Category Archives: Latin America

Cuba’s Coronavirus Response Is Putting Other Countries to Shame


An article by Ben Burgis in Jacobin

Cuba is caricatured by the Right as a totalitarian hellhole. But its response to the coronavirus pandemic — from sending doctors to other countries to pioneering anti-viral treatments to converting factories into mask-making machines — is putting other countries, even rich countries, to shame.

Cuban doctors prepare to leave for Italy to provide medical aid. Twitter

Last week, the MS Braemar, a transatlantic cruise ship carrying 682 passengers from the United Kingdom, found itself momentarily stranded. Five of the cruise’s passengers had tested positive for the coronavirus. Several dozen more passengers and crew members were in isolation after exhibiting flu-like symptoms. The ship had been rebuffed from several ports of entry throughout the Caribbean. According to sources in the British government who spoke to CNN, the UK then reached out to both the United States and Cuba “to find a suitable port for the Braemar.”

Which country took them in? If you’ve paid attention to the Trump administration’s xenophobic rhetoric about “the Chinese virus” and its obsession with keeping foreign nationals out of the country, and you know anything about Cuba’s tradition of sending doctors to help with humanitarian crises all around the world, you should be able to guess the answer.

The Braemar docked in the Cuban port of Mariel last Wednesday. Passengers who were healthy enough to travel to their home countries were transported to the airport in Havana. Those who were too sick to fly were offered treatment at Cuban hospitals — even though there had only been ten confirmed cases in the whole country, and allowing patients from the cruise ship to stay threatened to increase the number.

Cuba Mobilizes Against the Virus

Despite being a poor country that often experiences shortages — a product of both the economy’s structural flaws and the effects of sixty years of economic embargo by its largest natural trading partner — Cuba was better positioned than most to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The country combines a completely socialized medical system that guarantees health care to all with impressive biotech innovations. A Cuban antiviral drug (Interferon Alfa-2B) has been used to combat the coronavirus both inside the country and in China. Cuba also boasts 8.2 doctors per 1,000 people — well over three times the rate in the United States (2.6) or South Korea (2.4), almost five times as many as China (1.8), and nearly twice as many as Italy (4.1).

On top of its impressive medical system, Cuba has a far better track record of protecting its citizens from emergencies than other poor nations — and even some rich ones. Their “comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck” hurricane-preparedness system, for example, is a marvel, and the numbers speak for themselves. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew killed dozens of Americans and hundreds of Haitians. Not a single Cuban died. Fleeing residents were even able to bring their household pets with them — veterinarians were stationed at the evacuation centers.

The coronavirus will be a harder challenge than a hurricane, but Cuba has been applying the same “all-hands-on-deck” spirit to prepare. Tourism has been shut down (a particularly painful sacrifice, given the industry’s importance to Cuba’s beleaguered economy). And the nationalized health care industry has not only made sure that thousands of civilian hospitals are at the ready for coronavirus patients, but that several military hospitals are open for civilian use as well.

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Question related to this article:
How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

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Masks: A Tale of Two Countries

In the United States, the surgeon general and other authorities tried to conserve face masks for medical professionals by telling the public that the masks “wouldn’t help.” The problem, as Dr Zeynep Tufekci argued in a recent New York Times op-ed, is that the idea that doctors and nurses needed the masks undermined the claim that they would be ineffective. Authorities correctly pointed out that masks would be useless (or even do more harm than good) if not used correctly, but as Tufekci notes, this messaging never really made sense. Why not launch an aggressive educational campaign to promote the dos and don’ts of proper mask usage rather than telling people they’d never be able to figure it out?

Many people also wash their hands wrong, but we don’t respond to that by telling them not to bother. Instead, we provide instructions; we post signs in bathrooms; we help people sing songs that time their hand-washing. Telling people they can’t possibly figure out how to wear a mask properly isn’t a winning message. Besides, when you tell people that something works only if done right, they think they will be the person who does it right, even if everyone else doesn’t.

The predictable result of all of this is that, after weeks of “don’t buy masks, they won’t work for you” messaging, so many have been purchased that you can’t find a mask for sale anywhere in the United States outside of a few on Amazon for absurdly gouged prices.

In Cuba, on the other hand, nationalized factories that normally churn out school uniforms and other non-medical items have been repurposed to dramatically increase the supply of masks.

Cuban Doctors Abroad

The same humanitarian and internationalist spirit that led Cuba to allow the Braemar to dock has also led the tiny country to send doctors to assist Haiti after that nation’s devastating 2010 earthquake, fight Ebola in West Africa in 2014, and, most recently, help Italy’s overwhelmed health system amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Cuba offered to send similar assistance to the United States after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, but was predictably rebuffed by the Bush administration.)

Even outside of temporary emergencies, Cuba has long dispatched doctors to work in poor countries with shortages of medical care. In Brazil, Cuban doctors were warmly welcomed for years by the ruling Workers’ Party. That began to change with the ascendance of far-right demagogue Jair Bolsonaro. When he assumed office, Bolsonaro expelled most of the Cuban doctors from the country, insisting that they were in Brazil not to heal the sick but “to create guerrilla cells and indoctrinate people.”

As recently as two weeks ago, Bolsonaro was calling the idea that the coronavirus posed a serious threat to public health a “fantasy.” Now that reality has set in, he’s begging the Cuban doctors to come back.

Embracing Complexity About Cuba

Last month, Bernie Sanders was red-baited and slandered by both Republicans and establishment Democrats for acknowledging the real accomplishments of the Cuban Revolution. It didn’t seem to matter to these critics that Sanders started and ended his comments by calling the Cuban government “authoritarian” and condemning it for keeping political prisoners. Instead, they seemed to judge his comments by what I called the “Narnia Standard.” Rather than frankly discussing both the positive and negative aspects of Cuban society, the island state is treated as if it lacks any redeeming features — like Narnia before Aslan, where it was “always winter and never Christmas.”

Democratic socialists value free speech, press freedom, multiparty elections, and workplace democracy. We can and should criticize Cuba’s model of social organization for its deficits. But Cuba’s admirably humane and solidaristic approach to the coronavirus should humble those who insist on talking about the island nation as if it were some unending nightmare.


Ben Burgis is a philosophy professor and the author of of Give Them An Argument: Logic for the Left. He does a segment called “The Debunk” every week on The Michael Brooks Show.

Mexico: Jëën pä’äm, the illness of fire


An article by Yásnaya Elena Aguilar Gil translated and published by Toward Freedom (original Spanish version published by El Pais)

I write from Ayutla, a Mixe community in the northern mountains of Oaxaca, which is facing the coronavirus pandemic without access to drinking water. As we talk, think, and share ideas about what we can do in this situation, and the need to speak out about the emergency circumstances we’re in, I can’t help but think of other epidemics that have shaped the way our communities have been configured through history. The epidemics of the Sixteenth Century had a determining influence in the way that the colonial order was installed in these lands in the centuries that followed.

Family by FreeXero, used under a creative commons license.

The colony was established on a great demographic catastrophe, between the wars of conquest, the forced labor, the abuses and the illnesses. According to the calculations of John K. Chance, the author of the classic Conquest of the Sierra: Spaniards and Indians in Colonial Oaxaca, the Mixe did not return to our estimated population in 1519 until the decade of 1970. The stories and records of the impacts of smallpox and other imported illnesses in the native population are formidable, there were entire villages in which it became impossible to bury all of the dead.

The effects of epidemics on a population already exposed to war and forced labor dramatically reduced the native population. Specialists estimate that during the first great smallpox epidemic, eight million people died over a period of approximately two years. In a more conservative estimate (the numbers are still debated), 15 million people lived in these lands, and by the outset of the seventeenth century, there were but two million. In any case, it is impossible to deny that epidemics, along with war and subjugation, were a fundamental factor in the process we call the conquest. 

After the Sixteenth Century and through time, Indigenous people have faced additional epidemics. In oral tradition, tradition that lives in memory, elders from my community tell stories of those years: houses left deserted after the death of their occupants, daily fear, the anguish of not being able to carry out fundamental and necessary rituals so that the dead could set out on their voyage, these were the characteristics of an illness known in Mixe as jëën pä’äm, which translates as “the illness of fire” because of the high fevers that it caused, but which has yet to be fully identified.

The last words of my great-great-grandfather before he died from jëën pä’äm were passed on to me through intergenerational telling, his last words before entering in that state that is a bridge between consciousness and nothingness, made a reference to a quintessential story: in his childhood, he had been told of a great epidemic that devastated the whole region, and to avoid infection a family decided to take all of the corn and food they could and flee to a place where the illness couldn’t reach them.

Later I read in Edgar Allan Poe’s extraordinary tale The Masque of the Red Death that something similar happened to that family that didn’t worry about the epidemic and ate the food that they took outside the community. As is to be expected, the illness traveled with them, and no one could help them after death interrupted their enjoyment of that which they stole. Nobody could bury them and their bodies were left in the open and dried up in the sun. 

After telling this story, my great-great-grandfather asked those who were listening to him to refuse to believe the lie that the individual good is above the collective good. He gave a few more instructions, and he passed away a few days later. Soon after, his daughter Luisa, who had heard his words, fell ill as well. Before she entered into the extraordinary states that fever produces in the mind, she got engaged to my great grandfather Zacarías who, together with his neighbors and friends, dedicated himself to taking measures so as not to fall ill and at the same time, to look after her and her siblings, providing those who had the illness in the home of his fiancée with fresh water and food. My great grandmother Luisa managed to get better and she solemnly repeated the words of her father. Ever since those words have been repeated in my family with a kind of respect that is generated through repetition: the individual good doesn’t oppose the collective good, the individual good depends on the collective good.

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Question for discussion

The understanding of indigenous peoples, Can it help us cultivate a culture of peace?

How can we work together to overcome this medical and economic crisis?

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In one of the versions of the ideal capitalist world, life in common takes place within a state that only intervenes to protect private property, and in which all the services, products and necessary items for life are controlled by capital and private owners. In some anarcho-capitalist delusions, the individual, their liberty and property are the center of the regulation of life in common. In contrast, community organizations are described as places that experience the tragedy of the commons and free-riders, and communal organization is described as a structure that suppresses free will and individual desires in favor of a dictatorship of the majority.

A permanent tension between the individual good and the collective interest which frustrates and limits the individual has been instilled in the discourse. The exploitation of the supposed friction between individual and collective was sown as the seed of distrust to create anti-communist propaganda and is today used to discredit various struggles for the construction of social structures rooted in solidarity, mutual aid and communality. Liberal democracies establish an agreement with individuals, individual guarantees are recognized in constitutions and the foundations of rights in the neoliberal state is the individual and private property. This logic means that throughout history, the state has had trouble dealing with communities and not individuals, communities which claim land communally, collective entities which until recently didn’t have a legal framework from which to interact with the state.

That said, the experience of many people contradicts the preponderance of an essentialist opposition between the individual and the collective good. Gladys Tzul, a Maya K’iche’ sociologist, has explored how communal structures allow for the satisfaction of individual desires. My experience is similar. We are able to have what is needed to live our lives and to fulfill our desires and wishes is due in large part to the fact that many people collectively built classrooms, a system to distribute drinking water, and a structure to provide for parties and free leisure activities managed through communal work. 

My personal passion and interest in music found a place to flourish in the music classes and philharmonic bands that our communities collectively manage. This reveals how, rather than being in opposition, the individual good depends on the collective good. The individualism of people who don’t know those who live in the same building as them is explained because their individual good has been entrusted in an agreement they’ve made with the state; in exchange for paying a small amount of tax, they leave fundamental aspects of life, like the management of drinking water or the educational system, in the hands of the state.

When an extraordinary event takes place, in the form of an earthquake, or the state fails, as it constantly does, the lie of individualism is revealed: it becomes necessary to talk to a neighbor, to congregate and collectively face the extraordinary situation that brings to the table a notion that is negated but whose rhythm undergirds being human: we need each other. Even in very individualistic societies, the need for collectivity reveals itself in periods of breakdown: stopping the COVID-19 pandemic requires that we all participate, keeping a safe distance and washing our hands can save the lives of people we don’t know, and the actions of others can save the life of our octogenarian mother. If the propagation of the virus shows us the insides of the interrelated structures in which we live, it also shows that only collective care that can stop the pandemic.

The epidemics of the Sixteenth Century had a material historical, economic and political context, COVID-19 has appeared in the midst of a crisis of capitalism and this context will give it particular characteristics and will lead it to have specific consequences. Capitalism has needed the idea of individual success and personal merit, capitalism has held up the idea of the individual who fears a communist or communal plot which takes away his property, acquired with jealous zeal. But a virus is not private property.

In the peripheries of capitalism and the state we have learned other truths: the family who steals the corn of the collective to escape from illness is condemned to lack care and have their bodies exposed; the Mixe population that came out of the demographic catastrophe of the Sixteenth Century organized into communal structures to resist the gradual establishment of the colonial regime, and later the establishment of the state, and made life communally, which made it possible for us to remain, regardless of cruel epidemics, displacement and violence. The communal care that saved the life of Luisa made it possible that I can today share the dying words of my great-grandfather during a previous epidemic: the individual good is the collective good.

Author Bio:

Yásnaya Elena Aguilar Gil is a Mixe linguist from Ayutla, Oaxaca. Follow her on Twitter @Yasnayae. This column was originally published in El País and translated by Toward Freedom with the author’s permission.

(Thank you to Mazim Qumsiyeh for sending this to CPNN)

“Education Nobel”, Global Teachers’ Prize includes three Brazilian teachers.


An article by Débora Garofalo on the website of Universo Online

Despite the alarming news of the last few days, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we received excellent news last week: three Brazilian teachers, are on the list of the TOP 50 of the biggest award for teachers in the world and considered the “Nobel of Education”, it is the Global Teacher Prize, announced by the Varkey Foundation, organizer/sponsor of the UNESCO partnership award.

Photos from the site of Global Teacher Prize

In particular, it is a gift for me, since I was the first Brazilian woman and the first South American to arrive as a finalist in 2019, in the TOP 10. It recognized my work of robotics with scrap that consists of collecting garbage from the streets, materials and equipment recyclables in robotics prototypes, a job that ranked me among the best teachers in the world. The award was an incredible experience for me! In this same edition of the prize, we had Professor Jayse Ferreira, from Itambé, Pernambuco, among the TOP 50, with the winner being Professor Peter Tabishi, from Kenya.

This demonstrates the importance of recognizing and valuing teachers. The three finalist Brazilians of the 2020 edition, Doani, Francisco and Lília are public school teachers and their works were selected by an international jury. The work of these teachers has in common the engagement of students, mainly from poor areas with low income, in significant and transformative activities.

Discover the work of the Brazilian finalists

Doani Emanuela Bertan works as a bilingual teacher of Portuguese and Brazilian Sign Language. The school where she teaches is located in Campinas, São Paulo, in a poor area with high dropout rates. Doani and her colleagues started looking for new strategies to optimize learning. She teaches LIBRAS the Brazilian sign language system for her hearing impaired students and started promoting video calls to answer her questions and concerns in daily classes.

These online tutorials have become bilingual video classes, allowing knowledge to spread outside the school environment. In addition to using technology as a tool, they allow flexible learning times and spaces, they support parents and families, and they enable new educational experiences.

All of her classes have been uploaded to a YouTube channel and everyone now has free access. Her school stands out for its high enrollment of students with hearing impairments and teachers who promote LIBRAS as an effective inclusion tool. Doani’s commitment has led her to go beyond formal working hours and take advantage of the opportunities that technology allows.

Francisco Celso de Freitas is a history teacher, specialist in inclusive education and instructor of social mediators. He works at the Educational Center of the Santa María Penitentiary Unit, in the city of Brasília, where young people can attend classes from prison.

Francisco is the founder and coordinator of the RAP Project (Resocialization, Autonomy and Protagonism), that uses the musicality of rap and poetry as an emancipatory pedagogical tool capable of promoting the values ​​of a culture of peace and human rights with historical ties.

The project serves about 150 adolescents (boys and girls), kept in the Unit of the Federal District of Santa Maria, who have had problems with the law, sometimes due to acts of violence, and who may be prone to self-harm and suicide attempts. The project’s young people benefited from socioeconomic education and rehabilitation, recording videos, participating in music and culture festivals and the resources produced by the project, such as music, video clips and e-books, that are put online for free so that others could enjoy benefits.

(Click here for the original article in Portuguese)

Questions for this article:

What is the relation between peace and education?

Francisco has received wide recognition and awards for the RAP project. He has participated in conferences and visited schools to give lectures on the value of this form of social mediation and resocialization, to combat the use and abuse of drugs, and to face various forms of prejudice and the decriminalization of urban culture.

In addition, he accompanies the youth after they complete their period in the Penitentiary Unit, to ensure that they will not return to the same cycle of violence that led them there. Most of the graduates have managed to reintegrate into society and some have dedicated themselves to rap, making presentations, recording albums and video clips with messages about freedom and meeting the demands of young people. Despite the harsh reality, Francisco has been able to inspire and motivate his students so that they understand that education is the path to new opportunities in life.

Lília Melo grew up in a disadvantaged area and since childhood she wanted to contribute to reducing social differences. She found her way in teaching. Lília Melo teaches poor children and young people in a needy and often violent area of ​​Belém, in northern Brazil, where murders, drug trafficking and rape are common.

To help her students deal with the situation, Lília wrote a project entitled “Black youth from the periphery of extermination to protagonism” on improving art at school and in the community. She started offering weekend workshops on drum, capoeira, dance, theater, poetry, some at school, others on the streets and squares, which formed ties with the local community. After Lília wrote in the local media about her students being too poor to have access to Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie, local companies got together and funded 400 tickets so that young people could watch the film.

From the collection of photos and videos that narrated the film’s event, the idea arose to produce a documentary, which received several awards. Lília decided to reinvest the funds received in the purchase of equipment. They bought cameras, lenses and a new production was made by young students at the school.

The debates helped to reinforce the film’s message and reflect on the importance of representation in fiction. Eventually, the students themselves became protagonists as universities, museums and companies became interested and got in touch to listen to students and learn their stories, inviting them to give lectures. Instead of being quiet in an auditorium, students went there to be heard.

All of Lília’s projects were carried out with little infrastructure and little equipment. The school significantly increased enrollment rates, the dropout rate decreased and learning outcomes improved. Many of their students have become leaders in the arts, protagonists of their own history, being an inspiration to their community.

The above information about teachers’ work has been taken from the Global Teacher Prize website.

I think that being in the top 50 is a gift. These teachers were selected from more than 12,000 submissions from 140 countries, and they deserve our full recognition. We will be cheering, because they are deserving of everything they have been doing for Education.

Now, they become part of a group of 300 world ambassador professors, together with the finalists of previous editions of the award, with intense participation and annual meeting in different countries for the expansion and exchange of knowledge.

Being recognized among the best teachers in the world totally changes our conception of the role of teacher and increases our responsibility to continue to strive for quality education and equity for all.

All the teachers who go through this experience continue to serve as an example, among them, we can highlight the teachers Marcio Batista, Rubens Ferronato, Jayse Ferreira, Diego Mahfouz and Valter Pereira and many others who promote difference and are agents of transformation. We need to recognize, value and support our teachers. Congratulations, teachers, for transforming lives!

Venezuela pays tribute to the genius who made music an instrument for liberation, José Antonio Abreu


An article from Venezuela television

The Venezuelan people are paying tribute to the genius who made music an instrument for liberation, José Antonio Abreu, on the second anniversary of his death, according to the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, in his Twitter social network user @NicolasMaduro.

Abreu was an outstanding Venezuelan musician, who conceived the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs of Venezuela. He was born in the city of Valera, Trujillo state, on May 7, 1939.

(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

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Question for this article:

What place does music have in the peace movement?

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He served as Ambassador for Peace and Goodwill at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) due to the social impact and cultural of his work, especially in those countries determined to lower the levels of poverty, illiteracy, marginality and exclusion in their children and youth population.

Jose Antonio Abreu was also the architect of a model for music education and social inclusion, a model that has been replicated in more than 70 countries on the five continents: Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania, according to a press release from the Simón Bolívar Musical Foundation published on its website.

This new model, created 44 years ago and known as the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs of Venezuela, involved 1,012,077 boys, girls and young people from low-income social strata.

Through the individual and collective practice of music and the creation of nuclei and academic centers of the country, this cultural organization has become a comprehensive platform to prepare citizens in the concept of a culture of peace and justice.

A day without us’: What was the National Women’s Strike in Mexico and why did it take place?


An article by Cecilia González in (Russian television) (translation by CPNN)

Echoing the cry, ‘A day without us’, millions of Mexicans participated Monday March 9 in the National Women’s strike sparked by the wave of outrage over femicides and expanded to a long list of demands of the feminist agenda.

Video about the demonstration on International Women’s Day, Mexico City, March 8, 2020. Photo: Gustavo Graf / Reuters

Following the massive march on Sunday, in commemoration of International Women’s Day, public and private workers were called to leave offices, banks, supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, newspapers, shops and all kinds of work centers. The women who joined will also not perform domestic tasks to make their weight visible in the economy and society and to denounce the multiple aspects of gender violence.

A survey published last week by the newspaper El Financiero revealed that the strike had the support of 67% nationwide and that 57% of women intended to join it, demonstrating the progress of the feminist revolution that is now worldwide and that is writing a separate chapter here in Mexico.

In Mexico, 51% of the population and 52% of the voters are women. And they vote more than men. According to official data, in the 2018 presidential elections, which Andrés Manuel López Obrador won, 66.2% of the voters were women.

10 women killed every day

But inequality persists. A study by the International Observatory of Worthy Wages and the National Minimum Wages Commission estimates that Mexicans do work on a daily basis worth around 3,000 million dollars, but only one third of this is paid.

According to the Observatory of Decent Work of the organization Citizen Action Against Poverty, in the country men earn 16% more than women. The wage gap widens to 30% in the public sector.

Inequality is repeated in other areas. Data from the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy indicate that there are more women than men in poverty: 27.3 million versus 25 million.

Reports of the Reinserta organization, meanwhile, conclude that the courts impose an average of five years imprisonment more on the Mexican women than on the men.

Violence is rampant. Last year, there were 51,146 complaints of sexual violence against women in the country, an increase of 19.1% compared to 2018. The trend continues to rise. Also in 2019, in Mexico 10 women are killed every day. Three years ago, the average was seven women killed.

That is why femicides became this year’s central theme of public conversation in Mexico and had a full impact on President López Obrador’s political agenda.

The National Women’s strike began to germinate in social networks following the shocking murders of Ingrid Escamilla, a 25-year-old girl who died stabbed and skinned, and Fatima, a seven-year-old girl who was found lying in a bag, with signs of torture.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish or click here for a translation to French)

Questions related to this article:

Protecting women and girls against violence, Is progress being made?

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When the crimes occurred, Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero was involved in a controversy over his proposal to eliminate the classification “femicide” and replace it with “aggravated homicide.” The intention, according to him, was to improve the investigation and delivery of justice, but feminist organizations warned that this eliminated the gender component in the murder. The president rejected the initiative, but at a press conference he was upset and warned that he did not want to talk only about femicides because he also planned to promote the raffle of the presidential plane.

Critics of the López Obrador government and opportunism of the right

Mobilizations against femicides increased. The president responded with a diatribe against violence to women with inane phrases such as “protect the lives of all human beings”, “it is cowardice to attack women”, “women must be respected” and “punish to the guilty. ” He presented no specific strategies, policies or objectives. He later spoke of “a deep crisis of values,” of “decay” and that “only by being good can we be happy.” He called for “continuing moralizing, purifying public life” and blamed the femicides on neoliberalism.

With each statement he irritated the feminist groups more and more, but the president was even more surprised when he asked them to make their protests peaceful and no longer paint doors and walls of public buildings.

It was at those times that the collective Brujas del Mar reacted to the social unrest and through Twitter called for the Strike on Monday. The adhesion was immediate and massive.

In response, López Obrador denounced the opportunism of his “adversaries”, the “neoliberals”, “the conservatives” and “the right”, who supported and promoted the day only to criticize the government, as the case of the historic and right-wing Party Action National who promoted the Strike, but he continued his rejection of abortion even though it is one of the main feminist demands.

The political opposition tried to sell the idea that the strike was against López Obrador, although feminists are struggling against much more than just the government. Although the president showed some signs of understanding the women’s movement, he continued to make unfortunate responses. He announced, for example, that the presidential plane raffle would be held on March 9, that is, on the same day as the Women’s Strike. There were so many criticisms that he had to change the date.

The president’s reactions could explain, according to a survey published last week by the newspaper El Universal, that women’s support for his government has declined by 24.6% over the past 12 months.

One of the few achievements on the gender agenda that López Obrador can boast is that he is the only president who has appointed a cabinet with gender parity. In fact, in the midst of the political crisis unleashed by femicides, last week these ministers met together for the first time and said that the president does understand feminism and that women’s rights are a priority.

On Friday, however, López Obrador refused to define himself as a feminist. “I am a humanist,” he said.

Beyond the political disputes, the Strike managed to talk about femicides, abortion, inequitable salaries, lack of childcare, cultural pressures, generalized misogyny in the media, in social networks, in homes and harassment in the workplace..

Aggressions against women have been made more visible and discussed more than ever, but it is clear that there is still much work to be done to eradicate gender inequality and violence in the country.

Chile changing: transgender student leader lends voice to renewed protests


An article by Natalia A. Ramos Miranda from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

As the long southern hemisphere summer holiday draws to an end this month, students in Chile are returning to college – but not always to classes. Many are getting ready to head out into the streets and breathe new life into the protests that rocked the country last year.

Emilia Schneider

Organizers of marches to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday are hoping to attract large crowds. Last year, an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 attended the one in Santiago.

One of the loudest and most influential voices pressing for change is Emilia Schneider, a transgender, feminist and militant leftist who is the leader of the Student Federation of the University of Chile (Fech), the country’s oldest student union.

The Fech is known for its role in demonstrations for free education between 2011 and 2013 that brought Chile and its student leaders global attention. But it was caught on the backfoot in October last year when civil disobedience over public transport fare hikes spiralled into weeks of widespread violence and demonstrations over inequality and elitism.

The protests were Chile’s most profound unrest since the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990. They cost the economy millions of dollars, at least 31 people died, more than 3,000 were injured, and 30,000 were arrested.

Now, the Fech is joining in, and has endorsed the protesters’ demands for deep societal changes.

“We are the sons and daughters of neo-liberal Chile and the shortcomings that came with it,” Schneider, a 23-year-old law student, told Reuters this week in an interview at the headquarters of the Fech.

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Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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“We had seen years of protests in this country but the demands had not been heeded,” she said, citing the highly privatised provision of services such as health, education and pensions that had sparked a “sense of discomfort that built up over years.”

Schneider said she has benefited from a Gender Identity Law that allows people to legally change their name and sex and took effect in December last year. The passing of the law caused shockwaves in the historically conservative and predominantly Catholic country, where divorce was legalized just 16 years ago and abortion is allowed only in extreme situations.

She argues that her gender change was only made possible by her privileged position as a student leader and the support of her liberal family. Many like her still face job insecurity, discrimination, and patchy access to health services, she said.

Schneider has a potent link to the country’s dark past: her great-grandfather was General Rene Schneider, a well-known figure in Chile who opposed plans for a military coup in 1970 and was killed by a far-right group.

Older Chileans lived through the chilling effect of the 1973-1990 dictatorship but younger people protesting had less “fear of participating in politics,” she said.

President Sebastian Pinera has sought to address protesters’ grievances by sacking his most unpopular ministers and introducing new laws to improve salaries, pensions and healthcare. He also backed a growing clamour for a new constitution to replace the incumbent drafted during the Pinochet regime.

But many remain dubious about his ability to push the laws through a divided Congress and, if he does, how much change they will really bring.

Schneider has turned her organization’s focus to lobbying for influence over the new constitution and specifically the participation of more women in the drafting of the new text if it is approved in a referendum on April 26.

“We want a feminist constitution,” she said, “one that guarantees sexual and reproductive rights, gender equality and greater participation by women and those who do not conform to traditional genders.”

Chile may be changing, she said – but not fast enough. “We have to keep seeking new policies to generate fresh changes,” she said. “Protests alone will not get us there.”

Thousands of women march in Chile again


An article from Prensa Latina

Thousands of women marched again this Monday [March 9] in the capital , Santiago, and other cities of Chile, as part of a general strike called by the 8M Coordination and supported by social and student organizations.

A group of Indigenous woman demonstrate during a march in Santiago on International Women’s Day [Martin Bernetti/AFP] 

In Santiago, the women concentrated at midday in the emblematic Plaza de la Dignidad from where they later left to demonstrate along the southern path of the Alameda on a route that ended at the Plaza Los Heroes, passing in front of the Palacio de La Moneda.

(Article continued in right column)

Question for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Although without the massiveness of Sunday’s huge demonstration, which concentrated around one million people, the thousands of participants on this Labor Monday did clamor with equal force for social change in a macho and patriarchal society, and equal rights and opportunities.

During the march, they denounced the injustices they are victims of, since Chilean women receive more than 20 percent less salary than men for equal work, as well as lower pensions, and instead must pay more to access bank loans, health insurance and pension insurance, just to cite a few examples.

Closely guarded by a strong police contingent with armored water and gas throwers, the protesters also chanted slogans demanding the resignation of President Sebastian Piñera and in favor of the option to approve a new constitution in the plebiscite called for April.

Many also expressed in posters and slogans the need to extend gender parity to other areas of the country’s institutions and not only to the constituent convention that will draft the new constitution in case the Apruebo option wins.

The Manifesto 2000


An article from El Manana

From the insidious and often perverse campaigns, blaming people for the daily manifestations of violence in its different forms, to the proposal to change the economic model to foster shared development in a social justice regime, there is no progress towards an environment of understanding, concord and fraternity. With their machismo, each group with the capacity to be heard resorts to violence.

(click on image for more information)

It is clear that in a culture of violence, conflicts are settled through violence, which is nothing other than the lack of capacity to address differences by a culture of peace, dialogue and mutual understanding. Unlike the expression of Benito Juárez during the period of resistance to the French occupation, it is now seen that among individuals and among nations the violation of the rights of others is at the base of the violence that manifests itself in society, in governments and institutions.

It is not so much that aggressiveness has been unleashed in human beings, no. Through the means of socialization: family, school, religion, associations, etc., aggressiveness can be channeled in three ways: the destructive path of violence; the indifference of passivity; and the constructive, equal to nonviolence, that is, to act but not violently. In that sense, if violence is learned, it is clear that it can also be unlearned and replaced by other mechanisms, not destructive, in conflict resolution.

With this idea in mind, a group of Nobel Peace Prizes, meeting in Paris on March 4, 1999, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drew up the”Manifesto 2000 for a culture of peace and nonviolence. ” The signatories included: Norman Borlaug; Adolfo Pérez Esquivel; Dalai Lama; Mikhall Sergeyevich Gorbachev; Mairead Maguire; Nelson Mandela; Rigoberta Menchu ​​Tum; Shimon Peres; José Ramos Horta; Joseph Roblat; Desmond Mpilo Tutu; David Trimble; Elie Wiesel; Carlos Felipo Ximenes Belo and others who later joined.

(Article continued in right column)

( Click here for the original version in Spanish.)

Question for this article:

The Manifesto 2000, Is it still relevant today?

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The text of the Manifesto is as follows:

“Aware of my share of responsibility for the future of humanity, in particular to the children of today and tomorrow, I pledge in my daily life, in my family, my work, my community, my country and my region, to:

Respect the life and dignity of each human being without discrimination or prejudice;

Practice active non-violence, rejecting violence in all its forms: physical, sexual, psychological, economical and social, in particular towards the most deprived and vulnerable such as children and adolescents;

Share my time and material resources in a spirit of generosity to put an end to exclusion, injustice and political and economic oppression;

Defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity, giving preference always to dialogue and listening without engaging in fanaticism, defamation and the rejection of others;

Promote consumer behavior that is responsible and development practices that respect all forms of life and preserve the balance of nature on the planet;

Contribute to the development of my community, with the full participation of women and respect for democratic principles, in order to create together new forms of solidarity.”

As you can see, it is a commitment of personal and individual fulfillment, in such a way that there is no way to excuse yourself once it has been voluntarily adopted.

Certainly, at that time it was still believed that the year 2000 would constitute a new beginning to transform the culture of war and violence into a culture of peace and nonviolence, since the culture of peace makes lasting development possible, the protection of the environment and the personal satisfaction of each human being.

20 years later, that dream may be possible if instead of so much garbage, the media would promote dialogue, understanding and peace through justice.

Ecuador: The culture of peace is presented in an international digital magazine


An article from Cronica

“Culture and education for peace” is the theme of the third edition of the Culture of Peace Magazine presented, on March 2, by the Unesco Chair of Peace Education and Culture of the Private Technical University of Loja (UTPL). The work presented in digital format has 18 scientific articles and 3 book reviews by authors from Ecuador, Mexico and Spain.

This issue addresses topics such as: anthropology of violence; inclusion of sexual diversity for a culture of peace; violence and conflict in Ecuador in 2019; construction of a culture of peace at the university level; memories of ex-combatant indigenous women of the FARC in Colombia; the symbolic dimension of the Zapatista mask, models of citizen participation and coexistence, among others.

(Review continued in right column)

( Click here for the original version in Spanish.)

Question for this article:

What are the most important books about the culture of peace?

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Santiago Pérez Samaniego, director of the magazine, said that this annual publication has the function of promoting research at local, national and international level, on issues related to peace, education, conflicts and human rights. He stressed that the articles that are part of this edition reflect a rigorous analysis of the different realities, perspectives, good practices or visions of the researchers.

He stressed that since the first edition in 2016 there has been an increased participation of researchers from different countries in the Culture of Peace Magazine, which “fills us with pride.” “It has become a benchmark of research for the promotion of peace in Latin America, attaining an important international position ”

Institutional contribution

Rosario de Rivas Manzano, academic vice chancellor of the UTPL, during the presentation ceremony extended a congratulation to the team that generated the third edition of the magazine, which he said promotes peace through research that seeks to modify attitudes in people to transform the conflicts that can generate violence. He highlighted the contribution of this publication to the UTPL, as a university that builds a fairer world with respect for human beings and society.

-The Culture of Peace magazine is available on the website:

Uruguay: Pépé Mujica, the ex-President of the Republic voluntarily the poorest in the world.


An article from the website of Pierre Martial, writer and journalist (To share as widely as possible, my friends and friends! Sharing is already acting.)

“The President’s house? It’s over there, at the very end of the dirt road! You see? It is the small shack with a green zinc roof and with chickens in front! “.

In the depths of this poor suburb of Montevideo, at Paso de la Arena, everyone knows José Mujica, affectionately nicknamed, at more than 84 years old, “Pépé Mujica“.

Copyright D.R.

Firstly, because he has lived in this modest 45 square meter farmhouse for over 20 years with his wife Lucia and his disabled dog, on three legs, Manuela.

Then, because he was President of the Republic of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015! And that he never stopped living in this modest house, even when he was the head of the nation!

Pépé Mujica was born into a family of poor peasants,, and he always wanted to stay in the midst of the most disadvantaged. He got involved and campaigned from a young age,precisely to defend the poorest and the oppressed!

So no question of abandoning them, even when he was President, for the gold of the Republic and the Presidential Palace, too luxurious for his taste!

It was at the age of 15, in 1950, that young José, orphaned by a father at 6, began to take action against misery and injustice.

In the 1960s, faced with the rise of paramilitary groups who wanted to take the law into their own hands and take power in his country with forceful attacks, kidnappings and assassinations, José Mujica was one of the founders, along with Raoul Sendic, of the emblematic group of Tupamaros. A kind of “Robin Hood” of Uruguay, the Tupamaros had given themselves the mission of protecting the people and containing the rise of the paramilitaries.

In 1973, when the military dictatorship raged, he was taken “prisoner-hostage” by the junta and was imprisoned in unsustainable conditions.

Tortured every day, put in total isolation, he was detained for more than 10 years, including 2 years at the bottom of a well. He came out in 1985, half crazy, a madness and a terrifying experience of which became, paradoxically, his greatest strength.

“It’s strange, he confides today, but a person sometimes learns more from difficult times than moments of happiness. These dark years were horrible and yet they taught me a lot”

(Article continued in the column on the right)

(Click here for the original French version of this article.)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

A silence, then: “For example, I can no longer hate. Do you know the luxury of not hating?”

As soon as he left prison, the ex-Tuparamo resumed fighting, a more peaceful fight this time but still as tireless and uncompromising.

In 1994, he became a deputy. In 1999, he was elected senator and was re-elected to the same office in 2004. While continuing to work as a farmer.

In 2010, consecrating his life to the service of his people, he was elected President of the Republic.

No more farmhouse and hard agricultural work? And welcome to presidential comfort, official cars, the luxurious Presidential Palace and the very comfortable emoluments of the Republic?

Not at all! Never! Not if you know Pépé Mujica!

The day after his election, he announced – to the chagrin of the Protocol – that it was out of the question for him to live in the Presidential Palace. Too rich for him! He would stay in his little house, full stop! But he reassured the world: the presidential residence would continue to serve, he committed to it. In 2012, for example, during the terrible cold wave that hit the country, he had it registered as a refuge for the homeless!

Second, he refused all official cars that were imposed on him. His Ladybug, blue bought in 1987, was more than enough for him, he said.

And thirdly, he decided to redistribute 90% of his monthly salary as President to charitable organizations, declaring himself well-off to keep the remaining 10%, the equivalent of 900 euros, the average salary in Uruguay.

It was on March 1, 2015 that Pepe Mujica ended his presidential functions. Not that he had had enough! At 80, he is still in great shape! Nothing beats the love of family, friends and dogs to keep you young! But the Constitution of Uruguay only allows one 5-year presidential term.

Pépé Mujica therefore returned, serene and good-natured, to his farmhouse, his flowers and his garden, in the depths of his suburbs and alongside his friends.

Is he satisfied with what he has done, with the example he has been able to set? He rolls his eyes.

“I did what I could … I have dedicated a large part of my life to trying to improve the social condition of the world in which I was born. I had a few disappointments, many injuries, a few years in prison …. Finally, the routine for someone who wants to change the world … “

His projects?

“Continue to live as long as possible! It is a miracle that I am still alive after all that I have experienced! And then read too, read a lot! I spent more than 10 years in a dungeon including 7 without being able to read. I’m late to catch up! ”

We wish you many more years of life and reading, Pépé Mujica, and we hug you with emotion.

You are for me – for all of us – much more than an example …

You give us hope!

(Thanks to Kiki Chauvin Adams who sent this article to CPNN.)