Despite some alarming trends of world politics in the last year or so, such as ongoing religious extremism and the rise of the far-right, there is some cause of optimism going into the next 12 months. The LGBT rights movement around the world went from strength to strength in 2017 and 2018 has the potential to be another landmark year in the struggle for liberation. Activists across the globe have been agitating for a number of years and the fruits of their labour are close to be being realised in the weeks and months ahead. But what is especially noteworthy about the political contexts of their potential success is that many are in less developed countries and/or are quite quite socially conservative in other areas. 2018 could therefore be the year when social conservatives in all corners of the world are markedly less hostile to LGBT people. In this first article, I’ll be looking at countries where I believe the cause of equality is almost certain to gain ground.
In the never-ending scramble of resources, governments around the world are turning over every stone so that demand and be satisfied. This demand is driving governments and corporations to do irreversible damage to our planet but the people that are increasingly on the front-line are indigenous populations. In the United States it was the Sioux Nation at Standing Rock who loudly opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline. In Australia aboriginal communities have protested attempts by the both the government and private companies to mine their lands for precious resources including uranium. It appears that this trend is also affecting the indigenous people of Peru and they need people to stand up to support their cause.
On 24th November the Colombian government and FARC signed a revised ceasefire to bring the Colombian conflict to an end. The conflict began in 1964 and the end of hostilities marks a significant step forward for the country which has been been held back socially, politically, and economically since the conflict began. Colombia’s conflict has been largely unreported in recent years because of the length of the war, but appears that behind the scenes work by diplomats from across the region have managed to achieve a tentative peace.
With Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro dead and buried, I think it’s time to review the regime he led for 50 years. Although many people have now come up with very firm opinions on what Fidel Castro did in Cuba, the one thing that all these views have in common is that despite their often violently different conclusions, all are devoid of all nuance. People on Left have started to talk about how he guaranteed healthcare and education to all Cuban citizens as well as Castro’s commitment to internationalism, and people on the Right have decried the Cuban regime’s use of torture and arbitrary detention. There are two things that need to be examined: Castro’s record in isolation; and the hypocrisy of some right-wing critics.
At a biennial meeting of city leaders from across the world, four cities committed to introducing bans for all diesel vehicles on the grounds of improving air quality. The meeting took place in Mexico and the cities involved are Athens, Madrid, Mexico City, and Paris. For too long we as environmentalists have spoken about climate change as something that will imminently happen but because of this people have thought of this idea as distant. By linking fossil fuel usage to air quality, the environmentalist movement can relate abstract ideas to people’s everyday lives.
Yesterday the results of the Venezuelan Legislative elections were announced and it was a humiliating defeat for President Maduro’s PSUV. The MUD, the united opposition coalition of conservatives, liberals and some social democrats, have won around 100 of the 167 seats in the National Congress with some results yet to be declared. This result, along with the failure of Christina Fernandéz de Kirchner, is being hailed as the end of populism, and in the case of Venezuela, the beginning of the end of the Bolivarian Revolution. The assertion about Venezuela is, I believe, correct however no analysis as to why this is the case has been shown by the mainstream media in the West…until now.
On 13th April 2015 Chilean President Bachelet signed into law the legalisation of same-sex unions, and a week ago the law came into effect. Although this progress is welcome Bachelet’s re-election included a campaign promise that wasn’t civil union legalisation; his pledge was to legalise same-sex marriage. What this shows is that even in Chile, which is a religiously conservative country, the LGBT community is becoming more socially accepted. Same-sex marriage in Chile may not be that far off.