All that is overwhelming about public space in São Paulo, Brazil’s business capital—the noise, the teeming crowds, the endless stream of cars and buses—is exacerbated on the Avenida Paulista, a stretch of concrete lined end to end with shiny glass office towers. The tropical noonday sun bounces off in splinters from the towers, the evening rush-hour turns the avenue’s wide sidewalks into a mob scene and, in short, everything about this urban landscape seems to confirm one’s suspicion that present-day capitalism shrivels or denatures everything it touches.
It is with a sense of prayerful relief, then, that a traveler might find herself in a quiet exhibition space several floors above the Paulista, wandering through a visual forest of images of the upper Amazon basin’s first peoples—a retrospective of work by the Swiss-born emigré photographer Claudia Andujar, titled “A luta Yanomami” (The Yanomami Struggle), mounted at the Moreira Salles cultural institute.… Seguir leyendo »
Yet another journalist has been murdered in Mexico. It was the usual pattern: Javier Valdez, fifty, wrote a drug story, revealed too much information, said something someone did not want said, and was killed at noon on a busy street near his place of work. Six other journalists, none of them quite as prominent as Javier, have been killed in drug-infested cities since the year began, but because he was a friend of mine the details matter more to me this time. On reflection, I was grateful that, unlike many of the more than one hundred reporters killed in Mexico over the last quarter century, he was not abducted, tortured for hours or days, maimed, dismembered, hung lifeless from an overpass for all to see.… Seguir leyendo »
On Monday, September 26, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias Timochenko, leader of the Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia, or FARC, signed a peace accord in the photogenic coastal city of Cartagena. I was in Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, that afternoon, packed into the central Plaza de Bolivar along with several thousand celebrants. Giant screens had been set up in public parks and squares, and in the Plaza de Bolivar three of Colombia’s top musical groups were announced as warmup acts to the peace-signing itself. It was a gorgeous afternoon, the best this Andean city can offer, with clear skies and a high breeze.… Seguir leyendo »
Durante los 13 años, 10 meses y seis días que se pavoneó por las pantallas de televisión de todo el mundo, entre su primera toma de posesión como presidente de Venezuela y su desaparición del escenario público el pasado mes de diciembre, nunca se supo exactamente qué pensar de Hugo Chávez, que murió el martes a los 58 años. Bailó, rió, parloteó, amenazó, cantó, bravuconeó, alardeó, y ahora el comandante, que en realidad era teniente coronel, ha dejado un gran hueco. En sus años en el poder, nunca faltaba tema de conversación en una cena o una fiesta venezolana: siempre estaba Chávez, y solo Chávez, como objeto de lamentaciones, elogios, burlas o ruegos.… Seguir leyendo »
In my country we’ve been learning under extreme duress to live in a different nation from the one we grew up in. Some 30,000 people have died in Mexico in the last four years in a grotesque carnival of shootouts, beheadings and mutilations; the city of Juárez has emerged as a worldwide symbol of lawlessness and horror; tens of thousands of children have been left orphaned and permanently embittered against the state. But what happened in August and unfolded throughout September and the fall was something else.
In the northern state of Tamaulipas, on an abandoned ranch some 100 miles south of the American border, a young Ecuadorean man escaped from beneath a pile of bodies to tell his story.… Seguir leyendo »