Sunday, July 8, 2012


Reference: AFP Poster referred from Alternet

Two former Argentine dictators were handed heavy prison sentences for overseeing the systematic kidnapping of babies from leftist activists killed during the 1976-1983 dictatorship.

A common tactic of sibling warfare is to tell your brother he's adopted. It's funny and harmless because it is generally so far fetched, but for hundreds of Argentines that suggestion is no joke
From 1976 to 1983 an estimated 500 babies were stolen and secretly integrated and adopted into families of right-wing military members and their allies as part of a sweeping program that brutally targeted left-wing militants and sympathizers during the military junta’s seven-year rule.

Bringing, perhaps, a fragment of closure to that era, a former Argentine dictator, Jorge Videla, was convicted yesterday for his role in the program. Mr. Videla, who headed the coup that brought the military to power in 1976, was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

The conviction and official recognition of these crimes marks a historical moment for Argentina, whose public has long known of or suspected these practices and which continues to search for answers.
The Christian Science Monitor, "Former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla convicted   of systemic theft of babies."
AFP, "Tough sentences in Argentina stolen babies case" 

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Unfortunately, there are many times in history in which dictators and tyrants get away with their crimes and are never brought to a court of law for genocide and repression against their own people.

Hopefully, history does not necessarily repeat itself as there are other circumstances in which those from bellow rise and initiate a resistance movement that leads to the toppling of dictatorships. This is the case of Mubarak in Egypt. His dictatorship was overturned by the movement that became known as the Arab Spring. A wave or resistance that started on 19 December, 2010 and forced from power rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libyia and Yemen with other civil protests and uprisings (varying in their intensity) in Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Western Africa.

Although totalitarianism continues to be a trend in today's world, the case can also be made that at no other time in human history the common person has had at his/her disposal the technological and other means to start a challenge power.

Former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak (now 84 years old) sentenced to life in prison. During the protests in Egypt that led to the fall of the Mubarak regime, about 840 people died and more than 6,000 others were injured in the 18-day uprising in 2011 according to Amnesty International. Read full Story in CNN.
, and , "The Arab Spring: an interactive timeline of Middle East protests" The Guardian (January 5, 2012).

Ben Wedeman, "Egypt's Hosni Mubarak sentenced to life in prison for role in killing of protesters." CNN  (June 2, 2012)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Cuban graffiti artist (a.k.a., 'El Sexto) draws graffiti all over his passport in protest for the Castro regime's violation of the freedom of movement. Cuba is only a among the few repressive nations worldwide in which a citizen needs a special permission from his own government to travel abroad. El Sexto has been detained and harassed for his graffiti by the National Revolutionary Police  (PNR) of Cuba and the State Security Police. For more graffiti art, visit the Blog: 'El Sexto

"I will keep drawing graffiti until I find out why I keep doing it.
I do so because I feel the need - as I need to walk, dream.
Never stop dreaming because you can also change things.
El Sexto is the Cuban people.
I am merely the one who draws the graffiti.
All the Cuban people are heroes: from the child who wakes up in the morning and does not have breakfast to eat until the worker who shows up for work despite his meager salary."
Blog: 'El Sexto

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The Chengguang or City Urban Administrative Law Enforcement Bureau was established in Beijing in 1997. It is a para-police agency in charge of enforcing non criminal urban administrative regulations. However, for the the Chinese people they have gained a reputation for excessive force and brutality. For some they are gang members, thugs in uniform who have gained a reputation for arbitrary behaviour and abuse. They allegedly enforce administrative laws but in their operations they are known to make illegal detentions, forceful confiscation of property, serious injury and even death. 

Multiple versions circulate around this photo. Some say it shows Chengguang police violently arresting a prostitute. The official version is that they are arresting a woman who tried to commit suicide. The reasonable doubt remains and readers can make their own conclusions. Source: China Hush
A photo of a what is seemingly suggested as a Chengguang squads attacking a police officer. Source: China Hush
Chengguang members in a street fight.Source: China Hush

For more information on the Chengguang, see a report by Human Rights Watch titled: "Beat Him, Take Everything Away" Abuses by China's Chengguang's Para-Police."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Carlos Fuentes, one of the most prolific Latin American writers associated with the Latin American Boom, a literary movement made up of young authors critical of the status quo and established traditions died at age 83 in a Mexico City hospital.

Candidate for the Nobel Prize, winner of the Cervantes Prize in 1987 among many other distinguished literary awards, Fuentes' wrote a wealth of novels, plays and essays as well as regularly commenting on political events in the Spanish newspaper El Pais. His most famous works were "The Death of Artemio Cruz" and "The Old Gringo."

On this day I would like to pay tribute to this important writer as he had the honesty and vision to compare populism in Latin America with Fascism. In particular I would like to recall his now historic words when Fuentes compared Hugo Chavez (the president of Venezuela) with Benito Mussolini:

Fuentes warned on 2007 that the Latin American hemisphere risks the emergence of governments that are not only populist but also fascists. Fuentes said this is the case with president "Chavez who rules a regime that in its organization, rhetoric, purposes, uniforms and balconies resembled a Venezuelan Benito Mussolini."
With all the gestures and political theater similar in all populist political system (either fascistic or socialist) this photo arrangement shows the choreographic aspects that has distinguished populism throughout history. The pop photo shows Benito Mussolini saluting followers from a balcony. The lower photo shows Hugo Chavez with a closed fist symbolic of Chavismo saluting followers from the presidential balcony) Photo arrangement/selection by Blog Salon de Talleyrand

For more information about 'populism' in the Latin American context I recommend "The Integralist Movement in Brazil"  

"Mexican author Carlos Fuentes Dies at 83" BBC News (May 16, 2012)
"Escritor Mexicano Carlos Fuentes muere a los 83 años por problemas cardiacos" NTN24/EFE (15 de Mayo del 2012)
"Como Fascista Tipico" Salón del Señor Talleyrand
"Carlos Fuentes llama "perturbado" al presidente de Venezuela" Asociación Mexicana de Derecho a la Información (13 de Noviembre del 2007)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


"Revolution is to Change Everything that Needs to Be Changed"
"Mister Imperialists: We have absolutely no fear of you" Reference: TuAventura
"50th Anniversary of the Revolution's Triumph" Reference: Prensa de Frente
"We Work: What about you? (Not working in Cuba carries a criminal conviction. Currently there is a large percentage of the population who refuse to work for the state with average salaries of $25 dollars a month). Reference: Prensa de Frente
"We want them to be like Che" (in reference to pioneers) Reference: TuAventura
"Fatherland or Death" Reference: TuAventura
"Our Weapons: Conscience and Ideas" Reference: TuAventura

"We move forward victoriously" Reference: TuAventura

Cuba is a country of placards as long as they are pasted and sponsored by the government for purposes of propaganda. Pro democracy signs are immediately covered by the police and those responsible for their content could face long prison sentences if they are caught. This picture shows a police in Cuba covering a graffiti that reads "Down with  Fidel" Reference: Enrique de la Osa / EFE / El Nuevo Herald

Who posts placards in Cuba?
The Propaganda branch of the Cuban Communist Party 

What is their content? 
As any form of propaganda, it is based on repetition of the same phrases. In this sense they make the Nazi precept that a repeated lie becomes true come to life. Usually placards praise Fidel and Raúl Castro. The most repeated slogans are "United We Will Triumph" "Victory After Victory" "Our Main Duty is to Perfect Socialism."

What is their purpose?
Physiological influence over the people. To present an image to foreign visitors that in Cuba everyone shares a common "revolutionary fervor."It is also an excuse for political organizations to look well with their superiors. 

The above text is a translation taken from extracts of a larger article on placards in Cuba written by Eliecer Avila. For more information see Eliecer Avila, "El País de los Carteles" Diario de Cuba (15 de Mayo del 2012).


Sunday, May 13, 2012


According with Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and other organizations that monitor human rights and freedoms worldwide, Eritrea, an extremely poor nation of the African continent in the neighborhood of Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia is considered to be the most repressive nation on earth. A tough and in my view a controversial selection considering competitors in the repressive category such as North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Belarus and other nations. Under the regime of president Isaias Afewerki, 25% of  Eritrea's population has fled over the past 20 years. The Afewerki regime  has turned the nation into a "giant prison" according with Human Rights Watch with over 314 detention centers. Some of the country's prisons are underground, buried 229 feet bellow sea level with temperatures reported to reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In those prisons there are  thousands of journalists, religious leaders and dissidents imprisoned, detained indefinitely and subjected to medieval tortures that include their feet shackled, tied to a cross or hung upside down and other forms of cruelty. Image from Edmund Sanders / TPN

For a complete report on jailed journalists see: Justin D. Martin, "Which Countries Jail the Most Journalists Per Capita? Taking the CPJ  Data One Step Further" Columbia Journalism Review (April 2, 2012)
For more information on Eritrea see Joel Brinkley, "Eritrea, the most repressive nation on Earth" SFGate (April 29, 2012)