Not as stereotypical as it sounds

The Power of Corporations

This week’s reading felt bittersweet for two main reasons. The first one is that our course is coming to an end and the second reason is that the optimism represented by the left turns in Latin America feels like a distant past, particularly given Brazil’s current government and political polarization. I would to take this opportunity to recommend a documentary for those interested in politics and understanding the political events that have led to the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. The documentary is called The Edge of Democracy by Petra Costa which can be found on Netflix. If you decide to watch this documentary keep in mind that Petra has a personal history with politics and the left, thus she is clearly sharing her perspective on the political events.

Moreover, learning about the case of Chevron in Ecuador and the different players in the court rulings made me reflect about the power of corporations and extractive industries. It reminded of one of the worst environmental disasters that happened in Brazil which was the Mariana dam disaster which occurred on 5 November 2015.  The Fundão tailing dam, which stored the byproducts of mining operations, near Mariana, Minas Gerais, suffered a catastrophic failure which led to flooding that destroyed the villages in the surrounding area. The failure of the dam released 43.7 million cubic metres of mine tailings into the Doce River, causing a toxic brown mudflow to pollute the river and nearby beaches. On 25 January 2019, a similar disaster took place in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais. This dam was owned by Vale, the same company involved in the 2015 Mariana dam disaster. The companies involved in these two environmental disasters donated large sums of money to the political campaigns in return of getting environmental licenses to operate. Unfortunately, no sum of money offered to the families affected by these tragedies could account for the lives lost and the destruction of the ecosystem.

The reading’s take on the work of Albert Hirschman emphasizes the importance of voice. Personally, I think that 2020 has proven to be year in which raising our voices has proven to be necessary and extremely important. Honestly, thinking about the future of Brazil makes me scared and political change feels almost impossible. I think that spending almost a year away from home has  made me realize the importance of staying connected, of knowing what is going on in the region and of discussing about it, no matter where in the world you might be. I wonder what motivates you guys to keep on raising you voices and standing up against inequalities.

Discussion Question:

The importance of voice and listening go hand-in-hand. Could you share a book you’ve read this year or a documentary that you’ve watched? Was there a particular activist that you were introduced to or a concept that you’ve learned?

Thank you everyone for reading and engaging with my blog posts! I really appreciate it and have learned so much from reading everyones posts as well 🙂


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