July 3, 2020

Abstract, Neoliberal Urbanization and Synergistic Violence in Postearthquake Concepción

:::::: Abstract ::::::

Neoliberal Urbanization and Synergistic Violence in Postearthquake Concepción 

by Christian Paulo Matus Madrid, Rodrigo Ganter, Juan Antonio Carrasco, and Camila Barraza Huaiquimilla

The Chilean neoliberal state’s institutional strategy for displacing a historical population from Aurora de Chile, a centrally located area with real estate value in the city of Concepción, combined three types of violence: shock urbanization, which used the 2010 earthquake as an opportunity to impose the construction of major infrastructure, the construction of public opinion aimed at naturalizing displacement, and the strategic use of participation as a disciplinary socio-technical device to legitimize a solution to the conflict that guaranteed the building of the Bicentennial Bridge. The deployment of this synergistic, multifaceted violence was a sophisticated management technique associated with a neoliberal urban rationality that contributed to the process of urban renewal.

Political Report #1446

Political Report # 1446

Trump’s Second Thoughts on Juan Guaido are Not Enough

Consortium News, Steve Ellner

After nearly a year and a half of all-out efforts at regime change in Venezuela which took a
major toll on the Venezuelan people, Trump now tells the world he was never big on the strategy
in the first place. On Friday, Trump appeared to shove the blame onto advisors, and added “I
think that I wasn’t necessarily in favor” of the policy of recognizing Juan Guaidó as president,
but “I was OK with it.”

Trump’s statements made it seem as if Guaidó's only sin was that he did not manage to seize
power. This might-makes-right mindset belies what is happening on the ground in Venezuela
which is much more complicated than just one leader’s approval rating. It also ignores the
horrendous suffering of the Venezuelan people due to crippling sanctions imposed in August
2019, the result of a foreign policy decision that Trump now brushes off as a simple mistake. A
price is being paid even by those in Washington who are singularly concerned with U.S. prestige.
The real story is that Washington placed all its faith in an untested leader of a radical, somewhat
fringe, party, that strong resentment against the U.S. is now being expressed among Venezuelan
leaders and voters who previously thought differently, and that with Trump’s recent statements,
U.S. credibility sinks to an all-time low.

The latest news on Trump’s change of heart requires an analysis of the sea of change that has
occurred politically in Venezuela. Such an analysis is much needed because Trump's statement is unexplainable for those whose only source of information on Venezuela is the mainstream media. The analysis is also urgent because this week the White House is walking back Trump’s statement at the same time that Joe Biden is opposing any change in policy.
In spite of these words in favor of staying the course, events have shown that our man in Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, has proved to be adept at (in the words of Bloomberg) “diplomatic grandstanding” but completely lacking in political realism.
Guaidó’s Recent Botches, One After Another

The day before Trump’s statements, Venezuela's vice president Delcy Rodríguez released several audios pertaining to CITGO which showed how incompetent or corrupt – or both – the U.S.-
backed parallel government of Guaidó is. In February, Guaidó named José Ignacio Hernández as
“special attorney,” even though he had formerly represented the Canadian mining company
Crystallex in a successful attempt to convince U.S. courts that the Venezuelan government’s debt
to the company entitled it to partial ownership of CITGO. Vice president Rodríguez presented
evidence to demonstrate that Hernández is now working for ConocoPhillips, which is also trying
to get its hands on CITGO. On May 28, a court in Delaware gave the greenlight to proceed with
the sale of CITGO in order to compensate Crystallex. The decision was a blow not only to the
Venezuelan nation but also the Guaidó “government,” which the Trump administration had
recognized as CITGO’s legitimate owner. Rodríguez’s audios showed how little Hernández was
representing Guaidó and company. Just hours later, Hernández announced his resignation.

The CITGO scandal is just the latest in a series of blunders and fiascos which have discredited
Guaidó. Last year, the pro-opposition pollster Luis Vicente León reported that trust in Guaidó
had plunged from 63% at the outset of his initial regime change schemes in January to 40%.
With the coronavirus crisis underway, another prominent polling firm Hinterlaces, which has
displayed greater sympathy for the government, reported that 85% of Venezuelans approved the
way Maduro was handling the pandemic and 81% favored government-opposition negotiations,
which Maduro supports and Guaidó has largely opposed.
Then in May came the botched military coastal incursion from Colombia with the aim of
capturing Maduro, a venture that was backed by Guaidó and ended up further eroding trust in
him. Guaidó pledged 213 million dollars to the scheme, thus raising questions regarding the
source of the money and how it is being administered.
Foes of Guaidó in the Opposition
Another incident which called to question the handling of vast amounts of cash was Guaidó’s
removal of Humberto Calderón Berti as his "ambassador" to Colombia in November 2019.
Calderón Berti reported that humanitarian aid destined to Venezuela was getting siphoned off by
opposition operatives. He told reporters “I did not invent this. Colombian authorities alerted me
and showed me documents.” Accusations went back and forth but the fact of the matter is that,
unlike everyone else involved, the 79-year old Calderón Berti is a reputable statesman and
former foreign relations minister with a reputation for personal honesty.
The role of another long-standing politician with an impeccable reputation of personal integrity
poses a much greater challenge to Guaidó from within the opposition camp. Claudio Fermín,
Caracas' first elected mayor in 1989, has emerged as the leading figure of Venezuela's moderate
opposition. Fermín since the outset of his career has been conservative on economic policy (as
are most other “moderate” opposition leaders) and thus can hardly be accused of being a fellow
traveler of the Chavistas (followers of Hugo Chávez).
Up until late last year, the moderates, who favor electoral participation and reject the radical
right’s non-institutional road to power, were intimidated by Washington's support for regime
change that was seconded by the international commercial media. But in late last year, the
moderates went on the offensive when for the first time they unified by grouping in the National
Roundtable Dialogue (MDN). MDN congresspeople who are dissident members of the main
political parties, with the votes of the Chavistas, elected a new president of the National
Assembly to replace Guaidó. As a result, the National Assembly split in two bodies, each
claiming to be legitimate.
The moderates not only achieved organizational unity, but they began to lash out at the
intransigent opposition which, following the line coming from the Trump administration,
accepted negotiations only with regard to the terms in which Maduro was to step down from
office. Amazingly, Fermín, whose political background is anything but leftist, accused the
Guaidó leadership of collaborating with the imperialists. “Imperialism,” he declared “for the first
time is cooking in Venezuelan ovens… It’s the first time we have seen Venezuelans imploring
that they intervene in our country.”

Fermín and the MDN openly broke with the radical opposition’s and Washington’s narrative that
the entire Venezuelan political system is illegitimate. Not only does Fermín explicitly recognize
the legitimacy of the Maduro presidency, but also the nation’s political institutions. Indeed, the
MDN took the initiative of going to the supreme court to argue that the National Assembly due
to internal divisions would never achieve the two thirds vote necessary to renovate the national
electoral commission, and requested that the court appoint its five new members. The court’s
move was denounced by Washington as well as the European Union.
December Boycott
Much is at stake, as the electoral commission will supervise upcoming elections for a new
National Assembly that is slated for December. Fermín, who is already preparing to participate
in the contest, rules out “any type of alliance with those who defend sanctions and economic
blockades against the nation.”
Two of the five new CNE members are identified with the opposition, but oppose Guaidٖó’s call
to boycott the December elections. One of them is the brother of Bernabé Gutiérrez, Democratic
Action’s organizational secretary. Democratic Action (AD), one of the largest parties of the
opposition, is on record for rejecting participation in the December elections but is subject to
intense, if not internecine, internal debate over the matter. The U.S. State Department has
threatened to impose sanctions on Gutiérrez and others it holds responsible for acting
undemocratically in the internal dispute.
AD’s internal strife over electoral participation demonstrates how much Venezuelan politics has
changed from a year ago when Guaidó counted on the support of the entire opposition in his
efforts to topple the Maduro government. The other big opposition party, Primero Justicia, is also
subject to infighting with its ex-presidential candidate Henrique Capriles open to electoral
participation. Bloomberg reports that several Primero Justicia congresspeople have recently
called on the State Department to pull its support for Guaidó and switch over to the less
intransigent Capriles. Next to Primero Justicia and Democratic Action, Guaidó’s Popular Will is
a small fringe party, whose major strength lies in the unwavering support its leaders receive from
Guaidó and his allies attribute the emergence of the MDN to government payoffs to its leaders.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin slapped sanctions on seven MDN congressmen who he
labeled “corrupt” and claimed they “tried to block the democratic process in Venezuela.” But the
MDN cannot be dismissed that easily. The surveys show majority support for the MDN position
on electoral participation and opposition to the new round of abstentionism proposed by the
radical right.
In the face of such sharp public opinion shifts in Venezuela, Washington confronts the dilemma
of whether to revise its Venezuela policy. But both Trump advisors and Joe Biden are
unconvinced by Trump’s realistic assessment expressed on Friday. On Monday, Trump’s press
secretary Kayleigh McEnany stated “Nothing has changed. He [Trump] continues to recognize
Juan Guaido as the leader of Venezuela.” Biden, for his part, criticized Trump’s willingness to
talk to “thugs and dictators like Nicolas Maduro.”

These statements at the beginning of the week are all the more reason to consider what is
happening on the ground in Venezuela, as opposed to the wishful thinking of Washington
pundits and policy makers as well as commercial media spins.
Washington’s real challenge, along with the commercial media, is how to explain that after
calling for a military coup in Venezuela, implementing draconian measures against the
Venezuelan economy, labeling Maduro a narcoterrorist, and depositing complete faith in Guaidó,
Trump now has had a change of heart. Not only Trump but the entire Washington political
establishment have a lot of explaining to do.

Steve Ellner is a retired professor at the Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela and currently an
associate managing editor of Latin American Perspectives. He is the editor of Latin America’s
Pink Tide: Breakthrough and Shortcomings (2020) and “Latin American Extractivism:
Dependency, Resource Nationalism and Resistance in Broad Perspective” (to be released later
this year).

Original article can be found (here).

URL:      https://consortiumnews.com/2020/06/25/trumps-second-thoughts-on-juan-guaido-are-not-enough/

July 1, 2020

Abstract, Remittances, the Rescaling of Social Conflicts, and the Stasis of Elite Rule in El Salvador

:::::: Abstract ::::::

Remittances, the Rescaling of Social Conflicts, and the Stasis of Elite Rule in El Salvador 

by Hannes Warnecke-Berger 

Remittances are the dominant factor in the contemporary economy of El Salvador, which is enjoying a new comparative advantage in the international economic system—the export of cheap labor to the Global North and particularly the United States. The Salvadoran economy is part of a transnational economic space, but this space is perverse: Although the poor are nominally receiving more money, remittances cause them to be caught in a vicious cycle of economic instability. At the same time, the elites are able to access remittances indirectly by becoming a Keynesian oligarchy—an oligarchy that extracts wealth by controlling the demand structure of the economy instead of production. Remittances represent bread and butter for the poor and a vehicle for transnationalization for the rich, and this leads to a new stasis of elite rule: remittances provoke the rescaling of social conflicts in favor of elites. Transnationalism in this regard must be interpreted as an elite strategy for suppressing the bargaining power of the subaltern class. In this transnational remittances economy, opportunities for the subaltern class and migrants to participate directly in reshaping this economic space are limited or nonexistent. As a consequence, they must rely on translocal moral economies linking migrants with their families at home, where they are still able to impose some control. Meanwhile, elites foster transnationalism by dismantling these very modes of control. In this sense, remittances are the silver bullet for facilitating neoliberalism in the Global South. In El Salvador, they produce ultrastability for the oligarchy and chaos for the poor.

June 29, 2020

Abstract, The Uses of Culture in the Last Argentine Dictatorship (1976–1983): From Studies of Repression to Analyses of the Construction of Consensus

:::::: Abstract ::::::

The Uses of Culture in the Last Argentine Dictatorship (1976–1983): From Studies of Repression to Analyses of the Construction of Consensus 

by Laura Schenquer

Democratic governments are not the only ones that formulate political strategies to generate consensus. The last Argentine dictatorship (1976–1983) also developed cultural, educational, and communication policies to maintain and increase its support and to curb the opposition. However, these policies have not been studied in the postdictatorship, largely because of the prevalence of the image of the apagón cultural (cultural blackout)—the notion that the dictatorship’s project was simply repression and censorship. Examination of recently discovered official documents reveals the productive and creative character of the dictatorship’s cultural projects, which were used to increase social control and impose a certain “order.”

June 26, 2020

Abstract, Transnational Organizations, Accessibility, and the Next Generation

:::::: Abstract ::::::

Transnational Organizations, Accessibility, and the Next Generation

by Jack Durrell 

Involvement in transnational organizations is an understudied aspect of next-generation transnationalism, the cross-border connections maintained by individuals born and/or raised in countries of settlement. Exploration of institutional accessibility—the existence or nonexistence of barriers to next-generation inclusion—across a nonrepresentative sample of Mexican and Salvadoran transnational political and philanthropic groups operating in California and Washington, DC, shows how it can facilitate next-generation involvement in cross-border organizations. Accessibility is judged in terms of four main indicators: resource constraints, outreach strategies, involvement in U.S. political arenas, and pervasive institutional cultures.


La participación en organizaciones transnacionales es un aspecto poco estudiado del transnacionalismo de la próxima generación, las conexiones transfronterizas mantenidas por individuos nacidos y / o criados en países de asentamiento. La exploración de la accesibilidad institucional—la existencia o inexistencia de barreras para la inclusión de la próxima generación—a través de una muestra no representativa de grupos políticos y filantrópicos transnacionales mexicanos y salvadoreños que operan en California y Washington, DC, muestra cómo puede facilitar la participación de la próxima generación en organizaciones transfronterizas. La accesibilidad se juzga en términos de cuatro indicadores principales: limitaciones de recursos, estrategias de publicidad y reclutamiento, participación en los ámbitos políticos de los EE. UU. y culturas institucionales generalizadas.


June 25, 2020

El COVID-19 y las cárceles en México

Por Alberto Espejel Espinoza

El objetivo de la reflexión es brindar un panorama general sobre la situación que guarda la población carcelaria frente al COVID-19 en México. Primero se discute la situación carcelaria, resaltando los problemas en su interior. En segundo lugar, se muestra la relación entre COVID-19 y penales en el caso mexicano.

Situación carcelaria en México

En México, la población penitenciaria es un sector estigmatizado, que vive en condiciones indignas ante el olvido de los gobiernos estatales y federal durante varios sexenios (Documenta, 2016). Vale la pena resaltar que México es una sociedad de las más violentas e inseguras de la región. El 2019 fue el año más violento de la historia reciente (CNN Español, 2020).

En ese mismo sentido, el aumento de la violencia responde a una estrategia de seguridad mal implementada (de parte de los tres niveles de gobierno, desde hace al menos dos sexenios), así como sustentada en la mano dura, lo cual ha detonado en problemas de sobrepoblación y hacinamiento, deterioro de los servicios, ingobernabilidad, así como vulnerabilidad de los derechos humanos (México Evalúa, 2013).

COVID y penales

El riesgo de contagio, derivado de no seguir los protocolos básicos en las visitas a las personas privadas de su libertad y/o el mal manejo de los servicios de custodia y seguridad, lavandería y comida en los penales, se ha registrado en varias latitudes latinoamericanas.

En varios penales donde el COVID-19 se ha manifestado, los motines y fugas no se hicieron esperar. En Venezuela, a inicios de mayo, se contabilizaron 47 muertos y 75 heridos por un motín derivado de la restricción de visitas como medida sanitaria. En Brasil, a mediados de marzo, se presentó la fuga de 1,400 reclusos en protesta por la restricción de pre-liberaciones. En Perú, nueve internos perdieron la vida en un motín a finales de abril. En Colombia, luego de diversos motines, las autoridades aprobaron la pre-liberación de presos con 40% de pena cumplida, adultos mayores y/o con enfermedades de alto riesgo o discapacidad. (Londoño, Andreoni y Casado, 2020).

Es evidente que el COVID-19 ha puesto en jaque al sector penitenciario dadas las incapacidades que lo caracterizan en términos de infraestructura y respeto a los derechos humanos. No obstante, debemos poner especial atención a cada caso, pues existen penales con mayor posibilidad de sortear al COVID-19 que otros.

En México, el pasado 15 de abril, las autoridades sanitarias reconocieron la detección de dos brotes en penales de Yucatán y del Estado de México. El 28 de abril se dio a conocer el fallecimiento del primer recluso a causa del COVID-19, en el Reclusorio (estatal) Norte de la Ciudad de México (Fuentes, 2020). Mientras que el 29 de abril, la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH) reconoció la existencia de 27 internos con COVID en penales de Ciudad de México, Estado de México, Jalisco, Sinaloa y Yucatán (El Heraldo de México, 2020a). En adición, el 10 de mayo se suscitó el fallecimiento de otro preso en el Centro Federal de Readaptación Social (CEFERESO) de Puente Grande, Jalisco, lo cual evidenció que la problemática no solo se presenta en penales estatales, sino también de los CEFERESOS. Por ello, no extraña que para mayo las cifras hayan aumentado, solo en los cuatro penales de Jalisco (tres estatales y un CEFERESO) se han contabilizado 74 personas portadoras de COVID-19 (Partida, 2020).

Una revisión del Diagnóstico Nacional de Supervisión Penitenciario de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH, 2019) permite apreciar algunas de las (in) capacidades penitenciarias que resultan clave en la actual coyuntura.

Solo tomando en cuenta las entidades federativas en que la CNDH ha detectado contagios de COVID-19, como se observa en la Tabla 1 en la parte de anexos, los penales que obtienen calificación aprobatoria alta (de 8 a 10) en el rubro de atención a internos con requerimientos específicos (adultos mayores, mujeres, indígenas, personas con discapacidad) son los de Sinaloa y Yucatán. Sin embargo, Sinaloa reprueba en los aspectos que garantizan estancia digna (que incluye condiciones materiales y de higiene en dormitorios y área médica). En ese orden de ideas, los penales del Estado de México presentan calificaciones reprobatorias en aspectos que garantizan la estancia digna y la integridad del interno (incluye sobrepoblación y hacinamiento).

A manera de cierre

Por consiguiente, las (in)capacidades en torno a sobrepoblación y hacinamiento, las malas condiciones de la infraestructura e higiene en áreas médicas y dormitorios y la falta de atención a internos con requerimientos específicos, como personas adultas mayores, sin duda, representan un grave riesgo que debe tomarse con seriedad en la actual coyuntura.

La actual contingencia ha mostrado la fragilidad de las instituciones penitenciarias para hacer frente al COVID-19. En ese orden de ideas, la eficacia de las respuestas implementadas para asegurar la atención médica de la población penitenciaria está por verse.


CNDH (2019). Diagnóstico Nacional de Supervisión Penitenciaria. México: Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos.

CNN Español. (2020, 21 de enero). Es oficial: 2019 ha sido el año más violento en México. CNN Español.  https://cnnespanol.cnn.com/2020/01/21/es-oficial-2019-ha-sido-el-ano-mas-violento-en-me xico/

Documenta. (2016). Privatización del sistema penitenciario en México. México: Documenta.

Fuentes D. (2020, 28 de abril). Muere interno del Reclusorio Norte por coronavirus. El Universal. https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/metropoli/cdmx/coronavirus-muere-interno-del-reclusorio-norte-por-covid-19

Londoño, E., Andreoni, M. y L. Casado. (2020, 28 de abril). El coronavirus ataca las cárceles y cientos de miles de presos son liberados. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/es/2020/04/28/espanol/america-latina/carceles-coronavirus-contagio.html

México Evalúa (2013). La cárcel en México: ¿Para qué? México: México Evalúa.

Partida, J. (2020, 10 de mayo). Reportan primera muerte por COVID-19 en cárceles de Jalisco. La jornada. https://www.jornada.com.mx/ultimas/estados/2020/05/10/reportan-septima-muerte-por-covid-19-en-carceles-de-jalisco-6487.html


Tabla 1. Aspectos a tomar en cuenta frente al COVID, según la entidad y sus capacidades institucionales*


Ciudad de México: 13 penales.


Calificación global: 7.52

Estado de México, 12 penales.


Calificación global: 6.21

Jalisco. 9 penales.


Calificación global: 7.11

Sinaloa, 4 penales.


Calificación global: 6.05

Yucatán, 4 penales.


Calificación final: 7.18

Aspectos que garantizan la integridad personal del interno (sobrepoblación y hacinamiento)






Aspectos que garantizan una estancia digna






Atención a internos con requerimientos específicos






* Los colores refieren la siguiente evaluación: rojo, menor a 6; amarillo, entre 6 y 7.9; verde, de 8 a 10. Fuente: Elaboración propia con base en CNDH (2019).

Alberto Espejel Espinoza - Doctor en Ciencia Política pro la UNAM. Profesor Investigador del Área Política de la División de Ciencias Socioeconómicas de la Facultad de Estudios Superiores Acatlán de la UNAM. Miembro del Sistema Nacional de Investigadores, Nivel 1.

June 24, 2020

Abstract, Social Movements, Crises, and Mobilizations: A Look at Summer 2019

:::::: Abstract ::::::

Social Movements, Crises, and Mobilizations: A Look at Summer 2019 

by Liliana Cotto Morales 

Beginning in the 1990s and in the first five years of the twenty-first century, we saw a strengthening of social movements that had achieved political space for combating U.S. neoliberal strategies and halting the dangerous influence of big business and capitalist governments. These movements became the protagonists influencing state policies in several Latin American countries and other regions. A systematic study of the knowledge produced by this resistance and insurgency may suggest alternatives that could be transformed into solutions.