The Puebla Group has demanded that the United States present a formal apology for its role in the 1973 coup d’état against President Salvador Allende of Chile as part of the commemoration events for 50 years since one of the bloodiest coups in the world. On Sunday, September 10, the Puebla Group and the Latin American Council for Justice and Democracy (CLAJUD) released a joint declaration highlighting that “it is essential to recognize the responsibility of foreign actors in the events that led to the coup” that overthrew the elected government of Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973, and ushered in the 17-year dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, who led the coup.
“For the first time in recent history, the White House is hosting a state dinner that’s entirely plant-based: no meat, no dairy and no eggs,” the reliably supercilious NPR reported as it curtain-raised the Biden White House’s state dinner for Narendra Modi last Thursday. The Indian prime minister, our corporate-sponsored national radio broadcaster explained, is a strict vegetarian. The headline on this shattering piece of reportage was, “For Modi’s state dinner, the White House is elevating the mushroom.” This is big, to state the obvious. “While there are no specifically Indian dishes on the menu, many Indian spices and flavors are incorporated into the courses,” NPR’s Deepa Shivaram wasted our time informing us.
After almost six months of a coup regime that has murdered over 80 people during continuous protests against the illegal ouster of President Pedro Castillo, survivors of another case of human rights abuses may finally be seeing justice. On May 19th, former dictator Alberto Fujimori was summoned virtually from Penal de Barbadillo (where Pedro Castillo is also imprisoned on preventative detention) by the Chilean Supreme Court for the cases of forced sterilization during his regime in the 1990s. Between 1996 and 2000, approximately 270,000 women and 22,000 men were forcibly sterilized under the dictatorship’s “family planning” measures, all from poor rural indigenous areas.
Last week right-wing Ecuadorian president Guillermo Lasso dissolved the national assembly. In stark contrast to their response to a similar move by the leftist president of Peru five months ago, Ottawa effectively supported the measure. As he was on the cusp of being impeached over corruption allegations Lasso dissolved the national assembly. He called on military leaders to endorse his initiative, sent police to take over Congress and cut internet connections to the legislature. The constitutional provision Lasso cited to dissolve the national assembly has never been employed before and it allows the president to rule by decree for six months (though elections need to be held within three months).
Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso dissolved the National Assembly by decree on May 17 bringing forward legislative and presidential elections and heading off an attempt by opposition politicians to impeach him. Opposition politicians wanted to impeach Lasso over accusations he disregarded warnings of embezzlement related to a contract at state-owned oil transportation company Flopec, charges the president denies. A majority of lawmakers had backed a resolution accusing Lasso of allowing the corrupt contract to continue after taking office in 2021, although a congressional oversight committee, which heard testimony from opposition lawmakers, officials, and Lasso's lawyer, said in its report it did not recommend impeachment.
On Thursday, December 29, several political parties of Haiti condemned de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s “National Consensus” that unilaterally promotes constitutional reform and asks for “help from the international community” to combat insecurity in the country. According to the protesting parties, Henry has been trying to illegally remain in power since the assassination of the former president, Jovenel Moïse, in July 2021. The leader of the Movement for Political and Cultural Independence Party (MEKSEPA), Vilaire Cluny Duroseau, said that the Consensus is a “macabre” attempt of the Core Group to continue controlling Haiti by any means necessary. Duroseau, who was a candidate in the presidential elections of 2016, strongly condemned Henry’s request for foreign military intervention.
On a humid summer morning in the mountain-backed metropolis of Gwangju, a cluster of fifth graders shuffled into an auditorium at 5.18 Freedom Park. Here were the former barracks where the South Korean military dictator Chun Doo-hwan and his forces imprisoned, interrogated, tortured, and in some cases killed thousands of civilians in May of 1980. Today, Koreans refer to these events as “5.18,” marking the first day of the Gwangju Uprising, when city residents demanded democracy in the wake of Chun’s 1979 power grab after the assassination of Park Chung-hee, the previous dictator president. The Chun regime’s brutal response still reverberates in the lives of the city’s residents. As the young students took a breather from their field trip, a guide passed out jumbo rice balls called jumeokbap, or “fist rice.”
As Filipino government officials participate in events across New York City over the course of the UN General Assembly, US-based Filipino activists have been determined to raise awareness about dictatorship in the Philippines. Actions have been organized in New York City by organizations such as Anakbayan, the youth wing of larger US-based progressive Filipino organization Bayan, Kabataan Alliance Northeast, an alliance of Filipino youth and student organizations, and the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS). On September 19, over 70 activists attended a protest and rally at the Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza at the UN Headquarters, as the United Nations Transforming Education Summit convened.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, Argentina’s civic-military dictatorship disappeared over 30,000 people, using death squads trained by the US as part of the now infamous Operation Condor. The victims were held in secret prisons, savagely tortured, and murdered. To this day, many families do not know the fate of their loved ones. In this episode of The Chris Hedges Report, former Buenos Aires Herald editor Robert Cox joins the show to recount his experiences reporting on the disappeared during Argentina’s “Dirty War.” Robert Cox is a British journalist who served as editor and publisher of the Buenos Aires Herald, an English-language daily newspaper in Argentina. Cox became famous for his criticism of the military dictatorship; he was also targeted by police forces and was detained and jailed, then released after a day.
The elected president of Honduras, Xiomara Castro (Libertad y Refundación, Libre), denounced this Sunday, outside the National Congress, that a dictatorship is trying to hijack the Legislative Branch in a bid not to respond to the popular mandate. Hundreds of people continue to mobilize in the vicinity of the Parliament in defense of democracy and respect for the popular vote. Addressing the crowds of her supporters, Castro recalled that the elections of November 2021 were to remove from power the dictatorship of the current president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and banish its unlawful practices. She stressed that on November 28, the people cast their votes and that their will must be respected.
General Chun Doo Hwan was the corrupt military dictator that ruled Korea from 1979-1988, before handing off the presidency to his co-conspirator General Roh Tae Woo. Chun took power in a coup in 1979, and during his presidency he perpetrated the largest massacre of Korean civilians since the Korean war. He died on November 23rd, in pampered, sybaritic luxury, impenitent and arrogant to the very last breath. Many western media outlets have written censorious, chest-beating accounts of his despotic governance and the massacres he perpetrated (here, here, here, and here)-- something they rarely bothered to do when he was actively perpetrating them in broad daylight before their eyes.
The past week has seen growing protests against the contested presidency of Haiti’s Jovenel Moïse. An unpopular figure who has ruled without a mandate, and, increasingly, by decree , Moïse refused to relinquish power when his presidential term expired on February 7, 2021. While claiming that his term ends in February 2022, Moïse has lashed out against his political rivals, arresting his critics, members of opposition political parties, and supreme court judges, all the while consolidating his draconian, some would say dictatorial, rule over Haiti. How Haiti arrived at this moment is predictable and unsurprising. Moïse’s election was marred by fraud , extremely low voter turnout, and protests challenging his candidacy.
Haitian president Jovenel Moïse has cracked down on a wave of popular protest as he tries to cling to power. While tens of thousands of Haitians have taken to the streets in the face of government repression, the Biden administration is backing Moïse’s effort to remain in office for at least another year. Haitian activist and radio host Daoud Andre discusses the background to Moïse’s power grab; the continued US deportations to Haiti; how the US coerced Haiti into betraying longtime ally Venezuela; the enduring popularity of Jean-Bertrand Aristide — twice overthrown in US-backed coups; and how the Biden administration’s support for Moïse continues a long legacy of US attacks on Haiti’s popular movements and backing of right-wing autocrats.
Aluízio Palmar, a Brazilian journalist, human rights activist, and former political prisoner, is being sued for defamation by his own torturer. The physical and psychological torture happened 40 years ago, when Palmar was imprisoned by the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. But it was only last month, in a climate defined by Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro, that Palmar’s abuser felt emboldened to file the suit. Like thousands of others under the military regime, Palmar was subjected to various forms of torture: electrocution, simulated drowning, and the infamous “parrots perch” where he was strung up on a pole with his hands and feet tied together, his body dangling below, crouched and suspended in the air.
On November 14, Chile's indigenous nations called for a day of peaceful solidarity, remembrance, and ritual in Santiago's central square, which still bears its colonial name, Plaza de Armas (Weapons Square). It was the one-year anniversary of when police in the south of Chile killed a Mapuche man, Camilo Catrillanca. On all four sides of the square (about the size of two soccer fields) we counted and photographed no fewer than 40 heavily armed police in military-style riot gear and about five tear gas tanks and two water cannons. This was not for one of the bigger gatherings 10 blocks away in what the pro-democracy protesters now call Dignity Plaza. This massive show of force unlike anything I've seen in the US - supposedly to "keep the peace" - was for about 2000 people who gathered in front of the nation's Catholic Cathedral in order to pray to the four directions, light candles, sing songs, fly flags and dance.