Friday 25 February 2011

News Round-Up

Latin America and beyond

I've linked repeatedly to the Journalism in the Americas blog over the past few days because, it seems to me, freedom of the press/pressure on and threats against journalists is one of the major threats to democracy in the region. Mexico and Honduras were named as particularly problematic countries in this regard (see also Nicaragua link below)
2010 press freedom report highlights setbacks and dangers for journalists (Journalism in the Americas)


Chile's draconian anti-abortion legislation is a legacy of the dictatorship
Chile: where abortion isn't an option (Guardian)


Colombia may be able to move on from its extended period of civil conflict, conference attendants hope
A Chance for Peace (IPS)


The headline speaks for itself
Nicaraguan journalist reports new death threats after investigating electoral finances (Journalism in the Americas)


Yep, filling your armed forces with violent criminals who didn't choose to be there sounds like an ideal way to create a modern, ethical army
Fujimori to evaluate military draft proposal for criminals, gang members (Peruvian Times)


No, Spain has not suddenly jumped continents, but it's interesting to draw parallels, and to my shame, I had never heard of the [attempted] coup of 23 February, 1981
February 23, 1981: "El 23-F" (Memory, Amnesia and Politics)

Peru: National Library to Close

This may seem off-topic, but I was astonished to see this story that Peru's national library is to be closed for three months following the discovery of hundreds of thefts.

When I was in Peru in 2005, the national library was housed on Avenida Abancay, in the centre of town. The building was quite beautiful inside, with the colonial-style inner courtyard, tall columns, etc. Sadly there was a considerable amount of street noise still audible from the reading rooms. Still more unfortunately, some facilities were really not adequate; newspapers were stored in boxes in the basement, they were sorted, but ultimately the papers for one day were all piled in a box, they could be bent, folded, crushed... If you checked the press for a significant day in history (for example, the day after Abimael Guzman's capture in 1992), the pages were tattered, torn, and in some cases completely missing - and that was from a date less than fifteen years previously! It was a real shame.

Anyway, construction was already underway for a new, purpose-built library on a large site in San Borja, which has since been completed. How sad that apparently the security system there isn't working - over 600 items have been found to be missing. Peru21 is even reporting that some of the pages from the original manuscript of Jose Maria Arguedas' El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abaja have gone. But the exact number of losses cannot really be quantified because the works are not fully catalogued, and that is apparently what the library staff are going to be doing during its three-month closure. It's pretty vital for Peru's intellectual and cultural heritage.

"Biblioteca Nacional no tiene seguridad" (Peru21)
La Biblioteca Nacional cierra por 90 dias (Peru21)
Robo en la BNP: desaparecieron hasta libros grabados en oro (El Comercio)

Thursday 24 February 2011

Iconic Image: Daniel Céspedes

This image, taken by David Burnett for the New York Times the day after the overthrow of Allende, became one of the icons of the Pinochet regime. Its subject became, in the words of Chilean paper La Nacion, "the best-known unknown person of the dictatorship".

His name is Daniel Céspedes, and he survived the military dictatorship and, in 2006, became the focus of a documentary by María José Martínez (see trailer below).

She said,
"The photograph turns into more of an icon than the imprint of one moment... I've read the Valech report, and it's extremely powerful, but seeing it all like that, you just see figures, you don't understand that it comes down to your neighbour, your dad."
Documental rescata historia oculta de “El hombre de la foto” (La Nacion)

Thanks to Peru Foto for posting the image and inspiring this post.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Media Round-Up

Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo took the occasion of its 90th anniversary to admit that it had supported the 1964 coup in the country. It also wrote that it changed tack in 1976 to become one of the main catalysts of the opening up of the political sphere. However, the paper sparked controversy in 2009 when it described the Brazilian military regime as a "dictablanda" - soft dictatorship, in comparison to the "hard" dictatorships of its Southern Cone neighbours.
Brazil's main daily admits having supported military coup in 1964 (Mercopress)

Peruvian journalists protest harassment from regional government (Journalism in the Americas)

Paramilitary group threatens five more Colombian journalists
(Journalism in the Americas)

Threats, bribes and other challenges of reporting Guatemala's elections (Journalism in the Americas)

Sunday 20 February 2011

HRW Film Festival, London 23 March - 1 April

If you're in the London area around the end of March, you may be interested in the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Latin American related films are:

Familia (2010, dir. Mikael Wiström and Alberto Herskovits, focusing on Peru/Spain)

Granito (2011, dir. Pamela Yates, focusing on Guatemala)

Impunity (2010, dir. Juan José Lozano and Hollman Morris, focusing on Colombia)

When the Mountains Tremble (1983, dir. Pamela Yates, focusing on Guatemala)

Peru: Lugar de la memoria update

I'm pleased to see that plans are moving ahead for the Lugar de la memoria (Place of Memory) in Lima, Peru.

- The bidding process for the construction of the museum is getting underway. The tender was announced last week and is due to run until 18 March.

- Vargas Llosa has said that the museum will be "a space of reconciliation".

- The museum commission, led by Fernando de Szyszlo, has said that the museum will be ready "by the end of the year". De Szyszlo has also said that Keiko Fujimori is the only one of the presidential candidates whom he considers likely to oppose the project.

- The Lugar now also has its own website, which is already looking good in Spanish (the other language flags are currently just there for decoration, but let's give them some time...).

Saturday 19 February 2011

'Desaparecidos' by Gervasio Sánchez

The work of Spanish photographer Gervasio Sánchez is displayed in an exhibition being held simultaneously at three sites in Spain. Sánchez draws parallels between incidences of forced disappearance in countries such as Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Iraq and Cambodia.

El Pais has done a multimedia special on the exhibition, which looks beautiful.

Thanks to Kathy Korcheck and Amazilia for drawing my attention to this.

News/Blogging Round-Up


World Leader in Forced Displacement (IPS)

After dramatic spike in attacks on media, Colombia strengthens crimes against journalists unit
(Journalism in the Americas)


Threats to the Media
(Central American Politics)

Guatemala, 1954 (Iconic Photos)

Martial Law, Represion, and Remilitarization in Guatemala (NACLA)


At Last, Reparations for Civil War Victims (IPS)


Uruguayan journalist harassed online for investigating dictatorship-era crimes (Journalism in the Americas)

Operacion Diablo

"Operacion Diablo", a documentary focusing on the struggle of Peruvian priest Marco Arana against the mining companies, has been honoured at the Berlin Film Festival.

Documentary on Peruvian priest Marco Arana wins in Berlin (Living in Peru)

Operacion Diablo (Memoriando)