Monthly Archives: August 2017

Guatemalan president attempts to kick out U.N. anti-corruption chief

Joshua Partlow Washington Post August 27, 2017

 Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales ordered the expulsion of the head of a United Nations-backed anti-corruption group Sunday morning, attacking an organization whose rigorous investigations have put a former president behind bars and whose attention has now shifted toward alleged campaign finance violations by Morales himself. See full story.

Photo caption:  Morales campaign poster for last presidential election. Credit: Prachatal

Portugal dominated Angola for centuries. Now the roles are reversed.

Norimitsu Onishi New York Times August 22, 2017

LISBON — How the roles have reversed: The colonizer, some Portuguese contend, has been colonized. On the Portuguese coast of Cascais, where the nation’s royal court used to summer, a new 14-story condominium building looms confidently by the sea. So many of its apartments have been bought by Angola’s ruling class — sometimes a handful at a time — that the development has a nickname: the “Angolans’ building.” Along the grandest shopping boulevard in the capital, Lisbon, Angola’s elite buy designer suits and handbags by the armful. And on one corner, above Louis Vuitton, sits the local office of Africa’s richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, a billionaire from Angola who has become one of Portugal’s most powerful figures by buying large chunks of the country’s banking, media and energy industries.  See full story.

Photo caption: Retiring Angola President José Eduardo dos Santos (on the right) has ruled Angola for close to four decades and will remain head of the ruling MPLA party. Dos Santos’s billionaire daughter Isabel heads Sonangol, the state oil company, and his son José Filomeno runs the country’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund. 

Angolan President Jose Edwardo dos Santos at a pre-election press conference.

Angolan elections: Different name, same game for civil society?

David Kode Pambazuka News August 24, 2017

Over the last 38 years, particularly since the end of the civil war in 2002, President Dos Santos has ruled Angola through securitisation of the society, repressing all dissent and restricting freedom of expression, association and assembly. Will space for civil participation open up after one of Africa’s longest serving rulers leaves power following elections this week?  See full article.

Photo caption: Angolan President Jose Edwardo dos Santos at a pre-election press conference. Credit Government of Angola

Kenya’s new electoral authoritarianism

Azia Rana Pambazuka News August 24, 2017

Kenyan political elites are using the mechanism of the election to cloak their authoritarianism in democratic credibility and shield themselves from international suspicion. The vote, so essential to popular participation and self-government, has become a critical component for a new electoral authoritarianism.  Read full article.

Maya Angelou in 1972, three years after the publication of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Credit Eddie Hausner/The New York Times

A racist world, described by those who knew it

Jon Meacham New York Times August 22, 2017

He didn’t really want to go back, but he knew he had to. Bearing witness, seeking to understand, confronting past and present in their complexity and pain: It was all part of what Robert Penn Warren had called “the awful responsibility of Time” in his 1946 novel “All the King’s Men…”  The result of Warren’s journey was his 1956 book “Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South,” a reportorial portrait of the emotions of a moment not unlike our own — as painful as that is to note. Warren, who had written sympathetically of segregation in a 1930 essay he later repudiated, sought out the voices of African-Americans and Ku Klux Klansmen, of ministers and teachers, businessmen and professors, farmers and lawyers. Reading Warren alongside other midcentury works by Maya Angelou, Richard Wright and Marshall Frady, who profiled George Wallace, is to see anew the truth that Appomattox was as much a beginning as it was an end.

Photo caption: Maya Angelou in 1972, three years after the publication of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Credit Eddie Hausner/The New York Times