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Latin Brief: Netherlands apologizes for slave trade (December 20, 2022)

 Latin America Daily Briefing

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte formally apologized on behalf of the state for the Netherlands’ historical role in the slave trade on Monday. He said slavery must be recognized in “the clearest terms” as a crime against humanity.

Rutte spoke in The Hague, while other Dutch ministers were traveling to seven former colonies in the Caribbean — Suriname, Bonaire, Sint Maarten, Aruba, Curaçao, Saba, and Sint Eustatius.

The prime minister’s address was a response to a report published last year by a government-appointed advisory board, set up after the 2020 killing of George Floyd in the U.S. The report said Dutch participation in slavery had been a crime against humanity deserving of a formal apology and financial reparations.

The report said that what it called institutional racism in the Netherlands “cannot be seen separately from centuries of slavery and colonialism and the ideas that have arisen in this context.”

The government has, however, ruled out reparations, but will set up a 200 million euro educational fund for initiatives that will help tackle the legacy of slavery in the Netherlands and its former colonies.

Descendants’ groups and some of the affected countries criticized the apology as rushed and argued that the lack of consultation from the Netherlands showed persistent colonial attitudes. Others dismissed the value of words without the backing of monetary compensation for the damages wrought by slavery.

In 2013, CARICOM, made a list of requests including that European governments formally apologize and create a repatriation program for those who wish to return to their homeland, which has not happened.

(Guardian, Deutsche Welle, Guardian, Associated Press, Deutsche Welle, NLTimes, Associated Press)

Brazil

  • Brazilian Supreme Court justices ruled that Congress’ so-called “Secret Budget” program is illegal. The move eliminates a funding mechanism used by the executive to distribute public funds for lawmakers to use discretionally in their districts in exchange for legislative support. The move gives incoming president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva a significant boost in budget negotiations by limiting congressional leaders’s ability to extract concessions through untransparent means, reports Reuters.

  • On Sunday, Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes granted an injunction that removes a monthly cash stipend paid to poor families from the constitutional spending cap, paving the way for Lula to fulfill a campaign pledge to increase social spending. (Reuters)

  • Lula is a leftist in the sense that he prioritizes the poor in his public policy program, but he is not anti-capitalist. This position puts him at odds with other members of his party, and the question for many is: which economic vision will dominate the incoming administration?, writes Brian Winter in Americas Quarterly.

Peru

  • Dozens of tourists stranded in Machu Picchu by protests have been evacuated by helicopter to the nearby city of Cusco where flights to the capital, Lima, are operating normally, reports the Guardian.

  • But as stranded tourists leave Peru, prospective travelers have canceled trips: “the abrupt shutter of the tourism industry has dealt a serious blow to tens of thousands of Peruvians whose livelihoods rely on the travel economy,” reports the New York Times.

  • An Ipsos poll for America Television found about 85 percent of respondents supported new general elections, and 33 percent also supported ousted former-president Pedro Castillo’s “coup,” a figure that rose to 52 percent in rural Peru. Another poll showed only 17 percent were satisfied with how Peru’s democracy is working, the lowest level since at least 2006.

Colombia

  • “Killings of social leaders in Colombia have reached a six-year high, suggesting violence in the country’s most troubled regions has been unaffected by wider plans for peace”, reports InSight Crime.

Venezuela

  • Venezuela’s military continues to struggle to quiet criminal activity along the country’s border with Colombia. The scale of Venezuela’s security challenge at the border is enormous, reports InSight Crime, which looks at the particulars of each border state.

El Salvador

  • El Faro has the inside story of how El Salvador’s official crypto wallet — el Chivo — crashed and failed. “While the Chivo Wallet has proved its capability for fraud and as a way to conduct unsupervised transactions, it has yet to live up to its main purported use-case: remittances.”

Argentina

  • More than a million people poured out on the streets of Buenos Aires following the country’s World Cup win on Sunday. The government declared today a national holiday, and euphoric Argentines have gathered to give the returning soccer team a hero’s welcome. (Guardian)

  • The desire to win, and the joy of the victory, are a welcome unifying factor in a country bisected by political polarization. But already partisan sentiments are creeping back: the political opposition has criticized the holiday, the national team is loathe to meet with the president at the Casa Rosada, and former president Mauricio Macri used the tournament as an early campaign appearance and hopes the win debunks his reputation for being “mufa.”

Critter Corner

  • Wildcat, a documentary about a young veteran who finds new meaning in life by caring for an orphaned baby ocelot in the Peruvian Amazon, is a “touching and emotionally intelligent” film, according to the Guardian. And, ocelots are super cute.

Jordana Timerman / Latin America Daily Briefing
http://latinamericadailybriefing.blogspot

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