October 13th is nationally recognized as Columbus day, marking the day Christopher Columbus discovered the new world in 1492. This encounter, as students learn as early as elementary school, changed the course of American and Latin American history. This year, many cities across the US have protested this holiday demanding that instead of lauding Columbus, we use this day to recognize the indigenous people whose land Columbus allegedly invaded.
On October 16, 2014, Argentina launched its first geostationary satellite, which will allow Argentines, Chileans, Paraguayans, Uruguayans, and citizens of the Malvinas Islands to enjoy full satellite coverage. The satellite will be used primarily for data transmission as well as telephone and television services. The satellite was constructed out of entirely Argentine parts and has been named ARSAT-1.1 A week later, on October 24, the ARSAT-1 reached its destination and is now in its permanent orbital location.
This October Dilma Rousseff was re-elected as Brazil’s president by the slimmest of margins. With approximately 51.4 percent of the vote she beat competitor Aécio Neves of the Social Democracy party (PSDB) who received about 48.5 percent.1 The election reveals Brazil’s clear divide amongst the population with regard to the direction of the country as evidenced by her victory speech in which she admitted that she wants to be “a much better president than I have been until now.”2
Most accounts of social sector reform in Latin America portray middle-class professionals as unmovable obstacles, while state elites from above or social movements below as the principle forces for reform. In our article “The Role of Professionals in Policy Reform: Cases from the City Level, São Paulo”, published in Latin American Politics and Society in July 2014, we raise the claim that social reform can come from the middle, through the professional networks of public sector workers and their allies in civil society.
Between the months of July and August of this year, in some parts of Latin America, there was no rainfall for 45 continuous days. While reservoirs and water systems are in place in most large cities across Central and South America, agriculture during those months suffered greatly. Across Central America, some of the poorest countries are being hit the hardest: 236,000 families in Guatemala, 120,000 in Honduras, 100,000 in Nicaragua and 96,000 in El Salvador are facing the repercussions of a long and unusual dry season.1
Hundreds of women sit behind bars in El Salvador punished for defying the ban on abortion. Many, such as María Teresa Rivera are pleading they are wrongly jailed for having suffered miscarriages or stillbirths. Three years ago Rivera miscarried and awoke handcuffed to her hospital bed surrounded by seven policemen who proceeded to charge her with murder.1 After an eight-month trial, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for aggravated murder.
Similar to various other Latin American countries, Brazil suffered through a right-wing military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.1 The aim of this dictatorship was to eliminate any and all threats of communist uprising within the country. This is similar to Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, but, unlike such countries, Brazil has only now acknowledged the torture and other atrocities committed during the 21-year dictatorship.