Every 4 years, the world’s attention turns to the US presidential election. It is widely seen as the most important election in the world, and it’s hard to argue that it will be any less than that this year. In a time of racial injustice, climate crisis and global pandemic, many in America have been looking for their politicians to put forward an inspiring, achievable vision of the future. Instead they have a choice between an egomaniacal incumbent and a lacklustre opposition.
by Yali Banton-Heath
It was deeply saddening to read that prominent environmental campaigner and lawyer, Polly Higgins, sadly passed away on Sunday. Her efforts and contribution towards the global environmental struggle have been both immensely brave and intensely important, thus she and her work must not go unforgotten.
by Chris Jarvis
CW: torture, rape, political violence
Less than a decade ago, left-wingers across the globe turned towards Latin America as something of a road map towards a more progressive and socialist politics. Many a left tradition could be identified in the range of regimes, leaders and parties that had come to power throughout the region. Evo Morales in Bolivia, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva in Brazil, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Ollanta Humala in Perù, Jose Mujica in Uruguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, the ever present Castros in Cuba, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. The “Pink Tide”, as this phenomena became loosely known, was high, and international awe developed among the left.
Breaking out of the 1990s, in which the global institutions of neoliberalism, from the IMF and the World Bank to the US state and multinational corporations drove an agenda of austerity, privatisation of services and market liberalisation, Governments of the “Pink Tide” brought promise of a better deal for the various Latin American nations which elected them. To greater or lesser degrees, these Governments sought to recentre economies away from international capital and towards the needs of people, increase spending on and provision of welfare and public services – whether through anti-hunger initiatives, healthcare programmes or education projects, and deepen democracy. Across the region, the Pink Tide brought with it decreasing levels of economic inequality, higher literacy rates, reduced poverty and greater levels of health.
In 2017, the legacy of these leftist Governments lies tarnished – and perhaps the most emblematic of this turn is Venezuela.Continue Reading
by Eve Lacroix
When travelling to a new place you know to anticipate that things are not the same as at home— and you will discover in which way quickly enough. This could mean hearing a new language, covering your head and shoulders when entering a place of worship, or drinking a different type of coffee. You may learn to point your feet away from the statue of the Buddha, eat with a fork and spoon, greet people with a kiss on the cheek, or even expect incoming traffic on a different side of the road. Keeping in mind all the differing customs helps to properly respect the historical, spiritual and cultural significance of landmarks, locations, or places of faith.
by Gunnar Eigener
“The time has come for all good men to rise above principle.” Huey Long
In September 1999, the government of Bolivia relinquished control of the water of the city of Cochabamba to a business venture, Aguas del Tunari. Part of the contract required the building of a dam (a long desired vanity project of the city’s mayor, Manfred Reyes Villa) so in order to raise the capital, the price of water was raised by an average of 35%. In blissful ignorance of the workings and realism of Bolivian income and earnings, it was stated that “if people didn’t pay their water bills their water would be turned off.” Massive demonstrations began in early 2000 as the water rates took their toll on families and businesses. The Bolivian government declared a ‘state of siege’ and the demonstrators were met with brute force, warrantless arrests, limited travel and, almost inevitably, the death of protesters and soldiers. It was perhaps the televised recording of the lethal shooting of student Victor Hugo Daze that heralded the end. The business executives were no longer safe and fled the country. The government terminated the contract and demonstrators were released. While hailed as a victory for the people, half of the citizens of Cochabamba remain without water.