Thursday, October 1, 2020

QUINO (Oct. 1, 2020)

 Argentine cartoonist Joaquín Lavado, best known as "Quino," died yesterday, he was 88 years old. Quino is best known for Mafalda, a six year old whose incisive comments on injustice and absurd societal conventions remain as timely today as they were in the 1960s when she was first drawn. (Associated Press

This rambling Página 12 interview of Quino by cartoonist Rep has many gems. In it Quino shares a haunting anecdote that also shows Mafalda's profound influence. Months after the 1976 military coup in Argentina, five priests were killed. A poster of Mafalda calling a police truncheon an "ideology denting stick" was laid over the corpses

"Quino created a universe in which almost any question can fit, and there is no way to exaggerate the impact his characters had on our lives and how they enriched them. Without them, we would be so much more alone," writes Pablo Plotkin in the Post Opinión.

Argentines are huge fans, but Mafalda had a loyal following internationally as well. Check out #Quino, to see the many comics people have selected in homage. I spent half the morning trying to pick a favorite ... I failed, each seems more pertinent than the last, but wanted to share this one:

News Briefs

  • A new report from The Dialogue analyzes rampant corruption in Venezuela and presents detailed proposals for repatriating stolen assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people. "Against the backdrop of the ongoing institutional breakdown and complex humanitarian emergency in the country, the report outlines the underlying conditions, legal framework, comparative case studies, and policy considerations that should drive and shape efforts to return corruption-linked assets to the Venezuelan people."
  • Venezuela's food crisis is on the brink of becoming an irreversible catastrophe, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • The rash of massacres in Colombia's rural areas this year coupled with episodes of police violence against civilians clearly demonstrate the need to reform the country's security policies, writes Juan Pappier in Infobae. More broadly, government policies ignore the root of the violence problems in Colombia's rural areas, and focus on targeting drug trafficking, he writes.
  • "Despite the recent national attention paid to police violence in Colombia, demands for institutional reform are not necessarily new," writes Christina Noriega in The Nation. "Colombia’s police has been shaped by the country’s long history of political turmoil and relentless war, making any sort of reform difficult."
  • Note: yesterday I misinterpreted an article and said 2020 was Colombia's bloodiest year on record since 2013. The article was referring to the massacres that have killed at least 246 civilians this year. In fact, at a national level, homicides are at a record low in Colombia this year. But this is largely due to improvements in urban areas, while homicides are increasing in the rural areas where the massacres are taking place, notes Pappier in the Infobae piece.
  • A United Nations human rights expert said Colombia should suspend some of coal miner Cerrejon’s operations, citing health and environmental concerns, reports Reuters.
  • Mexican activists are protesting for women's rights around the country, but policy makers must pay attention to local realities if they hope to target Mexico's gender violence rates, argues Mariana Limón Rugerio in the Post Opinión.
  • Magazine Luiza, one of Brazil's largest retailers, has an audacious program to fight domestic violence. Owner Luiza Trajano had already made fighting harassment and gender violence a priority in recent years, and the pandemic has pushed her to help customers as well, reports Americas Quarterly. The company’s app, which counts 26 million registered users, has a button that enables users to call Brazil’s police hotline while pretending to be shopping online.
  • A Brazilian court blocked President Jair Bolsonaro's government from repealing regulations protecting mangroves and other fragile coastal ecosystems -- AFP.
  • Brazil’s biggest lobby group for soy farmers Aprosoja has broken ties with the Brazil Agribusiness Association (Abag) over its support for an initiative calling on the Brazilian government to rein in soaring deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, reports Reuters.
  • Rio de Janeiro is reeling -- carnival has been cancelled for the first time in over a century of celebrations that defied past crises. The heads of the city’s leading samba organizations found that without a coronavirus vaccine, conditions would not be safe. The costs, personal and financial, are devastating, reports the New York Times.
  • The Brazilian city of Manaus has become a case-study in coronavirus herd immunity, or lack thereof. (See yesterday's briefs.) In the Conversation, Gordon Dougan delves into what the term actually means and the difficulties in establishing herd immunity.
Regional Relations
  • The United States' new Growth in the Americas program, which  seeks to “catalyze private-sector investment in Latin America and the Caribbean," seems aimed at countering Chinese influence in the region -- and will likely antagonize Beijing, reports the Guardian.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempt to reassert U.S. strength through the Inter-American Development Bank "may, paradoxically, be a sign of weakness," argues Christy Thornton at the AULA Blog. " While Trump’s “America First” approach to the bank might seem like an attempt to bolster U.S. strength, it may instead actually reveal a fundamental weakness in U.S. legitimacy in the hemisphere. If the U.S. hegemony has to be imposed from the top down through domination rather than consent, it is sure to engender resistance."
  • The Associated Press reports that because of the pandemic, people in Lima have turned to cremating the dead, “to prevent infection and save space in the capital’s overstretched cemeteries.” This has signaled a stepping away from burying the dead, “a tradition for both Peru’s indigenous Inca culture and the Spanish who colonized the country … fundamentally changing the rites and traditions that surround death.” (Photo-essay in Washington Post)
  • Victims of forced sterilizations carried out by Alberto Fujimori's government filed a complaint before the United Nations to demand full reparation. "The government has not conducted an effective and in-depth investigation to identify and punish those responsible, nor has it compensated the victims financially," the report stated. (Telesur
British Virgin Islands
  • The government of the British Virgin Islands has committed (sort of) to introducing public registers of beneficial ownership for companies incorporated in the tax haven. (Guardian)
  • Decades' worth of carbon dating data demonstrate that the Caribbean islands were settled from South America in a North-South pattern -- Conversation
  • Argentina's poverty rate increased to 40.9 in the first half of this year, up from 35.5 at the end of 2019. The number, the highest since 2004, means 18.5 million people in the country can't cover their basic necessities. (Infobae)
I hope you're all staying safe and as sane as possible, given the circumstances ... Comments and critiques welcome, always.

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