woman stays home to take care of children and clean the house, that men do not cry or need help, and that expressing feelings is a sign of weakness. Local, national, and regional feminist movements have been fighting to change these societal roles and customs. The ‘Green Tide’ brought the issue of abortion to the streets of Argentina, #EleNao spread across social media platforms as women resisted now Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and numerous women fought back against violence through politics. Within the last five years, men have also started taking steps to change this culture. Throughout Brazil, groups and centers aimed at starting dialogue between men about masculinity have developed. The film “O Silêncio dos Homens,” or “The Silence of Men,” was made by Papo de Homem as part of a project to bring awareness and open dialogue surrounding machista culture in Brazil.
“Men are always talking, imposing themselves, interrupting women whenever they talk. They are in places of power. How are men in silence? What I hear most is a man’s voice talking. But there is a difference between talking and actually unveiling oneself […] he talks to maintain an image.”
By Sergio Guzmán
The United States continues to be a global superpower. The US for the time being will continue to influence countries all across Latin America. However, recent events have suggested signs of decline. And as the decline grows more evident, how will the region’s political power rebalance? The election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in Mexico, as well as the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil marks a radical departure from the current status quo. What does this mean for Colombia and Latin America at large?
By Madeline Asta
Two years ago, I sat in a classroom in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and listened as Brazilian university students analyzed the election of US President Donald Trump on an international scale. It was the day after Trump was elected and I was still trying to wrap my brain around the outcome. I felt isolated from my country both physically and emotionally. The students spoke about a right-wing shift the world was undergoing, basing their arguments on their own political atmosphere – which had just seen their leftist president impeached – and the trends they were studying in England, France, and their own region. They predicted that their own country would again shift to the right in their next election, foreshadowing the results of Brazil’s presidential election on October 28.
Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election last weekend with 55.1% of votes against the leftist Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad’s 44.8%. Bolsonaro garnered attention during his campaign for his firm stance on combating the nation’s violence and ridding the government of corruption, which has indicted many high-level politicians since 2014. However, Bolsonaro is also known for his blunt, homophobic, racist, and sexist statements and is referred to as the “Trump of the Tropics” for the similarities in the two politicians’ rhetoric and campaign tactics. Bolsonaro’s election represents the most dramatic political shift in Brazil since it restored democracy in 1988, but the nation is not alone in its turn away from the left. Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and the United States have all recently elected conservative leaders, and this trend sparks questions as to why this shift is occurring and what it could mean for the Western Hemisphere.
Congratulations to the winners of the first annual Open Americas photography contest! We received high-quality submissions from across the hemisphere, making it difficult to select winners.
Images were judged for their ability to capture the richness of the diverse landscapes and environments of the Americas. The beautiful photos below were taken in Mexico, Brazil, the U.S., Colombia, and the Dominican Republic.
First Place, Nathaniel Morris
Second Place, Gabrielle Rocha Rios
Third Place, Eduardo Perme
Honorable Mention, Gabrielle Rocha Rios
Honorable Mention, Camilo Andrés Avila Manjarres
Honorable Mention, Edelio Aviles
By Veronica Hildenbrand and Madeline Asta
The creation of order through military suppression—what critical theorist Mark Neocleous calls, “war as peace [and] peace as pacification”—is designed to provide security for bourgeois social order. Pacification in Rio de Janeiro can thus be viewed as a militaristic, politically-crafted response to social insecurity felt by Rio’s upper classes, magnified by forthcoming mega event preparations that occurred from 2008 to 2016. Nonetheless, social inequality and public insecurity have long inhibited the effective governance of Rio de Janeiro. Following Brazil’s belated abolition of slavery in 1888, informal housing settlements—known as favelas—began to form. These communities, which now accommodate about a quarter of Rio’s population, have endured a history of state abandonment and marginalization of the poor. This, coupled with the consequences of being the territorial domain of armed criminal groups, has led to nearly complete disenfranchisement of more than 1.5 million favela residents. In 2008, to curb notoriously high levels of violence and to rebrand the city for its bid to host upcoming mega events, Rio de Janeiro launched the “Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora” (UPP) program. This program aimed to increase security in the favelas by reinstating state control, and to finally integrate their residents into the formal city. Although the UPP program initially decreased homicide rates, its success has been dismantled by increasing frequency of police perpetrated violence, the persistence of drug trafficking and unmet promises of social benefits, thus facilitating the UPP’s post-Olympic fall.
By Madeline Asta
On Tuesday August 8, Brazilian President Michel Temer asked the Supreme Court (STF) to remove the country’s Attorney General, Rodrigo Janot from power. The decision to remove Janot comes after an August 2 congressional vote to drop passive corruption charges filed by Janot against Temer in June. As Attorney General, Janot established a precedent of convicting high-level politicians for corruption throughout Operação Lava Jato, a set of investigations aimed to fight organized crime within Brazilian politics. Since Operação Lava Jato began in 2014, the investigations have uncovered sweeping political corruption across both political parties and neighboring countries in the Latin American region. However, Temer sees Janot’s charges against him to be attacks founded on personal motivation. Temer claims that Janot is acting “beyond his constitutional limits”, as the attorney general pursues obstruction of justice charges against Temer. Fearing that pending charges will unearth more concrete evidence of corruption, Temer moves to dismiss Janot from the investigations and ensure himself immunity. Riding a wave of confidence following the congressional vote, Temer hopes to solidify his political power by launching a counterattack against the nation’s top prosecutor to destroy his reputation.