July 18, 2019

Abstract, Sodré and the Dialectics of Brazil’s Social Formation

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Sodré and the Dialectics of Brazil’s Social Formation

by Marcos Del Roio

In the early 1960s, Nelson Werneck Sodré developed a complex and sophisticated theory of Brazilian reality and its historical dynamics. In the light of the criticism and distortion of his views of the intervening years, a clarifying summary of his most important work is in order. Such a summary suggests that the new absolute truths of Brazilian historiography and political sciences have elements that can be questioned and that in interpretations of Brazil one can never forget that science is also expressed as ideology and political practice.

July 15, 2019

Abstract, From Euphoria to Retreat: Formal Employment in Twenty-first-Century Brazil

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From Euphoria to Retreat: Formal Employment in Twenty-first-Century Brazil

by Jacqueline Aslan Souen and Guilherme Caldas de Souza Campos

In the 1990s the Brazilian labor market underwent a destructuring process that had profound consequences for Brazilian society. This situation, characterized by high levels of unemployment and informality, began to be modified only with the rise of a government focused on reconciling workers’ interests with the interests of capital associated with the economic growth that began with the international commodity cycle in the early 2000s. The result was a new phenomenon for the labor market—the strong growth of formal employment and labor income and the decline of other types of occupation—that was one of the pillars of social transformation of the country in this period. In recent years, however, a deep economic, political, and institutional crisis has reversed the favorable conditions that allowed this advance, producing a change in the labor market structuring of the previous period. Analysis of the labor market regression of these years using information from the Monthly Employment Survey (PME) and the new continuous National Household Sample Survey (PNAD) helps clarify the determinants and consequences of the recent economic crisis.

July 12, 2019

Abstract, The 2014 World Cup and the Construction Workers: Global Strategies, Local Mobilizations

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The 2014 World Cup and the Construction Workers: Global Strategies, Local Mobilizations

by Mauricio Rombaldi

An action developed by the Building and Wood Workers’ International during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil internationalized the country’s construction unions. The strategies adopted, aimed at large-scale sports events, the efforts to negotiate with the World Cup organizers, and the lack of national coordination among Brazilian unions all contributed to the willingness of the latter to take part in the international campaign and strengthen their ties with the global federation. The result was an unprecedented national agenda of negotiations that influenced the development of local bargaining. The outcomes of this campaign demonstrate that the priority that unions give to local negotiations may not just hinder the internationalization of union practices but also enhance the possibilities for such internationalization.

July 8, 2019

Abstract, The Politics of Strolling

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The Politics of Strolling

by Pedro Erber

The large gatherings of youths from impoverished urban peripheries in the shopping malls of São Paulo and Rio, known as rolezinhos (little strolls), in the first two months of 2014 and their disputed relation to the wave of political protests in Brazilian cities since June 2013 became the topic of heated debates among intellectuals and journalists in Brazil. Historical parallels ranging from nineteenth-century Paris to colonial Korea help situate the rolezinho phenomenon in a transnational history of urban strolling and to problematize its ambiguous politicality between ostentatious consumerism and revolutionary practice.

July 4, 2019

Abstract, Brazil’s June Days of 2013: Mass Protest, Class, and the Left

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Brazil’s June Days of 2013: Mass Protest, Class, and the Left

by Sean Purdy

On June 17, 2013, Brazilians took to the streets in militant rallies and marches against transit fare hikes, poor-quality education and health care services, and the immense public investment in “mega-events” such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. These massive demonstrations capped off a two-week series of demonstrations initially provoked by a 20-cent increase in bus, train, and subway fares in São Paulo. In the face of brutal police repression, the harsh opposition of politicians and the major political parties, and the clear bias of the mass media, the largely young and working-class protesters soon forced municipal governments in over 100 cities to revoke proposed fare increases. Explanations for the June Days and the ensuing political crisis, which have been the subject of fierce debates in activist and scholarly circles in Brazil, ignore the role of particular forms of capitalism, the adoption of neoliberalism by Workers’ Party governments, and the changing forms and conditions of class struggle.

July 1, 2019

Introduction, Brazil’s Crisis of Memory: Embracing Myths and Forgetting History

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Brazil’s Crisis of Memory: Embracing Myths and Forgetting History

by Paulo Simões

In the late evening of Sunday, September 2, 2018, shortly after closing time, a fire broke out in Brazil’s National Museum. In little more than an hour the blaze had completely engulfed the building, gutting its many galleries and storage areas holding priceless scientific and historical artifacts. Though firefighters valiantly attempted to squelch the conflagration, their job was impeded by the fact that the two closest hydrants were inoperative and water had to be pumped from a nearby lake on the property. All hope was lost when its wooden roof, covered in red terra-cotta tiles, caved in, crushing any objects that might have withstood the heat and leaving only the outer shell of the building standing. Though miraculously there were no injuries reported, because the fire took place after closing hours, the depth of the catastrophe did not fully become visible until the dawn hours of the following day, when the remains of what once had been Latin America’s largest natural history museum and, for more than 60 years, the residence of Emperors Dom Pedro I and Pedro II lay in smoldering ruins. Gone were over 20 million irreplaceable specimens of Brazilian flora and fauna and taxidermic animals (many of them the sole examples of now extinct species) collected over two centuries; Egyptian mummies, Middle Eastern clay tablets, and Greco-Roman artifacts brought over from the Old World by the second monarch; Luzia, the oldest known human skeleton found in the Americas; thousands of books, documents, notebooks, illustrations, paintings, and letters; scientific equipment; and the revered building itself, with its frescoed walls and decorated ceilings, once the symbol of the Brazilian monarchy. Senator Marina Silva, the former environment minister, likened this disaster to a “lobotomy of the Brazilian memory.” The museum’s vice director stated sadly that the destruction of the museum was “an unbearable catastrophe. It is 200 years of this country’s heritage. It is 200 years of memory. It is 200 years of science. It is 200 years of culture, of education” (Horton, 2018)

June 20, 2019

Political Report # 1400 Honduran Labor Fight Reveals Exploitation Behind the Migrant Crisis

By Michael Galant, 

Thousands of migrants sit in cages along the U.S.-Mexico border.
U.S. policy makers and media debate their proper treatment as if they have appeared out of nowhere - fleeing hardships that are, to us, unknowable and unavoidable.
Two thousand miles away, one labor struggle reveals how false this narrative is.
In a microcosm of the conditions that have forced millions around the world to leave their homes in search of a better life in the global North, farmworkers in Honduras are fighting for their rights against the violent exploitation of a powerful multinational corporation and a global economic system designed to marginalize them.
Fyffes plc is the fourth-largest banana distributor in the world and the top importer of winter-season melons to the United States. Despite an annual $1 billion in revenue, the Japanese-owned and Irish-headquartered corporation remains a virtual unknown compared to its competitors: Dole, Chiquita and Del Monte. But in Honduras, Fyffes is infamous.
Fyffes employs up to 8,000 seasonal workers in its Honduran melon fields, the majority women. These workers have faced unendurable and often illegal exploitation. Fyffes pays sub-poverty wages, fails to provide legally mandated benefits, and leaves workers without savings for retirement. According to The Guardian, workers report that Fyffes regularly refuses to supply adequate drinking water, toilets or safety gear, and the company has been known to illegally fire pregnant workers.
When these dangerous conditions reach their inevitable conclusion - when, for example, 17 women are hospitalized from exposure to dangerous agrochemicals - Fyffes fails to deliver adequate medical care or compensation.

June 18, 2019

Political Report # 1399 Migrants Will Pay the Price of Mexico’s Tariff Deal With Trump

By Luis Gómez Romero, 
 The Conversation

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is celebrating an agreement avoiding U.S. tariffs as a major political and diplomatic triumph for his government.
“We didn’t win everything, but we were able to claim a victory with there being no tariffs,” said chief negotiator Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary, on June 9.
The two neighbors have been at odds since United States President Donald Trump on May 30 threatened to hit all Mexican imports with steadily rising tariffs unless Mexico successfully halted the northward flow of Central American migrants fleeing extreme poverty and violence through Mexico toward the United States.
Approximately 80% of Mexican exports are destined for the United States. Tariffs would have devastated Mexico’s economy.
To keep its goods untaxed, Mexico had to convince President Trump that it was serious about stopping migration. After a week of frantic negotiations, Mexico said it would deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala to stop migrants from entering Mexico.
As part of the agreement, a Trump administration program known as “Remain in Mexico,” which forces some migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed in the U.S., will also be expanded.

June 11, 2019

Abstract: Evolving Relationships: Nicaragua, Israel, and the Palestinians

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Evolving Relationships: Nicaragua, Israel, and the Palestinians

by Marshall Yurow

Nicaragua occupies a special place in the Israeli-Palestinian impact on Latin America. Israeli–Somoza Dynasty ties and Palestinian-Sandinista ties have been well documented over the past 35 years. Yet while the facts are available, the interpretations are still fiercely debated. Both relationships have been portrayed largely in polemical terms. The Israeli-Somoza relationship was viewed as a pariah-state alliance or a “debt of honor.” The Sandinista-Palestinian relationship was viewed as a terrorist connection or brotherhood against a common enemy. Both relationships were seen as static when in fact, having begun as realpolitik, they evolved over time.

Nicaragua ocupa un lugar especial en cuanto al impacto israelí-palestino en América Latina. Los lazos israelí-dinastía Somoza y los vínculos palestino-Sandinistas han sido bien documentados en los últimos 35 años. Sin embargo, aunque los hechos están conocidos, las interpretaciones siguen intensamente debatidas. Ambas relaciones han sido presentadas en gran medida en términos polémicos. La relación israelí-Somoza fue vista como una alianza de estados parias o una “deuda de honor.” La relación Sandinista-palestina fue vista como una conexión terrorista o hermandad contra un enemigo común. Ambas relaciones se consideraron estáticas cuando, de hecho, comenzando como realpolitik, evolucionaron con el tiempo.




June 6, 2019

Abstract: Pacification, Capital Accumulation, and Resistance in Settler Colonial Cities: The Cases of Jerusalem and Rio de Janeiro

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Pacification, Capital Accumulation, and Resistance in Settler Colonial Cities: The Cases of Jerusalem and Rio de Janeiro

by Bruno Huberman and Reginaldo Mattar Nasser

Approaching urban social conflicts in Brazil and in Palestine/Israel in terms of settler colonial theory allows the identification of the historical racist structures involved in the violent pacification of racialized native populations. Settler colonialism does not end with the declaration of independence but persists in the postcolonial context through the constant expropriation, extermination, confinement, and assimilation of racialized populations in the service of capitalist accumulation by settler elites. The cases of Jerusalem and Rio de Janeiro exemplify this process.

Analisando conflitos urbanos sociais no Brasil e na Palestina com respeito à teoria de colonização permite a identificação das estruturas racistas históricas envolvidas na pacificação violenta de populações nativas. O colonialismo não termina com a declaração de independência. Ele persiste no contexto pós-colonial por meio de constantes expropriações, extermínio, encarceramento e assimilação das populações nativas. Tudo a serviço da acumulação capitalista das elites colonizadoras. Os casos de Jerusalém e Rio de Janeiro ilustram esse processo.