When a guerrilla camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) located just inside the Ecuadorian border, was bombed by the Colombian Armed Forces, it sparked a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. With Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez contributing to the war of words, it soon turned into a full-fledged border crisis. The Global Voices Latin American team quickly assembled a Special Coverage page that highlighted opinions and thoughts from bloggers from all three countries.
This was just one example of our volunteers authors combing their respective country's blogospheres to highlight voices from across Latin America and provide a view into what bloggers were saying about events and news from the region.
Plenty of activity took place in Colombia in 2008, including the rescue of hostages held by the FARC. One high-profile kidnapped victim was former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, whose release was celebrated across the globe. Due to these deplorable tactics, the FARC was publicly rejected by a well-attended march in many cities across Colombia.
Photo by Mariacecita and used under a Creative Commons license
Marches were a way for the general public to express displeasure at governmental policies or the inaction of its elected leaders. As was the case in Mexico, tens of thousands of Mexicans took to the street to protest the government's inability to control the crime, which is often associated with organized drug trafficking causing brutal deaths across the country and was suspected in the death of one of the country's top crime-fighting officials.
In Argentina, protests, marches and blockades paralyzed the country as exporters sought to reject a new tariff on agricultural exports proposed by the government. However, in the end, the Senate voted to defeat the measure.
Other marches took place not to protest, but to show solidarity and support for the government. Bolivian peasants and social movements walked to La Paz, the seat of government, to ask Congress to call a referendum to vote upon the draft constitution. The march also showed support for Bolivian president Evo Morales.
Presidents across of Latin America enjoy varying degrees of support and opposition. One new president, ex-Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, was elected in 2008 riding the wave of change and breaking a 61-year old hold on power by the Colorado Party.
Elections and national referendums also demonstrated the public's support or rejection of the direction that a president wants to take the country. In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa received a boost when the referendum for the country's new Constitution was overwhelmingly passed.
Other heads of state made the news with actions and where bloggers provided their opinions, such as the decision by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias to ask the spiritual figure the Dalai Lama to postpone his visit to the countrycausing many to wonder whether it was a move to appease China.
Many presidents had their hands full due to disasters caused by Mother Nature. Ecuador was hit especially hard with the eruption of the Tungurahua volcano and heavy floodings, which led to the declaration of a national emergency. Guatemala also was affected by heavy rains leaving the rural and poorest parts of the country especially vulnerable. Landslides and floods in Brazil's southern state of Santa Catarina left more than 80 dead and was the country's worst environmental disaster in 2008.
Photo by Nelson Piedra and used with permission.
Even though the earthquake the ravaged the cities of Pisco and Ica took place in 2007, bloggers examined the progress or lack of progress in the rebuilding efforts one year later.
These are some of the more serious issues that took place across the region, and which were covered by the Latin American team at Global Voices. The next article will highlight some of the best and more interesting stories published on Global Voices over the past year.