This Week in the Americas

Via Campesina Sets an International Agenda
By Laura Carlsen

As globalization dictates that Big is Powerful and cultural monotony is imposed from above, small farmers are leaping borders to become the leaders of an international movement to resist the imperatives of the economic model. In their diversity they are achieving unity, in their traditions they find answers to contemporary problems, and in their determination they provide an example of their slogan—globalize hope.

Laura Carlsen is the director of the Americas Program at in Mexico City, where she has been a writer and political analyst for more than two decades.

See full article online at:


New from the Americas Program

The Dark Side of Agrofuels: Horror in the "Brazilian California"
By Raúl Zibechi

Brazil is staking its claim as a great emerging power thanks to the leadership it maintains in biofuel production. The price of this ambition is paid by the environment and by the cane cutters, who are the invisible characters in this story.

Behind the "politically correct" jargon lurks a reality poised to destroy the Amazon, a reality that destroys millions of young bodies and promises lucrative business to investors. The very name biofuels seems to be destined to foment the confusion, its opponents prefer to call it like it is and use the term "agrofuels" because the term refers to agriculturally produced energy.

Raúl Zibechi is a member of the editorial board of Montevideo’s weekly Brecha, teacher and researcher on social movements in Latin America’s Multiversidad Franciscana, and adviser to various social movements. He is a monthly contributor to the Americas Program ( Translated by Nalina Eggert and Sonja Wolf.

See full article online at:


Clergyman to Stand Trial for "Dirty War" Crimes in Argentina
By Marie Trigona

A much awaited human rights abuse trial is underway in Argentina. The accused is Former Chaplin Christian Von Wernich, charged with carrying out human rights abuses while working in several clandestine detention centers during the nation’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship. This is the latest human rights trial of accused torturers since the landmark conviction of a former police officer for genocide in 2006.

Human rights representatives have demanded that the Catholic Church issue an apology for the victims during Argentina’s Dirty War. The Catholic Church has refused to issue a statement, other than to confirm that Von Wernich continues in the ranks of the church hierarchy.

Marie Trigona is a journalist based in Argentina and writes regularly for the Americas Program at ( She can be reached at mtrigona(a)

See full article online at:


Chile and Venezuela: Myths and Realities of the Arms Race
By Raúl Zibechi

The recent trip by Hugo Chávez to Russia has been seen as part of the arms race in which the Bolivarian leader is engaged. However, facts indicate that Venezuela is far behind Washington’s two main allies in the region, Colombia and Chile, in the purchase of weapons. Although Venezuela garners the headlines, as it turns out it is not the country at the forefront when it comes to acquiring armaments.

Raúl Zibechi is a member of the editorial board of Brecha, a weekly journal in Montevideo, Uruguay, professor and researcher on social movements at the Multiversidad Franciscana de América Latina, and adviser to social groups. He is a monthly contributor to the Americas Program ( Translated by Annette Ramos.

See full article online at:


Dead-End Trade Deal Nears Dead End
By Ben Beachy, Witness for Peace Nicaragua

CAFTA was packaged as a boon to Nicaragua, a form of trade-based aid to enable the country to exploit its comparative advantage in cheap labor and create needed jobs. In addition to driving down global wages, the employment benefits of the model simply did not materialize. As soon as trade barriers were dismantled to include workers paid even less in other countries, the comparative advantage evaporated along with the jobs. The real experience with U.S. Free Trade Agreements—first in Mexico with the North American Free Trade Agreement, and now in Nicaragua under CAFTA—shows that the argument that these agreements produce net job growth in developing countries is a tired myth that should be discarded.

Ben Beachey is a member of Witness for Peace, a politically independent, grassroots organization that educates U.S. citizens on the impacts of U.S. policies and corporate practices in Latin America and the Caribbean:

See full article online at: