Mario Vargas Llosa: The Perfect Pamphleteer

Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize in Literature, is the perfect example of how fame can pave the way to human stupidity.

While launching his latest novel “Tiempos recios” in a tour, the also spokesman of neoliberalism has left behind a trail of controversial of analysis on Latin America’s reality.

During the “keynote” speech he gave in Mexico, he said —referring to AMLO’s current government: “I am very much afraid that this government is gradually making Mexico worse.”

“It started to find a way out of this perfect dictatorship — luckily it was not that perfect, it was pretty much flawed — (but) I am pretty much afraid that populism seems to be the ideology of the current president of Mexico, who may lead us again to a perfect or flawed dictatorship, but dictatorship after all,” he added.

Such “prophecy” in reference to an administration that has been barely one year in office, was duly refuted by the President’s wife, Beatriz Gutierrez Muller, who stated in her Facebook profile:

“I have noted with concern some Nobel Prizes in Literature. I am pretty much afraid that bigotry and dogmatism, which are the pattern to follow by some, may lead us again to the perfect propagandist.”

However, the presumed “connoisseur” of international politics, used to making an exhibition of himself, continued his promotional tour in the International Book Fair where he showed, once again, that having talent to create fiction is pretty different from reality.

At the Miami Book Fair, Vargas Llosa pointed out that there is no extreme poverty in Chile. Such statement was disproved by AFP news agency itself.

“Chile is the country with the highest progress in Latin America (…) There is no extreme poverty. It is, perhaps, the only nation in Latin America without extreme poverty,” stated in reference to the protests that began last October 18th. And then added: “We saw in Chile a role model to emerge from underdevelopment. No Cuba, nor Venezuela, nor Nicaragua; but Chile.”

In other words, according to “the writer” the endless protests triggered in Chile are a sort of sports, and people riot because they are bored. And they have nothing better to do than going out there to be targets and thus risk to lose both of their eyes at the hands of guards, and not the failure of the neoliberal model that the US wanted to install in the nation.

Moreover, in an interview granted last week to the illegal station Radio TV Martí — financed by the US government —, after acknowledging he was disturbed with the Chilean situation, the perfect pamphleteer highlighted: “Just as Chile has surprised us, I strongly believe Cuba is going to surprise us anytime soon.”

In his own words, he said that “the Cuban people have unfortunately suffered from a terrible regime for 60 years,” the “roots” in favor of freedom and democracy in that country have not been uprooted.”

Apparently, Vargas Llosa, shut down in his own fiction tower, forgot that the demands claimed by the Chilean people: right to healthcare, free education, social security and equality, were already met by the Cuban people in the surprising January 1st, 1959, which were afterwards ratified after the collapse of Socialism in Eastern Europe, against all odds and other predictions made by men like Vargas Llosa, Openheimer, Montaneres, and Walter Mercado.

A propos of Cuban surprises, none of them is bigger than the one involving the director of Casa de las Americas back then, Haydee Santamaría, when she sent Alejo Carpentier to meet him and request the profits he earned in the Romulo Gallegos Prize — he won the prize thanks to his novel La Casa Verde — to support the guerrilla of Che Guevara in Bolivia.

He was so surprised that all of a sudden, the former left-wing supporter rather turned into the perfect pamphleteer of the right-wing faction he is today.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

  • Published in Now

Nearly one million people living with HIV in Brazil

A total of 966,058 people have HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) in Brazil, according to data released by the Health Ministry on the occasion of the World Day of the Fight against AIDS to be celebrated tomorrow.

According to the portfolio, these cases were detected from 1980 to June 2019, and about 135,000 people are currently living with HIV without knowing it.

In recent years, HIV infection has grown among young people, with most cases reported in the 20-34 age group, with 18,200 cases (57.5 percent).

Only last year, 43,900 new cases of HIV were registered in Brazil.

Faced with this situation, the Government launched a campaign for people at risk of being infected to seek a health unit to perform a rapid test and detect if they are infected.

The Ministry assured that when a patient infected with the virus receives the appropriate treatment, his viral load can become undetectable. When this happens, it is considered that there is not enough infection to be transmissible.

With the new campaign, the Government seeks to make young people aware of the importance of prevention, testing and treatment against the disease.

  • Published in World

Chile’s Protesters Have Won a Path to a New Constitution

SANTIAGO, Chile—Every evening for the last month, Camila Arroyo has been out on the streets of Santiago to air a growing list of frustrations.

As soon as she arrives home from work each day, she throws her rucksack onto her bed, ties a green cloth around her neck, and heads straight back out to mingle with protesters on the shaded fringes of Plaza Italia—taking a saucepan and frayed wooden spoon with her.

“I believe that basic rights should be guaranteed independent of a person’s ability to pay,” the 28-year-old explained between deafening volleys of saucepan-bashing—a traditional cacerolazo protest, in which people create a cacophonous din from balconies or street corners to register their dissent.

For nearly four weeks, millions of Chileans have been flooding the wide avenues and public squares of Santiago—as well as in towns and cities across the country—to demand change on issues including pensions, education, and political reform. As the protests have rumbled on for almost a month, one call has long resonated above the others—a new constitution to replace the current dictatorship-era document.

In the early hours of Friday morning, a historic agreement was reached at Chile’s presidential palace, La Moneda. After nearly a month of resistance from President Sebastián Piñera, party leaders agreed to a nationwide plebiscite in April 2020, asking Chileans if they want a new constitution and how they would like it to be drafted. For many, the deal may open up a path for Chile to move beyond the dictatorship-era framework that has become the target of anger during the country’s mobilization.

The protests began with high school students leaping metro station turnstiles after a fare increase, but by Oct. 18 an explosive movement bringing together Chileans from all sectors had gripped the capital.

That night, as 10 metro stations and several buildings were engulfed in flames, the world watched on in horror as one of Latin America’s most stable countries lurched alarmingly into chaos and violence.

The marches have spread across the country, and although the demands are profuse, there is a clear overall message from many Chileans of greater dignity in every walk of life—a possibility snatched from them, they say, by the neoliberal economic doctrine embedded by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and then permitted by decades of unresponsive governments.

“We have all heard the message. We have all changed,” Piñera declared on Oct. 25. However, protesters had deemed his cabinet reshuffle to be cosmetic, and although a reform package appeared to target many of the right areas, it did not go far enough to appease demands.

Arroyo is certain that replacing Chile’s dictatorship-era constitution would be a step toward regaining social order. “This is a constitution that was written under the dictatorship and does not represent the people—it is not the expression of any social or political consensus,” she said.

In Chile’s model, the belief in the market is demonstrated by the comparative insignificance of the state. The constitution is largely interpreted to hand the markets responsibility for what other models delegate to the government in areas such as health and education. Constitutions elsewhere in the region have a much stronger emphasis on social welfare.

“The [current] constitution is the combination of three ideologies: traditional Catholic values, a set of liberal principles, and some elements that could be considered social-democratic,” said Pablo Ruiz-Tagle, the dean of the University of Chile’s law faculty and a constitutional expert. “Chile constructed a welfare state with an incredibly limited capacity—something that the country has been rebuilding bit by bit since the return to democracy in 1990, although it is still very weak.”

The constitution has been reformed several times, including a 1989 modification that broadened participation to include left-wing groups outlawed by the original text, and a profound set of alterations were approved in 2005 under the government of Ricardo Lagos. As such, some have argued that the constitution is not the dictatorship-era document its critics paint it as.

Nonetheless, post-tax income inequality in Chile is now the highest among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with a Gini ratio of 0.46 in 2017. The cost of living is high, and social welfare allowances are largely insufficient. As a result, many of the protesters’ demands—which have focused particularly on the quality of and access to a health care system that is split between an oversubscribed public system and a private system with greater choice but expensive plans; pensions; and social security—have roots in the constitution and the legacy of the dictatorship.

The pensions system, for example, became law in 1980 shortly after the constitution was ratified and sees for-profit groups manage funds contributed by workers—guaranteeing a base monthly pension of just 110,201 pesos ($137). A paltry pension provision and high drug prices have made life unaffordable for many people as they reach old age. People over 80 have the highest suicide rate of any age bracket in Chile. A message sprayed crudely across a concrete wall near a Santiago metro station reads: “This is for all the grandparents who killed themselves so as not to be a burden. Today we rise up in your honor.”

Meanwhile, the constitutional enshrinements of education and health refer to a commitment to the freedom of choice of provider—public or private—rather than any guarantee of access to health care or education. Even if these rights were enshrined, a funding gap has been blamed for the lack of access to health care and a stratified system of education in which many who do not qualify for any state aid end up with unsustainable levels of debt.

Furthermore, water is declared a public good, with the rights to its use privatized and administered through a market system set in place by the water code—part of the constitution. Chile’s watersheds are unevenly distributed. The Atacama Desert in the north—the driest nonpolar place on Earth—holds little water, while the expansive Patagonian ice fields in the south of the country see far more precipitation. With climate change hitting Chile hard and much of the population concentrated in its increasingly arid central region, the issue of water rights and distribution has surged up the agenda for many protesters, particularly in Antofagasta, a mining city in the desert.

The constitution also provides structural provisions that limit the remit of the state and concentrate its influence firmly in the executive. “The system the constitution enshrines is hyper-presidential,” said Javiera Arce, an academic teaching at Chile’s Catholic University and the University of Valparaíso. According to Arce, many of the issues within the president’s control are beyond the powers of the Chilean Congress. Given that the president can also direct the legislative agenda, many protesters feel that the legislature is incapable of responding to their demands. “The rules are incredibly rigid. There are no real channels through which other forms of participation can be generated beyond electing a representative,” Arce said.

As such, in order to distill their plethora of demands into a coherent proposal, civil society groups from almost every profession and discipline have once more taken the lead in organizing town hall-style meetings across the country. More than 1,500 people attended a congregation at the Estadio Monumental in Santiago on Oct. 31, hosted by Chile’s biggest football club, Colo Colo, which saw people splinter into small groups to discuss their own visions for a new Chile.

A Nov. 11 survey by the Chilean pollster Cadem suggested that 78 percent of Chileans were in favor of a new constitution, and figures from across the political spectrum joined the calls. On Nov. 12, the opposition united to back the formation of a constitutional assembly—the first time the entire set of nongovernmental parties has come together in such a way—in opposition to Piñera’s preferred option of drafting a new constitution in Congress. Drafting the document in Congress, opponents said, would limit civil society’s participation.

When the agreement was finally reached between party leaders on Friday, they ditched Piñera’s congressional plan entirely. The two options to be included in the plebiscite are a hybrid assembly, with half of its members to be chosen by Congress and half to be chosen from outside elected politics, and a constitutional assembly drawn entirely from the population at large—the preferred alternative according to polls. Details on how either would be formed or function in practice are sparse at present. The key compromise reached in the deal is that two-thirds of the constitutional body, whatever form it eventually takes, will be required to approve any article it attempts to incorporate.

Ultimately, with an opposition that has only just begun to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the crisis to work together, and a beleaguered president who has finally had to invite a broader political class to break bread, a new social contract to replace the obsolete dictatorship-era constitution is Chile’s best chance of drawing a line under its sociopolitical crisis.

  • Published in World

Chile: Court to Investigate Piñera for Crimes Against Humanity

An international consortium of non-governmental organizations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will also observe the consequences of the excessive use of police and military force.

Santiago's 7th Guarantee Court on Wednesday agreed to process a legal action filed by NGOs Popular Defense, Vergara Toledo Bros Defense Committee and Legal Cooperative, which requested that Chile's President Sebastian Piñera be investigated by his political responsibility for crimes that have taken place over the last weeks amid massive unrest in the country.

RELATED: Chile Prosecutor To Probe 14 Policemen for Alleged Torture

"The complaint aims to investigate the participation of President Piñera in crimes against humanity, which is accredited through serious human rights violations, framed in a systematic and widespread attack against civilians who have taken to the streets during these last two weeks,“ the plaintiffs said.

Once the judicial procedure has been accepted, Interior Minister Andres Chadwick, Military Police general director Mario Rozas and Army General Javier Iturriaga must attend the 7th Guarantee Court to give their statements.

The plaintiffs contend that the Chilean Army and the Military Police have committed at least nine types of crimes since Oct. 19, including homicides, torture, sexual abuse, rape, arbitrary detention in unofficial places, selective and illegal detentions, arrests executed at home, concealment of information on the whereabouts of detainees, and actions causing the loss of body parts.

"These violations have been verified by international and national organizations, as well as by human rights lawyers who have denounced the enormous amount of crimes against children, young people, women, senior citizens and the people who have exercised their legitimate right to protest."

"The sexual-political violence perpetrated by Chile's military and police against women and gender dissidents implies rape, sexual abuse, humiliation, forced undressing, touching and rape threats." The meme's title reads, "Women as war spoils."

Additionally, human rights defenders from different countries on Wednesday launched an international verification mission that will meet with Chilean social activists, human rights defenders, victims of state terrorism, workers and students.

Among the international observers are representatives of the Plaza de Mayo Mothers, the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), the Argentine League for the Rights of Man (LIDH), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the Committee for Human Rights in Latin America, Article 19 of Brazil and Front Line Defenders of Ireland.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) also asked Piñera for authorization to visit the country, following the complaints received for the excessive use of police and military force.

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Super Monday of protests in Chile ends in repression

Serious incidents occurred during the so-called Super Monday of protests in Chile yesterday, in which once again hundreds of people peacefully took to the streets and were violently repressed by police forces.

Among the most serious events in this capital, as reported on social networks, were the brutal running over of two people, one on Bilbao Avenue and one on the Alameda, by police cars, which did not stop to help them. Both were transferred in a serious condition to hospital.

Television media also reported that several health centers were overwhelmed by the arrival of people injured in the disturbances, including many with pellet wounds in their faces, having been shot at by security forces, incidents that have become repetitive in the demonstrations and been denounced by human rights organizations.

Once report highlighted that a street vendor who was in the Bustamente Park, near Plaza Italia, at the time and was not participating in the demonstrations, was wounded in the head with a projectile launched by police and is in an induced coma. The family has not ruled out filing a lawsuit against the police.

Numerous organizations have indicated that the number of injured is practically indefinable, since many prefer not to go to health centers for attention, for fear of being arrested by the authorities. As has also repeatedly happened, groups of hooded people, acting separately from the peaceful demonstrations, have undertaken violent acts, as a result of which two policewomen suffered burns after a Molotov cocktail was launched at them in the vicinity of Baquedano Square.

Without any reference to the violence committed by security forces against the population that peacefully demonstrates, Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel was quick to condemn the attack on the police officers and stated, 'We are going to do everything possible so that those responsible are sanctioned and the crime does not go unpunished. These are unacceptable acts of violence.'

According to Blumel, since the social unrest broke out in the country, over 9,000 people have neem detained, and 500 people are currently in pretrial detention.

Likewise, hooded individuals attacked a hotel near Plaza Baquedano and the headquarters of the Catholic University, in Alameda, incidents to which police forces only responded later on.



Meanwhile, police vehicles launched strong jets of water and a large amount of tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters gathered around Baquedano Square.



Super Monday in this capital saw numerous demonstrations from the early hours to demand a Constituent Assembly and measures that put a brake on the deep and increasing inequality in Chile.

During the day, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchú delivered a letter to La Moneda Palace addressed to President Sebastián Piñera, in which she denounced the systematic and flagrant violations of human rights in Chile.

The letter warns these violations have not occurred only in recent weeks, but also much earlier, especially against students, trade unionists and indigenous communities.

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Protesters in Chile reject reforms and popular rebellion continues

Smoke and tear gas filled the air in Santiago as demonstrators clashed with riot police on during yet another day of protests – sparked by ballooning public transportation fees – after a promise of reform failed to end the unrest.

Tens of thousands gathered in the streets of Chile’s capital to join the demonstrations, facing police water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas.  In addition to the police presence, around 20,000 soldiers have been deployed to quell the protests, carrying out over 5,000 arrests in the country since last Friday.

Earlier this week, President Sebastian Pinera extended an official apology and vowed to roll out social reforms to address the grievances -- including lowered electricity and medical costs and a hike in government pensions, among other things.

However, after declaring “war” on the demonstrations earlier this week, the president seems to have failed to convince the protesters.

As the riots continue, Santiago is largely paralyzed, with several subway stations and schools closed down, while some roadways remain blocked by flaming barricades constructed by protesters, who have also torched a number of train stations.  Curfews have been introduced in the city, along with a national state of emergency, further clamping down on travel.

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Chilean President Announces Reforms Aimed to Curb Massive Protests

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has announced new reforms aimed at ending weeks of nationwide protests in response to a subway fare hike, rising inequality, high cost of living and privatization.

Piñera vowed Tuesday to increase the basic pension by 20% and proposed a healthcare law that would mandate the state cover the costs of expensive medical treatments. It’s unclear whether the reforms will halt the massive demonstrations.

At least 15 people have died and more than 5,000 have been detained since the protests began.

Piñera has declared a state of emergency in the capital of Santiago and five other cities, imposing a curfew and sending the military into the streets in response to civil unrest for the first time since dictator Augusto Pinochet’s regime.  

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Arica Nativa Rural Film Festival to be held in Chile

Santiago de Chile, Oct 15 (Prensa Latina) A total of 79 films will compete in the 14th edition of the Arica Nativa Rural Film Festival, in the province of the same name in northern Chile, according to the organizers of the event.

The selected films will be shown between November 6 and 11 and will compete in the Long Rural, Short Rural, Long Jallalla, Short Jallalla, Long Mallku, Short Mallku, Filmin 'Arica and Arica Nativa Wawa categories.

The Arica Nativa Rural Film Festival is an event of beautiful films with sense, to make new generations feel attracted to the conservation of the natural and cultural treasures of the planet.

This year, the Chilean Film Commission will deliver for the fifth time the Kinema award that recognizes works that capture and transmit this country's different locations, its attractions and urban, landscape, cultural and social values of cities and places where they have been shot.

In its 14th edition, this Festival is already consolidated as a reference space for the South American Andean region, in the fascinating cultural landscape of Arica and Parinacota.

  • Published in Culture
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