The best of democraciaAbierta this 2019

This 2019, our readership grew threefold. While pinning down the articles that created this growth is difficult, we can definitely provide you with a review of our most-read pieces.

democracia Abierta
27 December 2019, 3.13pm

1. Brazil’s leak

When the Brazilian Amazon rainforest was bursting into flames, democraciaAbierta leaked a set of documents that were presented behind closed doors to Brazilian government officials, that laid bare Jair Bolsonaro’s plans of using hate discourse to attack and isolate minorities in the Amazon.

The leak went viral, reaching more than half a million views globally, a milestone for democraciaAbierta.

One of the documents leaked were PowerPoint slides that showed the government’s plans to carry out predatory projects with devastating environmental consequences. One of the tactics cited in the document, was that of redefining indigenous, quilombolismo and environmental paradigms with neoliberal and ultra-conservative ones.

This modus operandi is not new, as we have seen more instances of the Brazilian government attacking NGOs; such was the case with the recent firefighters scheme. Another slide in said PowerPoint presentation, showed the existence of a globalist campaign that “relativizes national sovereignty in the Brazilian Amazon basin”using a combination of international pressure and what they call “psychological oppression”, both internal and external.

According to this rhetoric, the campaign movilices environmental and indigenous NGOs, in addition to media, to impose diplomatic and economic pressures. It also implicates indigenous and quilombas minorities to use public institution’s support in a federal, state and municipal level. The results, as the PowerPoint slide claims, is the restriction of “a limitation in government action”, which, naturally, caused a lot of noise. Bolsonaro, however, moves forward with his agenda, which has led him to be accused in the International Criminal Court.

2. Protests in Chile

In December, Félix-Anselm Van Lier, expert in constitutional law, analyzed the historic opportunity that the constitutional renovation in Chile represented. In this piece, the author explains how a 3% increase in the metro’s ticket had the power to shake a supposedly stable and prosperous country to its core, and become a true constitutional revolution.

Van Lier argues that the protests in Chile are a result of a long-existing discontent: tensions have been latent for years. For the past decade, there have been constant protests that show these frustrations in matters like inequality, health, retirement and education, among others. Thus, the slogan for this year’s protesters was against being called ‘the 30 pesos revolution” but “the 30 year of abuse of power revolution”.

In April 2020, the chileans will vote in favor or against a new constitution and which form it will take. In any case, this is a democratic milestone, and if the citizens vote for a constitutional reform, negotiations will not be happening in traditional institutions, but in a special constitutional assembly.

Even when many details are yet to be established and a new constitution is not a magic formula, the protests did open a historic opportunity to come out of this long-casting PInochet shadow and into a more equal society.


The leak went viral, reaching more than half a million views globally, a milestone for democraciaAbierta

3. Evo Morales’ fall in Bolivia

This past November, Nick Dearden analyzed the fall of Evo Morales in Bolivia, highlight the trajectory that led him to become a national and international hero, in between controversy and exile. In the piece, Dearden recognizes the multiple achievements of Morales’ administration, but argues the left in Latin America must learn from Evo’s mistakes to able to reconstruct itself for the ultra-conservative wave that is conquering the region.

Evo rose to power during a period of protests and sophisticated social movements in 2006. His government managed to reduced poverty and inequality at impressive rates, even increasing millions’ quality of life. If these achievements had happened in a country under the World Bank and IMF programs, Bolivia would have been preached as a development miracle, Dearden argues. Instead, it was branded as a paria country, in part due to its fierce opposition to these institutions.

Morales did, at the same time, commit important mistakes. Concentrating power in himself and conceding to Bolivia’s most powerful elite’s interests, were among the most prominent. Even when Bolivia is at a better place that it was back in 2005, before Morales’ first term, it is still a very unstable country, hit by a political crisis that could have been avoided.

Even when Morales’s achievements cannot and should not be undermined, as Dearden argues, optimism tends to fade with these governments.

4. Brazil’s dictatorship aftermath

In April, democraciaAbierta interviewed Rosângela Paraná, a woman that as a child was kidnapped by the military during Brazil’s military dictatorship.

Her resolve to share her story comes after Jair Bolsonaro rose to power, as a reminder of the gruesome consequences of living under authoritarian governments. “Today, I am an incomplete person. What happened to me is a result of human evilness, and this is horrible”, said Rosângela.

Rosângela was kidnapped when she was a baby and adopted illegally by a military family in 1963. Her adoptive father forged her birth certificate and never revealed anything about her biological family. Her case is one of 19 cases that have come to light after the investigative work done my Eduardo Reina, a brazilian journalist. His book “No-end captivity” talks about the kidnapping of minors and babies, children of leftist activists, that were illegally adopted by military families. Just until now, in 2019, 34 years after the end of the dictatorship and when the far-right rules in Brazil, are these stories coming to light.

5. Conservative wave

In may, Portuguese professor Sousa Santos exposed the complex ideological game that is being propagated worldwide to perpetuate wars against the lower, forgotten and middle classes. In “The relentless factories of hatred, fear and lies: on the global ultraconservative and reactionary waves”, Boaventura argues that the conservative wave that hit the world is opposed to the philosophy that guided the writing of the International Declaration of Human Rights, constituting a serious threat to democracies via three main tenets, or what he calls “factories”.

In the hate factory, the need to have enemies and hold guns to eliminate them is fabricated. In the fear factory, insecurity is cultivated, and thus the need for constant surveillance and security technologies is born. In the fear factory, alternative facts are born, becoming the most strategic of all factories. Its core resides in not even revealing the truth about itself.


Her adoptive father forged her birth certificate and never revealed anything about her biological family

6. The left’s (relative) win in Spain

Our Director Francesc Badia i Dalmases argued, in the light of the legislative elections that were held in Spain in April, that the left still had hope even when it was losing its grip worldwide.

The populist wave had also arrived to Spain, but the PSOE’s victory in April showed that the social democratic party had not fallen into political demise. “All Spanish citizens have sent various messages, especially about not wanting: not wanting backwardness, not wanting reaction, not wanting setbacks. We want a country that moves forward, that looks towards the futre”, said Pedro Sánchez after the results were announced. “We can beat reaction, authoritarianism and backwardness.”

The majority that Sánchez got, however, was not enough to be a part of the government coalition and new elections were set for November, where it the PSOE obtained similar results but the far-right exploded with force and became part of the government. The hopes that were present in April, faded.

7. 5 concrete actions to neutralize Bolsonaro

This year began with worry in Brazil. Jair Bolsonaro’s rise to power and his promise to destroy the fight for human rights, placed Brazil in the center of continental worries.

In January, Renata Ávila shared 5 concrete actions to neutralize Bolsonaro and avoid the regression of human rights in the biggest and most threatened democracy of the region.

First: Elevate the profiles of newly elected progressives, which welcomes for the first time a generation of new leaders, especially black women.

Second: Progressive Cities and local Governments as spaces of resistance.

Third: Shielding the opposition, critical academics, journalists and intellectuals.

Fourth: International Watchdogs of Bolsonaro´s policies and their effects on the economy and society. The newly elected administration should face strict scrutiny from researchers, journalists and think tanks.

Fifth: Zero Tolerance to regressive policies undermining human rights. The Administration of Donald Trump is welcoming Jair with open arms, along with the 'nationalist international' in full.


Follow us this 2020

2019 was, definitely, a complicated year, filled with confusion. democraciaAbierta has aimed to bring information and analysis to a growing number of readers, that look for judgement criteria and elaborate ideas.

Today, having a robust political opinion and participating in the debate about present and future issues, is not easy. Especially when the truth is being manipulated and changed with alternative facts. We invite our audience to believe in us this upcoming year, a year that brings the start of a new decade and that will be pivotal for the future of democracy, human rights and the environment. Join us in whatever it is that is coming.

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