Editorial note of CALACS Newsletter 2022/ 1 no. 1. CALACS Newsletter
We are very pleased to be able to share the issue of a newsletter on the activities of the members of the Association. We celebrate and enthusiastically resume the task of disseminating and mobilizing research and information on Latin America and the Caribbean. The last two years of the pandemic have taught us great lessons about the capacity of community and social networks to provide comprehensive care and attention, beyond the resources of the state, and in spite of official health policies. We honor the great effort made by our families, friends, acquaintances and allies, who have put the issue of dignity, inequity and health at the center, which inspires us to resume with new vigor the mission of disseminating newly developed research that responds critically and analytically to the understanding of the main political, social, political and economic issues that affect society in Latin America and the Caribbean.
As observers and scholars interested in the development of the region - and its relationship with Canada - we are concerned about the intensification of socio-political and economic processes that generate multiple forms of violence, material dispossession, displacement and forced disappearances, and the social death of broad marginalized and racialized sectors of the Latin American and Caribbean population. In general terms, we call upon you to follow the course of specialized studies on issues such as narco-criminal violence, political history, state authoritarianism, political conservatism, exploitation of natural resources, extractivist projects, militarization of border areas, forced internal displacement, violation of human rights of the population in general, and in particular of indigenous and Afro-descendant environmental and territorial defenders.
With special emphasis we would like to refer to what has been published in recent years on Central America, a region particularly affected by climate change, deforestation, criminal violence and the presence of extractive and mining projects. In addition to these phenomena and socio-structural processes, repressive and violent practices of authoritarian governments explain the migratory flows of hundreds of families to North America. Canada is no stranger to this migratory phenomenon as it receives a significant Central American population in search of refuge.
Honduras, for example, is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for land and environmental defenders. The coup d'état in 2009 marked the beginning of a decade of political repression and violence, land grabbing, and environmental destruction. Now there seems to be a glimmer of hope with the election of new President Xiomara Castro who declared Honduras free of open-pit mining. Truly a historic moment - given the assassinations, persecution and criminalization of community leaders who have resisted. It remains to find effective mechanisms to challenge impunity, militarization, and the power of economic elites. In territories such as the Bajo Aguan Valley, the terror exercised by the military and paramilitaries under the command of big business has increased since Castro came to power.
In Colombia, the search for justice in the framework of the national post-conflict reconciliation process faces many challenges, mostly derived from the endemic violence that has characterized the country and is reflected in worrying statistics on internal displacement, assassination of social leaders and numerous violations of human, political and ethno-territorial rights of hundreds of thousands of indigenous and Afro-descendant families. The national elections of last Sunday 29th represent a historic moment in the life of the Colombian political process and of the popular movements in the country, since the progressive presidential candidacy has inspired hope for change against the establishment´s candidates. Gustavo Petro - progressive leftist candidate - and Francia Márquez Mina - Afro-descendant environmentalist leader - obtained a historic 41% of the electorate in this first "round" of elections on May 29th. This presidential/vice-presidential ticket represents a "popular voice" that from the margins has been pushing for the Peace Accords in Colombia since 2016, and now seeks to achieve real social reform. Electoral legislation establishes that a 50%+1 majority is required to win the presidency. Therefore, the electoral process moves to a second round (on June 19) in which the presidential/vice-presidential formulas with the highest number of votes will enter a final race, establishing where the emphasis will be on human rights, peace, conflict and development in the road ahead.
For its part, Mexico faces a widespread humanitarian and human rights crisis as a result of a failed frontal war against organized crime, which instead of eliminating drug trafficking has caused, in particular, the proliferation and atomization of sub-cartels, and a generalized climate of macro-criminality where the search for justice and peace proves unattainable. The hopes for change pinned on the leftist candidate Manuel López Obrador in this third year of his mandate are beginning to fade, and are turning into a heavy doubt about the governmental formula to be followed to reverse the deterioration of the country in human and social terms.
We invite you to browse the online newsletter for specialized reading offerings, twinning and collaboration activities between professors and students, and the various academic activities that are on the horizon for 2022.