Today in Latin America; São Paulo, Chile, Butcher of Lyon, Rivera


In 1554 (455 years ago), the city of São Paulo, in Brasil, was founded. Those acquainted with Brasilian history will recall that tomorrow in 1500 (509 years ago), Vicente Yáñez Pinzón became the first European to walk on the shore of Brasil and gaze upon the Pico do Jaraguá. Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta, both Jesuit priests, founded the village of São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga today in 1554. From there, it became a city in the sixteenth century and into the metropolis it is today.


Yesterday, in 1939, 70 years ago, Chile was struck by an earthquake leaving 50,000 dead and 60,000 injured. This wasn’t the first, nor the last. The epicenter was in Chillan and Concepcion, in southern Chile. The quake measured 8.3 and leveled entire towns. In it’s aftermath, just as we’d see in Nicaragua in 1979, President Pedro Aguirre Cerda declared martial law to maintain power. Neither city was moved, as was customary after quakes in the past. Each still stand today, rebuilt. This is a continuing story in Latin America. On this day, in 1999 (10 years ago), Columbia was hit with a 6.0 earthquake, killing 1,000.

In 1993 (16 years ago) today, Puerto Rico, led by the Partido Nuevo Progresista and Pedro Rossello, fulfilled their campaign promise and revoked a “Spanish-Only” law set up in the 1920s. Since then, in 1997, Secretary of Education Victor Fajardo’s Proyecto para Formar un Ciudadano Bilingue (Project to Create a Bilingual Citizen) campaign has attempted things unheard of in the mainland United States: teaching English in first grade, English for science and math, and English immersion programs. This move signaled a wider move of Puerto Rican’s towards embracing their status as commonwealth of the US, a position it still holds today.


26 years ago today in 1983, Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, The Butcher of Lyon arrested in Bolivia. According to the BBC, Barbie personally tortured and killed up to 4,000 people in the Hôtel Terminus in Lyon, France. In 1947, he fled to Peron’s Argentina with the help of Catholic priests. He was caught and tried, on videotape, in Lyon in 1987. He only received life imprisonment due to laws set up to protect former members of the Vichy government. He died in Lyon in 1991.

48 years ago today in 1961, the Partido de Conciliación (Party of National Conciliation), cemented its place in Salvadoran politics for the next half-a-century. According to junta member Fabio Castillo, the United States was clamoring for action in El Salvador following elections that were not quite favorable to US interests. The military was convinced by plotters that the new government was communist and replaced it with Colonel Rivera. Rivera revised the 1950 constitution, gave itself the National Assembly, and set up election for April, 1961. Rivera won – AGEUS, a university student organization, according to Tommie Sue Montgomery in his book Revolution in El Salvador provided Rivera with his only competition: “a donkey” (53). Politically, ARENA, the offshoot of PNC, are still in power. In 1979, the PNC’s power came to a head as the FMLN began to rattle for civil war.


~ by Daniel on January 25, 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: