Sunday, July 08, 2007

A few Latin American bites

Bolivia

Blatter and MoralesA little while ago you may recall I mentioned that Fifa were intent on making a ruling to say international soccer matches could not be played above a certain altitude. Obviously this incensed many in Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador and elsewhere as large parts of those countries were above the supposed limit, including the capital cities.

Well, I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that the authorities are backing down. The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, said he was responding to a direct request from Bolivian President Evo Morales (both seen playing football together, right). This is good news indeed as the smaller and poorer nations have a hard enough time making the grade in international football without having to emigrate to even take part.



Argentina

Christian Federico von Wernich (seen here in a bullet proof vest), a former police chaplain is up on trial for complicity in a number of murders and 41 cases of kidnapping and torture. He is said to have given the police information obtained in confession that led to the killing of prisoners and was present during the torture of left wing activists.

Trial watch says "It is alleged that he often visited the relatives of the seven students asking for money and telling them that their children were going to be released soon if they cooperated...

"An argentinian official, for instance, who had taken part in the killing of a member of the opposition in the presence of Von Wernich later testified: “Father Von Wernich saw that what had happened had shocked me, and spoke to me telling me that what we had done was necessary; it was a patriotic act and God knew it was for the good of the country.“"


Columbia

There is a hilarious story on the BBC about Afghan police going to Colombia to learn how to combat drug trafficking. It looks like the blind leading the blind to me.

What next Blair to become a peace envoy to the Middle East? A Negroponte in charge of helping the world's poor?


Peru

A restaurant in Lima has been shut down and fined £32,000 "for repeatedly turning away dark-skinned people" to the delight of anti-racist campaigners who have always had an uphill battle to fight in Peru.

Whilst anti-discrimination laws were introduced in 2004 they've been rarely used. Partly because the legal establishment has not always been willing to follow through with the legislation and partly because many people in Peru don't believe there is any point in reporting racist behaviour.

Activists insist that the laws can be effective if only people are willing to ensure incidents are reported. The Congress has recently reinforce the new laws, making racial discrimination something potentially punishable with imprisonment.

This new mood to tackle racism may be partly due to the regime of President Alan Garcia, who has sometimes been described as the "Kennedy of Latin America" but i have my doubts as he did win the election in 2006 as the right wing anti-Chavez candidate, but in fairness to him he has taken a strong stance against the *unfettered* neo-liberal policies of his predecessors.

1 comment:

Dorothea said...

Perhaps Latin American politics can be even less comfortably fitted into stereotypes of "left-wing" and "right-wing" than our own.

For example;

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/03/opinion/03wed3.html?ex=1304308800&en=cf4b7350954055d2&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

“Ollanta Humala, a military man whose family advocates the shooting of gays, Jews and Chilean investors”


http://www.alternativemuseum.org/exh/tbk/essay6.html

Ethno-C├ícerism….The organization's magazine, Ollanta, sells more than 60,000 copies every fortnight, and campaigns against globalization, against the free-market system adopted by successive governments, and against privatization. It also sustains a steady diet of articles hostile to Chile, to Israel (a prominent backer of Toledo), and to homosexuality (a preoccupation of many Andean Indians).