Forrest Hylton

30 April 2024

Public Goods

Argentina’s interannual inflation rate is 250 per cent – only Zimbabwe’s is higher – while subway fares have risen sevenfold since January, and the public hospitals administered by the University of Buenos Aires are in danger of closing because the university can’t pay its electricity bill. The UBA, which is consistently ranked among the best universities in Latin America, could shut down in May. With the budget frozen at 2023 levels, in real terms universities are broke.

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13 April 2024

Brasil Paralelo

The situation is contradictory, even paradoxical: on the one hand, the machinery of justice is moving, however slowly, to prosecute Bolsonaro and members of his entourage, including army generals, for the events of 8 January, as well as the killers of Marielle Franco and those who organised and paid for her murder. Yet on the other, without an organised left proposing alternative public security policies, and convincing people of their viability and desirability, mafias and drug gangs are rapidly expanding their reach.

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29 February 2024

Lula, Bolsonaro and Israel

In condemning Israel for its genocidal campaign in Gaza, Lula summoned the moral force of the anti-apartheid movement, as represented by South Africa at the Hague, but he was also holding the line against the new, pro-Israel right closer to home.

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3 February 2024

Ecuador’s Internal Armed Conflict

Considered since the 1980s to be a peaceful oasis compared to its neighbours Colombia and Peru – in part because of comprehensive land reform in the 1960s, in part because of a lack of coca production – Ecuador is now officially at war: ‘an internal armed conflict’, in the words of the president, Daniel Noboa. How did a South American republic of 18 million people (1.5 million live abroad), with deeply rooted democratic traditions, go from being one of the least to one of the most violent in the hemisphere, with a homicide rate of 46 per 100,000, up from 5.8 per 100,000, in six years?

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2 January 2024


Ahead of Javier Milei’s presidential address last month, announcing the most radical privatisation and deregulation plan in Argentinian history, protesters took to the streets of Buenos Aires, converging en masse on the Plaza de Mayo in the early evening, and staging a cacerolazo, or pot-banging session, outside Congress as Milei spoke. Synchronised cacerolazos took place nationwide.

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7 December 2023

Latin America’s Resurgent Right

After being elected president of Argentina, and before declaring that he would indeed abolish the central bank, the ‘paleo-capitalist libertarian’ Javier Milei announced a visit to Tel Aviv, thereby breaking ranks with Bolivia, Colombia, Chile and, most important, Brazil. While Montevideo – where the new right is also in power – may be a stop on his pre-inaugural victory lap (along with Washington, of course), Brasília will not.

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20 September 2023

Under Siege in Salvador

Classes were cancelled at the Universidade Federal da Bahia for a couple of days a few weeks ago because two neighbouring favelas, Calabar and Alto das Pombas, were both at war, leaving at least ten people dead. Both areas were occupied by Military Police (PM). Dozens of families fled. One of my students apologised for missing our online class: he had been trapped at home listening to gunfire and helicopters for two full days; unable to read or concentrate, he had fled the city.

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30 August 2023

Back to School

It couldn’t last. Having found a house removed from danger – for the time being, at least – thanks to childhood friends (and missionaries), Víctor Peña had, at the age of 41, begun university at the Colegio Mayor de Antioquia, to study planning, social development and community administration. Doctor Z’s orphaned daughter had begun high school near where she lives with Víctor in a rural area outside Medellín, with plans to go on to study medicine at the Universidad de Antioquia.

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15 August 2023

Bahia Noir

Under a vaulting blue sky, the Sunday morning before last, in Porto da Barra, beside the wooden deck where people practise yoga or capoeira in the morning, and in the evening watch the sunset over Itaparica and the Bahia de Todos os Santos, a young man’s body was found next to the rubbish bins, stuffed in a large Styrofoam cooler, of the sort the barraqueiros on the beach – the people who rent out beach chairs and umbrellas – use to keep beer, soft drinks and coconuts on ice.

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30 June 2023


Last Friday, I received news that Dr Z had died in hospital from kidney cancer. Two months ago his daughter was still in school, living at home with her family. Now she is orphaned and on the run from the narco-paramilitaries who targeted her family because her father protected the displaced Zenú cacique Víctor Peña after they warned him against it. 

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