Latin America & the Caribbean

A spectre is haunting Venezuela ― the spectre of the colectivos. All the powers of old Venezuela have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise these colectivos: political parties, NGOs, the foreign press, and of course, Twitter users. “Armed thugs”, “vigilantes”, “paramilitaries” ― these are just a few of the hyperbolic terms attached to what has suddenly emerged as the central bogey of the Venezuelan opposition today: “los colectivos.”
A 13-year-old boy from Brazil’s Guarani tribe makes a political stand in front of 70,000 football fans and what he thinks is an international audience. A movement led by indigenous women in the United States beats a billion-dollar brand of the big, bad NFL. These two stories share more than the fact that they took place during the same week. They share the ways that people in power have sought to combat their courage by trying to render them invisible.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro issued a call on June 7 to each grassroots unit of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to submit 10 proposals for ways to improve how the government functions, Venezuelanalysis.com said on June 21. “In response,” the article said, “throughout Venezuela, local units of PSUV militants, known as Battle Units Bolivar-Chavez (UBCh), devoted their weekly meetings to lively debates analysing political problems and attempting to reach consensus on solutions.”
Ecuador accused US scientists on June 16 of taking thousands of unauthorised blood samples from indigenous Huaorani and selling them. The Huaorani are known for a unique genetic profile and disease immunity and the samples are believed to have been sold by the Coriell Institute for Medical Research to Harvard University Medical School. Ecuador’s constitution bans the use of genetic material and scientific research in violation of human rights.
Where No Doctor Has Gone Before: Cuba’s Place in the Global Health Landscape By Robert Huish Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2013 Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla By David Kilcullen Scribe, 2013 342 pp, $32.95 It is interesting that Robert Huish and David Kilcullen inhabit the same world, because their books indicate that they view the planet differently, like black and white or perhaps like life and death.
At the G77 plus China Summit held in Bolivia that ended on June 15, several Latin American presidents gave public backing to Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. They called for regional unity against an bid for “conservative restoration” under way in the South American country. The summit, held in Santa Cruz, eastern Bolivia, brought together 133 countries, about two-thirds of the member states of the United Nations.
Activists from across Venezuela met this month to form the National Communard Council, which aims to coordinate the country’s commune movement and present its demands to the national government. The council was formed in the western state of Lara during a three-day meeting of about 2000 communards (commune members) from around the country. Most represented a particular commune. The meeting was the fifth national gathering of the independent National Communard Network since the organisation was founded in 2009.
Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner refused point blank to go along with a US judge’s ruling requiring a US$1.5 billion repayment of defaulted bonds on June 16. Earlier that day, the US supreme court had backed vulture capitalist hedge fund NML Capital in its quest to extort full-value repayment for junk bonds for which it paid only fractions of their face value. But in a national address, Fernandez said she would not submit to “extortion” and was working on ways to keep Argentina’s commitments to other creditors.
Before returning to the favela (local neighbourhood) Vila Autodromo for the first time since 2012, I had already been told that the community would not look the same. As a friend said to me, “It will resemble a perfect smile with several teeth knocked out.” Vila Autodromo is just yards away from the site of the 2016 Rio Olympic village. Olympic planners, as well as building interests, have long targeted this close-knit community for demolition.
We, the undersigned parties and organisations in the Asia region, condemn the moves by the United States government to impose sanctions on Venezuelan citizens it deems to have “abused human rights”. The US House of Representatives’ May 28 vote for such sanctions is a violation of the right of all nations to sovereignty and self-determination.

Dave Zirin speaks to DemocracyNow! on the World Cup You Won't See on TV: Protests, Tear Gas, Displaced Favela Residents.

In a May 19 article on US government spying for The Intercept, Ryan Devereaux, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras publish leaked documents that show the US government may have used the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to aid National Security Agency (NSA) spying on US citizens and non-citizens in foreign countries. The leaked documents refer to “a vibrant two-way information sharing relationship” between the two intelligence agencies, implying that the DEA shares its information with the NSA to aid with non-drug-related spying.