The Andes
lithium fields

Bolivia: lithium interests at play in Evo’s ouster?

Bolivia’s government issued a decree cancelling a massive joint lithium project with German multinational ACI Systems Alemania—just days before the ouster of President Evo Morales. The move came in response to protests by residents in the southern department of Potosí, where the lithium-rich salt-flats are located. Potosí governor Juan Carlos Cejas reacted to the cancellation by blaming the protests on “agitators” seeking to undermine development in the region. Plans for lithium exploitation were first announced over a decade ago, but have seen little progress—in large part due to the opposition of local communities, who fear the region’s scarce water resources will be threatened by mining. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Southern Cone

Italy hands down sentences in ‘Operation Condor’

An appeals court in Rome sentenced 24 to life in prison, including former senior officials of the military dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. The officials were found to have been involved in Operation Condor, under which opponents of military rule were hunted down across South America’s borders in the 1970s and early ’80s. The exact number killed is not known. The case focused on the disappearance of 43 people, including 23 Italian citizens. Prosecutors applied the “universal jurisdiction” precedent from the 1998 arrest in London of Chilean ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet. They also referenced the 2016 conviction of leaders of Argentina’s military dictatorship, which confirmed the existence of Operation Condor for the first time. (Image via Deep Dives)

Southern Cone

Chinese ‘spaceport’ military outpost in Argentina?

Announcement of a joint Chinese-Argentine satellite production company comes amid growing concern within Argentina about activities at the Chinese-operated "spaceport" at Bajada del Agrio in Patagonia—and the apparent role of the People's Liberation Army in the facility. The Bajada del Agrio facility played a part in tracking China's recent lunar probe, but is overseen by companies that answer directly to the PLA's General Armaments Department. Only personnel authorized by Beijing have access to the facility, arousing much suspicion about the site in Argentina's news media. (Photo via InfoBae)

Iran

Ayatollahs blame Iran unrest on US —surprise!

In a perfectly predictable response, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the US of fomenting the latest irruption in the wave of popular protests that has swept the country since the start of the year. Just as predictable was US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's transparently bogus statement of support for the Iranian protesters. Somewhat more surreal was the spectacle of Rudolph Giuliani, addressing a Paris rally staged by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), political wing of the cultish armed opposition group Mujahedin-e-Khalq—once listed as a terrorist organization by both the US and EU. Giuliani of course had to invoke the dreaded "regime change" phrase at the NCRI rally. This kind of US "support" hurts more than it helps, allowing the ayatollahs to more easily portray protesters as pawns, dupes or agents of the West.  (Photo: Center for Human Rights in Iran)

Southern Cone

‘Lost kingdom’ of Patagonia stands up for Mapuche

The exiled Royal House of the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia elected Prince Frederic Luz as the new monarch—claiming dominion over a large area of Chile in the name of the region's Mapuche indigenous inhabitants. Although now dispersed in Britain and France, the Royal House traces its origin to 1860, when Orélie de Tounens was recognized as king by the Mapuche, on his pledge to help them resist Chilean encroachment on their unceded territory. In the 1870s, the territory was finally taken in a genocidal campaign by the Chilean military. De Tounens returned to Europe and campaigned for international recognition of his exiled government. The Royal House still advocates for the rights and sovereignty of the Mapuche today. (Photo: North American Araucanian Royalist Society via CraigsList Philadelphia)

Iran

Podcast: Anti-austerity and the utopian moment

Protests against austerity and the lords of capital are erupting simultaneously in Iran, Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco, China, Peru, Honduras, Argentina and Ecuador, recalling the international protest wave of 2011. Such moments open windows of utopian possibility, but those windows inevitably seem to close as protest movements are manipulated by Great Power intrigues or derailed into ethnic or sectarian scapegoating. What can we do to keep the revolutionary flame alive, build solidarity across borders, and resist the exploitation and diversion of protest movements? Bill Weinberg explores this question on Episode One of the long-awaited CounterVortex podcast. You can listen on SoundCloud.

Southern Cone

Argentina: WTO meet collapses amid labor unrest

The 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization was held in Buenos Aires, marked by discord within the venue and angry protests in the streets. Inside, talks collapsed, while outside demonstrators clashed with police. The conference came amid ongoing protests against President Mauricio Macri's proposed legislation to take money from workers' pensions to close Argentina's fiscal deficit.

Southern Cone

Argentina: 48 ex-officers sentenced in ‘dirty war’

An Argentine judicial panel sentenced 29 former officials to life in prison, and 19 to between 8-25 years for murder and torture during the military junta's 1976-1983 "Dirty War." The sentencing concluded a five-year trial and represented Argentina's largest verdict to date for crimes against humanity. Collectively, the 48 defendants were charged with the deaths of 789 victims. The crimes were mostly committed at the notorious Higher Naval Mechanics School (ESMA).

Southern Cone

Argentina: judge orders arrest of former president

An Argentine judge ordered the arrest of current senator and former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for her alleged involvement in a cover-up of Iran's participation in a 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center that left 85 people dead. Kirchner is alleged to have signed a deal with the Iranian government that would allow for Argentine magistrates to interview the officials suspected of ordering the attack in Tehran rather than in Buenos Aires in an attempt to impede the investigation.

Southern Cone

Argentina: protests over ‘disappeared’ activist

Tens of thousands of Argentines held protests across the country, demanding answers one month after the disappearance of an indigenous rights activist. Demonstrators held photos of Santiago Maldonado, who was last seen when border police evicted a group of indigenous Mapuche from lands in the southern Patagonia region. In Buenos Aires, protesters converged on the Plaza de Mayo, iconic for its role in the struggle to demand justice for the "disappeared" under the military dictatorship.

Southern Cone

Argentina: ex-judges get life for crimes against humanity

A court in the Argentine province of Mendoza sentenced four former federal judges to life in prison for crimes against humanity carried out during the country's 1976-1983 dictatorship. The judges were originally tried as accomplices for failure to investigate the abduction, torture and murder of dissidents. The prosecutors eventually charged the judges as principals, arguing that their inaction led to more disappearances.