Third World Report (Latin America)

Brazil: Fighting for the Right to be Black

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"We're not Racists: A Response to Those Who Want to Turn Us into a Bi-Coloured Nation." So reads the provocative title of a recent contribution to the debate on race relations in Brazil, by Ali Kamel, executive director of journalism for the Globo media network.

In the last few years an argument has been simmering in the Brazilian media and academic circles about the affirmative action policies being introduced into higher education and the state sectors.

Bolivia: Right Wing Threatens Morales

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The fledgling left wing administration in Bolivia faces growing challenges to its programme of reforms.

Recent weeks have seen "strikes" coordinated by business organisations and renewed demands for regional autonomy in the east of the country. The growing tensions flow from the attempts by the new government to reconcile competing demands from different sections of Bolivian society.

Cuba's Dynastic Succession

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For the first time in 47 years Fidel Castro is not formally in control of the Cuban state.

Recent photographs show the man of legendary energy in slippers and pyjamas, recovering from an operation whose purposes remain the object of unsubstantiated rumours. And the same absence of concrete facts to work with informs the great debate about who will follow Fidel.

Peru: Second Chance President

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Peru's president elect, Alan Garcia, promises to be rather different to the Alan Garcia who became president in 1985

Then he was determined to avoid orthodox economics, limit his country's debt service payments and build what he called "un Peru diferente" ("a different Peru"). The Alan Garcia of the second round of elections on 4 June 2006 said that he acknowledged his past mistakes and will respect the rules of neo-liberal economics. Garcia won the elections with 53 percent of the vote, while the nationalist candidate, Ollanta Humala, got 47 percent.

Brazil: Contempt for Poor Leads to Rebellion

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May was a hot month in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. Four days of violence left up to 150 civilians, prison staff, police officers and suspects dead.

Over half of the state's 140 prisons were in revolt, with at least 200 hostages taken, and 80 buses and 17 bank branches burnt out. Some media sources in Brazil dubbed the events "our 9/11". Hysterical that may be, but the panic was certainly enough for the authorities to impose an unofficial curfew on São Paulo, paralysing the transport system, and shutting down schools and businesses.

Nicaragua: A Return to Power for the Sandinistas?

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In this year of elections in Latin America, a half-forgotten name has re-emerged.

Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front of Nicaragua (FSLN) was one of those who led the revolution that overthrew the 43-year dictatorship of the Somoza family in 1979. In 1984 he was elected president, but in 1990 he was defeated and replaced by a right wing alliance under Violeta Chamorro.

Round-up: Will the Real Left Please Stand Up?

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Much confusion has arisen over the so-called "move to the left" in Latin America occurring in recent years.

Leaving aside the fact that "the left" has become a difficult and ill-defined concept in the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is obviously a new and hopeful mood throughout Latin America. It was created by the emergence of leaders and parties, traditionally associated with progressive causes, who have been notably sceptical of US claims to global hegemony. Particularly significant is the return of Cuba as a player in the continent's politics.

Brazil: Left Join the Battle for 'Useful Vote'

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The corruption scandals that engulfed President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva and his Workers' Party (PT) government reached their height in 2005, and coincided with a crisis on the Brazilian left.

Thousands of militants in the trade unions and social movements, as well as elected officials who are from the left of the PT, abandoned the Workers' Party. The majority went on to join P-Sol, the Party of Socialism and Freedom. This year will see an election that offers many complex and difficult challenges for the left, and raises wider issues about the possibilities of regroupment.

Indigenous Struggles: Excluded and Brutalised - But Not Silent

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The remarkable victory of Evo Morales in the Bolivian presidential election has focused attention on the question of indigenous people's rights in Latin America, and their role in social and political struggles in the region.

As the first indigenous person to hold the office, Morales is seen as a representative of the majority Aymara and Quechua people, who have so long been marginalised, exploited and discriminated against. At the same time he is a union leader and a representative of the working class. The relationship between indigenous identity and class is a complex and diverse picture.

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