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The Road Not Built: Redefining Progress At Home and Abroad

Local opposition to a proposed road in Trinidad brings new understanding of “progress,” and what it means to be rooted.

Most Americans love roads: Ours is a country of roads with a network of highways that rivals any other. So too does the U.S. government love roads. When the Obama administration passed its epic $787 billion stimulus plan just weeks after taking office, where did much of the money go? Into fixing and upgrading our highways.

When U.S. aid agencies look to poorer nations, they too love to fund the building of roads that can deliver crops to markets and ports and bring “progress” to remote areas. After all, who could be against a road?

In our stay in Trinidad and Tobago, the two-island nation off the coast of Venezuela, we discover that more people than we expected are opposed to a particular road. Their reasons turn the prevailing view of progress on its head and add to our understanding of “rooted” communities.

As we prepare to travel to Trinidad, we notice something strange on maps of the island: The coastal road that goes almost entirely around Trinidad stops for a 17-mile stretch in the center of the northern coast. Our research reveals that government promises and plans to complete the road go back to 1962 when the country gained independence. Some five decades later, still no road.

Not only does the couple not want a road, they want the entire mountain region to be declared a protected area to be stewarded by the people who live around it and in it.

This intrigues us. So we travel to three towns that surround the no-road area in part to see what life is like at the end of the road and to find out the “what,” “why” and “how” of the unfinished project.

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Here's a 2009 article: Forgetting the Caribs of Trinidad

A stream of newspaper articles, and public comments on their contents, have been published over the past six months in Trinidad's Guardian newspaper. It has been a while since I have had a chance to cover the latest news, as reported by the media. Though not unexpected, some of the news is very striking about the degree to which the indigenous Caribs of Trinidad are suppressed, even while supposedly being celebrated, and forgotten even as they are commemorated. It seems that the authorities and elites in Trinidad are not content with any display of Caribness that goes beyond superficial performances and outright simulation. To some extent, the organized body of Caribs, the Santa Rosa Carib Community, is also responsible for buying into that system of official diversity management, whereby select groups are trotted out solely for the purpose of public performance, as if they were barely living, quasi-archaeological artifacts dancing in the state's cultural showcase. Now it seems that they are growing increasingly upset with the superficiality of the attention paid to them, but have not yet devised a strategy that does anything other than produce more of the same: more commemorations in place of any real transformation.

Mockery and Superficiality at the 5th Summit of the Americas

Let us begin with this year's Fifth Summit of the Americas (see also on Twitter). The first in a series of articles that touched on the Carib "presence" at the 5th Summit was Foreign delegates to get taste of local culture, by Michelle Loubon (3 April 2009). There is no note of potential controversy -- on the contrary, it seems that some much needed post-colonial revision will be presented:

In history classes, children learn that before Columbus came, T&T was inhabited by the Caribs and Arawaks. This is followed by the description of the Caribs as ‘warlike’ and the Arawaks as ‘peaceful.’ The Arawaks were decimated, but there remains a strong Carib community in the town of Arima—which diligently celebrates the Feast of Santa Rosa every year. For the 2009 Summit of the Americas, visiting US president Barack Obama and the other dignitaries will get a cultural history lesson on these indigenous peoples from reigning bandleader Brian Mac Farlane.
MORE


I remember those history classes. I didn't realize that Caribs and Arawaks still existed still until Pirates of the Caribbeans fucked up a couple of years ago.
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Wikileaks: The U.S. Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago, the Amerindians, and Indigenous Rights



Thanks to the recent release of WikiLeaks' U.S. Embassy cables, we have a complete set for Trinidad and Tobago, and many of the items are quite striking and revealing. One is of particular relevance to Trinidad's Indigenous community. It seems that the U.S. Embassy worked to temper any Trinidadian embrace of a new Indigenous Rights charter (that being drafted by the OAS), and that on the other hand, the Trinidadian government had a very selective view of what rights it had actually signed on to at the UN, as well as seeming agreeable to making concessions to the U.S. Of course none of this international diplomatic chatter on the rights of Trinidad's Indigenous People was previously made public.

Apparently the public profile of Trinidad and Tobago's Indigenous community, specifically the Santa Rosa Carib Community, came up in discussions between the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GOTT) and an officer in the Political Affairs section (PolOff) of the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain, according to a WikiLeaks cable. The cable is marked as "sensitive but unclassified". In a meeting that took place on 22 October 2007, Ms. Delia Chatoor of the Multilateral Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentioned that "Trinidad and Tobago's own small Amerindian community had recently become more vocal, and that a week dedicated to the history and culture of the group had just concluded [Amerindian Heritage Week]". These remarks were made in connection with developing a government position on the work of the Organization of American States (OAS) in preparing a Draft Declaration of Indigenous Rights (DRIP) (also see this and that), and in light of the then recent passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples--which the GOTT approved. We already know, from other WikiLeaks cables, that the U.S. worked actively on the international front to try to pressure governments to vote against the UN Declaration. However, the remarks by the Trinidadian government official are rather curious.MORE

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BRAZIL


Brazilian President Rousseff Escapes Lula's Shadow
This is from Business Week, oh readers. Just so you know. Read more... ) And this one is from Fox News Latino News Brazilian students demonstrate, are received by president Read more... )

 

ICELAND


Iceland’s PM Violated Equality Laws
Read more... )

 

Iceland’s Government Likely to Widen Coalition Read more... )

 

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO



Doctor's protest ends at intervention of the Prime Minister
Read more... )

 



Kamla, 'special' kids have fun in the rain
Huh. The headline bothers me. Is that acceptable terminology? Read more... ) Children’s health an urgent priority—Kamla Read more... )

 

MOZAMBIQUE



Flashbacks : 2004 First female Prime Minister in Mozambique Read more... )

 

2007 ANGOLA-MOZAMBIQUE Women Face Unequal Inequality Read more... )

 

2007 Mozambique: Network of Women Ministers And Parliamentarians Read more... )

 

2009 African Success:Luisa Diogo



Born on 11/04/1958 (format : day/month/year) Biography : Luisa Diogo (b. April 11, 1958), is a Mozambican politician who became the Prime Minister of Mozambique in February 2004. Read more... )

Ms. Diogo's term ended in 2010.
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Depending on a Global Workplace: Interview with American activist Eric Nicholson


Can you please contextualize the work you do, in what has become a global system of agriculture?
We are now importing the majority of the food we eat. The overwhelming majority of workers who harvest the food we eat in the United States are not from this country. And many if not most of the workers employed in the fields in the United States are displaced farmers from their own countries (mostly Mexico but not exclusively.) So we’re seeing that many of the same pressures and challenges that are facing farmers in the US are the very same ones that are displacing small farmers in the global South and resulting in them coming in search of employment to the United States, Canada, Australia, and European Union. At the same time, farmers and sometimes their spouses in the US are looking for second jobs in more urban settings.

When Vietnam entered the global market with coffee we saw an unprecedented exodus of coffee farmers out of eastern Mexico. When NAFTA was signed, mass exodus of corn farmers – so we see a direct correlation between these international trade policies and agricultural practices and kind of the global crisis of agriculture that we’re facing.

Within that context you look at agriculture in the United States and pretty much anyone born in this country has no aspirations to work in the fields. And I think if we’re honest with ourselves, the reason is because we all know the conditions are not good, the pay is pretty bad, and there’s really no benefits. As a result we have depended on immigrant workers to come up and do the work that we haven’t wanted to do. And so if you look at the history of the United Farm Workers, we’ve had workers literally from around the world as members – from Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Yemen, African Americans and of course, Mexicans, Central Americans, and the internationalization of the work-force continues. We now have workers working under contract from Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, and it’s very much become a global workforce that is harvesting the food we eat.MORE



One Year since the Bagua Massacre: New Actors Facing a State in Crisis – by Raúl Zibechi

“The rainforest is not for sale”, was one of the most-repeated choruses in the marches across Peru commemorating the first anniversary of the Bagua massacre. 34 people died and 200 were wounded when Alan García’s government decided to clear out the Awajun people who were blocking roads in the Amazon in protest of the indiscriminate exploitation of the forest. Thousands of Awajun had been demonstrating for two months and were about to abandon the so-called Curva del Diablo, but before they had a chance to do so they were attacked by rifles on land and by air.

Ten indigenous people were killed at the Curva del Diablo. They later retaliated, causing the death of 23 police officers. The location of one of the protestors, Major Felipe Bazán Caballero, remains unknown. All signs indicate that the minister of the interior, Mercedes Cabanillas, gave the order to open fire. A year later, no one has been found guilty of the tragedy. Shortly after the repression, four of the legislative decrees that had provoked the demonstrations were revoked and, on May 19, parliament approved the Consultation Law, which dictates that locals must be consulted before any projects to exploit community resources are approved. These are two substantial victories for the movement.

But, in addition to their legal triumphs, the indigenous people who make up the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), which brings together around 1,500 communities, obtained the recognition of Peruvian society as new and decisive actors in national political life. This is a symbolic act. On June 5, the father of the missing Major Felipe Bazán, travelled to the Curva del Diablo, near Bagua and the Ecuadorian border, one thousand kilometers northeast of Lima, to embrace indigenous people as they participated in a memorial act, baptizing the site as the “Curva de la Esperanza”.
MORE



Time to Value Women's Unpaid Work

SANTIAGO - The time has come for Latin American countries to put an economic value on the work that women do as they take care of households, children and the elderly, says ECLAC, the United Nations regional economic agency.
MORE



Haitian peasants march against Monsanto Company for Food and Seed Sovereignty- By La Via Campesina

On June 4th about ten thousand Haitian peasants marched to protest U.S.-based Monsanto Company’s ‘deadly gift’ of seed to the government of Haiti. The seven-kilometer march from Papaye to Hinche—in a rural area on the central plateau—was organized by several Haitian farmers’ organizations that are proposing a development model based on food and seed sovereignty instead of industrial agriculture. Slogans for the march included “long live native maize seed” and “Monsanto’s GMO & hybrid seed violates peasant agriculture.”MORE



CZECH REPUBLIC: Women Resist All-Male Cabinet

PRAGUE, Jul 7, 2010 (IPS) - Women’s rights campaigners say the Czech Republic’s new government has effectively told women they have no relevance to the country’s future after the new cabinet was formed – without a single female minister.

Despite a record number of women elected to parliament in elections in May and pre-election pledges by party leaders that they wanted more women in politics, women’s rights activists said they had been given a "slap in the face" after the make-up of the new cabinet was finally agreed last week. MORE



'Save Us From These Bankers, Fast'

BRUSSELS, Jul 5, 2010 (IPS) - Besieged by bankers opposed to regulation of their sector, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have taken an unusual step. A cross-party alliance has called for an international campaigning organisation to concentrate on remedying the flaws of the financial services industry with the same tenacity that Amnesty International focuses on victims of torture and Greenpeace on toxic chemicals and whales.

The call -- signed by 70 of the Parliament's 736 elected members -- was prompted by concerns over how the financial lobby had marshalled its ample resources over the past few years in a bid to dilute legislation drafted in response to the global economic crisis. According to the MEPs, the pressure they have been placed under by the financial industry is so intense that it represents a threat to democracy, especially as public interest groups have generally lacked the means or the expertise to mount a robust counter- offensive to the banks' efforts
MORE
I could get behind this 110%!


Read more... )
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Trinidad and Tobago elects first woman Prime Minister

Trinidad and Tobago is to have its first woman premier after Prime Minister Patrick Manning was ousted in a snap election on Monday

Jubilant crowds gathered at the party headquarters of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the Caribbean country’s attorney general, who is set to become its first female Prime Minister after Mr Manning conceded defeat late last night.

“We’ve lost the elections,” Mr Manning said bluntly on live television as Ms Persad-Bissessar’ United National Congress (UNC) party, a five-party coalition, headed toward a significant majority with preliminary results showing they had won 27 out of 41 seats.
“I take full responsibility for the defeat,” he added.
Mr Manning, whose People’s National Movement (PNM) has dominated politics in Trinidad and Tobago for half a century, had taken a gamble by calling the vote mid-way through his five-year term to thwart an opposition motion of no-confidence in him.MORE



HEEE!!!!! Here's hoping she has a successful term!!

Links

Apr. 9th, 2010 08:54 pm
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Collateral Murder Uncut Version



April 03, 2010 — Wikileaks has obtained and decrypted this previously unreleased video footage from a US Apache helicopter in 2007. It shows Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh, and several others as the Apache shoots and kills them in a public square in Eastern Baghdad. They are apparently assumed to be insurgents. After the initial shooting, an unarmed group of adults and children in a minivan arrives on the scene and attempts to transport the wounded. They are fired upon as well. The official statement on this incident initially listed all adults as insurgents and claimed the US military did not know how the deaths ocurred. Wikileaks released this video with transcripts and a package of supporting documents on April 5th 2010 on http://collateralmurder.com





Global Vocies:Kyrgyzstan: The “Archived” Revolution

The roots of the present revolution are various: South vs. North clash (Bakiev is from the South, the rebels are from the North), corruption and suppressive government (in recent years Kyrgyz people witnessed all forms of oppression from closings of the newspapers [ENG] to independent journalists' murders [EN]), Russia's Great Game interest, Ortega-y-Gasset'ian “revolt of the masses” etc). Whatever the real reasons of the Kyrgyz revolution of 2010 are it is important to note that it was overwhelmingly immediate, furious, bloody and… well-documented.

The role of the new media changed slightly this time compared to other dramatic events (like the protests in Moldova or Iran). Blogs and Twitter didn't serve as serious means of public mobilization since the Internet penetration rate is relatively small in Kyrgyzstan ( just 15 percent in 2009). However, new media were agile enough to cover all the main events giving detailed footage of initial protests in Talas, rampage in Bishkek and looting that followed. At the same time, new media were efficiently used by the opposition attracting the attention of international community and shifting public opinion to the side of the protesters. The opposition leader Roza Otunbaeva (@otunbaeva), for instance, registered her account as soon as she became the head of the provisional government. On the other day, son of president Bakiev, Maxim opened a LiveJournal account to express the pro-government point of view.

As Gregory Asmolov concluded [RUS], it was not “journalists 2.0″ who were the most efficient in covering Kyrgyz events but the “editors 2.0″. Bloggers who both knew the region and were outside the country to see the big picture and collected the photographs, videos and Twitter confessions. Two most informed bloggers in this situation were people outside the country: US-based Yelena Skochilo (a.k.a. LJ user morrire) and Kazakhstan-based Vyacheslav Firsov (a.k.a. lord_fame). They managed to assemble the most complete collections of photos, videos and timelines


Trinidad & Tobago: Election Fever

With one action, the prorogation of Parliament, Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister thrust the country into election mode. (The constitution of the twin island republic states that from the moment Parliament is dissolved, a general election must be held in no fewer than 35 days and no more than 90). As the news broke, the blogosphere was rife with speculation that the move was made to pre-empt a no-confidence motion against Manning that had been scheduled for debate today in the House of Representatives, as well as to avoid the fallout over the report of the Uff Commission of Enquiry into the Construction Sector, which was critical of the modus operandi of the state-owned Urban Development Corporation of T&T (UDeCOTT) - which is not to say that bloggers are not asking other critical questions, some even as basic as “When?

Trinidad and Tobago girls, politics, sports, technology, carnival, and lifestyle, however, starts with the “Why?”:

Why now? Why would the Prime Minister risk losing Government with not even 3 years of his five-year term behind him?
Why? Why when the country can still call on record revenue and a commanding majority in Parliament?

The analysts are pinning it on the no-confidence motion; or Calder Hart. But as Chris Rock asked when speaking on the Columbine shootings, “Whatever happened to crazy?”
It's quite possible Manning is just a nut. A lunatic.


MORE


RIGHTS-US: Love Without Borders – Or Papers

Cuba:Old Havana reaches out to the hearing impaired

Peru: Ongoing Mining Strike

Palestinian Christians barred from Jerusalem for Easter

Our Bodies are shaking now: Rape follows Earthquake in Haiti

Bolivia: Polarization persists:Regional elections confirm political split between the western highlands and eastern lowlands

Guatemala: Despite change to Penal Code, poor, indigenous Guatemalans lack resources to bring discrimination cases to trial.

South Korea insists it atomic program is for energy only



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