Impeachment or ‘Soft Coup’?: The Revenge of the Right and the state of democracy in Brazil and Latin America today

By Ana C. Dinerstein

For Latin Americans, hearing the words ‘corruption in the government’ on the radio or TV activates a regional collective memory of economic and political crisis. In the past, these have been underpinned by corruption by political elites and resulted in massive citizen mobilisations that on many occasions have led to the departure of heads of state and ministers before their time. Continue reading

Transformative global development: what role for civil society?

By James Copestake

A seminar at the University of Bath’s Centre for Development Studies on 28th January, brought together a group of post-doctoral researchers to consider the role of civil society in transforming global development. Continue reading

What Europe’s hopeful left can learn from Latin America

By Ana Cecilia Dinerstein

(This blog was oringially posted at – The Conversation)

After years of austerity and economic turmoil, mass movements based on hope are finally taking root in Europe – and not just on the streets. Syriza is now in power in Greece, and enjoying a surge in the opinion polls. Meanwhile, its success is inspiring Spain’s Podemos to make a serious stand in elections there; its rallies are drawing Spaniards in their tens of thousands. These movements are not just part of the everyday turnover of domestic politics. They are a real rejection of the insidious politics of austerity, and the beginning of the end of the politics of fear.

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Argentina crisis: citizens suffer when loyalty means more than truth

By Séverine Deneulin

(This blog was oringially posted at – The Conversation)

On February 18 2015, Argentina’s judicial community will assemble in a March of Silence on the streets of Buenos Aires. No slogan, no noise – just silence.

The protest is a stand against the political crisis which has engulfed Argentina since the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died the day before he was due to present his findings on the 1994 bombings of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires.

The chaos that has ensued shows how utterly disconnected Argentina’s political leadership is from the reality of its citizens’ lives. Nisman’s death was the drop that sent the cup running over.

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Ayotzinapa and the continuous struggle for justice and equality in Mexico

by Ricardo Velazquez, Oscar Garza and Viviana Ramirez

November 20th is the date when the start of the Mexican Revolution is celebrated. Back in 1910, that day marked the beginning of a 10 year struggle for justice and equality that transformed Mexican society. Despite important achievements obtained during the twentieth century, inequality remained extremely high and corruption was not only not rooted out of the political system, but it eventually grew as the government privileged the capitalist development of the country and private and public interests became intertwined.
Historical social injustices, aggravated in recent decades by neoliberal reforms that have stagnated economic growth and triggered a rise in rates of poverty and inequality, represent the background to the wave of crime and violence that has spread throughout Mexico since 2006. Indeed, these internal factors and the corruption of the political and judicial systems have coalesced with external ones, like the unlimited supply of weapons and demand for drugs from the United States, to trigger a surge in levels of crime and violence that have generated a human rights crisis unprecedented in Mexico’s recent history. Continue reading

Should labour rights be decoupled from formal employment?

By Séverine Deneulin

Earlier this month, I attended the weekly meeting of ‘Vendedores Libres’ (or free sellers). They are a group of people who try to make a living by selling goods on the city streets and on public transport. They are an estimated 10,000 street vendors active in the 21 square kilometre boundaries of the federal capital city of Buenos Aires. Occupying the public space is illegal without a permit, but the city administration has consistently refused to issue permits to street vendors. In the face of constant threat of eviction, and pervasive bribing, manipulation and violence, they decided to unite so that they could know their rights better, develop strategies to carry on their work without fear, and most essentially, being recognized as workers entitled to the same labour rights as private and public sector workers. Continue reading

Gated Communities Lock Cities into Cycles of Inequality

(This blog was originally posted on The Conversation)

By Séverine Deneulin  and Roy Maconachie

In recent years, many films have portrayed the landscape of urban marginality and inequality in Latin America. Brazil Central Station and City of God were both popular, but few can rival the Mexican thriller, La Zona (the Zone), in depicting the disturbing panorama of inequality in Latin America’s megacities and the consequences of socially and economically divided cities. Continue reading

Can DFID really work with faith communities?

By Severine Deneulin

In June 2012, DFID launched a new partnership with faith communities, working together for poverty reduction and sustainable development. Amongst other things, it calls for  for mutual understanding between DFID and faith communities.  The question of whether this was really possible was vividly highlighted to me when I was in Ecuador last year attending a government-sponsored conference on sustainable development alternatives. The conference opened with a religious ceremony by a Kichwa man and an altar of harvested goods. He began by singing songs of praise to God for giving abundant food and sustaining human life. He then gave a short introduction to the Kichwa indigenous cosmovision which is encapsulated in the Kichwa greeting: Not ‘how are you?’ ‘Fine’ but ‘You are me’ ‘I am you’.  This was to expresss how our individuality is found in our relationships to others and our lives are intertwined with the natural environment. He finished by some petition prayers that we may live in harmony with each other and nature. Continue reading