Sometimes I find it enlightening look at current events in parts of the world that I usually don’t hear enough about. With that in mind, here are a few of the many current happenings in South America, home to 12 independent nations and over 400 million people.
Home to half the population of South America, Brazil is also home to one Jair Bolsonaro, unfortunately. The recently elected President is a big “get tough on crime” guy, so he intends to double down on the war-on-drugs campaign that eternally rages in – or rather against – the favelas. Bolsonaro is also a Nazi, but I digress. The efficacy of the militarized police in doing their ostensible jobs isn’t really the issue – they aren’t helping, and they never have. Public safety isn’t the issue, either, or loosening Brazil’s poorly-enforced gun control laws wouldn’t be on the table. Nope, both of those things have the same objective: produce an illusion of safety for the wealthier, whiter parts of Brazil that favored Bolsonaro in the last election. Judging by his electoral success, it’s a winning strategy.
A paragraph isn’t going to cover it, but here goes. Since inheriting the Presidency from Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro’s government has become less democratic and more corrupt and dictatorial with each passing day. But no matter how bad the shortages of basic goods became, no matter how many people fled the country, no matter how loudly the world condemned his farcical “elections,” no matter how obvious his personal idiocy, none of it slowed Maduro down. That’s because he had the one thing that mattered: a bunch of generals getting rich, ready to kill anyone who would even think about reigning them in. Nowadays, the vast majority of Venezuelans and just about every democratic country in the world want Maduro gone, and opposition has coalesced around Juan Guaidó. Nobody is doing well now, not even Maduro, and nobody knows if or when he will be ousted.
Absolutely awful story linked here: This is what a ban on abortions looks like. Though exceptions are written into the law, the reality is this: no exceptions for rape, no exceptions for the mother’s health, no exceptions, the end. The arguments for such a ban are equally uncompromising. No nuanced discussion of human development, no thoughts about bodily autonomy, no reasoned consideration of the ethics, no. Just no. They’re not interested, disagreement is murder, NO TALKING IF THE TEACHER HASN’T CALLED ON YOU. If there’s a more sophisticated argument circulating out there, good luck finding it.
Notably, a large majority of Argentinians WANT abortion to be legalized. Unfortunately, the phenomenon of a political structure suppressing the consensus wishes of its people is not unique to Argentina. The dynamics of abortion law in Argentina have parallels that some of us might find familiar, about a number of issues, wherever we’re from.
Here’s a neat trick for a President needing a boost: celebrities! Just, like, make them powerful government officials and stuff! What could go wrong? Now to be fair, I have no idea if President Martin Vizcarra’s newly appointed Prime Minister (the top position his cabinet) is qualified – he might be awesome! Anyway, actor/PM Salvador del Solar has the qualification that matters most to a President trying to keep his approval ratings from sinking any further: an appearance in Netflix’ Narcos.
OK, before the commenting commences, a couple things: All the usual rules apply, including the rule about not threatening anyone, whether they be human or squirrel. Please also be as courteous to your fellow politicados as possible. The terrorist attack against the Muslim community in New Zealand is extremely upsetting, to say the least. One very specific request: if you feel it necessary to share blistering hot takes from white supremacists, at least spoiler tag that garbage.