DEMOCRACY + MEDIA LAB

Interdisciplinary Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities

University of California, Berkeley

Chochenyo Ohlone Unceded Land

recent publications

Title: Haiti, Venezuela, Colombia: Comparative Points in U.S. Foreign Policy
Publisher: Latinx Research Center
Date: April 2, 2021
Authors: J. Molina, M. Rosales, D. Cross, R. Rossi, and A. Marino

The Biden administration has a unique opportunity to alter long-standing policy in effort to build a more humanitarian and sustainable world. Historically, US foreign policy in Latin America has been negligent in making good on its promises to support democratic processes fairly and without interference. As we will argue in this report, it is critical for the Biden administration to change course in order to resolve inherent contradictions and biases that have been inherited by previous regimes.

Special Report

Full report forthcoming

Image by W. Harrington/NBC News

Title: "Haitian Protests, Democratic Alignment, and Holes in US Rhetoric"
Publisher: Democracy & Society Journal at Georgetown University
Date: September, 2020
Author: Jonathan Molina

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The ongoing political protests in Haiti necessitate a critical examination of the United States’ proclaimed commitment to spreading democracy and global prosperity. A large faction of people in Haiti have been actively protesting against their president, Jovenel Moïse, for the better part of the last year. They claim that Moïse’s administration is corrupt and anti-democratic. The Haitian National Police has been widely accused of violent oppression. The U.S., however, continues to support the Moïse regime and provide financial assistance to the state police.

Comparing the U.S.’ contradictory response to the political crisis in Haiti to the crisis in Venezuela illustrates that the U.S.’ advertised goals of democratic alignment and reduction of international poverty deeply conflict with reality.

Journal Article
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Image by Nishali Naik/The Daily Californian

Title: "Twitter’s actions are detrimental to Venezuela amid COVID-19"
Publisher: The Daily Californian
Date: June 16, 2020
Author: Adriana Ortega

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Excerpt: "During the COVID-19 pandemic, platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp spread information easily and efficiently, often becoming the most ubiquitous forms of communication between government officials and the wider population.

 

Throughout Latin America, working-class people typically access social media on mobile phones, often as their primary source of information, surpassing television or radio. In Venezuela, however, this communication has fallen short.

Between March 16 and 19 — just as COVID-19 terrified millions through the first reported cases in the country — more than 40 Twitter accounts were suspended among Venezuela’s top officials."

Editorial Article
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Image by Armaan Mumta/The Daily Californian

Title: "US sanctions against Venezuela are deadly, hypocritical"
Publisher: The Daily Californian
Date: May 19, 2020
Author: Jonathan Molina

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Editorial Article

Abstract: The United States’ coercive economic sanctions against Venezuela make it more difficult for the people of Venezuela to get access to food and healthcare. The sanctions have frozen all Venezuelan assets abroad, prohibited the Venezuelan government from restructuring their crippling debt, and denied Venezuela’s government access to international financial institutions. Along with the United States recognition of Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela, despite him not having stood in any national election, the sanctions are overtly in place to foment regime change in Venezuela. This editorial argues that the burdening sanctions and overtly political charge of narco-trafficking against Maduro demonstrate that the United States’ aim to overthrow the Maduro regime is both hostile to Venezuelans, causing major humanitarian harm, and inherently antidemocratic, failing to address concerns over democracy.

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Image by The Daily Californian

Title: Body Politic and Socio Religious Political Identities of Afro-descendant Communities in Venezuela
Publisher: Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas
Date: March 5th, 2020
Author: Meyby Ugueto Ponce
Translated Publication/Talk

Abstract:  The control and violence imposed on the physical bodies of Africans and their descendants as well as the imposition and cultural appropriation of European religious systems motivated the creation of forms of in-corporated dissent in the re-construction of Afro-American culture. In this process, cultural and political identities get inscribed in individual and collective bodies and territory. In this published work, translated in English in the present talk, Dr. Ugueto-Ponce analyzes the use of the body politic within a religious framework, and its inscription in territory and in social relations as a form of cultural resistance in the Afro-Venezuelan area of Curiepe, a form of resistance that challenges geographic alignments of the nation-state. 

Talk in English is translated by Carolina Morales. 

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Title: Conversation with Puerto Rican Activist, Oscar López Rivera
Publisher: The Latinx Research Center
Date: Feburary 22, 2020
Contributors: Adriana Ortega, Jonathan Molina, Frida Pavlova Torres, Javier Lopez Quintana, and Abraham Ramirez
Video Interview

Summary: In this interview, Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican activist, decorated Vietnam War veteran, and former political prisoner who was granted clemency in 2017 by the Obama administration, spoke with three students at UC Berkeley and the Latinx Research Center. Rivera discussed many topics including environmental issues in Puerto Rico, human rights abuses against the broad Latinx community, and poverty and homelessness throughout the Americas. Through his presentation tour, Resistance and Resilience, Rivera has visited much of the United States and various other countries expressing the role that the Latinx community—especially the younger generations—must play in addressing and solving issues that have deeply harmed Puerto Rico and the rest of the Latinx community. Special thanks to Alejandro Molina, the La Peña Cultural Center, and the LRC staff.

Click the image to access the video

Discussion with Oscar Lopez Rivera
Title: "US must condemn coup, support democracy in Bolivia"
Publisher: The Daily Californian
Date: Feburary 9, 2020
Author: Jonathan Molina

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Editorial Article

Abstract: The undemocratic coup in Bolivia sparked political violence and unrest. The United States government supported the coup and celebrated the events as another promising step towards democracy in Latin America. This article argues that the irregularities found in the election were not that irregular upon close examination and that the forceful use of military to remove a democratically elected leader is dangerous and inherently against people rule. Furthermore, the article argues that the social repression and state backed violence perpetrated by the new opposition administration in Bolivia must be condemned by the US Government rather than tacitly supported. 

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Image by Rhea Dias/The Daily Californian

Title: Reflections on Haiti and 'The Lie of Global Prosperity'
Publisher: The Latinx Research Center
Date: January 2020
interviewer & Producer: Jonathan Molina

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Interview/Podcast

In this interview/Podcast we listen to Pierre Labbossiere and Seth Donnelly discuss Haiti in the context of Seth's book The Lie of Global Prosperity: How Neoliberals Distort Data to Mask Poverty and Exploitation. The book critiques the ways in which neoliberal development models are rationalized as advancement for countries like Haiti at the expense of the poor majority. Tackling questions of poverty measurement and data manipulation, the talk lays bare the spurious methods on which the dominant prosperity narrative depends.

The audio is recorded live at a downtown San Francisco book store. Includes audience Q&A.

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Title: Riot or Uprising: A Conversation with Pierre Labbossiere on the Haitian Crisis
Publisher: The Latinx Research Center
Date: January 2020
interviewer & Producer: Daniel Marquez
Interview/Podcast

Haiti has seen a series of demonstrations since September of 2019 that were triggered by a fuel shortage. Shortly after, demonstrators started demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise. Media outlets have depicted these demonstrations as riots.

 

In this podcast, we hear from Pierre Labossiere, co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee, and look at the history of Haiti, to determine whether these demonstrations are in fact riots or whether they are part of an uprising that stems from Haiti's long history of resistance towards oppressive forces.

Click the image to access the podcast

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Title: "The Right-Wing Coup in Bolivia Is Exactly the Opposite of What Democracy Looks Like"
Publisher: Common Dreams
Date: November 14, 2019
Author: Angela Marino

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Editorial Article

Excerpt: "The case of Bolivia should sound the alarm for a manufactured coup at the expense of democracy. Not only was Evo Morales elected by a majority, he offered to run the elections again to prove it before mobs of right-wing opposition—fueled by the U.S. in material aid and alliance—burned Morales' sister's house, held another elected official hostage at gunpoint, and basically firebombed their way through government buildings and public infrastructure (public buses were targeted because they represent socialist reforms). These violent actions forced the president to resign—and the U.S. government supported it, cheered it on, even boasted that such violence was upholding democracy in the hemisphere."

Photo: Gaston Brito/picture alliance via Getty Images

Title: Language and Violence in Brazil: An Interview with Dr. Daniel Silva
Publisher: The Latinx Research Center
Date: October 2019
Contributors:Abraham Ramirez, Jonathan Molina, and Daniel Marquez

In this interview/podcast Dr. Daniel Silva helps us work through several themes including social media’s role, especially through whatsapp, in constructing false narratives of political figures and events in Brazil. We talk about Jair Bolsonaro and his use of language and its relationship with physical violence. We try to hash out what is novel about information today including the speed of information spreading and the vastly diverse amounts of information available to the public. We also discuss popular resistance in Brazil and the case of Marielle Franco. Lastly, we discuss the ideal future of how to deal with the rise of hateful language seen in Brazil. Is legal action appropriate? Is it constitutional? Ethical? Or, is there a responsibility for communities and people to stigmatize hateful language? And, how can this be done?

Interview/Podcast

Click the image to access the podcast

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Title: Populism and Performance in the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Date: March 15, 2018
Author: Angela Marino
Academic Book

Populism and Performance in the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela analyzes how Venezuela’s emergent socialism negotiated terms of national belonging and participatory democracy through performance. By foregrounding populism as an embodied act, Marino draws attention to repertoires of populism that contributed to what is arguably the most impactful social movement in the Americas since the Cuban Revolution. 

Performance and Populism forges a path for interdisciplinary approaches to political formation across Latin American studies, cultural studies, political science, and performance studies. It presents a vital record and often ignored history of the revolution, with valuable insights into its internal dynamics and lessons towards building a populist movement of the left.

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