On Friday 3 June 2005 members of the Relatives of Disappeared Detainees association entered the garrison of the 13th Battalion of the Army, which is likely to have been used as a clandestine cemetery during the military dictatorship (1973-85). The group boarded a special bus at the Presidential Palace and entered the premises along with the Secretary of the Presidency. It was President Tabaré Vázquez himself who invited the relatives of disappeared people to watch a team of Argentinean anthropologists look for the remains of people who most likely died after being tortured and were then buried in the park surrounding the garrison.
Vázquez has been clear since the old days: his left-wing government would concentrate on fighting poverty (over 57 per cent of children in the country live under the poverty line) and giving an answer to the relatives of those disappeared nearly 30 years ago. And he is standing by his word.
The new government’s first measure when it took office on 1 March 2005 was the creation of a new ministry aimed at Social Development. It will implement the Emergency Plan called Panes (bread) to give every family a small allowance (about 50 dollars), full health coverage and an array of social services.
The government decided to install collective bargaining committees for every branch of activity and increased the national minimum wage, as well as giving peasant workers and policemen the right to unionise. The number of unions taking part of the central PIT-CNT has soared.
So, is there anything wrong with this Frente Amplio (Broad Front) government? Sure there is, say older leftists. To begin with, a few days after Pope John Paul II’s death, the president decided to place a monument in his honour in a main crossing in Montevideo, overruling both Parliament and the local authority of the capital city. In a deeply secular country like Uruguay, church and state have been separated since the end of the 19th century, and this was a blow to many. Vázquez went to visit the Catholic archbishop Nicolás Cotugno, a well known conservative who two years ago advised that homosexuals should be locked up until they were cured of their contagious disease, to tell him about the decision.
When Vázquez left the meeting, he was asked about his position on the abortion bill that the Frente Amplio proposed a year and a half ago. Stoking up the situation further, Vázquez answered that he would veto it. The bill was approved in the lower chamber but rejected at the Senate by three votes (two former guerrilla commanders and current senators, members of the Frente Amplio, did not vote for it). With the majority the left has now, social movements and pro-rights campaigners were confident that the bill would be passed in parliament. The split with the MPs was apparent in the press, when two senators of the Frente Amplio, Mónica Xavier and Margarita Percovich, announced that the bill would be presented to the new parliament whatever the President thought.
Other areas of concern for some are the signature of an investment agreement with the US and the permission given to two European companies to open cellulose plants on the coast of the Uruguay river. The latter was criticised by environmentalists on safety grounds and the attitude towards a referendum on nationalisation of all water services in the country. Vázquez’s government decided to gain control of 99.79 per cent of water connections and leave the remaining 0.29 per cent under control of a subsidiary of the French Lyonnaise des Eaux until the end of the contract with that company, in 2018. This was considered as a violation of the constitution by the right and a betrayal by some small sectors of the left.
But despite these small rumblings of discontent, Vázquez enjoys robust popular support, even greater than the 51 per cent who voted for him. At the moment the economy is performing well and a vast majority of the people feel their moment has arrived. Will the Uruguayan left be an island or an example for Latin America?
The Greens have stood down in Brighton Kemptown to clear the way for Labour, and the Lib Dems won’t stand in Brighton’s other seat, Green-held Pavilion. Davy Jones, who would have been the Green candidate in Kemptown, says this shows the way forward
The snap general election represents a unique opportunity to defeat this terrible government. We believe that visual artists have a crucial role to play!
Drax is the UK's biggest source of CO2 emissions – and we're paying for it, writes Almuth Ernsting
For the past 3 years, Barby Asante and members of London-based artists' collective, sorryyoufeeluncomfortable, have been responding directly to the vision of James Baldwin. Ahead of the nationwide release of a new film about the American activist and author, they reflect on the enduring relevance of Baldwin in Britain today.
Housing campaigners' gains in Bristol are spurring on a national movement to build a renters' union, writes Stuart Melvin
A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh
We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank
Rahila Gupta talks to Kimmie Taylor about life on the frontline in Rojava
It may seem as though these apps are working for us, but we are also working for the apps, writes Kurt Iveson
It's over 100 years ago that domestic workers began to organise to demand the same rights as other workers. Yet with LSE cleaners on strike this week, historian Laura Schwartz asks: how much has really changed?
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences
The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally
Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change
Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces
Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond
On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network
Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter
#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement
Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.
Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees
Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides
The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari
Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next
Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace
Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill
Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility
Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports
From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices
How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed
In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design
Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform