Honoring Professor Bryan Roberts

Bryan Roberts, the C.B. Smith Chair in U.S.-Mexico Relations, has been a mainstay of our Latin American studies program for nearly three decades. Since his arrival here in 1986, he has supervised 53 dissertations, taught countless courses, published numerous articles and books, founded the Mexican Center, the Center for Latin American Social Policy, and served as Director of the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.

Bryan is retiring in December and to honor his long years of service,  LLILAS Benson jointly with the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS) organized an International Colloquium on Social Citizenship. This conference, which took place from April 17-19 at the beautiful Hacienda El Carmen, in Ahualulco de Mercado, Mexico, was sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and the C.B. Smith Chair as well as by CIESAS and LLILAS Benson.

The conference brought almost 30 of Bryan’s former students and long-term collaborators from all over the world to discuss the topics that have been the focus of Bryan’s research for almost five decades: migration, urbanization, inequality, ethnicity, gender, and social policy.  The discussion was lively, the camaraderie was remarkable, and the setting was magnificent. I cannot imagine a more fitting way to honor Bryan and to thank him for all that he has done.

Raúl Madrid
Co-organizer, ”International Colloquium on Social Citizenship in honor of Professor Bryan R. Roberts”
Professor, Department of Government
UT Austin.

Honoring Bryan Roberts

Bryan’s Closing Remarks (Saturday, April 19, 2014)

 Colloquium attendees 

2137

Remarks from Sociology Department Faculty, University of Texas at Austin (April 2014)

 Bryan’s intellectual breadth, his natural curiosity, his international background and education, in combination with his extremely easy manner, infused the Department’s Latin American area with vitality and humanism for over thirty years.  He contributed to far more than one area, though.  He is a Sociologist in the best European and American traditions and his work combines deep theoretical insights and solid empirical work.  He deeply touched the lives of hundreds of students and colleagues and he leaves a legacy that will animate the department and Latin American studies at UT Austin for years.
Ron Angel, Professor of Sociology

First-hand witness to momentous transformations in Latin America, Bryan Roberts was able to make sense of them by deftly combining on-the-ground observations with high level theorization. Anybody studying urbanization, citizenship, or development in the continent is now standing on this sociological giant’s shoulders.
Javier Auyero, Professor of Sociology

Bryan Roberts is an exemplary scholar who has had a crucial influence in the sociology of Latin America and in making UT a leader in the field. In addition to his own scholarly contributions to research on urbanization, migration, inequality, development, employment and informality in the region, Bryan has been a champion of bringing scholars from the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking worlds together. He has published extensively in both languages and, most importantly, he has led a number of collaborative research projects with Latin American scholars. The comparative nature of these projects has been crucial for the understanding of long term changes in Latin American cities. He has always tied detailed micro analysis of community change to the macro transformations experienced by the region. Bryan regularly returned to the communities in Guatemala were he conducted his early fieldwork in the late 1960s and 1970s to observe first-hand the changes brought by neoliberalism to those communities. As LLILAS director from 2006 to 2009, he expanded his commitment to collaborative research with Latin America and brought universities and research institutes in the region closer to UT. This also explains the huge number of friends he has made and the respect he commands in the world of Latin American social sciences.
Daniel Fridman, Assistant Professor of Sociology

 For those of us who have studied migration related topics he is definitely ‘maestro de maestros’ — he has mentored some of the most influential maestras and maestros in immigration studies in the social sciences. He is a kind spirit and will be missed.
Gloria Gonzalez Lopez, Associate Professor of Sociology

Bryan has made enormous contributions to the Department of Sociology for nearly three decades and perhaps especially so in the graduate program. He has directed dozens of dissertations and served on many masters and dissertation committees. Over the years, he has given great attention to helping his students write high-quality dissertations and placing them into productive academic and non-academic positions following graduation. Perhaps most important, Bryan has been a model colleague and mentor. He is incredibly productive and smart, yet humble. He takes his work very seriously, but also has a great sense of humor and does not allow the seriousness of his work to override the joy with which he lives his life. He’s an academic superstar, yet he always pitches in to do his share of the grunt work that departments need to get done. And he gets along with everyone; he’s a genuinely nice, fair, and kind person who is as well liked and respected as it gets. Thank you Bryan…for all of your contributions, for one, but more than that, for being the humble, humorous, fun, hard-working, down-to-earth, fair, and kind person that you are. You will be missed.
Bob Hummer, Professor of Sociology

Bryan has done an outstanding job opening roads for research in Latin America. In towns that I have visited in Mexico, Central America, and South America, people told me that Bryan had been there earlier.  It is a privilege to follow in his footsteps.
Nestor Rodriguez, Professor of Sociology

For almost thirty years, Bryan Roberts has anchored the program in Latin American Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin.  Less well-known to outsiders, he has also been a mainstay of our programs in Sociological Theory and Ethnographic Research Methods.  Bryan taught generations of qualitative researchers at UT.  He is a multi-faceted scholar who communicates across scholarly divisions of geography, theory, and methodology.  His geniality and collegiality have made the Sociology Department an exceptional place to work.
Christine Williams, Professor and Chair of Sociology

Feel free to add below in the comments section your retirement wishes for Professor Roberts.

Por favor siéntase en libertad the agregar en la sección de comentarios sus buenos deseos (ya sea en español o en inglés) para el retiro del Dr. Roberts.

 

 

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Home, Social Inequalities, Sustainable Democracies, The Americas

NO OLVIDAR PARA PODER CONSTRUIR: Memoria y Derechos Humanos

Ariel2

 Mi nombre es hebreo, mi apellido es polaco, mi familia emigró a Argentina desde Ucrania y vivo en los Estados Unidos. Hablo castellano con acento italiano, e inglés con acento ruso. No como tacos ni bailo salsa, ni tengo la tez mestiza pero me identifico como latino o mejor dicho latinoamericano. La multiplicidad de elementos que me definen me dan una identidad única que hace de cada parte un elemento esencial de quien soy.

¿Qué tiene que ver todo esto con un informe sobre derechos humanos, con la justicia transicional o con la memoria?. Pues mucho. La memoria, lo que se recuerda, cómo se recuerda, por qué se recuerda impacta en el resto de las herramientas de la justicia transicional y define no solo a la justicia transicional en su conjunto sino también el tipo de sociedad que somos y que queremos ser, es decir nuestra identidad como sociedad y como país. Tres décadas de justicia transicional nos dan una perspectiva integral de lo conseguido y de los desafíos pendientes. De seguro sabemos que la justicia transicional no es ni puede ser sinónimo de justicia blanda ni excusa para que un manto de olvido sea el sustituto a la memoria individual y colectiva.

Los cuatro tradicionales componentes de la justicia transicional, verdad, justicia, reparación y garantías de no repetición, constituyen áreas de acción interrelacionadas que pueden y deben reforzarse mutuamente. La experiencia que hemos adquirido demuestra que las iniciativas aisladas y fragmentarias de enjuiciamiento no acallan la demanda de mayores formas de justicia. Si se desarrollan de manera aislada, ni siquiera los procesos más rigurosos de búsqueda  de la verdad son equiparables a justicia como el propio caso chileno demuestra. Es que no es suficiente con conocer los hechos sino que también se requiere actuar sobre la verdad descubierta. Del mismo modo, las reparaciones sin enjuiciamiento, búsqueda real de la verdad o reforma institucional son fácil y comúnmente interpretados como intentos de comprar la aquiescencia de las víctimas.

¿Dónde se inserta la memoria en este abanico? Hasta hoy, las iniciativas de memoria no son consideradas como uno de los cuatro pilares de la justicia transicional. Las iniciativas de memoria, con frecuencia, son entendidas como elementos ajenos al proceso político, al estar relegadas a la esfera cultural “suave” —como objetos de arte para ser alojadas en un museo o un simple monumento—, al ámbito privado como duelo personal, o como simple actividad histórica, casi arqueológica. Como resultado, las iniciativas de memoria rara vez se integran a estrategias más amplias de construcción de la democracia y se diluyen o invisibilizan en los procesos de justicia transicional. Mientras que las medidas de verdad, justicia, reparación y garantías de no repetición son objeto de intensos debates políticos y están sujetas al escrutinio público, no sucede lo mismo en materia de memoria. Aun así, millones de personas visitan memoriales, participan en actividades de memoria, leen documentos, libros, testimonios, miran programas documentales de televisión. Frecuentemente lo hacen con inmenso ardor.

La memoria de las víctimas y los abusos del pasado, como concepto y como dinámica, y como mi propia identidad, tiene múltiples componentes. Incluye elementos sociales, políticos, antropológicos, filosóficos, culturales, psicológicos, urbanísticos y arqueológicos entre otros. La  memoria se expresa a través de una enorme cantidad de medios distintos como los sitios, los monumentos, las marcas urbanas, los testimonios, los actos, las recordaciones, los textos, los medios audiovisuales. Las violaciones que se recuerdan no son algo que les sucedió sólo a las víctimas sobrevivientes, a los familiares o incluso a los antepasados (como las iniciativas de  memoria del genocidio armenio, del Holocausto o de la Guerra Civil Española testimonian) sino que de la misma manera pueden manifestarse en el presente u ocurrir en el futuro. La memoria de la  forma en que los derechos humanos fueron violados en el pasado permite identificar 3  problemas actuales como pueden ser el maltrato policial, el hacinamiento carcelario, la marginalización, la exclusión, la discriminación o el ejercicio abusivo del poder. Así concebidas, las iniciativas de memoria son parte integral de cualquier estrategia por promover y garantizar los derechos humanos y profundizar la democracia.

Utilicemos “El Ojo que Llora” que, como muchos saben, es un monumento erigido en Lima, dedicado a las víctimas de la represión y violencia políticas que azotaron Perú entre 1980 y 2000 mediante la inclusión de una piedra con un nombre por cada persona ejecutada o desaparecida para analizar algunas de las aristas de la memoria. El registrar públicamente los nombres de quienes fueron víctimas de la violencia autoritaria, como es el caso del “Ojo que Llora”, produce diversas preguntas y debates. Por ejemplo ¿debe acentuarse el carácter de víctimas de la represión ilegal o el de militantes políticos que luchaban por la transformación estructural del país? Aquí en Santiago, Londres 38 opta por identificar la afiliación ideológica de cada víctima. Monumentos como el “Ojo que Llora” también nos obligan a preguntarnos cómo se relatan los hechos ocurridos y a quiénes se incluye en ellos. Creemos que no existe una respuesta única a lo que se recuerda o cómo se recuerda, sino que existe un espacio para una memoria heterogénea y divergente.

Cuando la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos ordenó la inclusión de los nombres de 41 ex guerrilleros de Sendero Luminoso asesinados en 1994 en la  masacre de Castro Castro en el “El Ojo que Llora”, esto indignó a muchos sectores de la sociedad peruana debido a los atentados y masacres cometidos por este grupo terrorista. El debate entonces era, y es, si pueden convivir en un memorial las víctimas inocentes de la  violencia junto a personas acusadas o condenadas por actos de terrorismo también ejecutadas o desaparecidas por el Estado Nuestra respuesta es que si el memorial es para las víctimas de la violencia estatal, sí.

No puede haber una distinción de las víctimas de la violencia del Estado en función de la ideología o acciones previas de las mismas. Por supuesto, que ello no significa que un memorial no pueda listar los nombres a la par que, también, contenga una descripción de hechos, circunstancias y que explique clara y explícitamente los diferentes contextos en que las víctimas fueron ejecutadas y/o desaparecida En memoriales como “El Ojo que Llora”, se busca recuperar la individualidad de quienes perdieron su vida. Por eso, las fotografías, los nombres, la acción de nombrar a cada uno como individuo único y distinto. Esto es, una concepción individual de la memoria como forma de reparación a las víctimas, para “recuperar” su memoria, para “reconocer su dignidad” y para “consolar a sus deudos” como ha dicho la Corte Interamericana.

Pero además, este tipo de memoriales, tiene un efecto contundente en su cantidad, que refleja el número y la dimensión de las violaciones cometidas. En casos como la desaparición forzada, frente a la metodología del terror, el secreto de la detención y ejecución y ocultamiento de los cuerpos, un memorial que simplemente haga público el nombre de la víctima es al mismo tiempo una dignificación de víctima como un cuestionamiento de la práctica misma del terror ejercida secretamente y mediante la supresión de la identidad y personalidad jurídica de la víctima. En otras palabras, la memoria cumple objetivos deslegitimadores de las violaciones perpetradas.

De todas maneras, las iniciativas de memoria persiguen mucho más. Son espacios públicos para la reflexión privada y colectiva. Las iniciativas de memoria invitan, pasiva o activamente, a todos y todas, incluidas aquellas personas que ni siquiera saben sobre los hechos que se recuerdan (como pueden ser las generaciones actuales que nacieron luego de que se cometieran las violaciones) o incluso que pueden disentir con los mensajes transmitidos, a reflexionar sobre los mismos. Es que las iniciativas de memoria nos exigen no solo recordar a las víctimas, sino pensar de manera crítica acerca de nuestra historia y en cuáles fueron las fuerzas que desencadenaron la guerra (como en los Balcanes), el racismo y apartheid (como en Suráfrica), la guerra civil (como en Guatemala o El Salvador) la dictadura o la opresión política (como aquí en el cono Sur). Una política de memoria debe impulsar el debate sobre los procesos ideológicos, políticos, económicos y sociales que preanunciaron la violencia estatal y que posibilitaron, facilitaron, sustentaron y/o se beneficiaron del terrorismo de Estado y/o la violación masiva y sistemática de los derechos humanos.

Las medidas de justicia transicional, incluida la memoria, aunque no pueden por sí solas  establecer ni sostener la democracia, refuerzan los procesos de consolidación democráticas en cuanto reconocen a las personas, en particular a las víctimas, como titulares de derechos que fueron violados y que pueden ser reivindicados ante el Estado. Como ha dicho el Relator de Naciones Unidas sobre Verdad, Justicia, Reparación y Garantías de no repetición: “no es suficiente reconocer el sufrimiento y la fortaleza de las víctimas. Estos son rasgos que pueden compartir con las víctimas de los desastres naturales”. Lo que se requiere es recordar y actuar en función del sujeto como titular de derechos.

La responsabilidad estatal en asegurar el deber de justicia, verdad, reparación y no repetición coloca al Estado en un rol central y fundamental en la justicia transicional. Pero en memoria, a diferencia de las otras áreas, el Estado no tiene el control sobre el proceso. Múltiples actividades de memoria son promovidas por los familiares o iniciativas privadas, como el proceso chileno ejemplifica. Una política estatal de memoria debe revalorizar y alentar esta diversidad de propuestas que se han gestado, multiplicado y diversificado en cuanto a sectores y generaciones, tipo de expresiones y manifestaciones así como en cuanto a su contenido.

Además, el Estado  debe lograr una eficaz interrelación entre las distintas iniciativas de justicia transicional y los procesos de memoria. Los eventos claves en términos de búsqueda de justicia y verdad contribuyen a la construcción de la memoria o viceversa. En Argentina, por ejemplo, es indudable que el Nunca Más de la CONADEP de 1984 y el Juicio a las Juntas en 1985 y contribuyeron a la construcción de la memoria sobre la dictadura y su repudio. Pero al mismo tiempo, hechos de memoria como la publicación de El vuelo, con la confesión de Scilingo sobre los vuelos arrojando al rio y mar a las personas desaparecidas, favorece no solo a la multiplicación de nuevas iniciativas de memoria, sino que dan impulso a la búsqueda de justicia y verdad actualmente desarrollándose en Argentina. Es que el combate a la impunidad aparece como un eje ordenador de los esfuerzos en materia de verdad, justicia y memoria.

Las determinaciones judiciales como los procesos de verdad sobre los hechos constitutivos de graves violaciones a los derechos humanos, cumplen un rol fundamental en la preservación y construcción (en este caso judicial o través de una Comisión de la Verdad) de la memoria. En primer lugar, las sentencias o informes de las Comisiones de la Verdad, son relatos oficiales estatales sobre las violaciones cometidas en el pasado. También la respuesta judicial sea condenando o contribuyendo a la impunidad de las violaciones del pasado o los resultados de los procesos de verdad, pasan a ser en sí mismas un componente de la memoria. Para las generaciones futuras (y también las presentes) la actitud del Poder Judicial investigando o no, del Poder Legislativo aprobando o derogando leyes de amnistía, del Poder Ejecutivo facilitando o bloqueando investigaciones judiciales o procesos de verdad, serán parte de la memoria sobre cómo se desarrolló la justicia transicional.

Finalmente, sentencias judiciales e informes de Comisiones de la Verdad limitan criterios revisionistas o minimalistas de las violaciones cometidas. Cuando iniciativas supuestamente de memoria histórica buscan relativizar o negar las violaciones cometidas, un proceso judicial serio, imparcial que concluya con una sentencia condenatoria o un informe de una Comisión de la Verdad socialmente aceptada y respetada, cuestionan, en sí mismos, la legitimidad de las posiciones relativistas o negacionistas. Ello no significa que no pueda haber voces disidentes, contradictorias o divergentes que expliquen o describan los hechos violentos de diferentes maneras. Esto es absolutamente necesario y bienvenido en una sociedad democrática. Pero entre la explicación y negación de los hechos hay un abismo. Una determinación judicial o un informe de una Comisión de la Verdad, en este sentido, deslegitima aún más estas posiciones negacionistas.

De todas maneras, tanto las iniciativas de justicia como las de verdad como aspecto de la memoria tienen sus limitaciones. Por un lado, la reconstrucción judicial de la memoria, está encorsetada por las formas judiciales. Es decir, en un caso judicial se admiten solo ciertas pruebas, las mismas se valoran de acuerdo a criterios jurídicos y judiciales y el Tribunal las describe con tecnicismos y vocabulario legal o judicial. Ello significa que muchos elementos cruciales de la memoria, quedarán fuera de esta reconstrucción histórica judicializada de las  violaciones.

Las comisiones de la verdad u otras iniciativas son proyectos estatales que reconstruyen un aspecto del pasado histórico. Por ejemplo, la Comisión de la Verdad de Argentina solo se limitaba a las desapariciones forzadas pero no a otras violaciones ocurridas. En Chile, las comisiones de la verdad se refirieron a las desapariciones, ejecuciones y torturas pero no a otras múltiples violaciones a los derechos humanos perpetradas. Además, las iniciativas oficiales en materia de verdad, conviven con iniciativas privadas, relatos, versiones, que pueden coincidir, total o parcialmente con la verdad oficial o de hecho pueden divergir.

Muchas iniciativas de memoria son categorizadas como “reparaciones simbólicas” como lo hace, por ejemplo, la Corte Interamericana. No obstante, aunque este vínculo con reparaciones morales o colectivas es importante, es un error visualizar a las iniciativas de memoria solo como reparaciones simbólicas. En particular, tal clasificación no refleja adecuadamente el potencial que poseen los memoriales y otras iniciativas de memoria para transformarse en espacios de participación y discusión pública, como he explicado.  Ciertos estándares respecto al rol del Estado para desarrollar actividades de memoria están comenzando a emerger. Algunos, como el ex Juez de la Corte Interamericana Antonio Cançado, han hablado de un “deber y un derecho de recordar o conmemorar”. El mismo no calza con exactitud en ninguna de las categorías de verdad, justicia, reparación y no-repetición, aunque está implícito y se relaciona, como hemos, dicho en todas ellas. Una norma emergente del derecho internacional insta a tomar como una obligación el recuerdo y compromiso respecto de las atrocidades pasadas. Ciertos estándares de Naciones Unidas y del sistema  interamericano de derechos humanos, insisten en el deber de recordar, educar sobre el pasado, y rechazar las negaciones de las atrocidades. También resaltan el rol que cumplen los archivos en la búsqueda de verdad y justicia, a la vez que son centrales en la recuperación y construcción de la memoria. Por ello, el Estado tiene el deber de protegerlos, sistematizarlos y facilitar su acceso público, siendo impermisible que se mantengan en secreto.

Una política estatal coherente en materia de memoria debe concebirla como parte de la educación en derechos humanos. Las actividades que aquí en Chile desarrollan el Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos o el Parque por la Paz Villa Grimaldi son ejemplos muy positivos de concebir las distintas iniciativas de memoria, no solamente procesos de conmemoración y dignificación sino como espacios educativos sobre lo sucedido y de reflexión sobre como actuamos como sociedad en el pasado y como lo hacemos en el presente frente a los desafíos actuales y futuros en función de la memoria del pasado. De hecho, un creciente número de lugares de conmemoración en todo el mundo, incluido Chile se asumen hoy en día como “Sitios de Conciencia”.

Una política estatal de memoria requiere también revisar la manera como se enseña historia en nuestras escuelas primarias y secundarias. Requiere también revisar cómo se enseña esta etapa represiva y autoritaria en los cursos de historia militar y policial. La educación sea de los y las estudiantes primarios o secundarios como de las fuerzas de seguridad, deben claramente transmitir la idea que las graves violaciones a los derechos humanos ocurrieron y no fueron un simple exceso, sino una política planificada y ejecutada por el Estado en flagrante violación de principios elementales de humanidad, de normas legales, de principios éticos y morales y de concepciones democráticas.

Permítanme desarrollar dos ideas antes de concluir. Debemos distinguir entre una política de Estado de memoria y la política de un gobierno concreto. Un gobierno democrático, puede ser más o menos proclive al tema de derechos humanos. En materia de memoria, un gobierno puede ser contrario a supuestamente “reabrir heridas del pasado” o tener una actitud pasiva, o incluso activa pero discrecional y poco participativa. Pero, como contracara, existe también un riesgo que la memoria sea apropiada por un gobierno en cuanto a lo que se memorializa, como se memorializa, persiguiendo exclusivamente un objetivo político partidario en la memoria. Una última idea. Los espacios de memoria, los memoriales y monumentos se han focalizado frecuentemente en las vidas de hombres y en experiencias masculinas. A pesar de eso, en la actualidad y de manera creciente se comienza a dar visibilidad a las víctimas mujeres, cómo  fueron víctimas de violaciones especificas por su género o como fueron afectadas de manera diferenciada. También se ha comenzado a reconocer las múltiples historias de mujeres como  activistas muchas veces al frente de la resistencia, tales como las iniciativas de memoria que reconocen el rol de las Madres o Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo en mi país. Pero todavía falta un largo camino por recorrer para que las políticas de memoria tenga una clara perspectiva de género. Por ejemplo, hoy en día sigue invisibilizada la contribución de las mujeres, como madres, como abuelas, como hijas, como hermanas, actuando como prestadoras de cuidados que hicieron posible la supervivencia en periodos autoritarios.

A meses de la muerte de Nelson Mandela, a 40 años del golpe en Chile, a 30 años del retorno a la democracia en Argentina, tenemos el desafío de fortalecer los trabajos por la memoria.

Sabemos que el Nunca Más, es una afirmación de la memoria del pasado y su rechazo categórico así como un compromiso y aspiración hacia el futuro. Las iniciativas de verdad, justicia y memoria, evidencian el horror y magnitud de los abusos cometidos, con lo cual el Nunca Más mantiene toda su fuerza y vigencia. Pero el Nunca Más no es suficiente frente a muchos de los desafíos presentes. Es que la memoria, el Nunca Más, no deben solo recordar y tratar de evitar las formas más graves de violaciones a los derechos humanos, sino que deben ser un rechazo a las nuevas formas de ejercicio abusivo del poder y deben permitir visibilizar otras violaciones generalmente silenciadas – como el acceso a la educación, a la salud, al trabajo, a la igualdad.

La memoria, no ya de las violaciones, sino de los proyectos de cambio que tuvieron como respuestas estas masivas violaciones, nos invitan a vincular esos hechos del pasado con los problemas actuales de nuestras sociedades. Porque en definitiva, el desafío de una política de memoria no es construir memoriales ni instalar estatuas adormecidas, sino crear sociedades más justas, igualitarias y democráticas.

Ariel Dulitzky
@ariduli 
Experto del Grupo de Trabajo de las Naciones Unidas sobre Desapariciones Forzadas
Director del Consultorio de Derechos Humanos y Co -Director del Centro de Derecho Latinoamericano KBH

http://www.utexas.edu/cola/insts/llilas/faculty/aed636

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position and views of LLILAS BENSON Latin American Studies and Collections.

40262_1371215565980_5492467_n

El Ojo que Llora
Monumento a la Memoria
Lima, Peru
Fotos cortesía de Christian Reynoso (Noticias SER)

40262_1371215525979_7445585_n

El Ojo que Llora
Monumento a la Memoria
Lima, Peru
Fotos cortesía de Christian Reynoso (Noticias SER)

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Home, Social Inequalities, Sustainable Democracies, The Americas

Border Fence has Disparate Impact on Minorities

Denise Gilman, Clinical Professor
Co-Director, Immigration Clinic
University of Texas School of Law

http://www.utexas.edu/cola/insts/llilas/faculty/dlg662

In this video, Professor Denise Gilman discusses the human rights impact of the fence along the Texas–Mexico border. According to the DallasNews Watchdog blog, “Late last week, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. sided with Gilman in ruling that the names and addresses of property owners whose land was affected by the border wall project should be disclosed, as the Courthouse News Service reported.”  This information may shed light on the disparate impact that the fence has on minorities and especially on indigenous communities. 

Videographer: Dylan Baddour

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position and views of LLILAS BENSON Latin American Studies and Collections.

 

 

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Central America & Mexico, Home, Social Inequalities

On Design Studio Projects and Their Implementation

Gabriel 2

 

By Gabriel Díaz Montemayor

I studied architecture in a private school affiliated to a state public university in northern Mexico. In a 5 year program, since 3rd year most of our design studios had to do with some form of collaboration with a public entity, helping these develop projects that otherwise they would be unable to conceive or pay for. All of the work was done in state, in Chihuahua. It was during those years when I got to know the Sierra Madre Occidental, then and now home of Native Americans, mining and logging industries, small scale subsistence agriculture and large scale poppy and marijuana growing. The municipalities in these mountains lack technical expertise, then and now, for the development of public projects such as parks, community centers, plazas, and other public services.

Since then, in the early 90’s, the political will to design and build these project typologies was uncertain in the best case, if not in-existent. As a student I got involved in projects of various kinds, a park around a water reserve in Guadalupe y Calvo (well inside the Golden Triangle region infamous for the presence of drug traffickers), tourism cottages in Uruachic, a Revolution Museum renovation in Guerrero (as my social service project right after graduation), soccer fields in Chihuahua City, a parish in a subsidized housing / low income area of Chihuahua, and more. None of these were built, at least, as proposed by our student projects coordinated by our professors. The projects were really used to check the box by these mayors and local politicians, but eventually vanished into the short term political timing or the mason’s will on construction sites, taking –I am sure- better informed decisions than our often naïve and underdeveloped projects.

Then I grew up, graduated, became an architect, a professor, immigrated to the US, studied Landscape Architecture, became a full time faculty member (in Landscape Architecture) and I continue to see the issues of technical expertise and the question of the origin and implementation of ALL kinds of projects (not just the student projects). The difference is that I see the same situation going on in places where I would not necessarily expect for it to happen. It became clear to me that it was not just an issue of small scale towns, but of, pretty much every city. There are places that have a local culture better suited for the success of these collaborative projects between architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture students and cities, committees, and other public institutions. There are also places where the political class and local society (if participating) are better informed, have a more technical approach, or practice decision taking not just based on political calculations (although every public project is one). But here and there, I also continue to confirm that the rate of success is low. By success I mean how much of the ideas developed -pretty much for free- for these institutions actually made it to the executed project, or to the hired designers desk, or to the mayor’s desk, influencing decision making.

This kind of projects, for us -faculty and students- in the design studio continue to be a great stimuli. The idea that what we do in studio can have a real impact on people is very attractive and challenging. It goes beyond typical preoccupations proper to the designer’s mindset, for example, narcissistic interests, and the “I want to” or “my idea” are more often vanquished by grounded realities. It is also an opportunity to embrace complexity, the real kind, while operating in a working environment more similar to an office where everybody’s got responsibilities.

In discussions with colleagues that are doing similar things -many of us do at the School of Architecture at UT as well as in most Schools of Architecture- we share disappointments and varying degrees of success (aka implementation). From my own experience and that of others there a number of things that seem to work right, or better.

In the case of the working relationship there are some basic things. Often, the projects are done at a distance, located in other countries –in my case, so far, Mexico and the US- offering the added incentive of international/national travel for students. This is good for engagement, group experience, and the relationship with the client (the city institution, the organization, and etc).

Travelling to visit is always a good gesture and it helps to the seriousness of the work being developed. Finding a way to have the client collaborate with funding is important. Normally, most of these institutions lack the funds, that is why we are working together in the first place, but, having some monetary investment in the project ensures follow up and, at least, a future plan (which might include inaction) for the collaborative project. If the client can visit the school and participate during the process: even better. And, finally, finding a way to continue collaborations beyond the ephemeral condition of leadership -your contact person- that pervades many places and institutions. I am just off a phone call with an urban planning official in Mexico regarding a future public-academic project currently on the planning phase. He wanted to let me know that he has now effectively left the institution (before his term was due, politics), but, that he will have our planned project be on the to-do list for his successor. Fundamental thing: embrace and try to manage instability and have a plan B.

In the case of the project or product there’s another set of complexity. First, raise your hand and say I’ll do it if the project is the mind of the potential client but he/she/it are still hesitant or don’t have money for it. Second, try to find a way to insert innovative ideas, educate the client and target population towards a goal, learn from them in the process, and communicate in a legible, therefore implementable, manner. And third, finding a way to design a project that provides a lifeline of communication after the semester is done. This is probably a most complicated thing to do, as I already mentioned how working relationships might not last or change very quickly.

This is never an exhaustive reflection on this subject, I feel I could go on; this is more of an opportunity for distension. I am yet to see how some projects done in the recent past evolve in time, and then, be able to measure how much of our work is left in the form of ideas, designs, modes of operation, and fundraising. My belief in this teaching, learning, research, and creative practice mechanism continues.

Gabriel Díaz Montemayor

Assistant Professor
School of Architecture

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position and views of LLILAS BENSON Latin American Studies and Collections.

20140214_0737

“Students from the School of Architecture at UT Austin and Urban Planning officials of Los Cabos, Mexico, during a workshop held last February in San Jose del Cabo. Photo by Gabriel Diaz Montemayor.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Central America & Mexico, Home, Uncategorized

Central American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin

Professor Virginia Garrard Burnett (Dept. of History) speaks about her research on Central American studies, the LLILAS BENSON’s efforts to expand Central American scholarly resources at UT Austin, and the significance of the 2014 Lozano Long Conference: Archiving the Central American Revolutions. Watch video here:

To learn more about The 2014 Lozano Long Conference: Archiving the Central American Revolutions visit our Facebook page or  our webpage.

Read more ›

Posted in Central America & Mexico, Cultural Agency, Home, Social Inequalities, Sustainable Democracies

Recovering Lost Footprints: The Emergence of Contemporary Indigenous Narratives in Abya Yala

Arturo AriasArturo

Indigenous literature is, for the most part, a rediscovery of learning as spirituality and nurture. If this knowledge is not available discursively it is only because Western genocidal practices erased it in the first place, and contemporary indigenous communities are presently reconfiguring it, rediscovering those lost footprints that remain, haunting them in dreams. Hauntology is Derrida‘s neologism,  a pun on ontology which, refers to the idea that the present exists only with respect to the past, and that societies after the collapse of Eurocentric thinking will begin to orient themselves towards ethical principles that Eurocentric modernity thought of as archaic, primitive, or discarded. That is, in the direction of those “ghosts” of the past that indigenous cosmovisions perennially rearticulate and indigenous peoples are reinscribing within modernity. Indeed, this sounds very much like the Andean concept of pachakuti, a Quechua and Aymara word meaning the disruption of the universe, as Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui argues.

In a nutshell, this contradiction/opposition between Derridean and Andean terminologies is emblematic of the problem of dealing critically with indigenous discursivities. There is also an issue with language itself. With how language is configured, what it achieves, how it frames things. Most indigenous languages are not “conceptual” in the sense that Western metaphysics understand the term, roughly as tightly-disciplined abstract objects, articulating propositions mediating between thought, language, and referents. Yet this does not mean that indigenous cultures lack systemic knowledge, nor that they lack the capacity for relational thought, a framework to understand reality or physical systems.

We are also talking of many languages. We are dealing with hundreds of languages that we, cultural critics trained by Western notions of epistemological knowledge in Western-centered institutions where we also work, and whose positionings become inevitably our lookout into the world, the angle from which we see and make sense of our own beingness, are, for the most part, incapable of understanding, or speaking. At most, some Western-trained scholars speak a handful of them, perhaps a dozen, and this is a best-case scenario. Thus, we are operating, metaphorically, in the tragic conundrum of persons born blind, attempting to enunciate visual descriptions.

Their behavior evidences a simultaneous co-existence of what we Westerners would label modern and non-modern conceptions of the world, implying that “modern thought” as understood by us in the West, is not an indispensable condition for oppressed social sectors to enter the public sphere. Indigenous groups can also access modern traits through alternative projects that juxtapose secular and indigenous-centered traits. In turn this fusion, an amalgamation of elements, became itself transformative of those Western traits originally employed by Westernized urban elites to constitute the Nation-State in the first place. The subalternized knowledge that entered into this configuration cannot be explained by Western space-time coordinates. Yet it impacts the present, giving it a “thickness” that sets it apart from the horizon of expectations of modernity. This has become an epochal marker for my country and for indigenous peoples in the Americas as a whole, initiating a systematic reconversion of the very nature and viability of Latin American nation-states.

My point of origin, the one that moved me to write in the first place a three-volume series on contemporary indigenous textualities in Latin America—of which the first volume, on Maya contemporary narrativities, has just been completed—is to make indigenous strength visible.

Strength seeps from within the printed lines of their texts. It is imbued in the smell of ink and paper that still marks their printed narrative textualities. They configure complex societies with a sophisticated understanding of cosmology and spirituality, with epistemologies that impress readers with their breadth, refinement and finesse, besides the composure and elegance of the words in which they are written.

From Jaime Gomez Navarrete in Cecilio Chi’, the first-ever Yukateko novel, narrating Maya laborers whipped in henequen haciendas, to Javier Castellanos mocking Zapoteco conscription on both sides of the Mexican revolution in Relación de las hazañas del hijo del Relámpago, they all articulate a broadening chorus of powerful voices screaming out long litanies of numberless details about atrocities committed against them. Indigenous narrative textualities attempt to get past the cold abstraction of numbers and ciphers to the blood-curling everydayness of abject oppression, exploitation, racism and torture.

 

Arturo Arias
Tomás Rivera Professor of Spanish Language and Literature
Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese
UT Austin.

https://www.utexas.edu/cola/insts/llilas/faculty/aa3398

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position and views of LLILAS BENSON Latin American Studies and Collections.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Central America & Mexico, Cultural Agency, Home

Whose Dominicanidad?: Citizenship, Border Cultures and Human rights

DOMINICO-HAITIANO EN PROTESTA, (SANTO DOMINGO)

Picture Courtesy of Aurora Arias

JOSSIANNA ARROYO-MARTINEZ.

I am at the Aereopuerto Internacional Las Américas, José Francisco Peña Gómez in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic while I wait for a flight from Santo Domingo to San Juan.  A Dominican woman sits next to me and asks me to help her fill out the all English customs form that she will need to turn in as soon as she lands in San Juan. She is a high-school teacher who is visiting the island to see her niece who is having a baby and this is only the second time she travels to Puerto Rico, where she has family in Bayamón, Río Grande and Mayagüez. Soon we start talking about of what the court decision ruling or sentencia  #168 means to her. She says that this is most of all a political decision made by “those in the government” and that she does not agree with it. She sees it as against the law and unconstitutional. I tell her that the feeling that I got from watching the local news is that there is a consensus and that mostly all Dominicans agree with it.  “Mentiras,” she argues,  “lies” all that appear on the news here are lies, “they are all lying and they are corrupt” and “many people simply don’t want to address they discontent openly because they fear they will be deported.” Where they will go? They are Dominicans.” When we finish our conversation I think about the irony of the situation. Peña Gómez was a Dominican-Haitian born in 1937, the year of the “Corte” the local name for the “Perejil Massacre” which occurred at the border between these two nations that killed more than 300,000 Haitians and some Dominicans citizens as well. Peña Gómez a politician, and three-times candidate for the presidency will not be considered a Dominican citizen if that ruling will be effective today. Now he “lives” in an airport name the best way of silencing his body, legacy and politics.

Court decision 168-# approved in September 23, 2013 and made by the government and judicial system in the Dominican Republic proposes that, all persons born after 1929 of non- Dominican parents on Dominican soil will need to legalize their citizenship status providing documents of citizenship (cédula de identidad). If not they will be left in a “citizen limbo” as they will be unable to access basic services, receive medical attention or acquire jobs. More than 200,000 people will be affected; and 24,000 of the 60,000 birth records reviewed during November will have their citizenship revoked. This sentencia is rooted in an anti-Haitian ideology that is still active in the trujillista sectors of government and society. It is an anti-Haitian decision as it relates to the anti-Haitian sentiment still thriving on the more conservative elites and media in the island. Also, it is an anti-Dominican sentiment as it stripes these Dominican men, women and children of their basic human rights. Dominican progressive sectors in the island and the diaspora have been vocal in their protests and critiques. While in San Juan Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican government has remained silent, other sectors of the Dominican, and the Dominican-Haitian and Puerto Rican community have made their voices heard particularly on social media outlets. Dominican writer Junot Díaz has criticized the court ruling calling it “racist” and unconstitutional. This ruling goes against a border culture whose coexistence has provided economic gains and profit to the island even before 1929. A recent meeting in the Aula Magna at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo as well as the Solidarity for the Dominican Republic events celebrated at the City College of New York last week show the voices of many who oppose it. In a recent op-ed piece one in The New York Times, Prof. Lorgia García Peña (Harvard University) see the influential role of the United States as a force that shapes negatively the dialogues of citizenship and migration in the Dominican Republic (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/13/opinion/suddenly-illegal-at-home.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&rref=opinion&hpw&).

This is not only a decision that will influence the lives of more than 200,000 Dominicans, Dominican-Haitian citizens and their children, but it is an attempt against their most basic human rights.

JossiannaJossianna Arroyo-Martínez, Associate Professor
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Department of African and African American Studies
https://www.utexas.edu/cola/insts/llilas/faculty/ja3344

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position and views of LLILAS BENSON Latin American Studies and Collections.

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Caribbean, Home, Social Inequalities

LLILAS Benson Directors’ response to “mock immigration sting” by Young Conservatives of Texas UT Chapter

News of plans for the “mock immigration sting” to be staged by the YCT reached the LLILAS Executive Committee today, and was the focus of vigorous, unanimous repudiation.   We view these plans as a direct attack on Latino / Latin American students generally, and a profound affront to the UT Dreamers, who embody the same principles of discipline, idealism and commitment that animate the LLILAS Benson Mission.  This “mock sting” reinforces ethnic stereotypes, cultural intolerance and racial profiling, which should have no place on the grounds of our great University.  We encourage all appropriate actions, both legal and civic, to counter these disgraceful plans.

The LLILAS Benson Leadership Team 

9:30 p.m.

11/18/2013

LLILAS&BENSON_0027 (1)

 

 

 

Posted in Home, Latinos in the U.S., Social Inequalities

Energy Reform in Mexico, the 2013 Edition

Kenneth F Greene

Kenneth F Greene

A little over a month ago, President Peña Nieto delivered an energy reform proposal to the Mexican Senate.  If passed, it will be the most significant change to the energy sector since the 1938 nationalization of the oil industry.  The bill includes changes to both PEMEX and the electricity sector regarding private investment, enhancing PEMEX’s fiscal autonomy, and reorganizing its bureaucratic structure.

At this point, the proposals on the table are broad brush and mainly involve Constitutional changes, leaving important details to be worked out in subsequent legislation.  Much depends on how this secondary legislation is written, so only a broad-brush analysis is sensible at present.

The private investment provisions in the president’s proposal have received the most attention from political forces and potential private sector investors alike.  They would reform the Constitution to permit previously banned contracts between PEMEX and private investors – including foreign firms – to be involved in exploration, extraction, and transportation of oil, gas, and petrochemicals.  The contracts would permit profit-sharing with two stipulations.  Payments to the private sector would be made in cash, not in product, and the national content requirements for components produced in projects that fall under profit-sharing contracts would increase modestly.

The proposal doesn’t discuss shale or the deep-water reserves in the Gulf specifically, but these potentially large deposits are the likely rationale for reforms.  Currently, Mexico does not possess the technology to access these reserves and needs the help of foreign companies, possibly from the United States or Brazil.  Accessing these deposits is important because Mexico’s main proven oil fields have been in a fairly steep decline for a number of years.  Not only could deep-water and shale deposits make up for lagging production, they could significantly advance Mexico’s economy and contribute to North American energy independence.

It is notable that the president’s reform proposal does not go as far as private companies had hoped.  It would not give private companies ownership over oil and gas and it would not permit production-sharing agreements.  But as Duncan Wood points out, there is a fair bit of nuance here.  The proposal would remove Constitutional roadblocks for private companies to share the risks of exploration and production, meaning that future Congressional action could enable risk-sharing agreements with ordinary legislation that only requires a 50% + 1 majority.

One of the interesting elements of the reform package is the rhetoric surrounding it.  Private investment in energy has been the third-rail of Mexican politics.  The 1938 expropriation is viewed by most as a key act in fulfilling the State’s social responsibility to citizens, a responsibility that is written into the Constitution of 1917 with the blood of the Revolution’s martyrs.  President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-40) remains a major figure in Mexico’s political history and popular lore not only nationalized oil but because he founded the key predecessor to Peña Nieto’s party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Typically, the image of Lázaro Cárdenas is used to defend oil against any foreign or private encroachment.  And indeed, the former president’s son, Cuahutémoc Cárdenas, founded the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and has authored an alternative proposal that would continue to prohibit private investment and inject more government capital into PEMEX.

In an attempt to sell his proposal to the nation and undercut the leftist alternative, Peña Nieto has deftly argued that Cárdenas never intended to ban private and foreign investment in PEMEX.  In fact, the possibility of both profit-sharing and production-sharing agreements existed in the Constitution from 1940 until 1960 when an amendment banned the practices.

A final proposal by the rightist PAN would move the needle the furthest toward privatization by allowing private firms to own concessions, book reserves, and compete directly with PEMEX.  As a result, the president’s proposal sits in the middle of the three, making it the least unpalatable second-choice for legislators on the left and the right.

The reform appears likely to pass.  It will necessitate a change to Articles 27 and 28 of the Constitution and so requires a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress as well as approval by more than half of the state legislatures.  The president’s PRI does not have the votes on its own and will have to construct a three-party coalition, likely including the rightist PAN and the opportunistic so-called Green Party (PVEM).

Looking toward the future, four likely effects of the reform loom largest.  First, are the reforms sufficient to bring private firms to the table?  Only a small number of companies have the needed technological know-how, so whether they “play ball” or demand more (such as more profitable risk-sharing agreements) will depend on whether Mexico’s government can create competition between them.  If they present themselves as a bloc and remain on the sidelines in hopes of winning greater concessions, Congress and the President will have to decide whether to deepen these initial reforms.

Second, will the reform break the Pacto por México between the PRI, PAN, and PRD that has essentially forged a standing agreement to pass major legislation?  The Pact has overcome the inertia of Mexico’s fragmented three-party Congress that led to substantial policymaking challenges and a slow rate of reform during the past two administrations.  Keeping the Pact together will likely require a logroll on fiscal reform.  The PAN’s policy vision shares more with the PRI, so the PAN will likely not bolt from the Pact.  The question then is about the PRD.  If it gets a more progressive tax regime, including the current proposal to increase income taxes on higher wage earners, raise taxes on businesses, and stall the expansion of the regression value-added tax, then it may remain in the pact despite energy reform it dislikes.

Third, no matter whether the PRD accepts the logroll, López Obrador, the leftist runner-up in the 2006 and 2012 presidential elections, likely won’t.  He has already spearheaded protests and these may continue. The oil workers union likely won’t be involved due to deep ties with the incumbent PRI, but Mexico City is home soil for the leftist PRD.  As a result, the events could be massive and of long-duration.  The administration has already endured large protests by teachers’ unions following the recent education reform.  Theoretically, a wave of protests over various issues could unite opponents to the current administration and make it difficult to continue the fast pace of reforms during Peña Nieto’s first year in office.

Finally, the PRI may pay a cost for energy reform at the polls.  Not only do more than 50% of citizens oppose increasing private investment in the oil sector, independent voters that have proven crucial in prior presidential bids are by far the most opposed.  Voters are unlikely to feel any of the potential benefits of the reform for at least five years.  An electoral backlash that favors López Obrador in the 2018 elections is not out of the question. 

Kenneth F Greene
Associate Professor
Department of Government
University of Texas at Austin
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position and views of LLILAS BENSON Latin American Studies and Collections.
Tagged with: ,
Posted in Central America & Mexico, Home, Regions, Sustainable Democracies

Free Pass Movement and Other Blind Spots of the Brazilian Left

The undeniable advances of the last decades in Brazil—economic growth with income redistributions and political stability, among others—are being contested, and why not say, threatened by protests that took over that country in the last months. And this is good.  A bit of discomfort and pressure can do wonders to move the Brazilian leaders, whether they are the heads of the three branches of government, the press, the unions, or businesses.

lara-2011-small

Fernando Lara

The southern hemisphere autumn of 2013 (and here I would extend the timeline to include the relative conflicts in Belo Monte, the demarcations of Indigenous lands, and the scandals at the Commission of Human Rights in Congress) marks a turning point that reveals the downfall of the neo-developmentalist project as a solution to all ills. More specifically, I see three blind spots in the current government: environmental policies, public safety, and urban policies. All of which are linked to questions of ownership, control, and exploitation of the land, an evil that has afflicted Brazil since Colonial times.

The Brazilian left, in which I humbly place myself, urgently needs a new project for environmental policy and any project for public safety. On these two issues I do not venture to write about, having just opinions as good as those of any other well informed Brazilian citizen.

Therefore, in this text I limit myself to urbanism that is incumbent upon me as a professional and an academic: it is urgent to rethink the cities where 85% of Brazilians live. This is what I saw and heard at the streets of Brazil.

The current model favors way too much the automobile and urban sprawl of cities in search of cheap land. We have come to a point where buildings almost don’t matter, only the buying and selling of land is important. The government policy titled “My house My Life”(Minha Casa Minha Vida- MCMV), for example, transforms cheap land in the furthest fringes of any metropolitan region into expensive land. Houses are just a detail here.

This model comes loaded with problems:  it forces residents to hours upon hours in crowded buses stuck in traffic jams; isolates the poorest from an infrastructure that is mainly concentrated in central areas; and confuses quality of urban life with property rights. Do the market test: compare the value of any house at MCMV developments with the value of any other in favelas of central areas in any Brazilian city and it will be evident where living quality is better.

In the long run, the process is even more perverse. Vicente Fox promised to build 5 million houses when he took  office in the Mexican government in 2000 with a program called INFONAVIT that resembles MCMV. The goal was accomplished under the government of his successor Felipe Calderon. After 12 years of allotments in the more distant peripheries of Monterrey, Chihuahua, Ciudad Juarez, Guadalajara, and Tijuana, almost 40% of these houses are abandoned and any relation with the alarming violence is not mere coincidence. In the Brazilian case, we have Cidade de Deus as an example and the film of Fernando Meirelles demonstrates to the entire world what can happen when a community is removed to the most isolated places of a city.

The protests for the free pass have the merit of bringing these issues to the national debate. A few Brazilian cities, including the city and state of São Paulo, did reduce the cost of public transportation due to intense public pressure and because nobody knew the cost of resisting the protests. Certainly it was too little too late.

A real improvement in public transportation, whether it is a significant cost reduction or quality improvement, would have a transformative effect on the urban structure because it affects the value of land. With good and cheap transportation the periphery would be  instantly valued . This equates to a revolutionary income transfer and an even greater impact on quality of life for millions of Brazilians. It is important to note that the only way to improve our congested roads is by investing in public transportation. As someone said recently, widening the streets to solve the problem of traffic congestion equates to loosening the belt to solve the problem of obesity.

Unfortunately the developmentalist obsession took over the PT in the federal government and has now been accentuated as the trademark of Dilma’s government which keeps pouring more asphalt and concrete as a solution to all problems [link www.vitruvius.com.br/revistas/read/minhacidade/ 12.140/4253].

While on one hand Brazil has improved in areas such as accessibility and sanitation of villages and slums, they have on the other hand spent billions to subsidize the car when we should be thinking of transportation of 2050, not of 1950. Popular pressure was on the streets and it alone, on this scale, has enough strength to challenge the lobbies of automakers, asphalt, heavy construction and others.

We need to radically rethink urban policies and it is urgent to do this from within the left.

Fernando Luiz Lara is the Chair of the LLILAS Brazil Center.

This article was first published in Portuguese at the Newspaper Brazil 24/7, June 20th, 2013 [link http://www.brasil247.com/pt/247/brasil/105961/O-passe-livre-e-outros-pontos-cegos-da-esquerda-brasileira.htm]

 

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position and views of LLILAS BENSON Latin American Studies and Collections.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Regions, Social Inequalities, South America

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.

FireStats icon Powered by FireStats