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December 22 2013

The Challenges of Family Healthcare in Apatou, French Guiana

Henri Dumoulin with a child at the PMI center of Apatou, French Guiana (with his permission)

Henri Dumoulin, Global Voices contributor, recalls his stay in Apatou, French Guiana, located in the heart of the Amazon Forest. He explains how, as the physician of Mother and Child Health Protection programme there, he had to rely on the informal colloboration with the Suriname health system and navigate the multilingual setting of the community :

I shall be in the “Apoema tapu gezondheid zentrum” on November 28, 29 to work again with the same team, to vaccinate all people living on both sides of the borders in this franco–Surinamese archipelago. It appears that nobody was aware of our coming [..] So the account of injections was lesser than expected (109 in one day). Amalia [the coordinator]  send a radio call on Thursday morning and people came progressively [..] A little worried about the reaction of my boss regarding my way of managing our local health problems and crossing borders ..

December 17 2013

Explaining the Evergrowing Tradition of “Chanté Nwèl” (Singing Christmas) in the French West Indies

Between late November and December 25, a unique tradition is taking place every year in the Francophone Caribbean islands, especially in Martinique and Guadeloupe. “Chanté Nwel” [fr] is a time when people come together to not only sing traditional Christmas songs but also share a meal as a community. Although the tradition of singing Christmas carols has slowed down in France, it has grown stronger than ever in the french west indies [fr]. Hélène Clément explains the sad origin of the tradition that has been turned into a festive celebration [fr] :

L’article 2 du Code noir promulgué par Louis XIV en 1685 prévoyait « l’instruction religieuse des esclaves ». Les jésuites, chargés de poursuivre cette instruction religieuse, enseigneront aux esclaves à jouer de certains instruments dans le but de former des choristes pour les offices religieux [..] Le « chanté Nwèl » dans les Antilles françaises reste un moment de partage et de solidarité.

The article 2 of the Code Noir [Black Code] promulgated by Louis XIV in 1685 stipulated that “religious instruction be provided to slaves.” The Jesuits taught slaves through the religious instruction to play some instruments in order to assemble a choir for religious services [..] The “Chanté Nwèl” in the French West Indies is first and foremost a time of sharing and solidarity

Here is a video of one of the most known carol :Joseph mon cher fidèle (Joseph, my dear faithful) [fr]:

Daniel, from Martinique, explains the drinking tradition during “Chanté Nwèl” [fr]:

Autrefois, lors des ces « chanté Nwel», on servait en dehors du traditionnel punch, du sirop d’orgeat aux dames, ainsi que du chocolat à l’eau épaissi au toloman pour se réchauffer du « froid piquant » des nuits de décembre… dès la fin du mois de novembre, on prépare le  schrubb avec des écorces d’oranges que l’on fait macérer dans du rhum au soleil.

Back in the days during “Chanté Nwèl”, the traditional cocktail punch and chocolate water thickened with toloman were served to warm the “sneaky cold” December nights; orgeat syrup were reserved for the ladies … at the end of November, the schrubb is prepared with orange peels that has been soaked in rum and exposed to the sun. 

 The following video shows how residents of Gros-Morne, Martinique are celebrating the tradition today [fr]:

November 15 2013

Have Racist Behaviors Been Unleashed in France ?

Epitomized by racial taunts [fr] towards the French Guiana-born Minister of Justice Christine Taubira on the cover of the weekly newspaper Minute, many observers bemoan the rise of racist behaviors [fr] in France. One of those observers is Harry Roselmack, a prominent reporter born in Martinique, who wrote an editorial in which he opines that the current atmosphere in France reduces his citizenship to the color of his skin [fr]:    

Ce qui me chagrine, c'est le fond de racisme qui résiste au temps et aux mots d'ordre, pas seulement au sein du FN, mais au plus profond de la société française. C'est un héritage des temps anciens, une justification pour une domination suprême et criminelle : l'esclavage et la colonisation. [..] Tant que l'on laissera ces peaux de Banania traîner dans nos cerveaux, des glissades et dérapages vers l'injure raciste sont à craindre. Surtout par les temps qui courent, avec cette crise qui alimente la xénophobie de son bien étrange carburant : la jalousie envers plus mal loti que soi.

What saddens me is that there are remnants of racism that presevere through time and political correctness, not only within the FN party (ed's note: a far right political party) but also deep within the French society. This is a legacy from an ancient time, a justification of a supreme and criminal oppressive era : slavery and colonization. [..] As long as we leave banana peels hanging around in our brains, slides and skids and tumbles to racist insults are bound to happen. Especially in these challenging times, in which economic crisis feeds the most basic xenophobia with its strangest component: jealousy towards those who are much worse off than ourselves.

June 21 2012

Journeys Through Latin America

Since August 15, 2011, readers of the Blog de la Ruta (The Route's Blog) [es] have been traveling Latin America through the stories told by bloggers from the website Otramérica. The team behind Otramérica [es], a nonprofit initiative from Human Rights Everywhere, decided to enlist bloggers to tell stories “from the ground” while they traveled through little-known places in Latin America.

The post [es] that kicks off the journey explains that this project has two goals: to “tell” and to “connect”:

Contar las realidades que suelen pasar inadvertidas o que son invisibles para la mayoría de los medios de comunicación industriales; y enredar (en redes) a personas, movimientos y organizaciones en esta tarea de desenredar la vida para entenderla y transformarla.

To tell readers about the realities that tend to go unnoticed or that are invisible in the majority of industrial media; and connect (through networks) people, movements and organizations in this task of unraveling life in order to understand it and transform it.

The blog includes an interactive map where readers can keep up with the journey and click on related stories:

Interactive map routing trip through Latin America

Interactive map routing trip through Latin America

The Guianas

Paco Gómez Nadal [es], a well-known Spanish journalist who has covered Latin America extensively, launched the blog and the journey. He started by introducing readers to The Guianas in several posts [es] before his first stop in Cayenne, French Guiana.

In his next stop, Suriname, Paco writes about the capital city [es] (Paramaribo), the country's problem [es] with gold [es], old and new forms of slavery [es], gay rights [es] (see video, in English, below), and more [es].

The journey was interrupted [es] in September 2011 after a brief stop in Guyana [es]. But a month later journalist Victor Alejandro Mojica picked up the blog with a trip [es] to Honduras and Guatemala.

Honduras and Guatemala

Victor dedicates numerous posts to Honduras' past [es] and present [es]. He tells several stories of struggles that are rarely covered by mainstream media, like those of the indignados (outraged) [es] of Intibucá, who have been fighting for almost two decades against hydroelectric dams in their area:

Este Honduras ni se escucha, ni se conoce, es invisible al mundo occidental. Y aquí, donde parece que la tierra lo es todo, es donde ocurren las violaciones menos éticas. Porque los recursos naturales, aunque parezcan de ellos, están vendiéndose a capitales sin pudor.

Lo que no saben, o rehúsan saber, es que estos indignados, que se alimentan de café y pan, tienen casi dos décadas de existencia.  Y aunque no siempre ganan, siempre continuan…

This Honduras or is neither heard, nor known, it is invisible to the Western world. And here, where land seems to be everything, is where least ethical violations occur. Because natural resources, even if it seems like they belong to them, are shamelessly being sold to businesses.

What they don't know, or refuse to know, is that these indignados, who feed themselves on coffee and bread, have been outraged for almost two decades. And although they don't always win, they always keep going…

Salvador Zúñiga, an "indignado" of Intibucá. Photo by  Victor Alejandro Mojica, used with permission from Otramérica.

Salvador Zúñiga, an "indignado" of Intibucá. Photo by Victor Alejandro Mojica, used with permission from Otramérica.

In Guatemala, Victor looks at the legacy of the country's civil war through the perspective of a former guerrillero [es], family members of a missing [es] man, and an indigenous maya-ixil community [es]. He also looks at the issue of femicides [es] in Guatemala, stating that, “There is an ingrained sexism in all sectors of the population that makes hundreds of women die every year.”

The Southern Cone, Bolivia, and Mexico

The blog welcomed a new contributor, Solange González Henott, in early 2012. Solange began her trip through South America's “Southern Cone” (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay) with a story about an attempted escape by inmates in a Chilean [es] jail.

In Argentina, Solange describes what summer [es] is like in Buenos Aires, and visits a villa (a marginalized urban settlement), where she meets two women who migrated [es] to the Argentine capital from Bolivia and Paraguay.

In Montevideo, Uruguay, Solange introduces readers to Llamadas [es], carnival parades that take place every summer. She also talks to unionized [es] sugarcane workers about their triumphs and struggles. In neighboring Paraguay, Solange writes about “the king of Soy” and the country's “gun culture” [es].

During a stop in Bolivia, Solange blogs about the “cowardly and cruel murder” of two journalists [es] in El Alto. She then describes the Aymara indigenous tradition of “ajtapi” [es], a communal meal.

Ajtapi in El Alto, Bolivia. Photo by Solange González Henott, used with permission from Otramérica.

Ajtapi in El Alto, Bolivia. Photo by Solange González Henott, used with permission from Otramérica.

Paco Gómez Nadal returns to the ‘Blog de la Ruta' to write about his experience in Mexico [es] during March 2012. There, he blogs about the complexities [es] of violence and death. He also looks at the current state of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity [es] and its leader, Javier Sicilia[es].

Latin America's low lands

In May 2012, Pedro González del Campo became to blog's latest contributor, covering Latin America's “low lands” [es], tierras bajas in Spanish: the places that have been most marginalized by the powerful and by history.

During May and June, Pedro has been discovering Paraguay's “low lands” by traveling [es] through [es] the Paraguay River. In one of his stops he meets Martín, a 36-year-old man working in a cattle ranch in the Paraguayan Chaco. The ranch is owned by a Brazilian man who is in the business of large-scale farming in Brazil. Pedro explains that ranching is taking a toll on the Chaco's nature and its inhabitants:

El Chaco es una ecoregión extensa que alberga hasta 3 ecosistemas diferentes y en el que viven de manera tradicional muchas personas que ven cómo la ganadería acaba con su medio, en el cual se sienten integrados como seres que habitan este planeta. Si nadie lo remedia, su destino es la desaparición y la pérdida de biodiversidad y biomasa que hará de este planeta un lugar menos habitable, además de la escandalosa degradación a nivel social que esto implica para sus pobladores.

The Chaco is a vast ecoregion that holds up to 3 distinct ecosystems, where many people who live in a traditional way are seeing how cattle raising destroys their environment, where they feel integrated as beings who inhabit this planet. If no one fixes this, the destiny of the Chaco is disappearance and loss of biodiversity and biomass which will make this a less habitable planet, on top of the outrageous social degradation that this implies for its residents.

Sharpening a saw to build a house in a ranch in the Chaco. Photo by Pedro González del Campo, used with permission from Otramérica.

Sharpening a saw to build a house in a ranch in the Chaco. Photo by Pedro González del Campo, used with permission from Otramérica.

Almost a year after the start of this journey, Pedro's trip through Latin America's “low lands” has just begun. Blog de la Ruta provides a glimpse into the continent's varied and complex reality. You can keep up with the journey and read previous entries in the Otramérica website [es].

Featured image from Otramérica, used with permission.

April 30 2012

Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana: Is “Miss Black France” Acceptable?

While French people are still in the midst of the presidential elections [En] with its second round coming up on May 5-6th 2012, another vote buzzed last week: the “Miss Black France” [Fr] contest.
The home page of the event scheduled on Saturday April 28th 2012 says[Fr]:

Célébrons la Beauté Noire!

Let's Celebrate Black Beauty!

The “About” section of the Facebook page of the contest explains [Fr]:

Les jeunes femmes noires vont enfin avoir leur élection. Jusqu’à aujourd’hui très peu représentée en France – et en tout cas pas dans les concours de « Miss » que l’on connait –, la beauté noire va pouvoir être mise en avant à sa juste valeur.

L’élection Miss Black France est ouverte à toutes les jeunes femmes françaises ou étrangères vivant en France, de métropole, des DOM-TOM ou d'Afrique, âgée…s d’au moins 16 ans, sans autre critère que l’élégance et le charme.

Black young women are eventually going to have their election. Black beauty, which has been very little promoted in France up to this date -at least, not in the usual ‘beauty pageants'- will be showcased there.

All young women, French nationals or foreign residents, native of France, the French Overseas Regions or Africa are eligible if they are at least 16 years old and with no other criteria than elegance and glamour.

This introduction to the genesis of this pageant has raised many questions among French people and bloggers, among which Bondamanjak from Martinique, who wonders [Fr]:

Dérive communautariste ? Acte militant ? Impérialisme yankee ? Bizness ?

Excessive communalism? Activist move? Yankee imperialism? Business?

These questions are justified by the founding motto of the French nation, according to which all citizens are equal and cannot be distinguished on account of ethnicity or religion. In this perspective, having a national contest based on the ethnicity of the pageants seems heretical to many netizens.

A post published on a Martinican blog People Bo Kay explains both points of view [Fr] and where the division lies.

Supporters of the pageant advocate the need for more visibility:

mettre la lumière sur ces femmes noires extrêmement nombreuses que l'on voit peu dans les médias.

cast the light on these extremely numerous Black women, who are little represented in the media.

En France, les seules miss noires que nous avons connues étaient soit métissées ou originaires d'outre-mer. Il n'y a jamais eu de filles issues de parents sénégalais ou algériens. Ces filles là ne se reconnaissent pas encore dans le concours de Miss France. Elles pensent qu'il n'est pas pour elles et donc s'auto-censurent.

In France, the only Black pageant winners that we have ever known were either mixed-raced or natives of the French overseas regions. There has never been any girls from Senegalese or Algerian parents. They cannot identify with the Miss France pageant yet. They think it is not made for them and become self-conscious to the extent of self-censorship.

This last point was made by historian and specialist of cultural diversity matters, François Durpaire [Fr], during an interview on French national channel, France 2 [En].

One of the cons to this pageant was that to some, it symbolizes reverse discrimination - the most recurrent question being, “What if a fair blonde French young woman wants to participate?”

A comment published following the post at Bondamanjak says [Fr]:

La couleur noire n'est ni une identité, ni une classe cela est ridicule de faire une quelconque différence face à une miss blanche. Le combat qu'on doit mener n'est pas à ce niveau. Contruisons avant une communauté unie , solidaire défendant notre mémoire pour contruire une vraie identité.

The color black is not an identity, nor a social class. It is ridiculous to make any difference with a white contestant. Our struggle does not belong there. Let's build a united and self-reliant community to defend our collective memory and our true identity.

Although this beauty pageant has been very controversial and triggered much division among people over its legitimacy, one thing make people come together: why use the adjective “black” in French, instead of “noire”.
The answer is that black sounds more like a marketing success than “noire”.

The results of the pageant are published along with the picture of the winners on this post at People Bo Kay:

A 21-year-old marketing student from Senegal, Tiah Beye was crowned ‘Miss Black France 2012′ along with her two runners-up, 22-year-old, Ivorian-born Romy Niaba and 23-year-old, Aissata Soumah from Guinea.

March 04 2011

February 02 2011

Latin America: Drawing Parallels with Egypt

Written by Silvia Viñas

As protests in Egypt continue, Latin American bloggers are drawing historical parallels with similar uprisings in the region and some are wondering: “Could it happen here now?”

In The Mex Files, Rich compares Egypt's situation to Porfirio Diaz’ 30-year rule in Mexico –which fell during the Mexican Revolution– in his post, “Walk like an Egyptian: Porfirio to Mubarak.” Rich concludes his analysis looking at Mexico today:

Mexicans are not — one trusts — as desperate as the Egyptians, or at least not in the numbers seen in Cairo.  But, what will happen if the Mexicans decide it is time for a giant leap in Mexican  power, in which the people of the largest Spanish-speaking nation demand that they be allowed to fulfill their potential?

Greg Weeks writes about the similarities and differences between Nicaragua and Egypt from a historical perspective in his blog Two Weeks Notice:

It is impossible not to make analogies between the current situation in Egypt and the implosion of dictatorships in Latin America. Anastasio Somoza in particular comes to mind. Broadly speaking, the U.S. had supported a dictatorship for decades because it was a strategic ally, then internal opposition began to boil, hoping to copy the toppling of another repressive regime in the region.

There are, however, also very important differences.

Global Voices author Rodrigo Peñalba was recently interviewed by Nicaraguan newspaper El Nuevo Diario. Rodrigo posted his answers to the newspaper's questions in his blog [es]:

¿En Nicaragua el fenómeno de Túnez y Egipto esta lejos de la realidad nacional?

Tunez y Egipto responden a contextos específicos de gobiernos autoritarios con lideres en el poder durante décadas y con el apoyo abierto de Estados Unidos. Si hubiera efecto domino entre ambos  paises, este pasaría antes a Siria, Libano, Jordanía o Arabia Saudí más que a Centroamérica.

Si la idea de la pregunta es que si podria pasar algo así en Nicaragua habría que buscar contextos más cercanos como son la narcoviolencia mexicana, los grupos de maras en Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador, la inmigración en la región, el golpe de estado de Honduras, o las drama-novelas del poder de Panamá, Costa Rica, Venezuela o Colombia; o en el caso de Nicaragua el triple matrimonio a 3 bandas entre empresarios (anunciantes en los grandes medios), partidos políticos (que les dan entrevistas a los medios), y gobierno (al que amigos de los medios aspiran a manejar).

In Nicaragua, is the phenomenon seen in Tunisia and Egypt far from the national reality?

Tunisia and Egypt are responding to specific contexts of authoritarian governments with leaders in power for decades that have the open support of the United States. If there was a domino effect between both countries, this would happen first in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia rather than Central America.

If the question is whether something like this could happen in Nicaragua, we would have to look at closer contexts such as Mexican drug violence, groups of maras [gangs] in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, immigration in the region, the coup in Honduras, or the power drama in Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela or Colombia; or in the case of Nicaragua at the 3-way marriage between businessmen (advertisers in mass media), political parties (which get interviewed by the media) and the government (which friends of the media aspire to manage).

In the post “Could instability spread to Latin America?” in Bloggings by boz, Boz focuses on the “global” –or “Tsunami”– theory: “An outside force created the conditions for these protests to hit many nations at the same time.” Boz explains:

it's the global factors I want to focus on, because if it is true, then the current crisis is not just affecting the Middle East. Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia could be next.

He goes through six points to answer the question: “If [2011] is a crisis year, what would it mean for Latin America?” and then writes,

If this is a “crisis year,” then governments are going to be destabilized in ways that you thought six months ago would be near impossible.

That said, most governments will survive. Even facing tough protests, governments tend to hold on to power more often than they fall. Not every protests or momentary difficulty will lead to a government falling. Also, in a region where democracy is the expectation rather than the exception, governments that do fall should return to democracy more quickly than in some other regions of the world.

Mike from Central American Politics responds in the open thread at Bloggings by boz on the subject. He breaks down his opinion by country:

Where to start? Interestingly enough, I think that if we survey the region, non-friendly governments of the US are the most likely to fall.

Ecuador - close to falling last year; recent history of extra constitutional removals

Bolivia - protests against gas prices recently; recent history of extra constitutional removals

Venezuela and Cuba are candidates, but will probably not see much instability. Honduras is a candidate as well, but there would have to be some spark to reignite things.

Asking “Could it happen here?” has been inevitable among bloggers who intently follow politics and social movements in the region. No one can know for certain if any Latin American country will get caught under the “political tsunami;” but what these bloggers do know is that in the history of Latin America, uprisings against the government are not unusual.

February 01 2011

Blogger asks: “Could instability spread to Latin America?”

Written by Silvia Viñas

Considering the recent and ongoing events in Tunisia and Egypt, Bloggings by boz asks: “If it is a crisis year, what would it mean for Latin America?”. Boz goes over several points to answer this question and opens up a thread to discuss Latin American stability with readers.

December 29 2010

September 13 2010

St. Lucia, French Guiana: Googol

By Janine Mendes-Franco

“What if a superhero was born today in French Guiana? How do you cope with inviting her into your plan – wherever or whoever you are? I am Googol explores these questions”: Caribbean Book Blog profiles the Caribbean national behind the world's newest superhero.

September 08 2010

Getting to Know the Global Voices Latin America Team

By Eduardo Avila

As outgoing Editor for Latin America, I have seen the Global Voices team from Latin America grow tremendously over the past three years. Each of the volunteer authors has dedicated time and energy to serve the mission of Global Voices, and to share their part of the world with a global audience. At any given time, each of the countries that make up the Latin American region has been represented by a talented blogger tasked with the challenge of presenting a wide range of issues in a balanced and fair manner. Now that I am moving on to take the helm at Rising Voices, I am eager to see how the team will take the coverage of such a diverse region to greater heights under the leadership of the new Latin America Editor, Silvia Viñas. Continuing a recent tradition, let's meet some of these amazing people that have been part of the Latin American team (in alphabetical order by first name).

Members of GV Latin America with friends from GV Portuguese and GV Caribbean. Photo by Suzanne Lehn

Andrea Arzaba [Mexico] - I don't think I've seen a single picture of Andrea in which she was not smiling. Her enthusiasm and friendliness is both sincere and contagious. Recently back in Mexico after spending a semester studying abroad in Spain, Andrea is very active in youth conferences and blogging competitions. She was recently chosen to represent the Think About It organization at the UN Summit to be held in New York City later this month. Read her blog One Lucky Life [es] and follow her on Twitter: @andrea_arzaba.

Belén Bogado [Paraguay] - Belén is quite the multimedia star in her native country of Paraguay. Not only is she an accomplished print journalist, but she has also hosted her own radio show and television program. In addition, she has brought special recognition to Paraguayan bloggers, including an introduction to the first blogger to write in the Guaraní language, who was featured in a GV post and which caught the eye of the local CNN affiliate.

Catalina Restrepo [Colombia] - Many of us have seen how much Catalina has grown over the past three years. She started as one of the participants of the Rising Voices' project HiperBarrio. Since then, she has really come into her own, gaining confidence by the day and asking for more challenges. In addition to being invited to speak at international conferences, she was also recognized at home when she was awarded the Talented Young Woman [es] prize in Medellín. Read her blog: Cosas del Alma [es] and follow her on Twitter: @catirestrepo

Felipe Cordero [Chile] - Felipe joined Global Voices in 2010, and his participation began shortly after the tragic earthquake struck his country of Chile. He was living in Columbia, Missouri at the time when he volunteered to help with the coverage, as way to draw more attention to the tragedy and reconstruction. His posts helped make the Special Coverage Page of the earthquake timely and diverse. Since graduating from college, Felipe has taken part in many interesting training programs and internships, including one at the Chilean Mission at the United Nations. Read his blog: Política Online [es] and follow him on Twitter: @felipe_cordero.

Gabriela García Calderón [Peru] - At the Global Voices Summit in Santiago, Chile, Gabriela received recognition for being the GV member with the most number of translations across all Lingua sites. With more than 2000 translations under her belt, Gabriela wanted to get involved with GV even more. So, she volunteered to become a GV author by focusing on some of the non-political facets of Peruvian society. Read her blog: Seis de Enero [es].

Issa Villarreal [Mexico] - To say that Issa is interested in the urban arts scene in her hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, would be an understatement. In her free time, Issa covers local concerts and music festivals [es] on her blog and other publications. In addition, she is a videographer, and one of her most recent works was filmed a local amusement park. Her three-part series exploring graffiti and urban art across Latin American stands among some of her most classic posts. She also covers other topics, including the #internetnecesario campaign, although I was unable to convince her to write a post on the Mexican delicacy of eyeball taco. Read her blog: Perdida en el Súper [es] and follow her on Twitter: @hiperkarma.

Members of GV Latin America meeting with GV Board Member Rosental Alves at the GV Summit in Santiago. Photo by Juliana Rincón and used under a Attribution 2.0 Generic CC license.

Jenny Cascante [Costa Rica] - Jenny is another of our authors that is active in her country in the arts and cultural scene. She has been a part of the super-stylish arts digital magazine De La Bimba [es]. Read her blog: Nube Número Nueve [es] and follow her on Twitter: @nubecina.

Jorge Gobbi [Argentina] - Buenos Aires is one of my favorite Latin American cities and most times that I've visited, I've managed to stop by to say hello to Jorge. I don't think I realized how well-known he is in the Argentine blogosphere until he was featured in the La Nación newspaper as one of 5 of the most important bloggers [es] in the country. Probably best known for his travel blogging, he won Best Travel Blog in Spanish awarded by Lonely Planet. Jorge is currently pursuing his doctorate degree in Social Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires. Read his blog: Blog de Viajes [es] and follow him on Twitter: @morrissey.

Juan Arellano [Peru] - Ever since Juan has taken on the leadership role for Global Voices in Spanish, the site has thrived. The roster of active translators that he has recruited makes it one of the most diverse and willing teams to bring GV content into the Spanish language. The partnerships and collaborations that he has pursued serves as a model for other Lingua sites. In addition to translating posts, Juan also makes sure that local issues in his native Peru makes it to the pages of Global Voices. Read his blog: Globalizado [es] and follow him on Twitter: @cyberjuan.

Juliana Rincón Parra [Colombia] - While I had less interaction with Juliana than before, it was because she was promoted to Global Voices Video Editor. However, she still managed to provide great coverage of important videos from the region, which was whenever she was not knitting or podcasting. Read her blog: Medea Material [es] and follow her on Twitter: @medeamaterial.

Julián Ortega [Colombia] - Digital media has become an integral part of Colombian politics over the past several years, and Julián has provided a service for helping GV readers wade through the vast amount of tweets, Facebook groups, and blog posts. He is extremely knowledgeable about the subtle nuances and context of Colombian politics. Julián is also very active in the equinoXio [es] digital magazine. In addition, he holds a special place in his heart for his cats, who can be seen on his Flickr account. Follow him on Twitter: @julianortegam.

Laura Vidal [Venezuela] - Laura has been personally responsible for making sure that Venezuela is not portrayed as a country that only revolves around polarizing politics. She has made sure GV readers learn about many of the country's talented musicians, writers, artists, and cultural projects. Currently pursuing her Master's degree in Education Sciences at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense in Paris, Laura has always offered me a place to crash on her floor during my stops in Paris, and also showcased her culinary skills to me when she made delicious arepas. Read her blog Sacando la Lengua [es] and follow her on Twitter @lenguaraz.

Luis Diego Molina and Adriana Vargas [Costa Rica] - I hesitate to not give each of these young authors their own recognition, but they've been working together on the citizen journalism project Habla Costa Rica, where they have reported from the ground during events like the protests at the University of Costa Rica. I've been thoroughly impressed with their willingness to learn and how much dedication they have put into their project. Follow the project on Twitter: @hablacostarica.

Lully Posada [Colombia] - Lully is such a strong supporter of citizen media projects around the world, but there is one that has attracted more attention than others. In fact, she has started volunteering with the HiperBarrio project helping out with workshops, but more importantly, providing encouragement and motivation to the new bloggers. She is also one of the co-founders of the equinoXio digital magazine, and provides interesting interviews. Read her blog: Reflexiones al Desnudo [es] and follow her on Twitter: @lullyp.

Milton Ramírez [Ecuador] - Milton or perhaps I should write Dr. Ramírez, has been one of the most prolific GV authors from the region over the past several years. Milton holds a doctorate in Education and is extremely interested in examining the relationship between education and technology. He is also a champion for local technology projects and events in his native Ecuador, including extensive coverage of BarCamps and other digital campaigns. His love for his home region of Loja has placed the city on my must-visits someday. Read his blog: Education and Tech and follow him on Twitter: @tonnet.

Renata Avila [Guatemala] - As one of the resident Creative Commons experts within the Latin America team, Renata is the lead for the Creative Commons project in her native Guatemala. She is also serving as one of the co-leads in the Technology for Transparency project at Global Voices. Renata also holds a special interest in the plight of the indigenous communities in her country and which has served as a subject for many of her articles on Global Voices. Read her blog: Nothing is Permanent [es] and follow her on Twitter: @avilarenata

Rocío Díaz [Dominican Republic] - Rocío is our first author from the island of the Dominican Republic. She took great care in presenting a wide range of issues from the colorful characters of Carnival to the national sport of baseball, as well as the DR's response to the earthquake in neighboring Haiti. She started blogging as part of a national movement for community action, which helps draw attention to problems, as well as solutions in the island's municipalities. Read her blog: Monaco [es].

Silvia Viñas [Uruguay/Chile] - As the new Regional Editor for Latin America, Silvia has always been willing to fill in whenever needed, whether it be about issues facing Chile or Uruguay. No wonder she is so flexible, since she describes herself as half-Uruguayan and half-Spanish, and has lived in five Latin American countries. This allows her to be a great fit for the role of Latin America Editor, who needs to be well-versed in the affairs of an entire region. When she is not online posting and editing, she is the mother of an adorable two year-old, who just celebrated her birthday. Read her blog: Walking Around [es] and follow her on Twitter: @silviavinas

This is only a partial list, as there are many more authors who have recently joined or who have been recently inactive, but have been an integral part of making the Latin America region as strong as it has become. These authors include: Claudio Ruíz [Chile], Clotilde Castillo [Panama], Nike Jung [Chile], Muna Annahas [Paraguay], Roy Rojas [Costa Rica], Celeste Calvet [Argentina], Aaron Ortiz [Honduras], Leonidas Mejia [Honduras], Mario Durán [Bolivia], Carlos Suasnavas [Ecuador], Mario Blanco [Uruguay], Tim Muth [El Salvador], Rodrigo Peñalba [Nicaragua], Melissa De León[Panama], Luis Carlos Díaz [Venezuela], Rosario Lizana [Chile], Iria Puyosa [Venezuela], Claudia Cadelo [Cuba], Alvaro Berroteran [Nicaragua], HJ Barraza [Mexico].

As you can see, the Latin America team is very diverse, not only in the part of the world that they coverage, but in their own personal interests and background. Congratulations to such an amazing team of volunteers for making the Latin America region so well represented at Global Voices.

May 09 2010

Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana: Nestlé Going Local

By Fabienne Flessel

Blogger Anba pyé mango-la [Fr/Fr Cr] is sharing skeptical opinions about the new moves of multinational food company Nestlé towards the adaptation of local products and recipes from the French Caribbean.

March 20 2010

Martinique: Election, tension and abstention

On Sunday March 14th, all French citizens including those in the four French overseas departments (Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Reunion) were asked to vote for the regional elections and the regional assembly in charge of devolved powers such as planning adult professional training, building and funding public high schools, financing and promoting cultural projects.

The vote took place in a very busy electoral period: Martinicans were asked to decide for more autonomy in their department, only in January.

Two major elections in a three-month period may have been too much for the 55.55% of Martinican voters who decided to stay home and not vote, as shown by Bondamanjak's post [Fr].

Blogger Evolution Martinique comments on [Fr] this high abstention figure:

Le grand vainqueur de ce 1er tour, est à l’évidence le taux record d’abstention (plus de 55%) […].

The winner of the 1st round is obviously the surprisingly high abstention rate (more than 55%) […].

In the same post, the blogger also gives possible reasons to explain why people resorted to abstention:

1. La répétition soutenue des consultations et des scrutins sur une période très dense entre le 10 janvier et le 14 mars.

2. La question du statut institutionnel aura été un enjeu majeur aux yeux des électeurs, reléguant les régionales dans la sphère de la politique politicienne.

3. La qualité bien terne du débat et des propositions politiques de même que le climat délétère dans lequel se déroula cette campagne.

4. Le choix incongru du vote au 2ième tour.

1. The repetition of ballots in a very short period from January 10th to March 14th.

2. The issue of the institutional status must have been more important in the eyes of the citizens, whereas the regional elections are considered as politicking.

3. The low quality of the debate and of the political programs as well as the noxious atmosphere of the campaign.

4. The incongruous choice of voting for the 2nd round.

Martinican blogger [moi]'s playground shares her opinion about the first round of the elections, in a post which details the results for each list, along with her personal comments. Incidentally, she sums up the central stake of this election in Martinique [Fr]:

Trois listes se maintiennent donc pour un second tour ou le duel Marie-Jeanne/Letchimy annoncé va connaître son épilogue.

Three lists are still in for the second round, in which the legendary duel between Marie-Jeanne and Letchimy will meet its end.

The same duel is acknowledged by Bondamanjak in a post entitled “André Lesueur, la troisième voix” (André Lesueur, the third voice).

Both [moi] and Bondamanjak comment on the significant decrease of right-wing voters in Martinique. She wonders [Fr]:

Depuis combien de temps la droite ne s’était pas retrouvée à un second tour d’élections régionales ?

Since when hasn't the right-wing qualified for the second round of regional elections?

A comment to Bondamanjak's post says [Fr]:

Juan […] j'ajouterai
pour terminer que la droite pour moi est menacée d'inutilité politique.

Juan […] to conclude, I'd say that in my opinion the right wing is threatened by political uselessness.

The remarks made by Martinican bloggers concerning the poor quality of the campaigns, the tiredness of the population with elections and the difficult position of the right-wing parties is not an exclusive feature of the overseas departments, since mainland French elections followed the very same pattern, as this post by French blogger Ma Liberté, explains.

Martinique, French Guiana: Murder & Politics

Martinican blogger Bel Balawou posts [Fr] an homage to the late policeman (from French Guiana) who was killed in the line of duty by an ETA Basque terrorist in the suburbs of Paris, last week. This murder happened between the two rounds of the French regional elections, causing more political debate about law and order in the country.

French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique: March 19th 1946

Guadeloupean blogger Anba pyé mango-la wonders [Fr] about the situation of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion, former colonies which became the four overseas departments of the French Republic, sixty-four years ago.

January 16 2010

Haiti: “Solidarité Haïti”

After a few days of silence, the collective blog Solidarité Haïti, born after the 2008 hurricanes, has eventually posted [Fr] about a dozen solidarity and relief efforts led by French Caribbean people in Europe or elsewhere.

Reposted by02mysoup-aa 02mysoup-aa

January 13 2010

Martinique, French Guiana: “No” To More Autonomy

The referendum which took place on Sunday, January 10th 2010, in the French Overseas Regions of Martinique and French Guiana to vote for either more autonomy from France or to keep the same status, was along awaited and its results have left bloggers with mixed feelings. The following is a roundup of some Martinican blogs and their insight on what took place.

Blogger Imaniyé publishes precisely the question which appears on the ballot paper:

…les Martiniquais et les Guyanais devaient répondre par oui ou par non à cette petite question : «Approuvez-vous la transformation de la Martinique en une collectivité d’outre-mer régie par l’article 74 de la Constitution, dotée d’une organisation particulière tenant compte de ses intérêts propres au sein de la République?»

…Martinicans and Guianans were to answer yes or no to this little question: ‘Do you approve of the transformation of Martinique [from the author: French Guiana] into an overseas semi-autonomous region, under the Constitution 74th Article, endowed with a specific organization respecting its own interests within the French Republic?'

After hearing the final NO to more autonomy both from 80% of Martinican and 70% of French Guianese voters, many people's first thoughts went to the island's Father-figure, the late Aimé Césaire and the way he could have reacted, had he lived to see this referendum that he so longed for. Imaniyé starts her post [Fr]with this introduction:

Hier, les Martiniquais se sont prononcés pour le maintien du statut quo du pays et non pour un choix où les élus locaux auraient plus de pouvoirs. J'en connais un qui doit se retourner dans sa tombe.

Last night, Martinicans decided to keep the status quo on the island and not to give any extra powers to the local representatives. I know someone who must be turning in his grave.

Going even further on this line, on MontrayKreyol [Fr], Thierry Caille imagines his meeting with Aimé Césaire and makes him comment posthumously on the results of the polls:

À l'énoncé des résultats du référendum du 10 janvier 2010, je me suis entretenu avec Aimé Césaire, que j'ai trouvé, désabusé, triste, sans colère apparente qui a tenu à s'exprimer devant les martiniquais, tous. Je vous livre ses propos, tels qu'il me les a fournis ….

After the results of the January 10th referendum, I spoke with Aimé Césaire, whom I found disillusioned, sad, without any visible anger. He wanted to address the Martinicans, all of them. Here am I delivering his words as he told them to me…

Controversial Martinican author, Raphaël Confiant, who blogs at MontrayKréyol, denounces [Fr] his fellow Martinicans' voting NO, in a very critical way, after the month long all-out-strike that touched Martinique last year.

In French Guiana, some representatives who supported the 74th Article (for more autonomy) clearly expressed their disappointment; even anger. Martinican Bondamanjak and French Guianese OuebTV.fr report on Christiane Taubira's comments after the results were in [Fr]:

…le non massif des Guyanais et des Martiniquais à une autonomie accrue était ‘un cri de détresse' jugeant que le ‘jeu de la peur a très bien fonctionné' dans une population craignant de perdre ses revenus sociaux.

…the major NO to get more autonomy from the French Guianese and the Martinicans was ‘a cry of despair' as she judged that ‘playing with people's fears worked out well' in a population who was afraid to lose their social welfare.

At the opposite end, the blog Martinique73ou74, created for this special occasion (as well as to host the debate around the referendum) publishes the statement released by the mayor of Fort-de-France, Serge Letchimy after the results [Fr]:

Cette campagne nous a divisé, mais elle ne nous a pas séparé. C'est la victoire d'une lucidité, d'une sagesse, du peuple Martiniquais.

This campaign has left us divided but not apart. It represents the victory of the lucidity and the wisdom of the people of Martinique.

Look at the comment section for JLDL's post which reports a statement from Jean-Louis de LUCY who was featured as a Béké, in the controversial documentary “The Last Masters of Martinique“. He says [Fr]:

La population martiniquaise s’est massivement et clairement exprimée et dans sa grande sagesse a déjoué le piège tendu par les indépendantistes.

The Martinican population has massively and clearly expressed their decision and has wisely avoided the trap of the Independents.

Both supporters of the 73rd and 74th articles now say that the situation is still very tense - even after the vote - since the worst problem remains unsolved: unemployment on the island.

For more information about the debate, please visit the videos of Martiniklité on Dailymotion [Fr and Fr Cr].

The thumbnail image accompanying this post is courtesy Flickr user Dean Terry, used under a Creative Commons License. Please visit his photo gallery.

January 05 2010

Martinique, French Guiana: Referendum for more autonomy from France

Bloggers from Martinique [Fr] and French Guiana have been posting for months about the upcoming popular referendum to decide whether they want to change their political status and gain more autonomy from France [Fr], or keep the same status. Answer on Sunday, January 10th 2010 [Fr].

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