The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) denounces the detention and deportation of COHA Board Member and CODEPINK Latin America organizer and media host Teri Mattson, who traveled to Bogota to serve as an accredited international observer for the historic May 29th election in Colombia. She had been invited by Colombia’s Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CPDH). Ms. Mattson, having arrived in Bogota on May 22, was refused entry by Colombian authorities, forced to stay in the airport overnight and deported on May 23 on the absurd grounds that she “represents a risk to the security of the State.” Ms. Mattson is a person of impeccable integrity and has served on a number of electoral missions to Latin America.
With just two weeks until the election, Colombia’s leading presidential slate is making an international appeal after receiving death threats on the campaign trail. The Pacto Historico ticket penned a letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in which they ask for guarantees, after receiving death threats and intimidating which have been dismissed by Colombian officials. On May 2, Gustavo Petro suspended scheduled visits to the coffee going region for security reasons, citing information he received on a possible assassination attempt from the criminal organization ‘La Cordillera’. The letter also states that his VP pick received three death threats in early April.
Staging a vice-presidential candidates debate in the runup to Colombia’s May 29 national elections was entirely appropriate. Nevertheless, the location of the event in Washington and its promotion by US-state functionaries requires some explanation. Because of its venue and sponsors, the affair had elements of an audition or a vetting process overseen by the US government. Along with the Washington consensus crowd, members of the Colombian diaspora attended the May 13th event, especially supporters of popular vice-presidential candidate Francia Márquez. Afro-descendent environmentalist Márquez is running with presidential candidate Gustavo Petro. Their frontrunning ticket could be the first administration on the left in Colombian history.
The vice presidential candidate for the leading ticket in Colombia’s May elections has accused the US government of meddling in her country’s internal politics to hurt the left wing. Francia Márquez is an activist from the grassroots social movements of the Afro-Colombian community. She is the vice presidential candidate for the left-wing Pacto Histórico (“Historic Pact”) coalition, whose presidential candidate Gustavo Petro is leading by double digits in major polls in the weeks before the May 29 vote. Márquez criticized the US ambassador to Colombia for publicly claiming that Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba are trying to sabotage her country’s election. “Although [the US ambassador] did not mention the Pacto Histórico, although he did not mention Gustavo Petro, it is obvious that he was referring to our candidacy and our political campaign,” Márquez said.
New York City, New York - Starting the morning of Monday, May 9, Filipinos and allies across the tri-state area began hosting a vigil outside of the Consulate General of the Philippines. They committed to stay until the results of a historic election were announced. The Northeast Vigil for Democracy was one of dozens across the U.S. calling for a fair election as Filipinos voted for a variety of different positions. All eyes are on the presidency as two main candidates fight it out - Bongbong Marcos and Leni Robredo. While Marcos ran on a robust social media campaign based on rewriting history of his family, Robredo brought forward the people in effort to affect positive change. At 7 p.m. that day, a rally began with close to 100 protesters.
In a chilling column in Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, quietly published at 11:15pm on 7th May 2022, José Henrique Mariante, a veteran journalist, editor and currently Folha ombudsman, urged fellow journalists, and his own newspaper, to acknowledge the dark moment Brazil faces. The piece was headlined in stark terms: “There will be a Coup. Pass the information. Folha and the press should once and for all change presumption for certainty of the fact.” Mariante compared the current situation to early 2020, when appeals for calm dovetailed with outright denial of the Coronavirus pandemic, and helped drastically worsen the public health crisis. The journalist recalls that on March 2020, Folha ran a column urging for an immediate response Coronavirus pandemic: “The time to act against the coronavirus is now.”
The US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, arrived in Brazil last week for a “Meeting with Young Entrepreneurs from Brazil” and “High-Level Brazil-United States of America Dialogue”. In an official statement, the visit was called a “diplomatic mission” that aims to bring Brazil closer to US foreign policy. The arrival of the coup specialist in the midst of Bolsonaro’s attacks on the Federal Supreme Court and the Electoral Court (TSE) may also mean that the pressure may be accompanied by promises of American support for Bolsonaro’s current coup intentions, despite public statements suggesting the opposite. For example Nuland has expressed confidence in Brazil’s electoral system. Nuland became known in the recent history of US imperialism for being one of the main organizers of the 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine that toppled President-elect Viktor Yanukovych.
Alamance County, North Carolina, is probably best known for its defense of Confederate monuments and backing Republicans in every presidential campaign since Jimmy Carter. But an important grassroots fight for racial and economic justice is currently unfolding there. One of the leaders of that fight is Dreama Caldwell, a Black working mother who, in 2015, faced a $40,000 bail for a crime she didn’t commit—now she is working to organize across racial and class lines to build grassroots power in rural areas that have been abandoned by the major political parties. In the latest installment of his investigative series “Defending Democracy in the 2022 Midterm Elections,” supported by the Solutions Journalism Network, TRNN’s Jaisal Noor speaks with Caldwell about her story and her organizing work with Down Home North Carolina.
I just returned from eight days in Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, where the capital, Manila, is located. For many years, the movement for national democracy in the Philippines has asked for international solidarity, including human rights defenders to aid them in their struggle for economic and political rights. The presence of people from other countries can help diminish the violence of the Philippine military and national police against the movement. In addition, as national elections approach on May 9 there has been a rise in human rights abuses, and so the need for international solidarity is more pressing.
In Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey, who was in office at the time of the murder of Floyd and the subsequent rebellions in the city and around the country, has now issued a proposal to ban “No-Knock Warrants”. However, the problems of police misconduct and brutality are not new to Minneapolis and the recent initiative by the City of Minneapolis does provide loopholes that would allow the type of law-enforcement intrusions into people’s homes that result in many unjustified deaths. During a press conference on March 14, Frey told the media that: "The purpose here is to give people who are trying to comply, people who are trying to do the right thing, giving them the ability to again, get their wherewithal, answer the call if possible, and to make sure that officers are then entering into a situation where an individual is well-informed about who is entering the place."
It seems that hard times indeed are coming for the working class, micro- and small-business owners, and small-scale farmers of Costa Rica after the first round of presidential voting on February 6. The two candidates that will go on to the runoff, José María Figueres Olsen and Rodrigo Chaves, have clearly neoliberal proposals: more free trade, more taxes on wage earners, and more cuts to university budgets and social spending. They offer no specific proposals to address the serious crisis of tax evasion and tax avoidance, nor anything to curtail the use of tax havens to hide people’s fortunes. The new Legislative Assembly, far from being a counterbalance, will serve as a conveyor belt transmitting these policies that will finish the job of dismantling what has been called the Social Rule of Law in Costa Rica.
The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted 3-2 today to subpoena the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for information about its provision of sophisticated campaign software to its legislative members. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission last July alleging that ALEC’s gift of valuable voter management software, developed by Republican operatives and linked to the Republican National Committee’s voter database, constituted an illegal and unreported in-kind campaign contribution. CMD also filed an IRS whistleblower complaint against ALEC over the controversial program, valued at as much as $6 million per election cycle.
This outcome was far from certain in recent months. With Guaidó’s self-proclamation and initial enthusiasm far in the rearview mirror, the opposition’s cherished tradition of cannibalistic infighting became ever more present. Corruption scandals and bitter name-calling made the rounds on social media. Leaders like Henrique Capriles were openly calling for Guaidó’s head while mocking the “interim government” by likening it to a video game. A sector of the opposition managed to twist the hardliners’ arm and run in the November 21 mega-elections. The gamble was clear: get a respectable number of elected governors and mayors and Guaidó’s post would be under even more pressure. But it did not work out, which forced the warring parties into a kind of détente.
On November 7, Nicaragua held elections in which current president Daniel Ortega received 75% support and, as a result, begins a new term of office in January. Not surprisingly, the US government described the election as a “sham.” Of more concern is that many on the left seem to agree. William Robinson’s NACLA article, Nicaragua: Chronicle of an Election Foretold, is a scathing critique, repeated in an interview with The Real News. In this article, we will show that Robinson’s claims are based on falsehoods and elite bias. He appears to be out of touch with the reality faced by most Nicaraguans. Prior to the elections, several people were accused of treason because of involvement in US attempts to overthrow Nicaragua’s elected government.